Saturday, December 31, 2011

More on the sovereign debt crisis from Spain

This story keeps growing.  Here. the New York Times explores the depth of the crisis in Spain.  Debt is insidious. Vast, sometimes hidden, daunting.  Easily seductive; hard to dig out from. 

The Cincinnati Stereetcar is emblematic of the debt problem.  Almost 100% financed with debt, and an absolutely worthless project.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Story of 2011: Repeated sovereign debt crises

The story of 2011 that will live through the generations is repeated crises with sovereign debt, especially in Europe and America. 

Starting with Greece, extending to Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, and finally to vaunted France, the accepted notion for the past 25 years that unlimited debt in each nation is without consequence was methodically demolished.

Interestingly, even in the face of irrefutable evidence of the disastrous end of such national policies, nation after nation in Europe and the USA have proved incapable of curing the problem retrospectively or even stopping the spending prospectively.

It is almost humorous watching essentially socialist governments from Washington DC to Rome and Athens, to cut spending in the face of the dire certainty of continuation of their irresponsible ways.  We say almost, because the pain that will be caused by their irresponsibility could be profound.

The reality of 2012, and certainly of the coming decade, is that time has run out for making the important fiscal and economic decisions. We all must either adopt totalitarian socialism, or once again free up the economic markets that made American and European economies the engines powering the world.   

COAST prefers the latter.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Streetcar hitting rough waters

At City Hall, Mayor Mallory and Milton Dohoney are singing a song of sweetness and light regarding Streetcar construction.  Indeed, they have promised to start construction now for more than a year.  But behind the scenes, engineers and planners are fretting that the project can't happen -- at least within budget.

There are loads of problems with building the system -- something COAST and others have been saying all along.  But now, the reality of budgets, law, and physics are such that the project is becoming more problematic by the day.

The biggest (but by far not only) obstacle: utility line relocation.  Underneath the streets of downtown Cincinnati lie miles of sewers, electric lines, gas lines, telephone lines, cable TV and internet lines, and even chilled water lines.

It is irresponsible from an engineering perspective to build improvements on top of such utility lines, other than simple paved surfaces that can be torn up such as parking lots or streets.  The City, in contrast, intends to build the continuous 18-inch concrete slab with embedded steel rail lines on top of these lines.

This will have several bad consequences:

(a) first, all of these utility lines will need to be maitained and eventually replaced.  This is a question of when, not if.  Further, with a 40-ton streetcar rumbling over the top of 100-year-old brick sewer lines, construction on top of the sewers may well accelerate their deterioriation.

(b) then, when they need to be repaired or replaced, repeatedly over the years, the operation of the streetcar (which cannot detour around the construction) will be disrupted.

(c) the cost of tearing up and replacing the streetcar improvements will be significant, and additional time for utility repair will be incurred.  This also means a prolonged period of disruption of vehicular street traffic.

(d) the cost of the repair and replacement of the utility lines will also rise, due to the additional work and time needed for the repairs.

It will cost between $20 and $40 million to relocate these utility lines to accommodate streetcar construction.  Of that, the City has budgeted only $6 million as part of the $110 million Streetcar budget.

The City's plan to pay for all of this?  They intended to shift the cost to the utility ratepayers, a hidden tax increase (extending outside the City) to subsidize this ill-conceived project.

However, that plan has not been well-received.  The Water works is controlled by City Council, so they will pay to relocate the water lines.  But Duke Energy has steadfastly maintained that the costs associated with electric lines, natural gas lines and chilled water lines simply will not be passed on to ratepayers -- the City must pony up the money, money the City does not have.  We understand that Cincinnati Bell and Time Warner have maintained the same position with respect to their utility infrastructure.

And bravely, the Hamilton County Commissioners, led by Chris Monzel, have instructed MSD not to spend a penny on sewer relocation costs.

So, Mayor Mallory and Milton Dohoney have a small hole in their budget for their beloved Streetcar.

With these realities, what will they do?  Some say they will just scrap the project.  Others believe they will proceed irresponsibly to build on top of these utility lines.  Still others contend that they will simply start construction and announce, of course to their shock and disappointment, 80% of the way through the project, that they have run out of money, necessitating a tax increase or taking on more debt to complete it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bye bye, Sen. Ben Nelson, Bye Bye

U.S. Senator Ben Nelson, of the Corn Husker Kickback fame, will be retiring from the Senate, another victim of Obamacare.  Good riddance bad apple!

Great News for Ohio’s 27th District!

Many of you are aware that our COAST Co-Founder, Tom Brinkman, is running for the 27th House District in the March 6th primary. As you recall, Tom has proven himself time and time again during his eight years in representing the 34th District. 

COAST is, of course, once again pleased to endorse Tom Brinkman, Jr. for State Representative.

Primaries are expensive and that is just the first battle.  COAST asks that you stop what you are doing now and write a check to the Brinkman Campaign Committee. My forceful request comes as we reach the end of 2011. If you donate this year, you will be able to help again in 2012.

