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Cincinnati City Council holds only summer meeting

| Cincinnati.com | by Carl Weiser

UPDATE 3:45 p.m. –
Council’s jumping all over the place on its agenda today, so apologies if this is confusing.
Council members have voted to:
Prohibit city contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Oppose the proposed charter amendment that would change the city’s pension system. The amendment is “trickery,” Councilwoman Pam Thomas said. Signatures were turned in by the group yesterday, but they haven’t been counted yet. Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said a change is not necessarily good change.
Give a 15-year tax abatement to developers doing the Phase 2 residential component of The Banks.
Give Cintrifuse a 12-year tax exemption on three Vine Street properties and $4.5 million.
UPDATE 3:10 p.m. –

Council votes 6-2 to do a new study of racial disparities in city contract awards, agreeing to use some of the upfront money from the parking lease – or another funding source – to pay for it.

The study, called a Croson study because of a U.S. Supreme Court case with that name, could cost $500,000 to $1.5 million, City Manager Milton Dohoney said.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls asked for vote today so the administration could present a plan by Oct. 1 for getting the study done.

Charlie Winburn said he has signed four similar motions in recent years and it’s “not worth the paper it’s printed on.” He wants to know when the city plans to get the parking money. City Manager said he can’t say a specific date it will arrive.

Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan said she supports a Croson study but can’t do it this way. Council shouldn’t be spending any parking lease money until it knows how much it gets from the lease, she said, and that can’t be known until the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority finishes its meetings with neighborhoods and decides on parking meter enforcement hours.

Councilman Wendell Young: “This is not a matter of what the Croson study costs. Because this city can certainly find a way.” There are millions and millions of dollars in lost opportunity, he said, for minorities and women who aren’t getting city contracts.

As is usual, there are politics behind this issue. Winburn couldn’t get majority support for his disparity study motion, which didn’t include a funding source. Qualls did get five signatures on hers. Winburn supports John Cranley, Qualls’ opponent, in the mayor’s race.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.

Parents of college students who died in off-campus fires are thanking council for requiring housing to have photo-electric smoke detectors and for new safe student housing website.

Greg Kohls, whose son Chad died in a New Year’s Day fire, said he just hopes landlords take the issue to heart and do the right thing.

Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan says nine landlords have volunteered to be part of the website so far.

Councilman Charlie Winburn is honoring William Cargill III as a successful African-American business owner and founder of Black Contractors Association of Cincinnati.

It’s a crowded house in council chambers today, with folks here for the pension reform opposition resolution and many members of the Crowley family who are here for Councilman Chris Seelbach’shonor to Chick, a Crowley family member who died in a car accident. Seelbach has been a long time friend of the family, having worked for former Vice Mayor David Crowley.

Councilwoman Pamula Thomas is honoring four Walnut Hills High School girls track and field team members who won the 800-meter national championship in June.

Also here: relatives and friends of the two University of Cincinnati students who died in a fire on New Year’s Day. The city’s launching its safe student housing website today.

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