Thursday, June 07, 2001

Retired city worker accuses Tillery in Genesis case

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A retired city employee, in sworn testimony Wednesday before Cincinnati City Council, accused former Mayor Dwight Tillery of pressuring him to make payments to officials of Genesis Redevelopment and the West End Community Council.

        Mr. Tillery, who left council in December 1999, denied the charge, calling it “preposterous.”

        Charles Bronson was a 25-year city employee who retired in August 1998. He had been subpoenaed by City Council as part of an Office of Municipal Investigation inquiry into city officials' questionable payments of funds in the 1990s to the two groups, which consisted of many of the same members.

        Mr. Bronson was a neighborhood development officer.

        At Wednesday's regular council meeting, with the nine council members sitting silently, OMI Director Kimberlee Gray quizzed Mr. Bronson for more than an hour about why he made payments to Genesis and the West End Community Council for programs that he did not believe were adequately documented.

        “I felt I was being pressed to sign off on things that didn't make any sense for me to sign off on,” Mr. Bronson said.

        He offered few specifics about the pressure. However, he said after he had raised concerns with council about some of the West End programs, Mr. Tillery, then a councilman, called him into a meeting at a West End church with West End Community Council leaders and Mr. Bronson's boss, former Neighborhood Services Director Cheryl Meadows.

        At the meeting, Mr. Bronson said, Mr. Tillery “would pursue why this wasn't paid, that wasn't paid, et cetera, et cetera.”

        The meeting ended, Mr. Bronson told Ms. Gray, “with (Mr. Tillery) saying to me not to be such a policeman.”

        Mr. Tillery, who was not at Wednesday's council meeting, said, “I think this is a case where a man didn't do his job and he is looking for a scapegoat.”

        An earlier police investigation of the payments to the community council found no criminal wrongdoing. Council then instructed OMI to investigate the city administration's actions.

        Council has cut off all city funding to the West End Community Council until it re-forms with a new board of directors not involved in the Genesis projects.


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