The State of Ohio has a $100 per couple/$50 per person income tax credit which makes your contribution of that amount FREE to the Brinkman Campaign Committee!

COAST views this in two ways:

1) As a loan that you will get back against my massive State of Ohio income tax bill
2) The only time I am able to direct exactly where and for what my Ohio tax dollars are being

Tom needs your help!   

Please do not let him down. He has never let us down. And, all of you who know Tom know that he will work to become the most effective Representative in the State of Ohio. For more information on Tom, please visit:

Please make your checks payable to: 
Brinkman Campaign Committee and mail them to:

Brinkman Campaign Committee
P.O. Box 9714
Cincinnati, OH  45209

On behalf of Tom, we thank you for your support and, Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cincinnati Business Courier covers Streetcar Utility Relocation Cost issue exceptionally well

The Cincinnati Streetcar project is bad for all kinds of reasons: It's impractical, serving no transportation need, it is expensive, far more expensive than any benefit obtained, and, most importantly, Cincinnati cannot afford it, especially right now.

Further, what will inevitably unfold over the coming months is that Cincinnati politicians, bureaucrats and taxpayers will be overwhelmed with predicted and unpredicted cost overruns from the Streetcar project.

Because our local politicians and bureaucrats are committed to proceeding with this project despite all practical reality -- and are willing to saddle taxpayers with the adverse consequences of those decisions -- the role of the "fourth estate," the media, in exposing their misdeeds and holding them accountable is utterly critical.

Thus, COAST has been appreciative of the willingness of Lucy May and Dan Monk at the Cincinnati Business Courier to expose the failings in Streetcar planning, despite a secretive City Hall that refuses to address the problems head on.

As background, City planners to date have willfully ignored the costs of utility relocation in their streetcar budgeting.  How can they do that, when someone has to pay these costs?  City planners apparently either (a) intend to start construction and spring the "surprise" cost overruns on taxpayers when it is "too late" to say "no" or (b) have Duke Energy, MSD, Water Works, Cincinnati Bell and others pass the costs onto ratepayers, a hidden Streetcar tax hike.

Well, after the Cincinnati Business Courier exposed this flaw in Streetcar planning this summer, County Commissioner Chris Monzel introduced a motion to prevent spending MSD funds on relocating utilities for the Streetcar project (Commissioners control the MSD budget, although the City runs MSD day-to-day).  The resolution passed unanimously.

This action by Commissioners basically check-mated Mayor Mallory's carefully laid plans, as no rational planner would build the Streetcar on top of existing sewer lines, and the City can't afford to move then without shifting the costs to MSD ratepayers.

Well, City planning went from bad to worse, with the entirely irresponsible decision to actually do that -- build the Streetcar on top of sewer lines, many of them more than 120 years old and constructed of brick. 

Then MSD engineers did a "what if" study -- what if MSD did pay the cost of utility relocation to accommodate the Streetcar?  Lo and behold, the cost came in at $7.9 million, 31% higher than the previous $6 million estimate and 260% above the $3 million the City is willing to put towards the cost.

And that's just the MSD portion of the utility relocation cost equation.

Duke Energy says the cost just for their lines will range from $9 to $15 million more than the City has budgeted, Cincinnati Bell's numbers range between a $3 and $8 million overrun, and the folks at Water Works (controlled entirely by the City) have already agreed to pass onto ratepayers $6 million in cost overruns.  So far, Duke Energy has joined with MSD in saying "over our dead body," in terms of willingly passing these expenses on to ratepayers.

Thus, the utility relocation cost component of the project is turning into a $20 million+ disaster for the City's taxpayers, and construction has not even started.  It is also an engineering catastrophe of significant importance that the City has planned.

The Cincinnati Business Courier has been on top of all of these developments that have mostly been ignored by the rest of Cincinnati media.  (WXIX recently covered a portion of this developing story as well.) 

Cincinnati taxpayers and utility ratepayers throughout the region stay tuned for developments in this saga.

COAST Top 10 best acts of 2011

On the topic of naughty and nice, COAST also wants to celebrate the nice deeds of voters and our elected officials in 2011.  Warm "presents" of thanks for their vision and leadership:

10)  Governnor Kasich's cutting $52 million in fund for the streetcar.  Great way to start the year.

9)  Senator Shannon Jones bold legislation to prevent all state funding for the Cincinnati Streetcar boondoggle.  The legislation passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.

8)  Commissioner Chris Monzel for his resolution modifying the MSD budget to stop ratepayers from footing the bill for sewer relocaiton costs associated witht he Streetcar project.

7)  Cincinnati City Council for preserving the property tax rollback, at least for one more year.

6)  Cincinnati voters for outlawing a trash tax by the passage of this year's Issue 47.

