Tuesday, October 21, 2014

COAST joins broad coalition opposed to tolls for Brent Spence Bridge

Today's Enquirer has it: COAST has joined the broad coalition on both sides of the Ohio River against tolls on the Brent Spence ridge.  Read it here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dayton Daily News Flash: People allowed to speak freely in America!

Today's article from the Dayton Daily News is the latest in a series of disappointments from the formerly vaunted Fourth Estate.

In this article, the reporters bemoan the development that Ohioans have been freed -- as a result of COAST's groundbreaking litigation accomplishment -- to speak about candidates on the ballot without fear that they will be dragged before Ohio's Ministry of Truth, the Ohio Elections Commission.

Of course, the freedoms highlighted by the DDN are the fruits of the wisdom of our founding fathers some 225 years ago in freeing us from the shackles of monarchy, and recognizing the right of free speech in the Bill of Rights.  Thus, the surprise and apparent disappointment of the latest products of J-School is in itself disappointing.

That latest J-School graduates failed to appreciate their -- and our -- First Amendment freedoms is unfortunate.  That their editors did not catch their distain before committing it to print is inexcusable.




Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chris Finney Updates Lisa Wells on Ohio Elections Commission Case Against Cincinnatians for Jobs Now

Chris Finney has been working to uncover the details of the funding and expenditures of a dark money group "Cincinnatians for Jobs Now" that targeted Christopher Smitherman in the 2013 City Council campaign.

The Ohio Elections Commission has ordered discovery to proceed, including depositions and document production.

We are cautiously optimistic that the truth will come out soon and the cause of transparency in political expenditures will be vindicated.
Listen here:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Really, Chris Wetterich? Really?

Oh, the Fourth Estate.  How low have they sunk?  How completely has it abandoned its role as a force to challenge the power structure in our community, and to educate the public?  

Read this blog entry and you decide.

To illuminate this issue, one need look no further than the exchange COAST had with Chris Wetterich of the Cincinnati Business Courier this evening, including his condescending, loaded questioning. 

Mr. Wetterich, please pay attention, for, we hope to pry open your mind to see the possibility that COAST is, just perhaps, correct in its criticisms of the impending attempt by SORTA to increase our taxes as an attempt to fund Streetcar operating losses.

___________

First, COAST last week dropped the bombshell that SORTA was conducting a public opinion survey on a proposed tax increase, using tax dollars for the survey, but refusing to release the results to the public that was paying for it.

  • Now, let's pause at this juncture and ask several questions: Why did the crack investigative watchdogs at the Business Courier not (a) uncover this story to begin with (they are paid to do this; we are volunteers), (b) cover it when it was uncovered by us and (c) ask, indeed demand, in its news and editorial pages that SORTA release the survey results to the public?
  • We also point out that the two basic propositions in the story -- that SORTA was using tax dollars to pay for a survey and refusing to release the results -- are not contested by anyone as being completely true. 
The Enquirer covered this story, because COAST gave it to them.  The Enquirer story includes the following:

  • [COAST Counsel Chris] Finney said he believes SORTA is considering a tax increase now to help cover the cost of operating Cincinnati's streetcar.  "This is just another streetcar tax," Finney said.
Tonight, we were minding our own business, having dinner, when we received the following loaded question from Mr. Wetterich via Twitter:



COAST then told Wetterich to hang tight for a few hours, and we would get them the facts.  In response, before even hearing what we said, Wetterich started to make excuses for SORTA:

 

  • As an opening proposition, COAST never said anything about "SORTA's bus expansion plan."  Those are SORTA's words and Wetterich's words, not COAST's words.  All we talked about was their proposed tax increase.

Now, as to evidence that SORTA intends to raise taxes to pay for the operations of the Streetcar, we look no further than SORTA's own press release last December.  As background to this next fact, consider the following:

  • At the time of this release, there was a raging debate before Cincinnati City Council about resuming Streetcar construction (the project had already been suspended by a Council vote).  One critical question in that debate was where was the money for the operating deficit going to come from.  If Council could not receive assurances of outside payment of the sums, the Streetcar appeared doomed.
  • SORTA is broke.  It has no surplus funds.  Indeed for the past six years, SORTA had been cutting service and had scaled-back ridership because of lack of funds.  Thus, it had and has absolutely none of its own money to devote to Streetcar operations.
  • The last time the business community was asked to fund the Streetcar, they contributed precisely bupkis, as is addressed in this COAST blog entry published only days before the SORTA release discussed below and the critical Council vote.
With that as background, then consider that happened on December 17 of 2013: SORTA's Board met, passed a very specific resolution and waded into the Streetcar debate as follows as reported by the Enquirer (their words not ours):

The Board of Trustees of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority has volunteered to assume responsibility for streetcar operating costs -- possibly paving the way for the streetcar to be completed.
  • At this juncture, we note, Mr. Wetterich, that these are the official words of the SORTA Board backed by an official resolution, not the now-resigned Ms. Garcia Crews.  (Where the hell did that bizarre dodge come from?)


