The follwing op-ed was written by Mark Miller and appears in today's Enquirer:
Voting YES ON ISSUE 9 will give Cincinnatians the opportunity to vote on city spending for passenger rail like the streetcar or trolley.
Right now, only the Cincinnati mayor and City Council members decide these things.
A majority of those elected officials have already promised to spend a couple hundred million taxpayer dollars on a streetcar that we don't want and can't afford. A majority of council candidates have promised to do likewise. The only way for citizens to have their voices heard on the streetcar is to vote YES ON ISSUE 9.
Issue 9 requires Council to get public approval before spending our money on right-of-way acquisition (buying land) or constructing improvements (laying track, hanging trolley wires) on such land.
These are the most expensive components of a rail project, and occur late in the overall project schedule.
Typically three or four years are required to design, plan, engineer and fund a rail project, so there's plenty of time to vote in a normal election.
There are miles of subway tunnels under Cincinnati streets. It took us 50 years to pay them off, yet they've never transported a single passenger.
We bought Union Terminal from bankrupt railroaders and left it vacant for 30 years. The county finally transformed it into today's Museum Center.
The riverfront transit center was supposed to be the main rail station for the city. It remains largely vacant to this day, and the 3C corridor project can't even use it.
Hundreds of millions of our dollars were wasted, and we have zero rails or trains to show for it.
Now city leaders want the latest rail fad, a trolley. Our track record demands that we make sure people want it before putting our children in debt to pay for it.
We demand a vote, and YES ON ISSUE 9 will give it to us.
A vote allows our entire community to speak with one voice and go on record for or against the trolley. The current controversy should convince you that this is a worthwhile and vital step.
Voting doesn't hinder progress, it facilitates it. Voters must bear the long-term costs, and live with the long-term results.
Politicians are here for a few years and then move on to their next office. Therefore the people, not politicians, should have final approval.
YES ON ISSUE 9 accomplishes that.
If you want the opportunity to vote on rail projects like the streetcar, then vote YES ON ISSUE 9.