5)  Judge Steve Martin for stopping Laure Quinlivan in her tracks from spending tax dollars for her re-election campaign.

4)  The Cincinnati Business Courier for their dogged coverage of the Streetcar boondoggle.

3)  Ohio voters for their passage of Issue 3, our State's resounding rejection of ObamaCare.

2)  The Ohio legislature's passage of an historic repeal of the Ohio Estate Tax, and the leadership of Dan Regenold, Ron Alban and Jack Boyle that made it happen.

And the number one "gift" of thanks goes to....

drum roll please.....

1)  The thousands of activists throughout Ohio who have participated in these and other battles for limited government, COASTers, Tea Partiers, 912ers, those from Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Freedom Works and dozens of other groups that are stopping the hoards of "occupiers" in Congress, our statehouses, Court Houses and City Halls across the nation from further enslaving us to their big-government agenda.

Merry Christmas everyone!

COAST's Top 10 Naughty Acts by politicians and voters in 2011

As Santa delivers presents on Christmas Day, we hope he takes into account the naughty acts by politicians and voters throughout the year. For your reading pleasure, COAST has assembled its Top 10 instances of foolish excesses of the voters and politicians in 2011:

10) The voters electing to Cincinnati City Council a liberal, left-wing, big-spending cabal led by Roxanne Qualls, and including big-spending newcomers of P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson. Council's more rational members, Wayne Lippert, Amy Murray, Chris Bortz, and Leslie Ghiz were sent packing.

9) The City Manager and Mayor trying for the third time to implement a trash tax. This expense is already included in your property tax and earnings tax...a little case of double dipping by Dohoney and Mallory. Not only did the Council not approve it, but the voters in November added a Charter Amendment outlawing this form of taxation.

8) The City Manager and Mayor trying for the fourth time to repeal the City's Property Tax Rollback. Tsk, tsk, tsk. This cash grab from homeowners trying desperately to avoid foreclosure in this depressed economy failed to pass Council.

7) City Council and Mayor Mallory failing for the sixth year of the Mallory mayor-ship to seriously cut spending at City Hall or implement a structurally balanced budget. As we have seen nationally and internationally, debt comes back to bite you. Someday soon, the day of reckoning is coming.

6) Mayor Mark Mallory taking home $500 per month for a car allowance for his Lincoln Towne Car that was never approved by the Council. COASTer Mark Miller has a suit pending in front of Judge Marsh on the topic.

5) The Hamilton County Commissioners for reducing the property tax rollback that was promised as a part of the stadium tax deal cut in 1996.

(To clarify: the 2010 Commission on a 2-1 vote reduced the promised rollback for tax year 2011. In recent weeks, the 2011 Commission maintained the rollback on a 2-1 vote for tax year 2012)

4) Council member Laure Quinlivan using her office staff and equipment to run her Council re-election campaign. Thanks to a COAST taxpayer action, Judge Martin has ordered her to pay back the City $1,500 for stealing City resources and enjoined her from ever doing it again.

3) The approval by City Council of $4.1 million to enclose the atrium at City Hall. COAST will explore this boondoggle further, but suffice it to say they pissed this money away.

2) Spending by Mayor Mark Mallory of $8 million this year from for streetcar planning and engineering. Even worse, it's bad engineering, calling for the 40-ton leviathons to rumble ON TOP of 100-year old brick sewer lines. Freaking brilliant!

Drum roll, please.....

And the single, number one foolish act of 2011 belongs to ....

1) The voters who rejected Senate Bill 5 at the polls, the one proposal that could have righted state government and brought into control union contracts for the State of Ohio and thousands of local government units throughout the state.

So, big lumps of coal for Mayor Mark Mallory, City Manager Milton Dohoney, and Laure Quinlivan for abusing their offices shamelessly. Smaller lumps of coal for the voters, who did a few good things this past year as well.

City's MSD woes for Streetcar continue to grow

For those who believe the Streetcar is a "done deal," do not yet dispair.

As Dan Monk at the Business Courier reports each of the last two weeks, there are very significant - perhaps insurmountable - obstacles remaining, particularly that nagging issue of more than $20 million in utility relocation costs.

Read this week's installment here:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Triantafilou misses the mark....again

Standard disclaimer: This blog entry represents my thoughts and anyone who agrees with me. It may or may not represent COAST as a whole.

Alex Triantafilou; December 3, 2011 - "Things would probably run better if we all just got along and disagreed respectfully."

Alex Triantafilou; December 7, 2011 - "I think Tom Brinkman just needs a job."

Is it any wonder why a growing number of Republican activists have tuned out Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou? Speaking for myself, I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth, and hypocritical statements like these are just one exhibit that explains why.

Earlier today former State Representative Tom Brinkman announced he is running for his old seat. As an American and Ohioan he has every right to run for office and let the voters decide whether he is the best choice. Triantafilou should welcome the entry of a good conservative into a race instead of making juvenile (and false) personal attacks, particularly after decrying such conduct just four days earlier.

