Thursday, July 30, 2009

Portland Votes on Passenger Rail Transportation

Why Shouldn't We?

Cincinnatians for Progress and other streetcar proponents are trying to convince you that voting on passenger rail tranportation is somehow unreasonable, and that you should lie down and let politicians make all your decisions for you. They think you're too stupid to known what's best for your own city.

Portland has an extensive transit system. But it wasn't a surprise gift from generous politicians. Taxpayers directed their government every step of the way through the ballot box.
  • In the mid-1970s, TriMet began a study for light rail using funds intended for the cancelled Mount Hood Freeway. Voters approved funding for the project, and the first line opened in 1986.
  • Light rail was again put to a vote in Portland in 1990 when 74% of the region’s voters approved a bond for construction on the West Side.
  • Four years later, 64 percent of voters approved a larger bond for the South/North Project.
  • In 1993 the region approached the state for matching funds and opponents forced extended legislative debate, but funding was approved.
  • However, rail opponents gathered sufficient signatures to force a statewide election on the measure. Looks like honoring citizens' petition rights isn't just a California thing. State funding was then defeated in another public vote.
  • In 1998, regional leaders placed the previously approved bonds on the ballot, necessary because the loss of state funding required a revised project. That was voted down.
  • In subsequent years voters renewed previous tax increases and everyone settled into a comfortable pattern of reasonable transit growth. A diesel commuter rail line, aerial tram, and streetcars were added.
  • Today Portland contemplates extending streetcar service to the community of Lake Oswego. Many residents have expressed reservations on the plan, so the transit authority has gone out of its way to include citizens in the process.
Mayor Mallory and many others like to point to Portland as an example of how to do transit. But they conveniently omit the decades of voting that Portlanders have gone through to establish their network. Apparently citizen participation in the process doesn't fit certain Cincinnatians' idea of "progress."

Mallory's recent trip to Portland winds up being just another wasted junket because he failed to learn the most important lesson of all. Voting doesn't "block" transit; it enables it. Enact the pro-vote charter amendment.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wenstrup Takes the COAST Pledge

Mayoral candidate takes firm stand on City budget crisisDr. Brad Wenstrup takes the COAST pledge
against raising taxes during coming Mayoral term

Yesterday, COAST exposed City Manager Milton Dohoney’s plan to raise taxes right after the November election. The same day, Mayoral candidate Dr. Brad Wenstrup signed on to the COAST Pledge against raising taxes during the coming Mayoral term as a way to solve the City’s over-spending problem.

“As President John F. Kennedy said, ‘Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity,’” said Dr. Wenstrup, “and conversely higher rates of taxation suppress economic activity. COAST’s pledge is compatible with my philosophy for governing.”

Please e-mail call Dr. Wenstrup or call him at (513) 321-1090 to thank him for taking the Pledge. You may learn how to support his campaign here.

Mayor Mallory has so far refused to take the COAST pledge against raising taxes. Please e-mail him or call him ((513) 352-3250) and demand that he take the pledge as well.

To date, Chris Monzel, Leslie Ghiz, Charlie Winburn, George Zamary and Amy Murray have taken the pledge. The other Council incumbents and candidates have not taken the pledge.

“COAST salutes Dr. Brad Wenstrup for taking the Pledge,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. “He has shown wisdom and courage through his service as a physician and in our military in Iraq. Dr. Wenstrup has applied those leadership qualities to the City’s budget crisis and has committed firmly to the voters that he will not raise taxes. We encourage Mayor Mark Mallory to disavow City Manager Milton Dohoney’s plan to raise taxes and sign the Pledge as well.”

While Dr. Brad Wenstrup was signing the Pledge, Mayor Mallory was holding a press conference encouraging Cincinnati to move forward with his $185 million trolley boondoggle. Quite a contrast in positions, it seems to COAST.

