Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Streetcar: Only $31,997,065 in private funds to go!

Last week COAST reported that no private funds had been raised for the streetcar. We based this report on prior public records requests, and a phone call to the City Budget Director made through a Council staffer 4 days prior to posting. It turns out we were given the wrong information. Explore Cincinnati called us on it, and recontacted the budget director. See summary transcript below.

I have a question for you regarding the status of Fund No. 455, "Contributions for Streetcar Purposes." Mr. Brad Beckett, Chief of Staff to Councilman Monzel, claims that there is $0 in the Fund. However, various news stories last month reported on several hundred dollars raised for the fund by attendees of a local couple's wedding. There was also money from Duke Energy promised to the Streetcar project. Can you tell me the status of the couple's donation and the Duke donation? Have either of these funds been given to the City at this point, and if so, are they being held in a different account?

Mr. Beckett asked and I replied as to the balance that I knew about at that time which was at the end of February. Since then there have been $2,935 in actual deposits made. The Duke Energy money is pledged but has not been received yet.
WOW, 12 months to raise $2,935! Clearly this is much more progress than we gave the City credit for. COAST apologizes for the error.

Keep in mind that the original ordinance requires the City Manager to raise $32 million in private funds before the plan can proceed. At this rate, we can break ground for the streetcar in just under eleven thousand years.


  1. Well you see there's a lot of corporations who have promised to donate to the private funds of the streetcar. Companies like Duke Energy have pledged financial support and donations once a concise and more final plan is adopted. The problem is there are these groups going around spreading lies about the streetcar system and promoting it as a "Coal powered locomotive" among many other misconceptions that are entirely untrue. I thought C.O.A.S.T. wasn't against progress, just giving people the right to vote on the issue? Looks to be the other way around here.

  2. How is it powered then? Please enlighten us. What other companies have pledged support? How much? When?

  3. Well, if the city can't raise the money I guess you can call off your petition drive, right?

  4. Would be nice if we could do that, unfortunately you can't take elected officials at their word.

  5. Obviously you are ignoring the $3.5 million pledged by Duke Energy. We will find out from Milton Dahoney if other companies have pledged money to the project as well. Perhaps companies like Kroger and Procter & Gamble, who support the Streetcar project, have stepped up pledged money. We won't know for sure until the City Manager reports back on the subject.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Jason: The streetcar's are powered by overhead electric wires. They run on clean, electric motors. They are not "Coal burning locomotives in disguise" as you liked to put it on the Bill Cunningham show. Cincinnati power depends on a lot more sources than just the coal burning plants along the river. You also have natural gas turbines and methane processing plants as well as tidal and hydroelectric power in various locations along the Ohio and Miami rivers. I'm not exactly sure how you've come to the conclusion that all the power for the streetcar system would come from coal burning plants. Not to mention the addition of a streetcar to the power grid wouldn't add a major strain to the current grid or resources regardless of where that wattage comes from. It should also be noted that the possible reduction in gasoline burning vehicles no longer being used at that time as someone uses the streetcar or a bus route it replaces could help reduce the amount of pollution being put into the air. Now, that's debatable as to how much/if it would alleviate or reduce any pollution, but to try and say that the streetcar is a coal burning vehicle is very misleading and untrue.

  8. I'd be curious to know what Queen City Discovery said, that COAST felt the need to censor.
    Hmmm. Suspicious.

  9. I wonder if the outspoken Mr. Gloyd, who seems very concerned about how the City chooses to spend its money, even resides within the City?

    I also wonder if his concern for the source of electricity generation in the region has led him to take his own home off the grid, lest it be deemed a coal-burning home?

  10. Queen City Discovery deleted his own post. That's why it says, "removed by the author."

    I happened to be online and got a peek at it before he whacked it. I don't remember exactly what it said, but it was nearly identical to the one below it, minus a sentence that was a little too biting and snarky. Nothing bad really, it just didn't portray his usual character and class.

    I wish anonymous commenters were as discriminating and careful with their words. People who stand behind what they say earn more credibility and respect.

  11. Jason,

    What if the University of Cincinnati agreed to sell the City the additional electricity required to run the Streetcar from its natural gas power plant in Corryville? UC supports the Streetcar proposal, so they might be interested in selling the energy to the city for the same price as Duke's electricity. This would eliminate the emissions problem associated with coal.

  12. Most of the CEOs are in favor of the streetcar, but are holding off on saying anything or committing funds until they know when it will best benefit them. No specific amounts have been mentioned to me specifically, but it doesn't take long to raise $31 million if you have a couple of big donors. I kind of view Procter & Gamble, 5/3 and Kroger as major players that could seal this deal with one press release.

    Then again, if these funds aren't raised, then the project doesn't happen or it has to be renegotiated through the Finance Committee and full City Council. So what's the point, are you rooting against the City in being able to raise the funds? I don't get it...it just sounds like a cheap shot to me.

  13. Maybe I missed it somewhere along the line. Why exactly are you so opposed to this?
    This will be great for not only the city but the region, as Northern KY is on board and would like to connect when Cincinnati builds their lines.
    Is Coast aware of the development, and investment that has already happened in the areas along the proposed route? Why would you not want to support small businesses like Park and Vine and Joseph Williams home, who would benefit greatly from this project. The members of the Uptown Consortium, who have invested Millions in this city, would all benefit from this development. What message do you think it sends to them to block a project that will compliment the money they have invested in our city?