When Triantafilou talks about people who need a job, could he be referring to his ex-wife Jennifer Triantafilou who magically got a taxpayer-funded job in Green Township that she is completely unqualified to hold? This position required a 4-year degree or five years local government experience. Jennifer Triantafilou has no local government experience and her highest level of education was completing an Electrocardiography certificate at Cincinnati State. Yet somehow she got the job over candidates who were actually qualified - even though she applied 11 days after the application deadline.

One elected official who played a key role in this blatantly corrupt hiring was then-Green Township Trustee Tracy Winkler. Lo and behold, when there was an opening for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, Alex T's GOP selected the thoroughly unqualified Tracy Winkler for the position in an obvious quid pro quo. The full extent of Winkler's relevant experience is a short stint as a disrespectful and inept Trustee, whose township workforce is loaded with examples of nepotism and cronyism. Perhaps Winkler could also be who Alex T meant when referring to people needing a job.

Whether the party boss likes it or not, there will be a primary for 27th District State Representative. We can only hope this race will focus on issues that matter to Ohioans and not on petty personal attacks from a Chairman whose job performance as of late has been embarrassing at best.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

TSA strip searches and injures 84 year-old flyer

An 84 year-old lady on a defibrillator was strip-searched by TSA and injured during the process. Feel safer?

Candidate Barack Obama: "There should be no contradiction between keeping America safe and secure, and respecting our Constitution."

Yet under the Obama Administration, TSA has grown into a monster that is ineffective at protecting airline passengers and offensively violates our rights. Obama's support for civil liberties ended the day he was sworn in as President.

In reality TSA is counterproductive, focusing most of its efforts on "security theatre" instead of trying to detect and thwart actual threats. Like most of what Obama does, his leadership of TSA is expensive, ineffective, and a gross violation of civil liberties.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mike Brown Property Tax increase

Hamilton County homeowners face four more years of higher property taxes to provide more money to the stadiums and the teams who inhabit them. That's the plan that has been submitted by Commission President Greg Hartmann and the County Administrator. The other two Commissioners, Chris Monzel and Todd Portune, have each submitted their own plans which include no property tax increases.

As part of the 1996 Stadium Sales Tax vote, homeowners were promised that 30% of those Sales Tax revenues would be refunded to them in the form of the Property Tax Rollback (PTR). Through 2009 this promise was kept. In December 2010, Commissioner Greg Hartmann and then-Commissioner David Pepper broke this promise, taking away most of that rollback for 2011.

Hartmann and the County Administrator are looking to strip 70-75% of this PTR through at least 2015. Both Monzel and Portune believe that the PTR promise should kept. All three plans currently lack a second vote, which provides a good opportunity for citizen involvement to affect the final outcome.

Everyone is encouraged to contact the Commissioners with their thoughts. Hartmann is looking to pass his plan Monday morning before the Commissioners have any opportunity to hear the public's thoughts. Please encourage all three Commissioners to: 1) support a plan which includes the full PTR; and 2) postpone Monday's planned vote to allow for public comment.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

School Board endorsements

COAST endorses:

Dan Unger for Northwest Local School Board

Colleen Greissinger for Sycamore School Board

Arnie Engel for Fairfield School Board

These candidates offer fiscally responsible solutions to education issues

COAST proudly supports Dan Unger for re-election to the Northwest Local School Board. Dan is a rock-ribbed conservative with a proven record of fighting for taxpayers. Dan has fought for more transparency both by working to get Board meetings televised & introducing legislation to make District expenditures public. He has opposed massive, unnecessary tax levies, and has argued for closer public oversight of large District expenditures. COAST strongly urges that Dan Unger be returned to the Northwest Local School Board to maintain a fiscal watchdog position on an otherwise free-spending Board. You can learn more about Dan by visiting his website and watching his campaign video.

Newcomer Colleen Greissinger of Blue Ash is seeking a seat on the Sycamore School Board. Colleen is a private sector professional who strongly advocates for transparency in the use of taxpayer dollars, and promises to maintain the quality of education in the Sycamore District without asking taxpayers for additional funding. COAST asks residents of the Sycamore School District to say no to their big-spending District by electing Colleen Greissinger. You can learn more about Colleen by visiting her website.

Former Fairfield School Board member Arnold Engel has been a long-time advocate of fiscal responsibility in Fairfield. He was so effective in spreading the word about the District's fiscal mismanagement that the unions and pro-tax slate of candidates got together to defeat him in his 2009 re-election quest. As is the usual, they resorted to dirty tricks, and even outright lawlessness, which has led to the forced resignation of one sitting Board member, along with a felony indictment. COAST strongly urges the residents of the Fairfield School District to send a message that dirty camaigning to achieve higher taxes will not be tolerated. Fairfield residents should send Arnold Engel back to the School Board. You can learn more about Arnie by visiting his website.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

$48 million wasted on Transit Center boondoggle

Channel 9 I-Team exposes one of the City's biggest boondoggles. "The Riverfront Transit Center opened in 2003. Eight years later, it sits empty and padlocked roughly 275 days every year."

