Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cincinnati homicide rate leads Ohio

Enquirer reports that we led the state last year with 21.6 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Cleveland was 2nd at 18.6.
Columbus was 3rd at 13.7.
Toledo was 4th at 8.2.

Decimating our safety forces to fund a streetcar is obviously premature.

Voters to have say on Streetcar

A broad coalition, including COAST, last week launched a petition drive to place a charter amendment on the ballot in the City of Cincinnati to ban streetcar spending.

The coalition opposed to the streetcar includes the Cincinnati NAACP, the Green Party of Ohio, the Cincinnati Tea Party, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Cincinnati Firefighters, the CODE labor union, the Baptist Ministers of the Cincinnati Vicinity, the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, and Westwood Concern.

Without the charter amendment, the Council of a thoroughly insolvent City has indicated its intention of proceeding to construct a 6-mile loop of a trolley system at an initial capital cost of $143 million, which amount is sure to rise as construction is underway. The system will cost more than $10 million per year to operate, and upon taking the federal grants the City commits to operate the system for 40 years.

City Council already has approved the issuance of $64 million in debt to fund its portion of the construction (before cost overruns).

A copy of the petition is here. The instructions are here. You may print a petition on a color printer and start collecting now! Or, you may get a printed petition from the NAACP at 4439 Reading Rd Suite 3 or by calling (513) 281-1900.

Please help this important effort.

Freedom Center goes back to the teat

The gyrations of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to grab more and more of our tax monies have become more desperate and more dramatic as the finances of the institution spiral downward.  Just in the past two weeks, City Council gave the NURFC yet another $300,000 taxpayer bailout and the NURFC’s renewed drive to become a full-time federal project was revealed.

First, a visit to its 2009 Federal 990 form, a document filed by non-profits and available to the public.  You can get your copy here.  A few highlights from that document:
·         The NURFC (page 9, Part VIII, line 2(a)) had revenue from admissions of only $525,690.  At the $12 adult admission price, that’s a mere 43,807 paying attendees for an entire year.   That’s 120 persons per day.  That’s less than the daily attendance at the basement-dwelling Cincinnati Bengals and fewer persons than the Reds attract to two average homes games.
·         The NURFC saw contributions in 2009 drop by more than half, from $6.1 million in 2008 to $2.3 million in 2009 (page 1, line 8).
·         The NURFC’s investment income dropped in from $1.2 million in 2008 to a loss of $4.3 million in 2009 (page 1, line 10).
·         The NURFC sustained a loss of $12.3 million in 2009 (page 1, line 19).
·         Of its contributions and grants, more than half ($1.182 million came from government grants).
·         The NURFC sustained a net loss on the sale of securities of $4.8 million last year (page 9, Part VIII, line 7(d)).
·         Its cash from the beginning of the year to the end of the year deterioriated from $2.8 million to $700,000 (Page 11, Part X, line 1).
·         The NURFC spent $348,953 on lobbying expenses in 2009 (page 3, Part II-B, line 1(f)).
·         NURFC Executive Director Donald Murphy is taking home a cool $259,419 in salary and benefits for running the place so nicely. 

To date, the total infusion of government cash into the NURFC exceeds $65,000,000.  If you amortize that investment out over 30 years, the useable life of the building, the subsidy per year is $2.167 million per year.  Divided by the estimated 43,800 annual paying attendees, equals a government subsidy of $49.47 for every single man, woman and child that enters the facility.

In late December, astonishingly, Cincinnati City Council voted to give the NURFC another $300,000 from the coffers of a flat-broke City.

And then Friday, the Enquirer reported that, once again, the cash-hemmoraging NURFC is pinning longevity homes on the National Park Service adopting the institution as a federal institution, thus forever freeing the losing proposition from market forces and any semblance of common sense in its operations.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

COAST’s suit on CPS, Ice-Cream for votes scandal is #1 news story on Cincinnati.Com

Read here how COAST’s lawsuit thwarting the attempt by CPS personnel to skew election results in favor of democrats was the #1 story on Cincinnati.Com for 2010.  The case is scheduled to proceed to trial before Judge Beth Myers on August 11 of this year.     