  14. Light rail and streetcar systems have been proven time and time again to pay for themselves many times over in new development and increased tax revenue for the host city. They also make cities more livable and increase downtown residential property values. That's not to mention their value as a transportation alternative, especially for those who choose not own a car or can't afford one (ridership on new systems almost always beat original projections). There is something terribly disingenuous about Mr. Gloyd's opposition. And his propaganda campaign, including the deceptive petition drive, must be countered with the truth. Who are your backers Mr. Gloyd? The auto lobby? The highway construction lobby? I intend to find out.

  15. anonymous, why does gloyd have to have a backer? perhaps he sees a boondoggle and doesn't want to see the taxpayers on the hook for the bortz family boondoggle act of 2009! You want to check out backers, why don't you check out how many towne properties owned buildings are along the proposed streetcar line.

  16. ^To the anon. commenter above it. Mr. Gloyd may claim to see a "boondoggle," but his reasons for calling it one are quite irrational and misleading. Also, I fail to see how the public is "on the hook" for this considering no one in Hamilton County will be taxed for the streetcar line and no one in Cincinnati proper is currently being taxed or has been taxed for streetcar funding. That majority of the city's end of the financing has come from the sale of the Blue Ash Airport and funds that were allocated to the city that can only be used for certain types of transit improvement. I don't have any problem with Mr. Gloyd being opposed to the project or fighting for less taxes, but when you try to make blatantly exaggerated claims against a project while at the same time stating you're not against it and only for a public vote, it becomes quite clear that C.O.A.S.T. is aiming to campaign against the streetcar no matter how they skew the supposed "facts." Especially when this is tried to be played off as a hazard to the average taxpayers wallet, when it most certainly is not.

    As far as being "censored." I didn't intend for my comment to appear as if the blog admin had censored it. Mr. Miller was right, I deleted it myself and then posted a nearly identical post. I deleted my original post because I did feel the last sentence was a bit rude and decided to change it. However, I'm not sure how Mark Miller is aware of my "usual character and class" considering this comment board is the first time I've ever talked with him. Then again, after reading through posts on this blog... jumping to conclusions and exaggerations are a common occurrence. Whether it's trying to pass the streetcar off as a "coal burning locomotive," or claiming my usual character is "snarky," C.O.A.S.T. seems to have no problem stretching things a bit.

  17. QCD I think Mr. Miller was actually paying you a complement.

  18. Kurt, you are absolutely right. Mr. Miller, I apologize for jumping the gun and not taking the time to realize you weren't insulting me, but instead complimenting me. That shows poor judgment on my part and I apologize for that. "Jumping to conclusions" is not what you did, but what I did and I apologize.

    Let it be known though, that while I still feel there are many misconceptions and exaggerations about the streetcar floating around and I think C.O.A.S.T. gets it wrong on some things, I also think the tea party's were good ideas and seemed to have great success.

  19. Vast Right Wing ConspiracyApril 17, 2009 at 12:42 PM

    Anon 4:11 said - "Who are your backers Mr. Gloyd? The auto lobby? The highway construction lobby? I intend to find out."

    It's much worse and more devious than you thought Anon!

    I saw Gloyd exiting a limo last night and entering an upscale restaurant with Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Haliburton Execs, David Duke, Rush Limbaugh, and representatives from Big Oil, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharaceuticals.

    The charade is up!

    What a nut.

  20. "What IF the University of Cincinnati agreed to sell the City the additional electricity required to run the Streetcar from its natural gas power plant in Corryville?"

    That's a huge IF Travis. Let me add to it. What IF the streetcars could be powered by magical, rainbow beams bestowed on us by the Streetcar Fairy?

  21. This exercise should help those like Travis.

    The streetcar (capital and operations)will be funded by:
    A) The taxpayers
    B) Corporate donations
    C) Santa Claus
    D) Increased revenues due to new private development and investment
    E) A leprechaun's pot of gold

    If you answered A) The Taxpayers you are correct. Why?


  22. Bris Chortz: Yes, I said "if", but my point is that calling the Streetcar a "coal-burning locomotive in disguise" is illogical, and we could easily get the minimal amount of power required by the Streetcar from renewable energy or less-polluting nonrenewable sources. Opposing the Streetcar based on its power source doesn't make sense, unless you secretly oppose all development in the entire Midwest region.

  23. COAST is a seriously damaged in the head. Here's the bigger picture:

    Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York are all working on rail systems that will connect with Ohio's DOT Hub system (3C). Northern Kentucky is on board and wants to connect with Cincinnati.

    So, COAST basically wants to change the Cincinnati Constitution to shoot down rail initiatives. Thinking that they are doing good by stopping a government project that they can't find any value in. This is a narrow and dangerous thing they are trying to do and I don't think they have the long term vision to see what is happening in the big picture.

    If this happens, you can basically get out your Ohio map and cut out a square where Cincinnati is, because it means that we basically don't exist in this bigger picture. Cincinnati would be the laughing stock of the United States if COAST is successful. You want to see a city disappear? Just sign the ballot initiative.

  24. ^ Wow that's a pretty apocalyptic prediction. Are you overstating for effect? Or do you really believe that a city law could dictate state or federal actions?

    The money at issue for the streetcar project belongs to City citizens. It's perfectly reasonably for them to demand to pre-approve spending on massive passenger rail transit projects. Frankly, voters are tired of rail junkies back-dooring their projects into our wallets.

    Any politician worth his salt lines up public support before moving forward with his plan. The public vote is a formality to make sure that step doesn't get skipped like it did with the streetcar.


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