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  • Music Hall is outdated and falling into disrepair.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  • If the City had properly invested in the facility and maintained the facility over the years, it would not be outdated and falling into disrepair.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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Media wrap on Cleveland Red Light Cameras

Here is a media rundown on yesterday's turn-in of Red Light Camera Petitions in Cleveland. 

COAST is given credit has being part of a broad coalition up there that also includes:

  1. Cuyahoga County for Liberty, 
  2. Black on Black Crime, Inc., and 
  3. Liberate Ohio,

Again, the broad left-right, black-white coalition that has united to place the issue before the voters is a thing of beauty!

Voters in Cleveland and Maple Heights should have the chance to ban these devices this fall.

It's a great step for liberty! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

More Streetcar bad news

It seems there is no amount of bad news that would convince Streetcar fanatics about the fiscal and economic incorrectness of their support for the Cincinnati Streetcar project.  Overall cost, cost per rider, the absence of any real transportation benefits, the list of reasons not to have done the Streetcar is lengthy and valid, but the biggest reason not to have proceeded with the Streetcar is that each year, year after year, the fine citizens and taxpayers of Cincinnati will need to lay off police and firefighters, and decide between picking up trash and cleaning the streets of ice and snow, versus operating the trolley to nowhere.

Regardless of where you come down on the merits of the Streetcar, this is a cold, mathematical budgetary decision that hundreds of green-balloon marching hipsters can't change, as hard as they may try.

Today, we learned that the City will not be getting a $5 million grant to relieve those expenses.  Nope.  These expenses fall squarely on the backs of the people who elected the people who made this important decision.  That's exactly as it should be.

We'd like to do a happy dance and proclaim "we told you so," but alas the matter is too grave for celebration.  Rather, we'll' let Kevin Flynn, P.G. Sittenfeld and David Mann once again explain why (i) this is not going to cost Cincinnatians a penny and (ii) why it was OK to tell the voters one thing during the election and to do precisely another one month later.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Two developments on Ohio Red Light Cameras

We have two major updates on banning red light cameras in Ohio:

1)  As we reported below, a citizens group in the City of Maple Heights, OH (suburb of Cleveland) backed by COAST has submitted petitions to ban red light cameras in that fair City.  We love this petition drive because it mirrors the black-white coalition formed in Cincinnati over the same issue, as both African-American and caucasian citizens in this City joined together for the petition effort.  There, when COAST attorney Christopher Finney talked to the City Solicitor to arrange the hand-in and the Solicitor promised legal problems...and not he has disappointed.  The City seems to think they can change the constitutional threshold of signatures required on petitions.  They can't.  We will be suing them.  Expect a hue and cry when we asked to be paid attorneys fees for this one, too.  Follow the damn Constitution and we won't sue you.  How's that?

2)  And in even bigger news, after four years of petitioning, a citizens group in the City of Cleveland proper are Monday submitting petitions to ban red light cameras in that City.  Again, backed by COAST, a few brave souls in this City have gathered the requisite numbers for ballot access after years and years of effort.  COAST attorney Christopher Finney will be joining the group for the petition turn-in Monday.

We thank Representatives Mallory and Maag for sponsoring a bill to ban the pernicious devices state-wide, but the bill seems to be going nowhere (thanks Republican leaders!).  Thus, it will require hand-to-hand combat City-by-City.  It's OK.  We are up to the task.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

City of Maple Heights, OH tackles Red Light Cameras

It's the latest in a series of ballot issues backed by COAST to ban red light cameras in Ohio, City by City.  This time, we came to the aid of the residents of Maple Heights, Ohio in drafting a petition to amend the City Charter to ban the pernicious devices.

See 19 Action News' coverage of today's protest and the petition turn-in.  Once again, citizens take control of their own destiny.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lack of outrage for Lois Lerner's bias is frightening

The fabric of our democratic republic is woven with an underlying respect for opposing forces and for our systems of "laws not men."  Year after year, by and large, Democrats and Republicans play by the rules, and accept the outcome of elections, win or lose.  It was an underlying assumption under our Constitutional system that it hinges upon fair play so that our differences would be aired at the ballot box rather than with guns and bombs.