The text of the pledge is:

2009 Cincinnati Mayoral and Council Candidate
Taxpayer Protection Pledge

I, ___________, pledge to the taxpayers of the City of Cincinnati and all of the people of this City that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes and create new fees during the 2010-2011 term of Cincinnati City Council. This includes without limitation, any increase in the City earnings tax or property tax, and the imposition of new fees such as a garbage collection fee.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mallory: 'Yes" Vote Would Kill Streetcar

We have suffered through a subway boondoggle, a union terminal boondoggle, a riverfront transit center boondoggle, and now a streetcar boondoggle. City leaders, past and present, for nearly a century now, have eagerly embraced the latest passenger rail transportation fads. They invariably blow it, sticking the city with a useless white elephant, and decades of debt.

Taxpayers are fed up, and are no longer willing to stand idly by, watching city leaders flush their hard-earned dollars down the latest rathole. Citizens are desperately seeking a way to veto this ridiculous trolley plan. COAST and its partners have delivered a charter amendment which will do just that. Mayor Mallory says so.

Kill the streetcar!
Vote 'Yes' on the passenger rail transportation charter amendment.

City Manager Dohoney: "We have got to have a revenue conversation in November"

Tax increases coming right after November election.
Please contact Council members NOW!

City Manager Dohoney plans on increasing taxes after November elections

Yesterday, Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney finally played his hand on the matter of the bloated City budget. After 2009 missed revenue projections, and fiddling endlessly with budget cuts, Dohoney admitted that his long-term plan is to raise taxes immediately after the November elections, Read here the Enquirer story in which Dohoney makes this remarkable admission about the consequences of the City's over-spending:
"I'm promising you we have got to have a revenue conversation in November," Dohoney said to council members. "There's just no way to pay for it out of what we get now."
In order to avoid this pernicious and confiscatory plan of the City, COAST has issued a pledge against tax and fee increases during the coming Council and Mayoral term to all candidates for Mayor and Cincinnati City Council.

To date, Chris Monzel, Leslie Ghiz, Charlie Winburn, George Zamary and Amy Murray have taken the pledge. Please contact them and thank them.

Mayor Mallory and the remaining Council members and council challengers have refused to take the pledge.

COAST again asks its members to call or write the other seven Council members and the Mayor asking that they sign too (click name to email).
Mark MalloryMayor(513) 352-3250
David CrowleyVice Mayor(513) 352-2453
Jeff BerdingCouncil Member(513) 352-3283
Chris BortzCouncil Member(513) 352-3255
Y. Laketa ColeCouncil Member(513) 352-3466
Greg HarrisCouncil Member(513) 352-5303
Roxanne QuallsCouncil Member(513) 352-3604
Cecil ThomasCouncil Member(513) 352-3499

The text of the pledge is:

2009 Cincinnati Mayoral and Council Candidate
Taxpayer Protection Pledge

I, ___________, pledge to the taxpayers of the City of Cincinnati and all of the people of this City that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes and create new fees during the 2010-2011 term of Cincinnati City Council. This includes without limitation, any increase in the City earnings tax or property tax, and the imposition of new fees such as a garbage collection fee.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

COAST Launches "Professor Harold Hill" Contest

COAST today launched the “Professor Harold Hill” contest to determine which local politician most resembles the fictional “Professor Harold Hill” from 1962 film “The Music Man.”

In the Music Man, Professor Harold Hill first imagined all sorts of pernicious consequences arising from a Pool Hall coming to River City, and then, of course, had just the solution to the self-created problem – musical instruments and band uniforms that he sold. In the end, after Hill collected his money – and seduced the local librarian, the uniforms and instruments never arrived, but the townspeople “felt better” about themselves.

Just like Professor Harold Hill, Cincinnati is being sold century-old solutions to its perceived transportation problems in the form of a 2012 “Trolley,” that will never be built. Mayor Mallory and a solid Council majority are backing the foolish plan that will drain needed financial resources from the City.

So, COAST poses the question to Cincinnati: Which local politico most resembles Professor Harold Hill, seducing the City with imaginary solutions to perceived community problems, fleecing the populace in the process?

Mayor Mark Mallory? Councilmember Chris Bortz? Cincinnatians for Progress? Donald Mooney? Jeff Berding? Parsons Brinkerhoff? Fred Craig?

COAST pushed out links to these two videos today promoting the contest:
Here is a video of the movie version of Prof. Hill in action.

