Issue 3 has found its first big supporter, the Hamilton County Republican Party.
The Hamilton County Republican Party Wednesday night voted to endorse the sweeping Cincinnati charter amendment proposed by state Rep. Tom Brinkman, a Republican from Mount Lookout.
The vote was unanimous.
The amendment would make eight separate changes to the charter, including lowering council members' pay and allowing for the recall of the mayor.
Several city council members, Mayor John Cranley, the two mayoral candidates looking to replace him and other political groups have opposed the amendment. The Cincinnati Democratic Committee on Saturday voted to oppose it. A few days later, the Charter Committee came out against it.
But on Wednesday, Issue 3 found a home with the Republicans.
"The chaos and corruption that has overwhelmed city hall requires a strong response," said Hamilton County GOP Chairman Alex Triantafilou in a text message Wednesday night. "This is just such a reform initiative. The politicians will not act. The voters must."
The Charter Committee president Darrick Dansby said the amendment's authors didn't seek public input, a charge Brinkman denied.
Triantafilou, prior to Wednesday's vote, said he approved of at least one provision of the amendment: cutting the pay for city council members.
"I am in favor of the pay cut, I’ll go on record for that," he said. "It's a city manager form of government. You have people making it their full-time job. They ought to let city manager operate the government."
Voters won't be able to pick or choose individual pieces; they'll have to vote 'yes' or 'no' on the entire package.
What would the amendment do?
Brinkman's proposed amendment would make several changes to Cincinnati's charter:
- Require Council approval of all lawsuits filed by the city.
- Make council salaries equal to the median household income for the city. Council members now earn $65,000 a year, with some money taken out for benefits. Their salary would drop to $46,000 under the current median household income.
- Require one-year residency in the city to serve as mayor or as a council member, similar to state legislature rules.
- Eliminate the designee replacement system, under which councilmembers pick another councilmember to choose his or her replacement should they not be able to finish their term.
- Change the way vacancies are filled so the next highest election finisher would be first in line.
- Eliminate the so-called pocket veto. Now, Council votes items out of committee, but the mayor sets the agenda. The mayor could choose to never to put the item on the agenda. Under this plan, everything voted out of committee must get a full council vote within 30 days.
- Allow individual liability of city employees for some violations of open meetings and public records law violations. This is meant to expedite the release of records, which isn't always timely, despite state law requiring speedy release of records within reason.
- Provide for the recall of the mayor, with some nuances for when such action can be brought to avoid a losing candidate seeking immediate removal of the winner.