So, at the critical time for Cincinnati City Council to decide whether or not to proceed with a 20-year commitment to building and operating the Streetcar, SORTA "volunteers to assume responsibility for Streetcar operating costs."  And, COAST knows, they have no funds to fulfill that commitment and no ability to raise those funds privately.

Less than one year later, SORTA is secretly using tax dollars for a public opinion survey on a massive tax hike.  

Hmmm, who possibly would connect these facts?

And Wetterich wants to know, in his "I already know the answer" style of questioning: "Is there a shred of evidence to support @GOCOAST allegation that SORTA's bus expansion plan is really about $ for the streetcar?"

We respond that, yes, we do have a "shred of evidence."  That evidence is SORTA "volunteering" to pay Streetcar operating costs when it does not have a surplus penny to its name to pay the expense and it knows (as we accurately predicted) that the corporate community was not going to write a check for this foolishness.  

Where the hell else, Mr. Wetterich, are they going to get the money to fulfill that promise?  Or, should we just assume they never had any intention of fulfilling that promise and the Board resolution and press release were merely meaningless, intending to deceive Council and the voters at that critical time? And if either proposition is true, isn't that something worthy of coverage in your pages.  For, it seems to us, that it must be one or the other.
___________

Now Mr. Wetterich, we might suggest that rather than asking sneering questions of COAST, you pick up the phone, call SORTA and ask Sally Hilvers what they meant by this promise one year ago and what they are doing to fulfill that commitment for which they volunteered, i.e., to "assume responsibility for Streetcar operating costs?"  



Sunday, October 5, 2014

SORTA uses public funds for tax hike survey, and yet refuses to release the results to -- the taxpayers

Gosh, this is sleazy.  SORTA is seeking a tax increase, spent your tax dollars to do a public opinion survey to advance that cause, and yet refuses to release the survey results to the taxpayers who paid for it!  

Just make it stop!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ryan Messer and his urban hipsters are a funny bunch -- really!

Streetcar booster and hipster leader 
Ryan Messer has no funding plan 
for $3.8 Million Streetcar operating deficit

The bill eventually comes due, doesn't it?  Well that day is about 16 months away, maybe sooner.

And it's pretty funny watching the folks who committed us to the costs of the Cincinnati Streetcar, worming and squirming as decision day approaches on the funding issue.  Yes, petulant children, you have to pay for that pony, feed him hay every day and then shovel out the stall.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ohio Democrat implosion entirely enjoyable, but let's establish a mandate for coming four years



GOP and conservative activists are downright giddy at the complete collapse of the Democrat Party in Ohio in 2014.  If things remain on their current trajectory, Governor Kasich, AG DeWine, Auditor Yost and other statewide candidates will cruise to victory, and the GOP will retain sizable majorities in the House, Senate, and Ohio Supreme Court.

So, it's time to celebrate, right?  Well, not exactly.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

FitzGerald, Neuhardt hop aboard crazy train

We have been so pre-occupied in following the foibles of Ed FitzGerald that we have missed the opportunity to analyze his crazy, liberal Cleveland Democrat positions in the race for Governor.  And that's unfortunate in that he is indeed just another crazy liberal Democrat from Cleveland.  For those of us from Cincinnati, Cleveland Democrats are a whole new level of crazy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

These guys in Maple Heights are funny!

As we reported here, late Friday afternoon, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the Maple Heights City Council had to follow the Constitution of the State and place on the ballot a Charter Amendment that has been submitted to Council on a petition signed by more than 10% of the City electorate.  The Charter Amendment will effectively ban the use of red light and speeding cameras within the City.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Arrogance, stupidity combine to secure win against City of Maple Heights, OH

For the past six weeks, the Law Director and City Council of the City of Maple Heights, Ohio have refused to follow their duties under the Constitution of the State of Ohio by placing on the ballot a Charter Amendment limiting the use of red light and speeding cameras in their fair City.  The citizenry had obtained a sufficient number of signatures to secure ballot access, but the City fathers just did not seem to care.