This one is a Simpsons spoof of the Music Man. Substitute Cincinnati for Springfield, Portland for Shelbyville, and streetcar for monorail, and it's simply amazing how familiar this fraud looks. Except even in the spoof they planned to vote on it. Still, we need your help to cast the starring role.
Please let COAST know which politico you nominate for its new Prof. Harold Hill award!

“The Music Man” was written by Meredith Wilson. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1958 and was adapted into a film starring Robert Preston in 1962. The show is based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive townsfolk before skipping town with the cash. In River City, Iowa, prim Marian the librarian sees through him, but when Hill helps her younger brother, Marian begins to fall in love with Harold. Harold, in turn falling for Marian, risks being caught to win her.

In 1957, the show became a hit on
Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances. The cast album won the first Grammy Award for "Best Original Cast Album". The show's success led to revivals and a popular 1962 film adaptation. It is still frequently produced by both professional and amateur theater companies.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pepper, Portune Reneging on Tax Rollback

In yet another tragic breach of faith with Hamilton County voters, Commissioners Pepper and Portune yesterday leaked to the Cincinnati Business Courier their intention to get rid of the property tax rollback that induced County voters to approve the 1/2 cent sales tax increase for two new stadiums.

"It is a breach of faith - and a solemn pledge that both Portune and Pepper made with the voters - to do away with the property tax rollback," said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. "Portune and Pepper are not just increasing our taxes, they are breaking their word. We can never trust government again."

The Pepper/Portune plan is to repeal some or all of the stadium property tax rollback. The rollback was promised to voters as a part of the 1996 half cent stadium sales tax increase. Both Pepper and Portune have promised the voters that the rollback was sacrosanct. "We cannot go back on a promise made to taxpayers over a decade ago," said Commissioner David Pepper in this article. "While we have to tackle our tough budget issues, we cannot do so by raising property taxes."
"Far beyond a debate over tax policy (and we're striving to keep taxes as low as possible), this is a much more fundamental issue of basic governance, and adhering to the clear consent of the governed. In that light, I consider any move to divert dollars from the PTR to be a deeply illegimate act. It lacks fundamental integrity. And it's simply not an option."
-David Pepper, PepTalk Blog, Nov 18, 2008
If this promise is broken, commissioners will be increasing property taxes without a vote of the people. This is the second time these two liberal commissioners have increased taxes without a vote -- they did it in 2007 with the Super Sized jail 1/2 cent sales tax hike that was repealed by the voters and the coalition. The increase became needed because of continued profligate over-spending by the Commission, especially on the bloated Banks project.

This is but the latest heartbreaking disappointment from the stadium sales tax debacle:
  • The project has run overbudget, and repayment accounts have been in deficit for years.
  • The Bengals lease was an unprecedented ripoff of taxpayers, and the worst professional sports lease nationally.
  • The state of Ohio reneged on its promised contribution.
  • The tax has been extended beyond the date originally promised.
  • Sales tax projections were intentionally over-stated.
  • Ultimately the Bengals hired Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus, who negotiated the lease, at a six-figure salary.
  • "The Banks" was originally supposed to be an added bonus to restore nightlife to the riverfront after Sleepout Louies, Porky's and The Old Spaghetti Factory were wasted during stadium construction, but it has since morphed into a mammoth boondoggle more expensive than both stadiums combined.
  • City and county governments conspired to bury another train station in the project, despite the fact that we have no passenger rail transportation. Then they left no way to get trains into or out of it, wasting $42 million.
"This massive ripoff of the taxpayers continues to this day," said Gloyd, "and Portune and Pepper are the latest politicians to screw the taxpayers in this endless tragedy."

COAST is encouraging voters to flood the County Commission Offices with faxes, letters, e-mails and phone calls on Monday.

David Pepper(513) 946-4409(513) 946-4407
Todd Portune(513) 946-4401(513) 946-4446
Greg Hartmann(513) 946-4405(513) 946-4404

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Progress": Blame the Media

Loser sports teams whine about officiating. Loser restaurants boo-hoo the reviews. Loser theatrical shows blame it all on the critics. And in politics, Helen Thomas says, "The Loser Will Always Blame the Media."

