As of last Saturday, we admit it was looking pretty bleak. The Court of Appeals rejected our bid to have a referendum on the Parking Plot. The City of Cincinnati and the Port Authority signed the lease, and it appeared that the pieces were falling nicely in place for Mayor Mallory and Roxanne Qualls to implement the massive scam on Cincinnati taxpayers.
Then starting on Sunday, all hell began to break loose:
- That day we heard from Kevin Osborne at WCPO Digital. Someone leaked to him the "Walker memo" from Walker Parking Consultants, that detailed its significant concerns that Xerox Corporation was fleecing Cincinnati taxpayers pitifully in the transaction. The matter broke into the media Sunday night, and bathed news outlets on Monday.
- On Monday, Mayoral candidate John Cranley and six challenger candidates for Council held a press event at the Port offices to demand that it terminate the lease pursuant contingencies it wrote into the Parking Plot Contract. The Port blew the matter into bigger headlines by refusing the petitioners access to their offices.
- COAST attorney Curt Hartman had previously arranged a meeting with Port staff to review e-mails relating to the Parking Plot. In there, he found a smoking gun showing the Port's Executive Director Laura Burnner and City staff were intentionally withholding the Walker memo from Council members: Another black eye for the Parking Plot!
- On Wednesday, Brunner and the City Manager were in the news explaining and apologizing for withholding the memo, as their credibility crumbled. Among other things, the Administration explained that the Walker memo was based on old and flawed data -- nevermind that it was the CIty who hired them, gave them their scope of work, and provided the data that they claimed to be flawed.
- Also on Wednesday, COAST sent a taxpayer demand letter to the City Solicitor explaining that the Contract that was signed differed materially from the form of contract that was approved by Council, thus either voiding the Contract or necessitating a second Council vote and possible second voter referendum petition. The taxpayer letter was also widely covered in the news media.
- On Thursday, Kevin Osborne learned that the Walker memo cost the City a whopping $315,339. That's a lot of money for a discredited study the City intended to disregard.
- Then, the coup de gras -- or a least the crowning blow for an already outstanding week. COAST attorney Curt Hartman received a second traunche of e-mails from the Port Authority showing misgivings about the transaction and the trustworthiness of City actors (especially Roxanne Qualls), but most importantly that the City had agreed to give the Port $27 million of the $92 million deal to sign the lease. Notably as well, it was evident that the taxpayers, the small business owners in the neighborhoods who had so forcefully spoken out against the Wall Street buyout of our Parking meters, and the nearly 20,000 people who had signed petitions asking for a public vote on the issue were utterly excluded from their deliberations. Again, those stories flooded every news outlet in Cincinnati.
- Then, a victory of sorts, that is likely just a tactical retreat by the established forces of City Council and the Port: The Port refused to remove any contingencies from the Parking Plot contract and extended its review period until after Labor Day.
The truth will set us free, Cincinnati.
And for the truth, and truth seekers, it was a very good week indeed.
We need a few more weeks like that one!