UPDATED: Has John Cranley’s Momentum on Immigration Fizzled?

UPDATED JUNE 3, 2015 SEE BELOW: Has John Cranley’s Momentum on Immigration Fizzled?

The short answer is, we will know in about a month.

A year ago this weekend, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley announced to a room full of Cincinnati Enquirer reporters and editors that he had major plans for an immigration initiative for our city.

Within a month, the Cincinnati Enquirer released an editorial endorsing the idea and calling for more immigrants for the Queen City.

Regardless of the controversy around current headlines about open borders and immigrants who are here illegally, the consensus – and studies – prove that immigration is good for our cities and economies.

The Cincinnati Enquirer noted in their plea for more immigrants to Cincinnati that:

“Once local officials are convinced of the benefits of attracting immigrants, here are some strategies to help woo them:

Declare intentions. Mayor Cranley is in the process of appointing a task force, led by consultant Bruce Healey, to develop a strategy for attracting more immigrants. There’s power in simply declaring a city or county’s intentions to be more welcoming. Adopting such a resolution signals an intention to current and potential residents that is surprisingly powerful.”

Today, one year after John Cranley’s announcement, and proclamation that he wants to make, “Cincinnati the most immigrant friendly city in the United States,”  we ask where are we now?

Did the Mayor declare his intentions, form the task force, and then momentum fizzle?

Was the Mayor just piggybacking off of the inflammatory headlines about U.S. borders and child refugees from the open border crisis?

To be fair, the announcement came, March 28, 2014, and the task force was not unveiled until midsummer of last year. But should we expect some updates from the task force and Cranley’s overall initiative ideas in that 8 months time?

A quick visit to the official website the Mayor established didn’t have any new information available for the public about progress on immigration as it relates to Cincinnati. Neither did a deep Internet search for news stories. Has the media just forgotten the story?

John Cranley’s Task Force on Immigration has a Twitter account but to all appearances their have only been ReTweets on the account and nothing in the way of real news or updates.

The Task Force is made up of five committees. They cover economic, resources/integration, education/talent retention, international attractiveness, rights and safety questions they can research and then make recommendations to the Mayor.

So far, it appears, that no tax dollars are being used in the Mayor’s initiative and the committees are made up of all volunteers.

While we wait, can anything be done now?

To date, the only concrete work we can point to is the work already being done by local organizations independent of the Mayor’s plans. Citybeat, in their July 2014 coverage of the plans, highlighted Catholic Charities Southwest Ohio’s work with the children refugees.

Agenda 360 runs the “Diverse by Design” plan which has experience attracting immigration talent to our region. And their is a lot of non-profit and chamber of commerce work in our region. The Mayor, it seems, stepped in last year to fill the gap where our local government plays a role in immigration.

The EB-5 Visa is already available which allows immigrants to enjoy permanent U.S. residency if they invest at least $1 million in economic development. That investment in very low income areas can be reduced to half a million dollars and John Cranley has stated plans to pursue that where applicable for Cincinnati. It should be noted, however, that in February of this year, ABC News did a story on the “dark side” of the EB-5 Visa. And, as far as Cincinnati becoming the most immigrant friendly city in the United States, where does this leave immigrants who want to enter legally but don’t have that kind of money to invest?

Then there is the EB-2 Visa which made headlines in early 2014 when Michigan Governor Rick Snyder unveiled a proposal to request 50,000 special visas to attract highly skilled immigrants to his struggling state.

There has been no word on updates to Cranley’s progress with the EB-5 Visa or if he has any plans at all to get creative with the EB-2.

Cincinnati Immigration

With no information available on the progress of the initiative, I reached out to Daniel Rajaiah, Director of External Affairs for Mayor John Cranley, who told me:

“The goal is to bring some of the smartest minds to the City. There are 96 people involved with the Task Force. I finally have the recommendations of the Task Force. There needs to be some editing and then they will be released to City Council, the media, etc.”

When I asked if the Mayor has seen the recommendations of the Task Force yet, Mr. Rajaiah said, no.

Mr. Rajaiah said he will complete the edits over the next couple of weeks and we can expect to see the recommendations publicly within about 1 month.

Mr. Rajaiah also specifically mentioned to me that the efforts to bring the smartest minds to the City is, “through legal immigration”. It seems the Mayor and his administration has had time since July 2014 to codify for themselves, and now the public, that they are clear on the focus of legality when it comes to immigration initiatives when it comes to Cincinnati  – where last year Citybeat reported that the Mayor, “hedged some”, on the topic of undocumented immigrants.

John Cranley, who has a Masters in Theology from Harvard, said in an interview with Urbanophile last year that being a man of faith is a part of his views on immigration, too. Morality, combined, with his cooperation with Dayton’s Mayor on immigration initiatives and Cranley’s other commitments to the development of Cincinnati overall, makes it evident that, while becoming the most immigrant friendly city in the United States will take a long time to be realized, the momentum for starting the work has not fizzled – it seems, however, the media interest in the story has. Maybe we should have started with becoming the region’s most immigrant friendly city first.