One of the strands of that cloth has been that federal agencies would remain apolitical, interpreting and enforcing the laws evenhandedly to assure that the muscle of the politician and party in power would be applied only through the political processes and not through the heavy jackboot of government.

This principle has been established and enforced on both sides of the aisle for time immemorial, through the Hatch Act, through careful de-politicization of the IRS, and even through impeachment articles when Richard Nixon strayed across the line and allowed the IRS and other government agencies to be used for overtly partisan political ends.

Thus, the lack of outrage in the mainstream media, among Democrats, and among powerful opinion leaders in this nation over the recent abuses by the IRS is profoundly disappointing, even if entirely predictable.

We all know of the shocking "Be on the Lookout" memo from November of 2010 wherein the IRS instructed line-level employees to treat "Tea Party" and "Liberty" group non-profit applications different than those from liberal groups, and its subsequent renewal (after objections were raised) in January of 2012.  It was breath-taking in terms of the abuse of the power by this most-powerful federal agency.

But this week's new revelations about the personal bias of Lois Lerner are simply stunning.  There is no other word for it.  Therein, she characterized conservatives as "crazies" and "assholes."

Now, don't get us wrong.  We expect our elected officials and bureaucrats to abuse their power from time to time.  They are flawed human beings, which precisely is why the inspired genius of our founding fathers shines through with the checks and balances in the Constitution.   These flaws highlight the actions of more recent patriots bolstering those systems -- such as the Special Counsel law.

But these checks and balances presume that the other organs of society (the media, elected and appointed officials from the party in power, business, union and church leaders) demand that our system of limited powers be respected.

That has all fallen apart with the IRS scandal.  

The Attorney General steadfastly refuses to apply the Special Counsel law, Congress refuses to sanction Lois Lerner for her contempt of Congress, but most importantly there appear to be no honest brokers in the media, the Democrat Party, the business community or the clergy.  No one appears willing to step forward and demand accountability for the utterly biased and outrageous conduct by the IRS.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, spells the beginning of the end for our democratic republic.  The moral foundation of our just society no longer exists.  Barack Obama and a rogue IRS can engage in the most outrageous conduct against powerless citizen activists, and even with it all exposed to the light of day, those in power do not care, and refuse to act.

The lack of outrage for Lois Lerner's brazen acts of Tea Party oppression are truly frightening.



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Something we all should be able to agree upon: Setting priorities

A new Hamilton County jail.  A renovated Cincinnati Music Hall. A refurbished Cincinnati Museum Center.  Re-doing the century-old buildings at Cincinnati's Zoo. A streetcar to Clifton. Preschools for every child.  Better police and fire protection.  Fixing the long-neglected Cincinnati pension.  Lavish facilities at Ohio's Colleges and Universities. A new public arena for Cincinnati.  Improved technical and vocational educational facilities and programs at Cincinnati State.

They all sound nice, really nice, and who would not want all of these things?  Except, of course, for the teeny little problem of who is going to pay for the long list of long-neglected community needs and wants, and how much are they all going to cost.

Today's Enquirer editorial by Julie Zimmerman touches on a topic near and dear to COAST, which is that as a community we can do many things, and many new things, but we can't do everything.  We must, as a community, set priorities.  The Enquirer and Ms. Zimmerman recognize this reality, and we appreciate that start of this important community discussion.

We have a different idea about those priorities than Ms. Zimmerman and the Enquirer Editorial Board, and we suspect almost every citizen would place these things in a different order.  But that's a discussion for a different day.

We believe that the start of the discussion is whether Cincinnati-area families can afford a bigger and bigger share of their hard-earned monies going to fund governmental projects, versus paying for their own homes, their own food and transportation, their own kids' education and their own retirement.  One of the many things our community "dreamers" miss is the soaring home foreclosure rate -- in part as a result of the burden of ever-rising property taxes.  COAST insists that in setting community priorities the overall burden on Cincinnati-area families must be factored in.