Congratulations on inauguration

This week, COAST welcomes to public office, the following COAST-endorsed candidates:
In Columbus:  Governor Kasich and Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, Auditor David Yost, Attorney General Mike DeWine, Treasurer Josh Mandel, State Senator Shannon Jones, State Representatives Ronald Maag and Bob Mecklenborg and Ohio Board of Education member Debe Terhar. 
In Washington: our newest Senator Rob Portman and  returning Congressman Steve Chabot, who defeated COAST’s declared Public Enemy #1, Steve Driehaus (may he be retired from public office forever!).
In Hamilton County: Consistent conservative Chris Monzel replaces liberal spender David Pepper (may he also be retired from public office forever!)
COAST takes particular note of the fact that its 2009 Fundraiser headliner (John Kasich) and its 2010 Fundraiser speaker (Rob Portman) this week took the oath of office for the two top elected positions in/from Ohio.

What comes next?

Dividends already

            COAST was thrilled to read the day after the election that the first act of Ohio’s new Governor John Kasich is to kill the $400 million slooow-speed 3-C rail line boondoggle.  Read here great piece on just how bad the 3C line would have been for Ohio.   He also promised to take on labor union practices that are bankrupting Ohio.  COAST could not be more pleased with this opening shot from our new Governor.  Ohio’s new Attorney General, Mike DeWine, has pledged immediately to join the litigation against ObamaCare.
            Still, Ohio legislators and Governor Kasich are facing a yawning $8 billion (that’s with a “b”) deficit over the coming biennial.  This creates an unprecedented opportunity for a fundamental re-thinking of the size, structure and indeed mission of Ohio government. COAST hopes they seize it.

Some lessons not learned just yet

More weeding needed in garden of government

As conservatives and Tea Partiers were feeling their oats following the November election, we have quickly learned that the lessons of the 2010 election have not yet been properly impressed on many elected officials.
But it’s OK.  We had so much getting rid of bad apples in 2010, we are happy to help remove another round of big-spending Democrats and traitorous Republicans in 2012.  It’s entirely their choice depending on their performance in office.   
Here, we give you a rundown of the attempts by our representatives to immediately revert to “business as usual” as quickly as they could following loud and clear demand of the electorate of fiscal responsibility.
Hamilton County
David Pepper lost his race for State Auditor thanks to David Yost’s courageous campaign that exposed Pepper’s record as a profligate taxer and spender.  Thus, imagine our surprise that David Pepper immediately after the election voted to eliminate the stadium property tax rollback, a rollback that had been solemnly promised to the taxpayers as part of the stadium sales tax deal in 1998.  Pepper himself had called a repeal of the property tax rollback a “deeply illegitimate act,” and promised never to vote for it.  Well, so much for fiscal restraint and campaign promises.  By the way, Republican Commissioner Greg Hartmann voted for the higher property taxes as well, promising to make up for the increase with reductions in the County’s 10 special levies.  COAST will be watching and holding him to that promise.
City of Cincinnati
In a breathtaking budget process that ran through Christmas and almost to New Year’s eve, Cincinnati City Council repeated the mistakes made in past years and in the Ohio Statehouse and Washington by using debt as a means of “solving” the City’s yawning $60 million budget gap.  Unprincipled politicians used City reserves, invented savings that don’t exist, and borrowed from funds dedicated to other purposes.  The supporters of the ill-conceived budget: Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas, Charlie Winburn (yes, he was COAST-endorsed in 2009), and Wendell Young. 
One bright spot in the midst of City budget votes was a repeal of a ordinance that the manager was apparently claiming gave him authority to impose a trash tax without a new vote of the Council. This was sponsored by Councilmember Bortz and, on this one, Council member Winburn supported the important motion.
Washington D.C.
The Obama Administration and congressional democrats tried one last time before the Republicans take over the House and their majority is diluted in the Senate to push through an astounding $______ Billion spending bill.  Shockingly, several Republican Senators were in active conspiracy with the Democrat majority in trying to rush through this bill in the closing days of the administration.  Only public outrage, including motivated Tea Partiers, killed the bi-partisan abomination.
Also concerning was the horse-trading needed to get the Bush tax cuts, scheduled to expire at year end, extended.  Democrat negotiators crammed into the bill yet another extension of unemployment benefits and an extension of EITC (read: welfare) benefits.  Congressman Schmidt was alone in the local Congressional delegation in opposing the bill.