Former Cincinnati mayor Charlie Luken calls the Riverfront Transit Center the biggest waste of money he's seen in his long political career.

"The only reason there's not more outrage about it, " Luken said, "is because people don't know it's there."

Mayor Luken helped open the transit center eight years ago. He inherited the station from previous administrations.

"It will be used by charter buses, public transit, school buses and shuttles for many years to come," Luken told the assembled dignitaries at the ribbon cutting.

His words would not ring true in the eight years after that day in 2003.

Now the former mayor wishes he never stood at the podium and sang praises for what is essentially an empty facility that cost taxpayers $48 million.

"We're eight years out, and nothing's happened, and for the foreseeable future, nothing's going to happen; so we are perfectly safe in saying that this was a waste of money," Luken said.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How we got into this mess

Four Council members and one Mayor directly responsible for Cincinnati's woes

Wendell Young, Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas and Roxanne Qualls condemn Cincinnati to police layoffs or massive tax increase

Voting is already underway for Cincinnati's newest Council. And in many ways COASTers know the results largely don't matter. They don't matter because Cincinnati -- formerly the economic and political engine that drives the region -- has rather become a back-bencher in both arenas, with its governing body the laughing stock of the area.

And for that, we have the failed legacy of liberal democrat leadership to thank, presently embodied by Mayor Mark Mallory and his sycophants on Council, Wendell Young, Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas and Roxanne Qualls.

Under the leadership of democrats, Cincinnati's population has shrunk from a high of more than 500,000 in the 1960s to fewer than 297,000 today, a drop of 34,000 in just 10 years. (That's nearly 10 people leaving Cincinnati every single day for 10 years straight, never to return.) And it is no wonder. Census figures show, Cincinnati has one of the highest rates of poverty in the nation.

On top of that, the crime rate has soared, with Cincinnati's streets no longer considered safe, and basic services like trash collection and snow plowing have eroded. On any given day, 17.5% of firehouses are "browned out" -- unavailable for emergency runs.

In the midst of Cincinnati burning, Young, Quinlivan, Thomas and Qualls are fiddling with expensive, mindless projects that do nothing either to grow jobs or to even help the most helpless in our community. Consider these Council members' actions over the past two years:
And for these actions, we have the Council majority to blame: Wendell Young, Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas and Roxanne Qualls.

And their plan? At least Cecil Thomas has been up front about it, the rest have been coy: They want a massive earnings tax increase to fund their largess.

Yes, COAST predicts that by May of 2012, these four Council members will back an increase in the City's earnings tax from the current 2.1% to 2.5% or more. With a majority of Council promising no cuts in major areas of the budget, and foolish new spending like the above, the massive tax hike is inevitable.

So, consider not just ejecting these four policy-makers on election day, but also the dangerous path they have set for Cincinnati in considering your votes this November. If you do, Cincinnati could have a much brighter future.

Cincinnati likely will return these most of these four jokers, but the decision will really be to make Cincinnati even more irrelevant in the 21st Century.

Isn't there a better way?

Friday, October 28, 2011

COAST endorses Christopher Smitherman

Cincinnati NAACP President has been transcendent figure in fighting taxes and spending in southwest Ohio

Christopher Smitherman is at his very best fighting taxes and spending

We are not overstating matters at all when we say that the City of Cincinnati is facing its biggest challenges ever in the coming two-year term of City Council. Under the failed leadership of Mayor Mark Mallory, the City has failed to address pronounced structural budget deficits that are now becoming both undeniable and unavoidable.

The reality is that the City must urgently cut spending, or its citizens face a massive earnings tax increase. Cincinnati faces an operating deficit of more than $34 million annually, a pension fund deficit of more than $1 billion, crumbling infrastructure and a dwindling population.

Who better to address these challenges head-on? COAST endorses
Christopher Smitherman.

The same media in Cincinnati that has attempted to paint a one-dimensional caricature of Smitherman as a bomb-throwing 60s-style black-power radical, has been fascinated by the coalition built between COAST and the Cincinnati NAACP and the personal friendships that have resulted therefrom.

However, those who understand Smitherman as a whole person see him as a bold leader, a loving father and husband,and a successful entrepreneur who has built his own financial planning practice, using for his business and his clients careful fiscal prudence that Cincinnati so desperately needs.

These characteristics make entirely logical his multiple initiatives to bring responsible tax and spending policies to the region. And they are many:

- Smitherman personally gave life to the fight against the 2007 Super-Sized Jail Tax pushed by liberal democrat commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper, along with our power-hungry Sheriff. He initiated the historic petition drive that motivated 336 volunteers to gather 56,000 signatures in 43 days. He helped build the coalition that won the Sam Adams Alliance national award for coalition-building. That coalition won against a million dollar campaign for the jail tax -- 56% to 44%.

