Roxanne Qualls shows contempt for the voters
Let us visit the events of the past 75 days:
- On February 8, the City finally received bids on the installation of tracks and other improvements for the Cincinnati Streetcar. They learned they were over-budget by some $26 million to $43 million. They tried to hide them from the media and COAST for days, until they could decide upon their P.R. spin on the bad news.
- One week later, Cincinnati Vice Mayor, Finance Committee Chairman, and Mayoral candidate Roxanne Qualls announced that it is time to "step back and put the project through intensive" review to bring costs "back into line" and told the City Manager "While a council majority has continued to support the project, council has not given the administration a ‘blank check."
- On April 17, Roxanne Qualls announced the public hearing for last night to "to step back and have a robust and transparent public discussion about the best way to move forward.” Qualls said "we also have a responsibility to understand the full financial impact of proceeding with or canceling the streetcar project.”
- After about 70 days of "intensive review" the City Manager was able to "value engineer" the claimed cost overruns down to $17.4 million (we know they will be much more than that).
- Last night, hundreds of speakers showed up and thousands more tuned in to the great Streetcar hearings finally called by Qualls.
- At the hearing, the City Manager had utterly no answers to the question as to how the Streetcar cost overruns were to be paid.
- Then today, after the hearings had concluded, the City Manager issued this memo detailing his recommendations for paying for the cost overruns. They entail raiding funds set aside for improvements around the Casino and Music Hall, issuing yet another $4.6 million of "General Capital Debt" (which means a tax increase) and reallocating monies set aside for traffic signal replacement and water main replacement.
The very public discussion was a sham. The entire purpose of the exercise was to avoid talking about the problem and the solutions, and simply rush the new Mallory/Qualls plan to a vote.
We have no expectation that the Enquirer editorial page or other mainstream media outlets will speak out against this contemptuous approach to governance this administration finds preferable. But we note that we have never, ever, seen this level of contempt for the electorate in our years of involvement in the "game" at City Hall.