NOTE: I attempted to search Daniel Rajaiah’s tweets for updates on the matter but Mr. Rajaiah has me blocked from following his account on Twitter after a battle over sober living houses with the Mayor last year.  He was very receptive to speaking with me by phone.

CLICK: YOU can submit ideas to the Mayor and his team about immigration in Cincinnati.

UPDATE JUNE 03, 2015:

A colleague of mine and I called the Mayor’s Immigration Task Force staff Friday to get an update on the recommendations and if the Mayor is going to make any announcements soon. The Mayor’s staff advised to consult the website through the City of Cincinnati website for more information.


SEE ALSO: Cincinnati & the Heroin Story.

Jason Lee Overbey

Jason Lee Overbey


Jason Lee Overbey is a leader in non-profit 2.0 executive management and follower of Cincinnati and Ohio government. He also works on the front lines of the battle over the current heroin epidemic in our nation.




Cincinnati Google Trends – Level of search for, “CINCINNATI”.

Search for “CINCINNATI” on Google is going down. Projections for 2015 by Google predict a slight increase.

Tell us in the comments:

  • Why do you think this is?
  • What can we as citizens do about it?
  • What can the government do?
  • What can business do?
  • Media?
  • Does it matter?

I think it DOES matter.

We all know that everything is going social media and going digitalized. Is the trend on Google an indicator of something larger?

Can this website change it?


We Are Live!

We Are Live!

Oh, Baby! We are live!

After several days and a few naysayers, Jason Lee Overbey announced on facebook that Speak Up Cincinnati is officially live.

Sure, we’ve got a few tweaks to work out. It wouldn’t be as exciting if it was all smooth. But it’s time. 

SO much is happening in Cincinnati, in Hamilton County, and in the State – we had to announce right now. I mean, isn’t there a new administration? Former City Council candidates to catch up with? A Governor’s race? OH, BOY!

SO why the website at all? Good question, friends. Check out: ABOUT SPEAK UP CINCINNATI.

SO what’s next, you ask! Good question, fellow citizens! We want to hear what you have to complain about. What you have to praise about. What ideas you have. Check out: SPEAK UP CINCINNATI FORUM and get to chatting. We may even approach you and ask you to write a piece for the blog or features section. Actually, if you are making sense, just count on it. 

AND don’t forget… on the homepage we have pics and links to all of your area and state representatives (bottom). They aren’t all up yet. Oops. (Remember, we HAD to launch anyway… just too excited not to) But they will all be up and available by July 25th. Hey, that gives you an incentive to come back! 

We are putting a lot of money into the launch and upkeep. We are putting a lot of time and money into the updating of the site.

WHY? Other than your major area and state news sources (and not even some of them), there is absolutely NO site out there that has:

1. A powerful and open online forum for YOU to… SPEAK UP.

2. Aggregated news for Cincinnati, for Ohio and for US & Global.

3. A main blog with NOT just Jason Lee Overbey as the author. Nope! We are recruiting and seeking out QUALITY content from writers even as you read this. HOLY VARIETY!

4. Links, resources and facts. We are STILL combing the Internet, physical libraries and working the phone to pull all the goodies into ONE SITE.

5. Stunning visual appeal.

6. Openness! Believe it or not… we want you to write us. Complain, argue, spit virtually, praise – just don’t threaten – and we will respond to all. We will eventually even meet up somewhere in person, to be sure. 


7. And… a commitment for more to come. Substance, I tell you! We swear by all things Interwebby that we will not let up until you are addicted to the site and need recovery. There are even some contests and surprises coming soon. Giddy, giddy, giddy!




Cincinnati Charter Review Committee Meeting

Jason Lee Overbey – Cincinnati, Ohio – Tuesday, July 14, 3-5pm – City Hall

A Charter Review Task Force has been established to review the Cincinnati City Charter and to assess what changes ought to be made.

First, here is the: CINCINNATI CITY CHARTER as of today. Cool!

Next, the Cincinnati Research Institute has loaned their website out to the Task Force for information, polls and a calendar. From the Task Force we have this:

The Charter Review Task Force receives no public funding. The Cincinnati Research Institute has donated the use of its website to enable the task force to engage the public on the web; to advise citizens of public forum dates, topics and locations; to post studies and data received by task force committees; and to enable the task force to conduct public opinion polls.

The Charter Review Task Force has been created by a unanimous vote of Cincinnati City Council to oversee a complete and holistic review of Cincinnati’s Charter. The charter is the city’s constitution.  It defines the roles of the mayor and city council, sets the number of council members, determines who they represent, and how council and the mayor are elected.  The charter establishes different types of taxation and maximum tax rates.  It determines how our park system is governed, how zoning changes can and cannot be made, and establishes the chain of command in times of emergency.  It impacts essentially every aspect of city government.



