Thursday, December 07, 2000

City Council seat sits empty

Portune resigns; no consensus on who's going to replace him

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Councilman Todd Portune resigned Wednesday — and his successor is just four votes away from being named.

        Trouble is, those are the same four votes needed a month ago when Mr. Portune was elected a Hamilton County commissioner.

        And the four voters — the remaining Democrats on council — said they have not been able to come to agreement on one of four, maybe five, candidates they see as finalists for the spot.

        “I just wonder if we're going to have a president before we have a council member,” Councilwoman Minette Cooper said Wednesday. “I don't know who I am going to vote for.”

        Although Mayor Charlie Luken said a consensus was reached Saturday in favor of 26-year-old Price Hill resident John Cranley, other council members say he was only one of five being considered.

        The others: Scott Seidewitz of East Walnut Hills; Jane Anderson of East Walnut Hills; Ohio Board of Education member Melanie Bates of North Avondale; and Mount Adams business owner Dave Crowley.

        The mayor said he was in favor of Mr. Cranley because the council is lacking representation from the west side. But Mr. Portune has been fighting Mr. Cranley, saying he wants someone with more background in city issues.

        Even as late as Tuesday, two non-Democratic council members said Mr. Portune asked whether they would take over the appointment process.

        “I told him I would be willing to do it only if there were no strings attached,” Republican Councilman Charlie Winburn said.

        Charter Party Councilman James Tarbell said he didn't think it was the right thing to do.

        Under council rules, Mr. Portune can change who will name his successor.

        But in a resignation letter Wednesday, he said he would not make any changes.

        He provided his own list of candidates that named former Cincinnati firefighters union president and City Council candidate Forrest Buckley instead of Mr. Cranley, along with the other four.

        He asked that council “respect my wishes.”


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