Cincinnatians for Progress and other streetcar proponents howled long and loud about David Holthaus' Enquirer story on the Chamber of Commerce's opposition to the anti-boondoggle charter amendment and Barry Horstman's Enquirer articles on the success of the petition drive and Riverfront Transit Center boondoggle. Some excerpts:
  • "Today's Enquirer article about the Cincinnati Streetcar and the Anti-Progress Amendment did not adequately explain the that the Anti-Progress Charter Amendment being pushed by the NAACP and COAST affects much more than just the Streetcar."
    -Cincinnatians For Progress
  • "Please contact the Enquirer and tell them to accurately report on this issue. Write a letter to the editor, write an email to the reporters who use the term “Streetcar Issue” and carbon copy (cc) their editor, comment on the Enquirer’s website, or write a blog post about this inaccurate reporting. Don’t have a blog? Pass this on to someone who does. Thank you for your time and effort on this critical issue that could affect generations of Cincinnatians to come."
    -CincyStreetcar Blog
  • "If any news outlet is improperly reporting on this issue as a “Streetcar Amendment” instead of an “Anti-Passenger Rail Amendment” please contact them to set the record straight."
    -CincyStreetcar Blog
  • "The Cincinnati Streetcar blog posted this item, calling on readers to request The Enquirer to report facts accurately in regards to the anti-passenger rail story. Though some Streetcar advocates are rude and spiteful little people who like to make statements bordering on defamatory, I still should acknowledge when they are right. And, regardless your position on the streetcar, the Enquirer should do the right thing in regards to accurate reporting."
    -Cincinnati Beacon
  • "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! I am so GLAD that we have someone to articulate COAST's talking points!"
    -Aricle Comment
  • "Dear Enquirer: PLEASE STOP CALLING THIS AN ANTI-STREETCAR AMENDMENT. It is irresponsible journalism! ... Show some integrity - report the facts."
    -Article Comment
Even when a story line swings their way, losers still shriek. This latest Enquirer piece described Governor Strickland's concern that someday, maybe, depending on the wording, a city law might mysteriously somehow hinder state government from spending federal money on a train project. Were rail junkies grateful for the coverage? Nope. They browbeat author Ben Fischer mercilessly in the comments until he added the word "ballot" to his headline. Then they piled on further complaints.

The pro-transit crowd bet all their chips on a city administration which has neither the credibility nor resources to deliver on their promise. So now rail junkies are lashing out at voters. Not for killing their baby, but for having the audacity to demand a vote prior to paying for it. They ridicule the NAACP for behaving like leaders instead of victims. But their unkindest cuts are reserved for the press who reports it all.

Shooting the messenger is always a loser move. Now it's apparently some sick sort of "progress."

Newsflash: Governor Supports Right to Vote!

Enquirer reporter Ben Fischer blogs that Ohio Governor Ted Strickland supports Cincinnatians' right to vote on ballot initiatives. Strickland said, "So, I’m not familiar with that particular initiative, but I believe in democracy and the peoples’ right to make a choice for themselves. I just would hope that they would understand all of the implications of making such a choice, and how it could have potentially have a detrimental effect upon the city. But you know, I believe in democracy.

Local Democrats had not briefed the Governor on the anti-boondoggle charter amendment, so he was a little wishy-washy on its potential impact. "I would have to look at the legal implications," said Strickland, "and I’m not sure what they would be. I’m just not sure whether or not a local vote like that could interfere with -- I could understand the local aspect of what’s happening within the city itself, but I would have to look more broadly at the legal implications of what it would mean for passenger service that would be connecting to other major cities and other parts of the country.

It's good to know there's at least one Democrat politician out there who isn't openly contemptuous of the peoples' right to participate in the political process.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cincinnati’s Budget Situation Grows More Desperate

Cole, Harris creating fiscal crisis to justify tax hike
New Council member Greg Harris
has chosen to join Council coalition
spending Cincinnati into a $40 million hole

The budgetary mess created by City Council played out as fully expected over the past few weeks when four City labor unions rejected proposed furloughs that would have saved $4.2 million this year.

