Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Bortz is trying to cling to his seat on council, despite recent revelations that in 2009 the Ohio Ethics Commission informed him that his ties with Towne Properties (the development company owned by his family and of which he is an employee) was a conflict of interest that disqualified him from any involvement with the streetcar issue before council. Bortz has chosen, until recently, to vote in support of the streetcar. Not only should Bortz have abstained from all votes on the streetcar, but should resign from City Council or sever his ties with Towne Properties.
Bortz’s family owns Towne properties which has development interests along the proposed streetcar route. Until recently, Bortz maintained that as an employee, he need not follow the Ethics Committee advisory opinion that he steer clear of all discussions and votes on the streetcar issue. But doesn’t it make you wonder, how could he have an unbiased opinion about a touted financial windfall to his employer? The answer is, he couldn’t.
This issue has been addressed before when John Cranley resigned due to his ownership interest in City Lights Development. In attempting to retain his seat on council, Bortz is hanging his hat on the fact that he is not an owner of Towne Properties, he’s an employee. You also have to ask, are you ever just an employee when it’s your family’s business?
Bortz has already stepped over the line by continuing the push the streetcar issue in the face of a clear conflict of interest. Politicians are supposed to represent their constituents, not their own interests. The majority of Cincinnati residents are opposed to the streetcar project. Since Bortz wasn’t able to look beyond his own interests to those of the people of Cincinnati, it’s time for him to be shown the door.