While COAST's detractors dislike us asking the hard questions, the important debates we have forced in this community have allowed for uncomfortable, yet necessary, discussion of our community priorities for the spending of precious tax dollars -- and more importantly how large that burden should be overall.  And in doing so we have forced the inclusion of the one group that back-room dealers want to leave out of the discussion -- the taxpayers, the voters, the people of this fine community.  The "little people" who "pay the taxes" as uber-wealthy Leona Helmsley once quipped.

The reality is that the new economy and the internet have disrupted the historic priority-setting structures that directed decisions in this community for decades if not centuries.  The types of mature business-minded leaders who built this town -- with a concern for the common man threaded in there -- no longer exist.  Most decisions in our community are made by those on the public dole, or who benefit from the system that is in place -- contractors, bankers, lawyers, lobbyists, and other assorted hangers-on.  Many pursue their own self-interest with little-to-no regard given to setting overall priorities, or a limit on the burden to be foisted on the common man.

COAST's entrance nearly fifteen years ago into the leadership void in our community, its embrace of new coalitions (e.g., "WeDemandAVote.Com" and the coalition that defeated the parking plot) and use of emerging technology (i.e., our blog, e-mail system and use of Twitter and Facebook) to help set these priorities is a part of re-establishing a system of setting community priorities.

The re-entrance of the opinion leader in Cincinnati -- the Enquirer -- into this great community debate is refreshing, as provoking thought and leading discussion of the direction Cincinnati going forward.

We welcome them to the discussion once again.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Enquirer's Cindi Andrews Applauds COAST Attorneys

COAST attorneys Chris Finney and Curt Hartman were singled out for praise by Cincinnati Enquirer reporter/editorialist Cindi Andrews in her recent piece.

Andrew's applauds COAST's legal team for "forcing local governments to follow the law"

Read her entire piece here.

We appreciate Ms. Andrews perspective and look forward to giving our legal team more opportunities to force local governments to follow the law!

SBA List & COAST v. Driehaus Continues at U.S. District Court

 Read the most recent motions below:



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ohio Rising Sales Tax Survey

Participate in the survey here:

 Then contact the County Commissioners here:

President Chris Monzel:  (513) 946-4409 (ph)
Vice President Greg Hartmann:  (513) 946-4406 (ph)
Commissioner Todd Portune:  (513) 946-4401 (ph)

Monday, June 23, 2014

COAST gets second win at High Court


COAST's legal dream team, lead by Chris Finney and Curt Hartman tallied two wins at the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

In both cases, the Court was deciding whether COAST had standing to challenge Ohio's political speech suppressing Political False Statements law.

It was fairly assumed that with the result in SBA List & COAST v. Driehaus, our writ in COAST v. OEC would be Granted Vacated and Remanded (GVR), the Court's expedited process for reversing the lower court based on a new statute or case law. In this instance, our earlier case was that new case law. But certainly, no one expected the Court to move so quickly. Read our Petition for Writ of Certiorari here. Read the Court's entry here.

We fully expect the press and our detractors to trumpet that we are seeking the right to lie. In fact, what we are seeking is the right to unfettered political speech. 

No person, whatever their political views, should have to fear bureaucrats checking over every jot and tittle ready to pounce and declare unfavored political views as "false" and threatening criminal prosecution.

We are proud of our role in fighting this blatantly unconstitutional law.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Could it be possible, a second US Supreme Court win in June 2014?

We know it all seems implausible, impossible, inconceivable, but COAST could have a second win at the U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday.

In addition to being a co-Plaintiff in the recent landmark Susan B. Anthony List decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas and decide 9-0 by the Supremes, COAST was subject to an outrageous prosecution under the Ohio Elections Commission's False Claims Statute in 2011.  Read a powerful New York Times piece on that, here.

COAST challenged that prosecution in addition to the case decided this past week by the Supreme Court.  That case is pending on petition for certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court.  They meet this week to decide the case, and will announce that decision, we expect, Monday morning.

Stay tuned for a possible COAST June Supreme Court two-fer.