Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why the parking issue is so important

Corners of our community that previously have been silent as the City engages in one reckless budgetary decision after another have spoken up and spoken up in unusually forceful terms about the recommendation of the City administration to enter into a long-term lease not only of parking lots and garages owned by the City, but the very right to collect parking revenues from parking along the City's streets.  These vociferous opponents include the Green Party, the Clifton Town Meeting, the Enquirer, Hyde Park Neighborhood Council, and others.

Most (but not all) of the commentary to date has focused on the foolish fiscal policy of selling an asset (or leasing it long-term) to fill a budget hole for only six months or one year, which is what the administration is proposing.  Certainly, that is unwise policy.

But as with Red Light Cameras, there is a second and much more pernicious problem with the plan: the sale of the City's police powers, the privatization of the law enforcement function.

This particular act of selling on-street parking revenue streams is odious because we trade policy that should be multifaceted -- with impacts on public safety (where is parking safe and needed?), parking policy (e.g., needed high turnover rates), economic development (discouraging people from shopping in the City's business districts or even live in the City) to a private company that has only one motivation -- maximizing profits.

Further, the enforcement function also naturally migrates from these and other multifaceted considerations, including constitutional considerations of innocence until proven guilty, right to confront witnesses, burden of proof, justice and fairness, to, again, purely being about maximizing revenues.

By thus turning over the home rule powers (to set parking rates), the police powers (to enforce parking laws) and the judicial function (of hearing appeals to liability) to a private entity, we enter a brave new world where a private company -- largely independent of judicial review -- can extract monies from the citizenry in fairly small increments, and our duly elected but clueless Council gladly turns this power over to them so they can continue wasting money on excess personnel and a Streetcar the City can't afford.

Candidly, far more than the money at issue, the City is trading away its governmental powers for a few pieces of silver.  These powers are held by these Council members as a fiduciary for the citizenry, and the trading away of these powers long term is a breach of that fiduciary obligation -- and likely illegal.

The voters of this City rightly should remove these unprincipled Council members from power in November of 2013, but (as with the stadium deal and ObamaCare) by then the damage will have been done.

We have only ourselves to blame for electing scoundrels who fail to understand the power with which they have been entrusted.


  1. Interesting that COAST is quick to affirm the police powers of the City of Cincinnati but is equally quick to deny those powers when the City asserts its control over our streets in other ways, such as requiring Duke to move its facilities out of the way of the streetcar.

    But no one ever accused COAST of consistency, did they? Whatever works in the moment, I guess.

  2. The issue (at least for COAST) is not the City's ability to put a Streetcar in the Street (they certainly have that ability). Indeed, they even have the right to force Duke Energy to move their faculties to accommodate that. The issue -- and the only issue in the case of the Duke/Streetcar -- is the City's ability to force Duke to bear that expense and, as a regulated utility, to thus pass that along to all ratepayers in the region. They do not have that right. It's not part of the police powers or home rule powers -- that's confiscation of property without compensation.

    (And utilities by statute for 100+ years in Ohio have the right to occupy rights of way. )

    That issue is entirely different than selling the rights of way to private enforcers of traffic laws. That someone could posit that they are the same or similar issues is simply wither uninformed or intellectually dishonest.

  3. And on this point, why not "sell" the right to issue speeding tickets, red light tickets, DUI tickets, drunk and disorderly violations, etc.

    Let's just inject the profit motive in all traditional law enforcement and eliminate this quaint notion that the "fining" function is anything other than unilateral extortion of money from the citizenry through the force of law.

    We will allow private companies to cite and judge claimed "bad acts" and have the money resulting therefrom.

    It's creepy!

  4. But in their steadfast refusal to reform spending at City Hall, these champions of the common man who sit on Council empowered with this precious public trust will thoughtlessly trade away these important civil rights "beause we need the money," enslaving the populace for 30 years.

    It is very simply traitorous conduct!

  5. But no one ever accused ANONYMOUS streetcar snob commenter of making valid comparisons, did they? Whatever works in the moment, I guess.


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