In June, Budget Committee Chairman Laketa Cole led a slim Council majority to patch the City’s $20 million budget hole by spending reserves down by $10 million, and claimed budget cuts of another $10 million including the entirely illusory savings from furloughs. Council violated its own rules requiring six votes to raid the reserves in order to continue the irresponsible spending unabated.

The rejection of the furlough days by the labor unions means that Council implemented less than $5.8 million in cuts for 2009, to fill the $20 million hole. COAST and Councilmember Chris Bortz reported here and here that the City is avoiding substantive budget cuts and inevitably preparing the City for a massive 2010 tax increase. The City administration has projected a shortfall of $40 million for next year.

COAST has asked Council candidates to take a pledge against raising taxes or imposing new fees during the coming Council term. To date, Council members Chris Monzel and Leslie Ghiz have taken the pledge along with challengers Charlie Winburn, George Zamary and Amy Murray.

Trolley petition drive success!

NAACP, COAST notch 4th ballot issue in three years

In a display of almost unimaginable fiscal irresponsibility, City Council is pressing forward with plans for a $185 million trolley system extending only four miles (and perhaps up the hill to Clifton, if that’s possible) in the midst of the City’s budget crisis. In response, Cincinnati’s WeDemandAVote.Com coalition has collected more than 12,000 signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

Once again, the unique partnership between the NAACP and COAST has borne fruit,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. “Together, we have forced to a vote on the massively unpopular policies of our irresponsible elected officials.

The WeDemandAVote.Com coalition includes the NAACP, COAST, the Green Party of Southwest Ohio and the Libertarian Party of Ohio.

As a result of this year’s effort, voters will have a chance to vote on a Charter Amendment on the November 4 ballot to force a public vote on all passenger rail capital expenditures of the City.

Luken, Enquirer Shine Spotlight on Wasteful Riverfront Transit Center

SORTA defends enormous misuse of public monies

Usually, true stories about wasted government money and misplaced priorities are better than we could make up. This is one of those. Right under our noses, our elected officials have squandered more than $42 million on a subway station that has sat empty for six years, and has no prospects for use in the coming five years. Former Congressman Luken has shined the spotlight on this profligate waste of public monies, including asking for an investigation by Ohio’s Inspector General.

In 2003, with great fanfare, elected officials from City, County, State and Federal governments cut the ribbon on the Cincinnati Riverfront Transit Center – extending from Great American Ballpark to Paul Brown Stadium on Cincinnati’s riverfront. The project is a 316,628 square foot leviathan designed to serve 500 buses per hour, heavy or light rail trains, complete with tiled floors and walls, mosaic murals and elevators, escalators, restrooms and staircases. The public can get a glimpse of the Center from the out-of-place and unused “subway-style” entrances near Great American Ballpark and the other waste of money on Cincinnati’s Riverfront – the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Photos of the white elephant are here.

Today, due to construction defects, disuse and leaks, the structure is falling into disrepair and rusting. Since its opening it has hardly ever been used, and yet SORTA officials defend its construction. Exactly what evidence would they need to concede this project is an abject failure?

COAST suggests ever so gently that maybe, just maybe, this type of spending orgy could be averted if the current anti-boondoggle Charter Amendment had been in place before 2002.

Senator Kearney: 65% of City Voters Are Against Council’s Trolley Proposal

Trolley backers’ poll numbers slip out

Click pic for larger view.

COAST has learned that Trolley backers commissioned a poll of public sentiment for the proposed Trolley this past spring and concluded that 65% are opposed. Is anyone surprised? The poll results have recently been leaked by State Senator Eric Kearney (ehk009).

City Hires Project Team for Trolley

Dohoney hires same engineer that planned and implemented epic failure -- Riverfront Transit Center
Parsons Brinckerhoff is the preferred City vendor
for money-wasting projects

Ignoring public opinion, its own budget crisis and the pending vote on the fate of the Trolley, the City recently announced the hiring of the project team for the $185 million trolley system.

COAST finds it more than an item of curiosity that the project team is led by the Engineering firm of Parsons Brinckerhoff, and its local executive Fred Craig. While researching the epic failure of the Riverfront Transit Center investment, COAST learned that that debacle was planned and implemented by none other than Parson Brinckerhoff and local executive Fred Craig.

