Monday, June 22, 2015

Seitz calls for cities to refund Red Light Camera ticket fines


Red Light Camera Investigation Prompts Call for Cities to End Legal Action, Issue Refunds

Senate Republican calls for cities to apologize and end the program
 
COLUMBUS State Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) called on cities using red light cameras to immediately end their lawsuit against the State of Ohio, apologize to the General Assembly and refund fines to drivers.

Seitz made the demand following news reports of a federal investigation alleging that an executive of a red light camera company bribed city officials to keep the cameras running despite legislative action to ban them.

“I call on the cities to apologize and dismiss their lawsuit,” said Seitz, who has led the effort to outlaw red light cameras, including recent action to reduce state tax dollars going to local government funds by the amount of the fines. “We always knew it wasn’t about public safety. It was about money; we just didn’t know it was about shady money.”

According to news reports, RedFlex CEO Karen Finley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. Federal court documents allege that improper campaign contributions were directed at elected officials in Columbus and Cincinnati during an eight-year period between 2005 and 2013.

"I have always maintained that photo enforcement cameras were more about money than safety," Seitz continued. "Today’s criminal case proves how right I was, even though I never dreamed that municipal officials would take bribes to fleece their own taxpayers. Apparently, a new side benefit of our recent state law on restricting and regulating the use of these cameras will be to restrict the opportunity for corrupt officials to receive bribes. I call on the cities that continued to disregard our state law to immediately dismiss their lawsuits against the state and to make full restitution to the motorists whose traffic tickets are the product of corrupt activity by the very municipal officials who are supposed to be protecting the taxpayers against governmental abuse.”

Read the federal court document here:
http://www.10tv.com/content/downloads/2015/06/Finley_information.pdf

In 2014, the Ohio Senate voted to prohibit cities from using the cameras, and the cities sued the state in an attempt to overturn the ban. The court case is still pending.

Read local media coverage of the investigation and bribery plea here:
 
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State Senator Bill Seitz represents the 8th District in the Ohio Senate, which encompasses a portion of Hamilton County. Learn more at www.OhioSenate.gov/Seitz. You can download a high-resolution photo of Senator Seitz for your use by clicking here.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Enquirer: Now we know Streetcar operating costs

So, part of the Streetcar shell game during the reign of Mayor Mark Mallory and Finance Committee Chair Roxanne Qualls was to never project operating income den expenses from the Streetcar.  Yes, it is hard to believe, but City Council and the administration steadfastly refused, before, during and after embarking on the Streetcar boondoggle, to run numbers for an operating budget, until now.

This was by design and for two reasons: First the number would have been unacceptably large, and second because it deviated from their standard theme that the Streetcar "costs" were entirely capital in nature.  Indeed, the whisper campaign they started and perpetrated was that the ticket sales and advertising revenue from the Streetcar would pay the operating costs.  It was, of course, the foundation of Rob Richardson, Jr.'s false claims complaint against COAST to the Ohio Elections Commission on behalf of Streetcar advocates that no operating fund dollars were getting plowed into that wasteful project.

The underlying theme of all of these mechanizations was that the Streetcar would have no impact on City operations.  Because the City cannot run a deficit like the federal government, any losses must be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget (i.e., police, fire, or road maintenance) or by (heaven forbid!) revenue increases.  And the City could not tolerate admitting that it intended to ultimately cut police and fire services to fund their pet Streetcar-to-nowhere project or -- gulp -- to raise taxes.

Of course, that was all a lie, a ruse, a smokescreen, a shell game.  As the Enquirer so accurately states in its headline today: Now we know.

Now we know the truth: The Streetcar is going to cost the taxpayers $4.7 in losses per year.  That's $4.7 million per year from police protection; $4.7 million per year from fire protection; $4.7 million per year from road maintenance.  That's because there is no other source of operating funds and nowhere else to cut from the City Budget.

At some point, the number $3,5 million in operating losses was tossed out there by the City.  COAST called bullshit on that, and proudly calculated and predicted that the losses would be in the $5 to $10 million per year range.  And understanding that the City's current $4.7 million operating loss number does not include depreciation of the rolling stock and other known expenses of operating the Streetcar, it loos like COAST's projections will be spot on.

So, Rob Richardson, Jr. who exactly was lying and who was telling the truth?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

We just watch in awe

OK. Let's start with a question:
Is there a capital project or an "economic development" project you are so in love with that the cost-benefit analysis is utterly irrelevant? 
Of course not.  We are not talking about saving lives or Western Civilization.  We are addressing the expenditure of scarce tax dollars to leverage a greater level of development for jobs and yet other capital projects.

So, the careful analysis of the ROI for each capital dollar spent should be the yardstick for approving those expenditures.  Should be.

Thus, we watch in awe as today it is reported that the utility relocation costs associated with the "next mile" of Cincinnati Streetcar track and yet Streetcar supporters are massing for yet another public hearing demanding that City Council continue the spending to expand the Streetcar route into Uptown.