- The following year, Smitherman launched the successful drive to rid Cincinnati of Red Light Cameras. That initiative has resulted in similar drives in seven Ohio cities.

- The same coalition has implemented a ban on a sale of the WaterWorks -- to ourselves -- for nearly $475 million.

- That same coalition twice has placed on the ballot a Charter Amendment to stop Mayor Mallory's foolish Streetcar project. This year, Smitherman enticed the Police, Firefighters, CODE Labor Union, Baptist Ministers, Westwood Concern and others to join the fight.

- This year, that same coalition placed on the ballot a ban on a Cincinnati trash tax.

Smitherman was the first politician to blow the whistle on the insolvency of Cincinnati's pension system. He has spoken out against other wasteful spending in the City.

Smitherman's critics say that he is simply following COAST's lead on these issues, but that simply is not so. Each of these initiatives originated with Smitherman and his hard-working volunteers at the Cincinnati NAACP.

COAST is not naive enough to think it will always agree with Smitherman -- and it intends to hold him accountable as our newest Council member just like everyone else we back and those we oppose.

However, we know he has (i) the proper fiscal values with which to approach the challenges facing Cincinnati, (ii) the open mind to hear others' points of view and (iii) the tough-minded leadership to boldly take Cincinnati in a new direction. And we know he will not kowtow to the Mallory/Qualls agenda that promises to bankrupt the City in short order.

Monday, October 3, 2011

COASTer acts to stop Quinlivan abuse of tax dollars to fund her campaign

Systematic, pervasive and continuing use of tax dollars challenged
Since she was sworn into office two years ago, Council member Laure Quinlivan started her re-election campaign, using tax dollars and City staff to support it.
When she printed her official City letterhead and business cards, she included a reference on each of, which is a site paid for by "Quinlivan for Council," and contains campaign materials encouraging the election of Ms. Quinlivan to City Council.

Last November, COASTer Mark Miller wrote to the City Solicitor demanding that he act to stop Quinlivan's abuse of tax dollars to fund her campaign. Upon investigation, the Solicitor reached agreement with Quinlivan to stop using City resources to fund her campaigns and arranged for her to repay the City $644 for this illegal use of tax dollars.

This year, COAST received another tip, that campaign e-mails were originating from her Council offices, and again demanded that the Solicitor act to enjoin this illegal use of City tax dollars to fund her campaigns. The City Solicitor refused, instead marginalizing the misuse of City resources, arranging for Ms. Quinlivan to re-pay the City an insulting 13 cents of misspent City funds.
Interestingly, the Quinlivan e-mails and Quinlivan web site are built on a platform from www.BlueUtopia.Com. As you can see by clicking on Blue Utopia link, the site is "A Powerful and Affordable Campaign System," "Helping Democrats and Progressives at Every Level." In short it is a website devoted to assisting political campaigns, and has no other purpose.

So, COAST did a public records request demanding documentation of the use of the website by City personnel. What he found was astounding. Quinlivan's official City Council office and personnel, paid with City tax dollars, had accessed the site a total of 111,825 KB of data. You can read the report here yourself. Further, we learned that her official City office had accessed www.BlueUtopia.Com more than 2,300 times over a six month period of time (and that's from fewer than 10% of the data that COAST requested.
In short, Quinlivan is running an active City Council campaign, or at least the electronic portions thereof, from her Council offices, costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

"This is a systemic, pervasive and continuing misuse of tax dollars that is illegal," said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. "It involves not just City computers, City servers, City internet services and City offices, but the misdirection of City staff on City time from their official duties. This is a fundamental breach of the trust that City voters have placed in Quinlivan."
It also happens that the actions of Quinlvan in this regard are illegal. In 2002, COAST conducted a petition drive to insert into the City Charter a provision making the spending of City tax dollars to fund political campaigns illegal. The voters approved that provision and Ms. Quinlivan's actions, even after having been warned against this type of conduct last year, flouts this express Charter provision.

COAST notes that just this week, State Auditor David Yost and Secretary of State Jon Husted proposed making the knowing misuse of tax dollars for campaign purposes a criminal offense.

COASTer Mark Miller sued Quinlivan in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on Thursday. You can read the entire complaint here. The hearing on the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order is before Judge Steven E. Martin on Monday (today) at 8:30 AM.    

