Saturday, December 15, 2012

Now the Mayor wants to loot SORTA budget for his Streetcar wet dream

To fund their Streetcar wet dream, Mayor Mallory and the crazy Council majority behind him:
  • have increased property taxes on Cincinnati residents, 
  • have diverted funds from filling potholes and resurfacing streets,
  • have floated more than $30 million in new bonded indebtedness,
  • are seeking to increase Duke utility charges for City residents and business owners,
  • have already committed to spend the casino revenues on its operating expenses.
But, as we all know, none of that is enough.  So, today the Enquirer reports that City Manager Milton Dohoney and Mayor Mallory want to amend the City agreement  with SORTA to allow the City to dip into SORTA funds to balance the City budget generally, and to fund the Streetcar specifically. Oh. My. Goodness.

Of course, this is precisely why our coalition partners, the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, the Cincinnati Green Party, the black Baptist Ministers and others, have opposed the Streetcar project.  Very simply it is nothing more than an elitist transportation system that is designed to get upper income riders to and from partying hotspots downtown and in Over-the-Rhine, instead of doing what public transportation ought to do -- help the most needy in out community get to work, hospitals and other health care, shopping and home.

Because it really does none of those things, the Streetcar is really not a transportation system.  Because it is so fantastically expensive, it diverts serious resources that could be directed to real public transportation.  Further, the City is shorting street paving, police and fire protection, and stressing the remainder of the City finances for its Streetcar wet dream.

While we are blasting away at the Mayor and Council, let's give credit where it is due for principled elected leaders standing firm against Streetcar funding:
  • COAST thanks Council members Smitherman, Winburn and Sittenfeld for their steadfast opposition to this foolish commitment of City and federal resources.  
  • We remind our readers that one of Governor John Kasich's first acts as in office was to cut $52 million in ODOT funding for the foolish capital project.  
  • Senator Shannon Jones introduced and passed a ban in the state budget for any further Streetcar funding.
  • The Hamilton County Commissioners preventing MSD from funding utility relocation costs for the Streetcar project.
  • Congressman Chabot and Wenstrup are committed to eliminating any further federal funding for the Streetcar.
So, it's not all bleak.  We have leaders who are trying to do the right thing, and convince this foolish City administration to abandon this black hole of spending before it progresses further.

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