By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer
U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott will meet with lawyers Friday to discuss a new way to pay the bills, after weeks of disputes over the $55,241 invoice submitted by the man who resigned last week as monitor of Cincinnati's two landmark police reform agreements.
Representatives from the city, the ACLU, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Fraternal Order of Police will also try once again to choose someone to oversee both the memorandum of understanding with the Justice Department on police use of force, and the settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and Cincinnati Black United Front over alleged racial profiling.
"I have asked all the lawyers to meet with the court on Friday to discuss the selection of a new monitor," Judge Dlott said. "And to discuss a payment mechanism."
Cincinnati City Council and Mayor Charlie Luken erupted after Dr. Alan Kalmanoff - director of the Institute for Law and Policy Planning in Berkeley, Calif. - submitted a bill that included charges for packing his suitcase for a trip to Cincinnati and for granting an interview to an Enquirer reporter.
The Friday session with Judge Dlott comes after a letter from the Justice Department warning that the city's treatment of Dr. Kalmanoff could cause problems with future monitors.
In a letter addressed to Judge Dlott on Nov. 20, the Black United Front and the ACLU outlined their most pressing concerns over recent disputes about the two reform agreements signed in April, one year after the killing of a man in Over-the-Rhine sparked race riots.
"We believe first and foremost that the parties need to select an alternate monitor," the letter reads. "Dr. Kalmanoff's untimely departure has created a vacuum that needs to be filled not just quickly, but correctly."
The letter also suggests a model for paying the next monitor, which is similar to the method by which Jay Rothman was paid. Mr. Rothman, head of the Yellow Springs-based conflict resolution firm Aria Group, was named the court's special master early in the settlement process.
Mr. Rothman submitted a budget, billed from that budget and was paid from an escrow account after receiving the court's approval.
"There needs to be more specificity about what is allowed," city solicitor Rita McNeil said of the billing. "We're not going to pay for you to pack your suitcase. We will pay for you to meet with the parties."
After chastising the city for ignoring collaboration in search of "a few confrontational headlines," the letter from the ACLU and Black United Front aimed to redirect the spotlight from council's complaints about billing to the productive work being done by the city administration.
"The city council must join the city administration in acting constructively toward the agreement and stop the grandstanding," the letter says.
Brendon Cull, a spokesman for Mayor Luken, said city officials were eager to work out the details Friday of who the next monitor will be.
"We're looking forward to getting everything straightened out," he said.
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