Wyoming City Council, resembling Cincinnati City Council in both incompetence and unprofessional behavior, approved the final piece of a deal which subsidizes approximately $750,000 in taxpayer cash and property to favored friend Dino DiStasi to bring one single restaurant to town. This 6-1 vote took place at their monthly Council meeting on Monday night.
Combined with the city's Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), Wyoming's government has now voted to give away:
1) A city/CIC-owned property worth $443,000. Given away, not sold.
2) An additional gift of $270,000. Not a loan, a subsidy.
3) A piece of the adjacent city park. Again - a giveaway, not a sale.
In return for nearly $800,000 worth of gifts from Wyoming taxpayers, DiStasi promises to build one restaurant that will bring a whopping 25 jobs to town. That's 25 restaurant jobs, most of which are quite low in pay.
Several restaurants have previously been at this location and failed. The fact that so many prior restaurants have failed here should indicate the lack of demand for another eatery in this spot. In addition, since this building went vacant in 2008, not a single person has sought to build anything there with their own money.
Let's recap. Restaurant owners don't want to be there. Restaurant consumers aren't supporting anything there. But the Wyoming City Council/CIC knows better, and to prove it they've given nearly $800,000 of taxpayer resources to their friend to get another restaurant built there.
If this reminds you of Cincinnati's much-maligned Mahogany's deal, it should. In that deal, Cincinnati City Council voted to give away a grant of $684,000 as well as a $300,000 loan to lure one single restaurant to downtown. This irresponsible deal generated significant opposition from COAST, Christopher Smitherman, Roxanne Qualls, and many others.
These kind of crony deals are good examples of elected officials serving their donors, friends, and special interests instead of their constituents. Does anyone believe there is a shortage of restaurants in the Greater Cincinnati area? In reality, the restaurant industry is oversaturated. Restaurants have a high failure rate and come and go frequently. No rational person would spend $1.8 million of limited taxpayer resources just to lure two restaurants to town instead of spending that money to serve their residents. But that's exactly what Cincinnati and Wyoming Councils just did.
Not only is Wyoming's City Council just as incompetent as Cincinnati's, their behavior is equally unprofessional. As this issue was being discussed and serious questions were being raised, Councilman Jenni McCauley started conversing with audience members in lieu of paying attention to the business item at hand. Other Councilmen soon joined her. This, in the middle of determining the final piece of a massive giveaway! I've suspected for months that the majority of Wyoming's Council wasn't giving this issue the attention it deserved, but I couldn't have asked for better proof than to see several of them demonstrating such unprofessional behavior during this important discussion.
Voting 'Yes' were Councilmen Barry Porter, Lynn Crider, Will Papa, Pamela Kamm, McCauley, and Jim O'Reilly. The lone 'No' vote was Vicky Zwissler. Also of note is the membership of the Community Improvement Corporation, the inept group that spearheaded this project: Al Delgado (Chair), Chris Harmon (Vice-Chair and Economic Development
Commission representative), Jon B. Boss (Secretary and Planning
Commission representative), Tim Cavanaugh (Treasurer), Fred Robbins,
Lynn Crider (Vice Mayor), Barry Porter (Mayor). Frank Klaine (City
Solicitor) and Lynn Tetley (City Manager), staff representative. This is a group of people you don't want anywhere near your money.