City Manager Harry Black denies allegations by police captain
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Cincinnati city hall is buzzing over a lawsuit filed against the city manager.
The lawsuit is Police Captain Jeff Butler's complaint that he was unfairly denied a promotion, but the headlines come from Butler's allegation that City Manager Harry Black abused his power by improperly shifting city funds from one purpose to another and steering some city purchasing business to a company owned by a friend of Black's and the friend's wife.
“This isn't all about Captain Butler. This is about the city taxpayers being treated appropriately,” said Brian Gillan, Jeff Butler’s attorney.
Black denies the allegations, saying they come from a disgruntled employee.
Jeff Hirsh: “Was there any misappropriation or misuse of state or federal money or any steering of money by you to a friend's business?”
Harry Black: “Not at all, and secondly the business that's referenced is not even owned by the person identified in the lawsuit. This person is an employee of this company. Everything we do with procurement is above board.”
The purchasing company in question is called BFX, which the city manager says was hired as part of a test program to streamline the city's facilities maintenance needs.
It's certainly not hard to find BFX if you work at city hall. The two buildings are maybe 80 feet apart.
The lawsuit says the co-owner of the BFX was Al Foxx, whose name is on the May, 2016 articles of May Incorporation. Foxx had been public works director in Baltimore when Harry Black was finance director.
When Black left the city of Baltimore to become city manager, his friend Al Foxx followed him to Cincinnati.
But the online journal Baltimore Brew says Foxx left Baltimore in December, 2013, a full eight months before Harry Black came to Cincinnati. Foxx came first.
Baltimore Brew says Foxx went to Cincinnati to work with a relative in construction and facilities maintenance and in the same building across from city hall there is a D.E. Foxx Company.
Harry Black says D.E. Foxx worked with the city a decade before Black got here, so at this point, there are only allegations, denials and nothing final.
There are a lot of letters to keep straight in this story, but they're important.
The city manager says BFX is a joint venture of D.E. Foxx and another company, Brown E&C Construction.
Local 12 tried getting a comment from BFX and from D.E Foxx, but they did not call back.