Cincinnati task force calls on expertise of UC Law faculty, student

A Cincinnati task force charged with studying and making recommendations to Cincinnati City Council regarding the city’s development practices called on the expertise of a Cincinnati Law professor and student at a recent meeting.

A. Christopher Bryant, the Rufus King Professor of Constitutional Law, and third-year law student Evan Gildenblatt presented to the Economic Development Reform Panel (EDRP) on topics related to the First Amendment in U.S. election law and rebuilding public trust.

The Economic Development Reform Panel was created earlier this year to study the city of Cincinnati’s development process and propose recommendations to Cincinnati City Council to improve and insulate it from political influence.

Chris Bryant

A. Christopher Bryant, the Rufus King Professor of Constitutional Law. Photo/UC Creative + Brand

Evan Gildenblatt

Third-year law student Evan Gildenblatt. Photo/UC Creative + Brand

Professor Bryant presented on election law precedent and First Amendment concerns related to political campaign contributions. He walked through several important Supreme Court decisions explaining the court’s thinking on issues relating to political contributions and the restrictions on those contributions, specifically as they relate to the First Amendment.

“My main goal was to help the non-lawyers on the panel understand the broad contours of the First Amendment issues in the area of campaign finance regulation,” said Professor Bryant. “I hope that that understanding will allow them to better assess and weigh the constitutional considerations implicated by whatever recommendations they end up making.”

Gildenblatt, who has a master’s degree in public administration, presented on strategies for restoring public trust after unethical government behavior has come to light. He discussed how unethical behavior can not only erode the public’s trust in institutions, but also affect how government employees view their roles.

“Among other things, the EDRP is tasked with developing a code of ethics for city employees and those who do business with the city. While the language of the code itself is obviously of great importance, the training and information that come along with it are just as critical,” said Gildenblatt. “Public trust is hard to gain, but easy to lose; one of the best ways to earn back lost public trust is to enrich public servants’ understandings of ethical professional behavior, thus establishing more equitable structures in the long-term.”

The Economic Development Reform Panel includes Cincinnati Law Dean Verna Williams, as well as Cincinnati Law alumni Ann Marie Tracey ’75 (Chair), Tim Burke ’73, Bobbi Dillon ’13, and Guy Guckenberger ’69. The Panel members were named by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley in January.

“It was a great honor and privilege to be a resource for this panel, which is made up of such an impressive and diverse group of folks confronting such an important task, namely restoring the citizenry's trust that their government is dedicated to pursuing the community's best interests,” said Professor Bryant.

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