Thursday, August 09, 2001

Proposal aims to tighten city council ethics policy

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati mayors and council members won't be able to jump from public office to jobs with agencies they helped fund if two Republican council members have their way.

        Councilmen Phil Heimlich and Chris Monzel say they will introduce an ordinance that would prohibit the mayor and council members from going to work at any organization that receives public funds for one year after leaving office.

        The two Republicans say it would close a loophole that allows a mayor or council member to go to work for an organization immediately after leaving office, as long as a year had passed since council passed funding for the organization.

        “It just holds myself and other council members to a higher standard,” said Mr. Monzel. “I can't imagine why any council member would vote against it.”

        Two months ago, the two Republican council members criticized a consulting agreement former Mayor Dwight Tillery has with the Grassroots Leadership Academy where he receives about $45,000 a year.

        Mr. Tillery pushed for the creation of the academy, which trains people to become “citizen activists,” and, in 1997, voted for a $288,250 contract for Grassroots Leadership Academy. But Mr. Tillery, who left council in 1998, was not in office when council approved the city's 1999-2000 budget, the source of his income.

        “This proposal is not about Dwight Tillery, not at all,” Mr. Monzel said. “We just need to have a clear-cut policy and get rid of these shades of gray.”

        Mr. Tillery said he had no comment on the proposal.

        The ordinance will be considered by council's law and public safety committee at its next meeting on Sept. 4. Council may act on the ordinance at its Sept. 6 meeting.


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