Red Light Cameras Banned in Garfield Heights, Ohio

With COAST assistance, the residents of Garfield Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) have joined four other Ohio cities in banning Red Light and speeding cameras.  Local organizers Frank Wagner, Ron Finnerty and Paul Long are given credit for leading this important win!  These local patriots also appear to have passed an initiative to repeal a trash tax similar to the one Cincinnati City Council presently is planning to implement next year.
            Read here how cities throughout the nation, including Houston, Texas, joined Cincinnati in opting against Big-Brotherism. Cleveland Plain Dealer Road Rant reporter John Horton reports here that cameras have been banned in 15 of 15 ballot issue voters over the past few years.  That’s a pretty strong record.
Garfield Heights campaign continues a creepy, Orwellian trend by the camera companies who share fine revenues with their host cities (like any good parasite). Redflex funded a massive opposition to Garfield’s ballot initiative. Elsewhere, American Traffic Solutions spent $1.75 million against Houston’s ballot issue and it was also soundly defeated.”

New Red Light Camera Initiatives in 2011

South Euclid
Very-North-COASTer Grant McCollum in South Euclid (another Cleveland suburb) guarantees a red light camera ban will be on the ballot there in 2011, and Cleveland and Toledo drives are well underway.
East Cleveland and the City of Hamilton
            COAST also has been asked to draft initiatives for the cities of East Cleveland and Hamilton, Ohio.  If COASTers know of activists that would like to help organize in these two communities, please contact Chris Finney at

Republican Presidential Primary beauty contest comes to Hamilton County

MN Governor Tim Pawlenty comes to town
COASTer John Rabenold announces that the Northeast Hamilton County Republican Club is hosting its 12th Annual Pancake Breakfast featuring Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty with an introduction by US Sen. Rob Portman on January 29, 2011 from 9AM to  11AM at the Sharonville Convention Center.   Cost is $15 per person and $35 per family.  You may e-mail your RSVP to  Suppers are available on-site for young kids.  Also, e-mail the same address for sponsorship opportunities.  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sheriff's Department out of control

Leadership starts at the top. In Hamilton County, the incompetence and lack of professionalism from Sheriff Simon Leis has increasingly put citizen safety at risk. Recent discoveries bring to light the chaos and poor discipline inside the Sheriff's Department.

The first in a series of Enquirer articles about the Sheriff's Department introduces us to deeply disturbing abuse perpetrated by Hamilton County Deputies. As John Harmon was driving home from working and suffering diabetic shock, he was pulled over by deputies. What happened next should never happen to anyone.

Deputies proceeded to smash Harmon's windows, Tase him SEVEN times, then pummel him some more. He suffered a severely dislocated elbow as well as shoulder and thumb injuries. Harmon may have been injured worse, possibly even killed, had State Highway Patrolman Chris Sanger not arrived on the scene. Sanger had to physically stop two of the deputies from further abusing Harmon. As a subsequent Enquirer editorial stated, "What's most troubling is that had an Ohio State Highway Patrol officer not come upon the scene and expressed his concerns to his supervisors, Harmon could have been hurt more severely and the full incident might not have come to light."

Further discoveries lead any reasonable person to wonder if this behavior isn't common inside the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department. Indeed, the same editorial remarked, "it's clear the public has reason to at least wonder not only whether the deputies were disciplined sufficiently, but whether the department is doing all it can to maintain a culture in which citizens are treated with as much restraint and respect as possible."

