By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A divided Board of Hamilton County Commissioners decided Wednesday to change their top administrator's contract so they can freely criticize him.
The change must be OK'd by Administrator David Krings.
"I'm not going to renegotiate the contract in the auditorium at Northwest High School," he said.
The commissioners met there as part of an effort to interest young people in government, and the high school students definitely seemed interested in the sparring.
Commissioner Phil Heimlich, on the losing end of the 2-1 vote to change the contract, said removing one questionable clause could hurt the county's chances of revisiting the whole document.
"What you're doing is throwing Mr. Krings a life preserver," he said. "You have taken away the ability to invalidate the contract."
Heimlich and others have criticized the contract for guaranteeing Krings more than $434,000 if he is ever forced out. It also says Krings can consider himself fired, and collect the severance, if even one commissioner suggests he resign. That's one possible grounds for prosecutors or courts to declare the contract unenforceable, Heimlich said.
But Commissioners Todd Portune and John Dowlin, who approved the contract Dec. 30, voted Wednesday to remove the criticism clause.
Portune and Dowlin refused to support Heimlich's counter-motion that the commissioners "take the position that we want to get out of the whole thing."
"There's more debating and arguing than I thought," said Northwest senior Valerie Cross, 17. "It's not boring at all."
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