Parsons Brinckerhoff financed and helped to run the 2002 campaign for a ½ cent sales tax increase for a light rail system running from downtown to Mason, and this year is helping to finance and run the campaign against the Trolley petition before it even rises to ballot position.

NAACP, AFSCME Place Waterworks Sale On the Ballot

Why would we pay $475 million for something we already own?

City Council remains coy during this election year
on sale of asset owned by taxpayers

Really, do politicians think we are stupid enough to stand for paying $475 million in higher water rates for assets we already own?

For months now, COAST has been questioning the proposal by City Manager Dohoney to transfer the assets of the Cincinnati Waterworks to a new Regional Water District, and charge the new entity and its ratepayers (that’s us!) $475 million for the asset transfer. City Council members remain coy about whether they will approve the plan.

The NAACP and the municipal workers labor union – AFSCME – have gathered enough signatures to force the asset transfer to a public vote.

COAST has not yet taken a formal position on the Waterworks Petition, but is deeply skeptical of charging ratepayers $475 million for something they already own, and entrusting our entirely untrustworthy Council with that kind of additional money.

City manager Milton Dohoney admitted in a speech in June before the NAACP that the City is pursuing the plan simply “because we need the money.” COAST gently suggests maybe stopping its profligate waste of tax resources might be a better approach.

COAST will take a formal position about endorsing the Waterworks proposal at its September endorsement meeting. All COAST members (paid memberships) will be polled before such endorsement.

Red Light & Speeding Cameras in Full Retreat Throughout Ohio

COAST, AFP team up to kill bad idea statewide

In 2008, Cincinnati became first major City to ban red light cameras in its Charter.

COAST and Americans for Prosperity’s Ohio Chapter have achieved more progress in their goal to eradicate red light and speeding cameras throughout Ohio.

Here’s a rundown:
  • In Toledo, COAST sent local organizer Scott Ross to Toledo to spearhead the conclusion of the petition drive there. The petition drive is more than half way to conclusion and is proceeding well. COASTers Chris Finney, Dan Regenold and Kim Grant took a road trip to Toledo to help boost the effort.
  • Governor Strickland’s initiative to place speeding cameras on State highways was stripped from the state budget bill.
  • The City of Canton rejected Red Light Cameras in March of this year after opponents exposed the Mayor for accepting contributions from RedFlex, the company that installs and operates the devices.
  • With COAST’s help, the close-knit community of Heath Ohio has launched a Charter Amendment to strike down Council’s implementation of a Red Light Camera program there.
  • COAST traveled to Pickerington (south of Columbus) earlier this year to fight Red Light Cameras. Under threat of a Charter Amendment petition drive the Council there abandoned plans for Red Light Cameras in that City.
  • COAST is working on organizing a 2010 drive in Dayton against Red Light Cameras. Local volunteers are enthusiastic in their support.

Winburn Disavows Current Council

Doesn't want to be associated with this bunch
Former City Council Member and current Council hopeful Charlie Winburn has been informed that his campaign materials could be confusing to some voters. Winburn says that a Democrat friend told him that due to the simple omission of the word "FOR" in front of "CITY COUNCIL," some are accusing him of attempting to mislead voters into thinking that he currently serves on Council.

Despite having discussed the issue with staff at the Hamilton County Board of Elections who raised no concern, Winburn will immediately make the changes for the sake of clarity and utmost integrity of his campaign.

While the change may seem small and insignificant to the vast majority of people,” Winburn explained, “some members of City Council may take this opportunity to again leave the City’s concerns to manage themselves, and continue to worry with trivial matters like this.

And as a result of the changes, the Winburn for Council Campaign has instructed all staff members as well as appropriate volunteers to return any and all materials as they await a new and updated order.

Under no circumstances would I want Cincinnati voters to associate me with the current Democrat-controlled City Council, one that has created many of our city's problems through their mismanagement of the budget and retirement fund, and their misguided city projects such as the downtown street car,” said Winburn. “The suggestion that I would want to deceive anyone to think that I'm currently serving alongside them is laughable. It is more than worth it to make this change.