So COAST did what COAST does, and we sued them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dispatch calls on OEC to give up the ghost

Today's Columbus Dispatch calls on the Ohio Elections Commission to end the litigation over Ohio's law banning "false statements" enforced by the Commission.  Last week, Judge Timothy Black declared the law unconstitutional and permanently enjoined its enforcement by the Commission.  The Dispatch editorial asked the Commission not to appeal that ruling, saying that an appeal "likely would fail and waste money."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Whining, Chris Seelbach tries to change the topic from his poor choice on the Streetcar

The subject of this post is a September 3, 2014 Facebook Post of Council member Chris Seelbach, and his letter to the editor in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Before we offer our commentary, we want to note that the topic of the Seelbach post is important, and certainly worthy of debate as a community priority.  We believe a thorough discussion of the reasons and cures for infant mortality and Ohio's #1 role in this scourge is entirely appropriate. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

COAST prevails in First Amendment Litigation

Four years later, COAST and Susan B. Anthony List - and all Ohioans - have their First Amendment Rights vindicated!

Ohio's law criminalizing false speech about a political candidate has been permanently enjoined by Judge Black.

Read more about the case, including the decision here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chris Finney discusses Red Light Camera Fight with Bill Wills on Cleveland Radio WTAM

Coast Attorney Chris Finney spoke with Bill Wills of Clevaland's WTAM to discuss the upcoming ballot initiative in Cleveland to ban unattended red light cameras and the Ohio Supreme Court fight to get a similar initiative on the ballot in Maple Heights, Ohio.

The city fathers of Maple Heights are fighting tooth and nail to keep this from going before the voters.

Monday, September 8, 2014

In face of funding failure, Flynn offers pathetic mea culpa

Kevin Flynn spent fifteen minutes with Willie Cunningham on 700 WLW last week explaining that he only violated his promise to voters to stop the Streetcar because some unnamed people mislead him. He was bamboozled by the empty promises made to him by people who promised him the operations funding ($4-$5 Million per year) were on the way.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The end appears near for the OEC's "Reign of Intimidation."

It's been a 4-year journey, but COAST is pleased to report that the reign of intimidation of the Ohio Elections Commission over political speech in Ohio appears to be coming to an end.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Deteriorating Music Hall first major victim of Cincinnati Streetcar folly


Two fundamental propositions are undeniably true:
  • Music Hall is a gem in Cincinnati, architecturally, historically, and as the home for Cincinnati's world-class symphony orchestra. 
  • Music Hall is outdated and falling into disrepair.
But it is equally true that:

  • Music Hall is an asset of the City that historically has been governentally-supported by the City, not the County.
  • If the City had properly invested in the facility and maintained the facility over the years, it would not be outdated and falling into disrepair.
  • Finally, if the City had properly prioritized its use of capital dollars for the past eight years under Mayor Mallory and Finance Chair Roxanne Qualls, it could easily have afforded its obligations to Cincinnati's Music Hall. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Voters sue Maple Heights at Ohio Supreme Court over Red Light Camera Charter Amendment

True to form of thuggish public officials, the Law Director of Maple Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) is instructing City Council members in that fine burb to ignore the mandates of the Ohio Constitution requiring ballot access for Charter Amendments upon the presentation of a sufficient number of signatures.

The fine folks of Maple Heights, Ohio did just that on a petition to amend the City Charter to ban Red Light Cameras.  In response, the City Law Director has decided to himself re-write the rules that apply to Ohio municipalities, and says that sufficient signatures were not submitted.

The petitioners have sued at the Ohio Supreme Court.  We'll keep you updated on the progress.

Friday, August 22, 2014

In contrast, the City of Maple Heights really wants to be sued

Unlike the City fathers in Cleveland who appear on a trajectory to respect the will of Cleveland voters by placing the Charter Amendment on the ballot as mandated by their petitions and the Ohio Constitution, the City of Maple Heights appears to want COAST to sue them.  Read their defiant letter here.

Well, if that's what they want....

Cleveland Red Light Camera initiative appears headed for the ballot

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports this evening that petitioners there have obtained enough valid signatures to place the issue before the voters in our northern neighbor this fall.

Read it here.