I attended the first public meeting at City Hall on the 14th. Here are the notes:

  • Of the names I could see, here are a few on the committee who attended:
  11. (And others who I could not readily identify)

I did my best to get links for all the names above. Click their name for info. Again, I couldn’t see all the name plates of those in attendance. There was also a law student from Northern Ohio (I want to say Toledo) helping the Task Force.

  • The committee is subdivided into 1) Obsolete & Ambiguous Provisions; 2) Elections; 3) Balance of Power; 4) Labor and Administration; 5) Fiscal Reform; 6) Direct Accountability to Citizens; and 7) Charter History and Structure.
  • Meeting opened with information about 1) Obsolete & Ambiguous Provisions of the charter.
  • The Obsolete Committee had just adjourned from meeting and had no printed recommendations to submit to the group.
  • Chair reviewed that the Committee will gather information from all the sub-committees and present recommendations to the Task Force. They will then make recommendations to the Council Rules committee.
  • The Rules committee will ask the Solicitor’s Office to draft language for the ballot.
  • The Task Force will not submit language – only recommendations and requests.
  • The Solicitor’s Office will also look into unintended consequences (legal, et al) of making those changes.
  • Although no written documentation was available, the Obsolete Committee had some examples of Articles to correct.
  • ARTICLE 6, for example, they recommend can be entirely repealed due to antiquated and unnecessary language.
  • They recommended changing the word, “legislation” to, “resolution”. The Council only votes on resolutions.
  • Motions are really policy statements and cannot be vetoed. Only ordinances or resolutions can be vetoed.
  • There was much debate about the THREE READINGS rule in our charter.
  1. The Three Readings rule is in place to give the minority opposition to ordinances the opportunity to prepare a defense on a proposal of an ordinance. The readings have been required for them to have time for due diligence and preparation.
  2. The recommendation of the Obsolete sub-committee was, very clearly, to leave the rule in place. However, they wanted to ADD that there be publication of all proposed ordinances on the City Website.
  3. Interestingly, the Committee broke off into arguments about NOT removing the Three Readings rule.
  4. I felt, all over again, my visceral frustrations with government and think tanks – although this committee is a non-governmental task force. Why, I almost wondered out loud, is so difficult to receive and interpret what the Chair was saying. I got it right first time.
  5. The Three Readings rule, as mentioned by Jeff Berding, is often bypassed. He stated that the goal and the vision of the Task Force is to foster and force transparency upon the government. Excellent! So he advocated for NOT removing the rule. Which, again, was never proposed but necessary to clarify.
  6. It was reiterated, finally, that the proposal was to ADD requirements of digital publication of an ordinance so minority opposition could review and prepare before voted on in Council.
  7. So-called “Super Majority”: Jeff Berding gave the example of the City Budget. If 6 Council Members and the Mayor agree to an ordinance or resolution it can be passed right there. This is a super majority. The three readings are bypassed. The idea is that this requirement of digital publication – for say, 24 hours prior to voting – would afford a minority voice. The digitalization of the ordinance could NOT be bypassed by a super majority.
  8. Committee then discussed the burden of the clerk and legitimate access to a minority in a 24 hour window. Would it be too much for the clerk to post? Would 24 hours be enough time for the minority? No conclusions were made.
  9. Vanessa White raised the issue of business days. Would the posting include weekends and holidays? Presently, submission Friday equals publication Monday.
  10. Silbersack mentioned, “This is a trade off between transparency for the public and efficiency for the government. This proposal of digitalization does slow down the process but increases transparency.”
  • To have the addition of digitalization added to the August 6th deadline to have a ballot measure will not happen. The main committee wanted more information.
  • They also discussed Article II, Section 6, last Paragraph about physical publication(s). Vanessa White raised the issue that, in spite of conservation, the printing ought always be available to the public.
  • The admitted and discussed that for future meetings they need to have more printed information to disseminate to the group and be more clear on their motions and voting process.
  • I left the meeting about 35 minutes early. I was afraid my meter was going to run out and it looked very beautiful outside. I wanted cheese coneys. I felt that was as “Cincinnati” as it could get for the day and I entered the words, “Skyline with extra cheese – Price Hill” in my notes.

My overall impression of the group:

  • Unorganized.
  • Somewhat confused.
  • Very committed to transparency.
  • I also got the sense that they truly care about the charter.
  • Clunky.
  • Most were educated and cogent, a few were not.
  • Many members did not speak at all.
  • The African American community was minimally represented.

My notes are just that: mine. They aren’t meant to be official at all. They are by no means in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order. I am quite sure I missed some things.

My only mission in attending was to get an intuitive feel for the PEOPLE on the Task Force and to understand their thinking.

My disclaimer is that I, in no way, intend this to be an official report. It is my notes and it is my thoughts.

It is, in the true spirit of this website, me… SPEAKING UP!

I plan on attended as many of the public meetings as possible. The Cincinnati City Charter review is a critical process. I cannot express how much of an impacting effect I believe their findings and ballot issues will be for far into the future for Cincinnati.


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