Freedom Center Funding Killed in Ohio Senate

Republican senators stand firm against wasteful proposal

COAST stopped NURFC dead in its tracks in seeking an additional $3.1 million State of Ohio operating subsidy

COAST’s calls and e-mails have worked: the Ohio Senate stripped $3.1 million in additional spending for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center from the state’s budget bill.

COASTers calls and letters worked,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. “Thanks to those who wrote their senators. And COAST especially want to thank Senate President Bill Harris and Clermont County Senator Tom Niehaus for their leadership in killing this wasteful spending. The NURFC promised not to accept tax money for its operations and we want to help them to keep that promise.

The final budget bill also stripped the Ohio House’s implementation of speeding cameras on State Highways.

Hamilton County representatives Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery), Denise Driehaus (D-Delhi), Dale Mallory (D-Cincinnati) and Tyrone Yates (D-Cincinnati) all supported the House version of the budget bill that included the two bad ideas from the Governor.

Hamilton County Faces Another Round of Budget Cuts

Will Commissioners (finally) cut their nine-member staff?

David Pepper struggles to balance our County's budget. He repeatedly fails to lead by example, forcing you to suffer all the cuts. Not the right stuff to be our State Auditor.

The Enquirer reported Monday that the Hamilton County Commission is facing even more severe budget problems as a result of out-of-control spending outstripping income.

As COAST reported in December, two decades ago, when the County population was 50% higher than it is today, the three County Commissioners had a total of one staffer between them. Today, that number is nine. Back then, the Commissioners voted to lay off dozens of Sheriff’s deputies, but refused to cut even one position from their bloated personal staffs.

Will the liberal democrat County Commissioners finally cut the fat in their own budget? COAST seriously doubts it.

Sheriff Si Leis Gets His $99,000 Yacht

Vacillating Pepper casts key vote for Sheriff’s new toy
This new boat for the Sheriff
is the fifth in his growing fleet

After weeks of indecision and hand wringing, County commissioners ignored a huge public outcry and voted 2-1 to give the Sheriff his new $99,000 boat to patrol the Ohio river, 75% of which is located in the state of Kentucky.

Commissioner David Pepper first indicated he was for the boat, then said he was against it, and then said he was undecided. He finally voted in favor of giving the Sheriff his new toy at the expense of the taxpayers.

“Now that’s some leadership,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. “David Pepper who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth clearly fails to understand the value of a dollar. Apparently, wasting $99,000 in the midst of a budget crisis does not seem to be a big deal to him.”

Joining Pepper in the vote to waste the $99,000 was Commissioner Todd Portune who has made a career of soaking the taxpayers and wasting tax dollars. Both have had a hard time saying “no” to the rapacious Sheriff.

This humorous site, Republicans for Higher Taxes, thinks Si deserves his new toy.

Citizen Stands Up to Public Golf Course Operators

Paul Macke takes it upon himself to fight City Hall

COAST noted this story about a courageous and industrious citizen who wants privately-operated municipal golf courses to pay taxes like the rest of us. COST salutes Paul Macke for fighting City Hall!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tinky Winky Trolley

The other side apparently got themselves some spiffy new tee-shirts.
Can’t help but notice a rather odd resemblance though…
Available at Cincinnati's Historic Findlay Market.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Riverfront Transit Center Boondoggle

Would you have voted to waste $42 million on this?
Why did a city with no passenger rail transportation spend $42 million on ANOTHER train station? Did elected representatives spend our money the way we wanted them to? Judging by comments to this Enquirer article, most voters never knew it was there, and certainly would not have approved it.

Is This "Progress" ?
City officials weren't required to consult taxpayers, but we still expect honesty and transparency. After getting shellacked at the polls by more than 2:1 on the previous billion-plus dollar light rail proposal, pro-rail planners took their efforts underground, resolving never to deal with voters again. When begging for state or federal money, they tout the "multimodal" or rail aspects of the Transit Center boondoggle; but around here they spin it as a bus station and parking lot. Even pro-rail junkies call it "Cincinnati's Other Abandoned Subway" in homage to the city's earlier boondoggle.

