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Hamilton County release new stadium deal that is completely redacted

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According to Hamilton County, how they spend the taxpayers’ money is no one’s business.

NFL: MAY 10 Bengals Rookie Mini-Camp Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As Hamilton County nears a deal for a new stadium lease in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Enquirer requested to see related emails and documents in the fall of 2018. They just heard back from the county, but are no closer to understanding this deal than when they started.

What they received was a series of documents that was completely redacted.

“Every word, other than the date, subject line and names of email recipients, was gone,” wrote Dan Horn and Sharon Coolidge of the Enquirer. “No noun or verb remained. No punctuation mark survived.”

“County officials say none of that is anyone’s business but their own,” Horn and Coolidge said.

“We are working to negotiate the best possible deal for the taxpayers,” said Tom Gabelman, the county’s lawyer. He sad that disclosing details of the negotiation could “place the county and its taxpayers at a competitive disadvantage.”

Gableman says that if the taxpayers want to see what they’re footing for a new stadium deal and upgrades, they will have a chance after the negotiations are done.

“The county’s hearing process provides for public participation as part of the Board’s review and approval process.”

Even though Ohio law grants the government the right to withhold information, Enquirer lawyer Jack Greiner called the county “out of line.”

Horn and Coolidge relayed that “While some portions of the emails might be covered by attorney-client privilege, [Greiner] said, the ‘notion that every word, every comma, every individual should be redacted is absurd.’”

The Enquirer claims that they are among several media organizations that have gone to court to argue about what information should be made public.

Clearly the decision about what is public and what is not public will have to be decided in the courtroom, but for the time being, we know next to nothing about the deal the Bengals will reach with the county.

On the one hand, keeping the deal under wraps is supposed to help the county keep its strong negotiating position. But on the other hand, taxpayers should have a right to know how the county is spending their money.

Unfortunately, Bengals fans and Hamilton county residents won’t be able to see anything for some time.