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce terrible on tax issues (once again)

Endorses two tax hikes

and takes a dive on limited government

So often, we hear about how business interests are "conservative" and back a limited government agenda. In greater Cincinnati, nothing could be further from the truth.
This year, as just one example, the Chamber released its ballot issue endorsements, and once again they entirely favor a bigger government and higher tax agenda. Indeed, COAST cannot remember the last time the Chamber actually opposed a tax hike. Not once in recent memory.
This year, the Chamber has endorsed higher property taxes for the hospitalization levy, including millions annually to Children's Hospital that has a $2 billion endowment (that's with a "B"), and the Children's Services levy.
The Chamber then opposed Issues 47 and 48, which would, respectively, prevent the City from creating a brand new tax -- a trash tax -- and from building the $135 million streetcar that threatens to bankrupt the City.
COAST fully expects the Chamber to back the massive earnings tax increase that Mayor Mallory and Council members Qualls and Thomas are plotting for just after the November elections.
Remember, this is the same Chamber that endorsed the Super-Sized Jail Tax, the Light Rail Tax, using tax dollars to bring the Olympics to Cincinnati, the sales tax for the Stadiums and the abominable Bengals Lease, the new tax for the Convention Center Expansion, and the Drake Levy.
This is the same Chamber of Commerce that earlier this year, wrote to Governor Kasich and asked that he waste $52 million in state funds on the Streetcar project.
Some COASTers have quit the Chamber, others have never joined and still others stay on board to try to temper the Chamber's lunge in the direction of bigger government.

Join us for COAST Picnic

WenstrupOctober 2, 2011 at 4 PM

Once again, COAST's NorthCOAST Chapter, under the able leadership of Kim Grant, Roseann Siderits and Del Landis, is the host of our fifth annual COAST Picnic.

The details are below. RSVP to Kim Grant if you can join us, kgrant5ATcinciDOTrrDOTcom .

Last year's picnic included COASTer Steve Johnson who revealed the facts underlying the Votes-for-Ice-Cream-Scandal that rocked the Cincinnati Public Schools. One never knows what this year's Picnic has in store.

Our featured speaker this year is Second District Congressional Candidate Dr. Brad Wenstrup.

Date: Sunday October 2nd, 2011
Time: 4:00/ Dinner served at 5:00
Place: Blue Ash Recreation Center/Park
Oak Shelter
4343 Cooper Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45242

Featured Speaker: Dr. Brad Wenstrup

Cost: $5.00 per person for Chicken & Drinks. Please bring your favorite side dish to share.

R.S.V.P. to Kim by responding to kgrant5ATcinciDOTrrDOTcom

Looking forward to a fun and relaxing evening!

Hope to see you all there! Del, Kim & Roseann

Directions: From Cincinnati take I-71 North to Pfeiffer Rd. Turn left on Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer will become Glendale-Milford. Turn left on Reed Hartman Hwy. Turn left on Cooper Rd. Look for Blue Ash Recreation Center (Pool). Reserved pavilion will be in back of pool.

From Lebanon, Mason, West Chester: Take 71 South to Pfeiffer Rd and turn right. Proceed with above directions.

You can help on state issues 2 & 3

COAST adopts westside phone bank
COAST needs your help to move Ohio toward a strong and healthy economy. Please join us at our Greater Cincinnati Area-West phone bank at 3012 Glenmore Avenue and help us tell others why Issue 2 (upholding Senate Bill 5) and Issue 3 (the Health Care Freedom Amendment) are critical in moving Ohio forward and creating a brighter future for all of us. The phone bank is open now until the election.

Here are details about the Greater Cincinnati Area-West Phone bank:

Where: 3012 Glenmore Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45238 Third floor right off the elevator

When: phone bank hours are Monday-Saturday 9-9 and Sunday 12-4.

Questions: If you want to volunteer, but another time works better for you, or if you have questions or would prefer to make calls from home, please contact AFP-Ohio Field Coordinator Jason Gloyd at

Issue 2 (to uphold Senate Bill 5) will help bring more accountability to government, give taxpayers a greater voice in how their tax dollars are spent, help us reign in government spending, avoid job-killing tax hikes that Ohioans just can't afford, and make Ohio more competitive for attracting much-needed jobs into the state.

Issue 3 (the Health Care Freedom Amendment) is an amendment in response to the Federal Health Care Plan that mandates every Ohioan purchase health insurance.

Issues 2 and 3 will be won by Ohioans talking with those in their communities about the importance of these issues. Please help us spread the word! The calls are dialed for you and you only have to ask a couple of quick questions, very easy and painless. Any time you can spare between now and the election would greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Public workers make 43% more than private

COAST noticed this little ditty -- public workers are making 43% more than private workers. So much of that "grand bargain" of more job security and better retirement benefits in exchange for lower pay!

Red Light Camera bans on ballot in three cities

With COAST's help, Red Light Camera bans are on the ballot in three Ohio cities -- all in northeast Ohio this year. Voters in Ashtabula, South Euclid and East Cleveland will have a chance to ban these pernicious devices this year at the ballot box. COAST provided legal and logistical assistance for each drive. The folks in Hamilton are still plugging away on their petition drive.