Today the Transit Center seems destined to rust out before the first train choo-choos through it. There is talk of using it for the 3C and Eastern Corridor projects; but neither has any funding yet, and as state and federal governments grow increasingly broke, the odds look slimmer every day. What's more, the Transit Center was so poorly planned that it's virtually impossible to get a train in or out of it without shutting down traffic in lower downtown. Instead, Amtrak is eyeing the Montgomery Inn Boathouse to become yet another train station.

So what's next for the Transit Center boondoggle? Former Cincinnati Mayor, and seven-term Democrat Congressman Tom Luken has asked the Ohio Inspector General to investigate it for fraud. Meanwhile Hamilton County also received a $5.5 million loan to connect parking garages at The Banks to the monstrous cavern. Looks like the boondoggle continues.

What You Can Do About It
This November, Cincinnatians will have an opportunity to vote on an anti-boondoggle charter amendment. Here's what you will see on the ballot:
"The City, and its various Boards and Commissions, may not spend any monies for right-of-way acquisition or construction of improvements for passenger rail transportation (e.g., a trolley or streetcar) within the city limits without first submitting the question of approval of such expenditure to a vote of the electorate of the City and receiving a majority affirmative vote for the same."
It doesn't block the city from doing a streetcar or any other rail transit. It merely requires officials to get voter's approval before putting us on the hook for the big-ticket aspects of a rail project.

City administrations past and present have saddled us with a subway boondoggle, a Union Terminal boondoggle, a Riverfront Transit Center boondoggle, and now a streetcar boondoggle. A dismal track record spanning nearly a century merits this extra scrutiny.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Psephophobia is the irrational fear of voting. This anxiety disorder is spreading locally under the guise of "progress." Symptoms include a self-righteous condescending attitude that citizens are too stupid to decide for themselves whether they need a horrendously expensive streetcar or not. Paranoia leads them to project fears of ballot failure onto future transit projects that aren't even on the table yet. Afflicted persons view the simple act of voting on major public policy as a dangerous, apocalyptic, cataclysmic apostasy which will bring about the total destruction of life as we know it.

Think we're exaggerating? Here are some of their recent rantings against the Pro-Vote Charter Amendment:
"The alleged “choices” built into this ballot are not good choices—like death by strangling and drowning are both bad choices."
"Voter choice is a meaningless concept when the design of the choices are inherently undesirable."
Cincinnati Beacon

The amendment would roadblock the C-C-C link, paid for almost completely with our federal transportation dollars. It would also block other projects like the "eastern corridor" rail link..."
"An electoral roadblock will take Cincinnati off the funding list on the first cut.
Don Mooney, Enquirer Op-Ed

"...the last thing we need in making our case is a provision that prohibits the City of Cincinnati from being part of it without a later vote."
"...such an anti-rail poison pill in the City charter would clearly put our entire region at the bottom of the totem pole."
David Pepper, Hamilton County Commissioner

"While other cities are preparing to move forward into the 21st century by building needed infrastructure and transportation improvements, this dangerous proposal would hold Cincinnati back by costing us jobs and causing our tax dollars to be spent elsewhere."
Cincinnatians for Progress

" prohibits any improvement or investment in passenger rail in Cincinnati without an expensive and time consuming public referendum—including delays and stoppages to the proposed 3C rail in Ohio, the Eastern Corridor and the high speed inter-city rail being proposed by The President. It creates a significant barrier to progress that will handcuff our City government, send jobs and economic development to other cities and stifle transportation alternatives."
"The anti-progress Charter Amendment is another dangerous amendment to the city’s charter, the city’s Constitution, and will eventually lead to proposition style government, which has failed miserably in California."
Somewhere Over the Rhine

"The COAST/NAACP anti-streetcar petition crew is causing all sorts of debauchery and grabbing headlines for its attempt to garner support for a sweeping, all-inclusive anti-rail ballot initiative. And it is exhausting."
"Roadblock," "handcuff," "poison pill," "debauchery," "death by strangling and drowning?" We knew the ballot box was powerful, but this is downright delusional. All that fearfulness from a simple up/down vote. These folks need some therapy and a prescription; hopefully they'll feel better after their meds kick in.