For the worst of these deputies, John Haynes, incidents such as this one are all-too common. During one investigation, Haynes was described by his fellow deputies as, "basically out of control" and that "it is only a matter of time before Haynes seriously hurts or kills someone". The Madeira Police Department ordered its officers to "steer clear" of Haynes, with a lieutenant stating, "It is only a matter of time before something bad happens." He further stated that Haynes was "a lawsuit waiting to happen" who manages to have "gunpoint" incidents daily.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this ordeal is that it could have been avoided if Hamilton County had a Sheriff with common sense. It has now come out that Haynes was fired from a Northern Kentucky police department before being hired by Simon Leis. One has to wonder why Leis hired an individual who was already proven to be unfit for the job. In addition, why was Haynes moved around from post to post as these incidents piled up instead of taken off the street?

We will have to hope that the Democratic AND Republican parties will each search for a qualified candidate for Sheriff in 2012. The incompetence, poor discipline, and lack of professionalism of Sheriff Simon Leis needlessly endangers Hamilton County citizens. Leadership comes from the top. When you have a Sheriff who is incapable of performing his job duties with competence and professionalism, you will have deputies who behave the same.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

CPS scoop dominates 2010 news

Three van loads of Hughes High students were taken in October – during school hours – to vote and given sample ballots only for Democratic candidates and then rewarded with ice cream. Tom Brinkman sued to stop Cincinnati Public Schools from using taxpayer resources for partisan political purposes.

CPS's blatant bias outraged people across the nation, pushing The Enquirer's coverage of the story to the #1 most viewed local news story of 2010. You're welcome, Cincinnati.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Majority of Cincinnati City Council members have lost their minds

New budget cuts nothing; spends reserves; and adds $300,000 in funding for the Freedom Center
Rubber Room
Hopelessly irrational and politically self-serving,
City Council has reached a new low of fiscal insanity

Apparently unable to learn the lessons of fiscal irresponsibility that the world-wide financial meltdown has brought, Cincinnati City Council taken our fair City ever closer to Chapter 9 bankruptcy last night with a series of 5-4 votes.  The Enquirer Editorial Board called the decisions a "recipe for disaster."

For six months or more,Cincinnati City Council has known that it had a $60 million deficit for 2011 (read: spending lots more than they had in income).  The solutions proposed were various combinations of a massive earnings tax increase (by Cecil Thomas), a garbage tax (by Mayor Mallory), or laying off up to 360 municipal workers, including 275 police and firefighters (by Mayor Mallory).

Rather than work to structurally balance the budget and put the City on solid footing going forward, they elected instead to borrow from their own emergency reserves, self-insured health insurance pool, and workers compensation fund, and to count on budget gimmicks that will not pan out.  All this leaves an even deeper deficit for 2012, virtually guaranteeing that a massive tax hike will appear on the ballot that year.

To add insult to injury of Cincinnati taxpayers, a Council majority voted to give the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center an additional $300,000 in capital funding, on top of the more than $65 million in public funding it has already received. COAST has exposed the waste and lies from the Freedom Center  here. Most notably, the Freedom Center promised that once the initial government funds were provided for construction, it would not seek or accept more taxpayer funds for capital or operation needs.  It repeatedly has broken that promise.

The five Council members who voted for this fiscal insanity are:
Roxanne Qualls,  (513) 352-3604
Laure Quinlivan, (513) 352-5303
Cecil Thomas,     (513) 352-3499
Charlie Winburn  (513) 352-5354
Wendell Young,   (513) 352-3466

The Cincinnati Enquirer has an excellent editorial about the depth of irresponsibility undertaken by this Council.

These terrible budget decisions are made, of course, in the context of an unresolved $800 million deficit in the City pension fund and a new $143 million the City has committed to the 3-mile trolley line from the Freedom Center to Corryville. 

COAST is asking its readers to call and write these five council members to express disappointment in their terribly poor decisions made by those entrusted with a fiduciary obligation to the taxpayers and residents of this City.  We are not overstating it when we say that the citizenry has every right to be freightened by this dramatic turn toward fiscal irresponsibility taken by our Council.