Array of organizations changing political and legislative landscape in Ohio

It's not your imagination: the game is changing

COASTers felt mighty lonely during the George Voinovich and Bob Taft years in Governor's mansion. Year after year, the latest budget crisis was universally met with one solution: higher taxes and increased spending.

What a change it has been this year! What happened?

First, we have better elected officials. With John Kasich as Governor, Tom Niehaus leading the Senate and Bill Batchelder leading the House, a limited government agenda seems to rule the day.

Second, we have a public that was burned once by Voinovich, a second time by Bob Taft, and the horrible legislatures that served under each of them. They weren't going to tolerate yet another administration selling out the taxpayers.

Third, several state-wide organizations are educating voters, and holding legislators' and the Governor's feet to the fire. Here are just a few:
  • Ohio's Buckeye Institute is a think tank that has cranked out scholarly studies showing the negative effect of Ohio's anti-competitive taxes and regulations on residents and businesses. Recently they have rolled out their state-wide salary databases that graphically show the bloated public salaries throughout Ohio and empower local citizens to fight the excesses. The database has gotten 3.5 million hits since launched just 16 months ago.
  • The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law has pursued aggressive legal strategies of enforcing the state and federal constitutional limitations on government authority and formulating legislative proposals to implement a conservative agenda. The 1851 Center drafted the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment that will be on the ballot this fall. They especially focus on area of economic freedoms. COASTer Chris Finney sits on the Board of Directors of the 1851 Center.
  • Americans for Prosperity, Ohio Chapter. This national organization that has helped immeasurably on budget and regulatory measures, has a significant Ohio presence. It's executive director Rebecca Heimlichhas traveled the state to rally citizens on issue of local, state and national interest. AFP-Ohio helped secure the repeal of the Ohio Estate Tax, and assisted COAST in cutting off $52 million in state funding for the Cincinnati Streetcar project.
These organizations, along with COAST, the Tea Parties, Empower U and others are working hand-in-hand with our elected officials to force the kinds of changes Ohio desperately needs to become competitive for jobs and residents going forward.

Story needs to be told: How Ohio Estate Tax battle was won

Vision of three men, sweat of hundreds of volunteers and courage of 81 state legislators strike bad tax

COAST Newsletter reported in July on the elimination of the Ohio Estate Tax as part of its reporting on the passage of Governor Kasich's budget. But what we did not properly do was to tell the story on how a ragtag band of volunteers, without the backing of any major financier, managed to re-write the Ohio tax code to eliminate a bad tax.

The campaign started with the vision of a single small business owner from Dayton, Ohio: Ron Alban. For decades, Ohioans had discussed eliminating the estate tax, the worst in the nation and one that was driving businesses and residents from the state.

Soon, Ron first signed up limited government advocate Jack Boyle from Cleveland and then COAST Board member Dan Regenold. They conceived of a state-wide ballot issue known as an "initiated legislation," that first forces the Ohio legislature to address the proposal, and if they won't act, to place the issue before the voters. Gena Bell, a influential Tea Party leader, joined the Coalition and brought the Tea Party and Liberty groups on board and was also responsible for gathering support within the Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ultimately, they enlisted 1700 volunteers, and collected 85,000+ signatures state wide.

In parallel, they brought together a coalition of grass root and traditional groups to support repeal. Grass root groups included COAST, tea parties, Americans for Prosperity, and the Ohio Christian Alliance. Support from traditional groups included the Farm Bureau, Funeral Directors, the Manufacturer's Assoc., Ohio Chamber and many more. National groups such as Americans for Tax Reform and the National Taxpayer's Union were enlisted in the cause.

When Republicans took over the Governor's office and both houses of the State legislature in November of 2010, instantly prospects of resolution short of a public vote improved. Governor Kasich had publicly endorsed the repeal during his election campaign.

Then, it got interesting.

The City of Shaker Heights in the Cleveland area, Loveland, Oakwood in the Dayton area, and a few other cities hired high-priced lobbyists at taxpayer expense to fight the volunteer, self-funded effort. Attorneys from COAST and the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law threatened these municipalities with a suit if they didn't repeal the funding using a "taxpayer letter" signed by local volunteer, 77-year old Sylvia DeFranco. Instead, of repealing the funding, the cities of Shaker Heights, Loveland and Oakwood sued their own taxpayer -- Ms. DeFranco.

Outraged by the litigation attack on the taxpayer, Americans for Prosperity sent an action alert to its members, and generated more than 60,000 messages to the Ohio legislature, condemning the tactics of the allied municipalities (using tax monies) and demanding the estate tax repeal. The coalition of groups from Ohio and Washington sent strong messages in support of repeal to Columbus.

Concurrently, a group of 19 House members urged Speaker Batchelder to assure the repeal was included in the final budget bill.

In the end, the repeal was included in the biennial budget bill, and Ohio's Estate Tax is history.

A big COAST salute goes to Alban, Regenold and Boyle. You have shown us the possibilities of citizen activism.