Now, all of this is entirely predictable: All of the cost estimates, warning bells, overruns, alarms, headlines and data from other jurisdictions were unheeded as they plowed forward with Streetcar Phases 1 and 1A.  And, even Council supporters conceded when the Downtown route was approved that there was no reason to build the Riverfront-to-Findlay Market leg unless we intended to run the Streetcar to and around uptown.

We are blessed, however, that consistently Mayor John Cranley has been throwing cold water on these unfunded pipe dreams.  He, the voice of reason at City Hall, has consistently opposed Streetcar funding.

So, read today's latest from the Enquirer on the Streetcar.  We watch in awe as the out-of-touch tax and spenders try to plow forward in fiscal irresponsibility.

It is a sight to behold!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Eric Holder, Libertarian?

The groundbreaking WeDemandAVote.Com coalition that was launched in 2007 among the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, COAST, Ohio Libertarians, the Ohio Green Party and others had many political pundits scratching their heads:

How could this diverse group come to agreement on anything?

However, as time has marched on, many in our community have developed a deep understanding as to how conservatives, progressives, Libertarians and Greens could unite:

Government has simply become too big, too intrusive, too oppressive 
for the good of the people it supposedly serves.  

A bigger jail, red light cameras, a trash tax, higher parking fees...the citizenry can only take so much, and in Cincinnati working men and women had had enough.  The unifying theme was: Leave us alone!

Now, one would have thought that the other end of that political spectrum were President Obama and his hand-picked Attorney General Eric Holder, who seem to have devoted their professional existence to the expansion of government into every nook and cranny of our lives, and an increase in taxation and spending to accompany that.

Thus, color us shocked that in his last official act as U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder issued an utterly remarkable report, here, that decries the abuse of power by the City of Ferguson in a myriad of ways, primarily in harassing citizens with oppressive traffic laws, a rapacious enforcement system, and a biased Court system.  Holder systematically explains how unchecked local government causes untold hardship on the very citizens who need help, not harassment by government.

Is Eric Holder, after all, a libertarian? 

The real story behind the Holder report is that we can choose to have a system of limited government, where our elected and appointed officials live inside tight bounds of power defined by the Constitution and an activist citizenry, or we can live as vassals of our elected and appointed officials, cowering in fear of their next capricious act.

In this February article New York Times reporter Shaila Dewan connected these dots, and noted the COAST/NAACP alliance as one of several developments throughout the nation where historic divides have been bridged to fight oppressive and unjust local government.

This incredible Washington Post article from September of last year, How municipalities in St. Louis County, MO, profit from poverty, explains in excruciating but necessary detail how self-serving government officials either intentionally or thoughtlessly create endless misery for citizens living on the margins of society.

This choice is clear from the Holder report, and the preference of the Department of Justice toward constrained governance is equally clear.  It is a remarkable end to his tenure as U.S. Attorney General.

COAST exists, in great part, to check the nature of man and government to oppress the citizenry.  We are as a State and a nation blessed to have had founders and visionary elected officials that have put in place over the centuries and decades constitutional and statutory constraints on the power of government officials.  We gladly use these tools -- lawsuits, ballot issues, election campaigns -- to keep government in check.

We welcome the recent attention to the outrageous conduct across the criminal justice system in Missouri, but note that the petty indignities that ultimately ignited months of riots in suburban St. Louis exist throughout the nation.  Left and right, black and white, rich and poor, can and should unite to reaffirm the principles of limited government that have made America the greatest country on earth.  It is an endless battle to keep the powerful in check.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

COAST attorney argues ObamaCare case at the US Supreme Court

2014 was a rush, for sure.

In that year, COAST ascended to oral argument before the US Supreme Court in its battle before the Ohio Elections Commission.  And we won 9-0 in a Clarence Thomas-authored opinion.  

That case was skillfully shepherded to victory -- in intensely sophisticated ways -- through the maze that is the US Supreme Court appellate process, by Jones Day partner Michael A. Carvin.  Carvin is an experienced Federal appellate advocate that specializes in Supreme Court work.

Thus, COAST was quite proud today when Mr. Carvin argued for the Plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the last best hope of conservatives to overturn the devastatingly bad piece of socialist engineering for America that is ObamaCare.

Read about his appearance in virtually any media outlet.  

We told you, we told you , we told you

The drip, drip, drip of bad news on the Cincinnati Streetcar project continues.

We don't wish bad for Cincinnati.  We really don't.  Indeed, we tried our hardest, we did, to stop our out-of-control City Fathers and Mothers from making this epic mistake of debt and deficits.  They did not listen and they did not heed the reality of mathematics.

But today's Business Courier story on the Streetcar is just part of more to come.  It's simple:

  1. Cost overruns on the construction of the project, meaning either that the monies must come from the City's operating funds or more debt.
  2. The operations of the Streetcar will cost more than the income, and indeed more than City leaders and Streetcar boosters have told us.  By definition, this means either high taxes and fees, or it means a reduction in critical services such as Police and Fire protection.
Note that the latest Streetcar bad news is reported by relentless Streetcar boosters at the Cincinnati Business Courier.  Read it here.

So, we wish it were't so.  We wish we were wrong all along.

But we were not.  And Cincinnati taxpayers will pay the price.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Empower U announces Spring course offerings

COAST Board member Dan Regenold "goes the extra mile" each year by organizing a series of free seminars for the public to attend to become educated about our constitutional structure and the rights of citizens to be involved.

Here are their Spring 2015 offerings, and as always they are high-quality and well presented.

Please join us for Empower-U Spring 2015!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Now Illinois grapples with problem of public sector unions; Ohio left in the dust

In the galloping competition between States for jobs, the cascade of remarkable actions of state after state continues.  For who would have guessed that rust-belt states like Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan (!) could roll back -- and keep rolled back -- union gains to better their local economies?

Yet they did, courageously.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

COAST Founder Begins Term in Ohio House

COAST is proud of the electoral success enjoyed by founding member Tom Brinkman in 2014. First unseating an incumbent in the Republican primary, then cruising to victory in November. Now, the hard work starts as Tom rejoins the Ohio House.

Congratulations to Tom Brinkman.

State Representative Tom Brinkman was sworn in by State Treasurer Josh Mandel on Monday, January 5, 2015. Accompanying Tom on the floor of the Ohio House are his wife Cathy and daughter Kelley.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Business Courier recognizes wisdom of Regenold. Capell

COASTers Dan Regenold and Jeff Capell fought a lonely fight against some of the richest and most powerful Cincnnatians during the "icon tax" battle earlier this year, ultimately putting forth a plan that gave significant new capital funding for Union Terminal, but not Music Hall.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ohio Supreme Court Red Light and Speeding Camera decision is simply...embarrassing

OK, it's a confusing week on Red Light and Speeding Cameras in Ohio, as on Friday, Governor John Kasich signed in to law a somewhat confusing bill "regulating" the devices; if things go according to plan with the Courts, "regulating" them out of existence.  One day earlier, the Ohio Supreme Court fumbled another case on municipal authority -- this one addressing Red Light and Speeding Cameras.  So pay attention if you really want to know what's going on.

Sad tale of the attempted Democrat takeover of the Cincinnati NAACP

As our loyal readers know, for the past seven years, COAST and the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP have partnered on issue after issue to effectuate progress for the working men and women of Cincinnati:

Governor Kasich signs bill outlawing Red Light and Speeding Cameras in Ohio

With COAST attorney Chris Finney present, along with Representatives Ron Maag and Dale Mallory, Senator Bill Seitz and Cincinnati attorney Mike Allen who is challenging the devices in a series of actions throughout the State, Governor Kasich signs a bill outlawing red light and speeding cameras.

Thank you Senator Seitz, and Representatives Maag and Mallory, as well as Governor Kasich, for this great decision for liberty!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Governor Kasich to sign bill banning Red Light Cameras

Maggie Thurber and OhioWatchdog.org has the story here: Governor Kasich commits to sign bill effectively banning Red Light Cameras.

Attorney, WXIX help expose fraud in North College Hill

COAST's legal team has been monitoring and helping whistleblowers in the City of North College Hill to stop fraud and abuse by its City fathers, the Mayor and City Manager.  Their conduct is truly abusive.  We are glad it is getting attention:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Battle of 2015: SORTA tax

The signals are all clear: SORTA intends to seek a massive sales tax increase in 2015 to fund the losses on the Cincinnati Streetcar.  We know this will be our battleground this coming year.

COAST stands ready to expose the commitment of SORTA to fund the Cincinnati Streetrcar losses and to oppose its cash grab.

Note: This will be the battleground in 2015.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Stunning: Judge finds probable cause national NAACP suppressing vote, manipulating election!

It is as stunning as it is sad: Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Steve Martin today found probable cause that the nation's preeminent civil rights organization, the NAACP, is suppressing the vote of its own members in the upcoming election for NAACP Cincinnati Chapter Presidency and Board members.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sad tale of voter suppression by national branch of NAACP

It is sad to see the national NAACP aggressively seeking voter suppression of its own members in a local branch election.

As our loyal readers know, this fiscally conservative organization (COAST) has proudly partnered with the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP to achieve progress in our community, reaching across racial and political boundaries to form a ground-breaking coalition on the Jail Tax, Red Light Cameras, the sale of the Cincinnati Water Works, the Parking Plot and other fulcrum issues for our community.

We are shocked, shocked that the Streetcar budget was "cooked"

In the manner that Captain Renault recited his alarm about gambling in the movie Casablanca, we are shocked, shocked we say that the Streetcar budget was cooked by Mayor Mallory and Finance Committee Chairman Roxanne Qualls all along.

Today, Mayor John Cranley was pointed in his criticism of the project and its fraudulent handling by the prior administration, calling the books "cooked."

Read the latest sad news, one of dozens of bad news stories to roll out before the launch of the boondoggle, right here.