COAST, the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, is pleased to announce successes in two recent campaigns against improper expenditures and campaigning using public resources.
First, City Councilman Chris Seelbach announced his decision to refund the City for the illegal payments made on his behalf for travel and hotel expenses to Washington for a personal award. Seelbach, running for reelection recognized that getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar is not the best campaign strategy.
"We are pleased with the result. We are even more pleased that we were able to accomplish this for the Taxpayers without the protracted litigation that Cincinnati's City Solicitor clearly intended," said COAST Chairman Tom Brinkman, Jr.
In COAST's second victory, the Public LIbrary of Cincinnati and Hamilton County agreed to remove political materials advocating support for a tax levy on the November ballot.
COAST discovered that the library was coordinating with a political committee to distribute their materials within the libraries. A clear violation of the law and public trust.
A short exchange of letters with COAST resulted in the removal of the campaign materials.
Again, COAST Chairman Tom Brinkman is pleased that the library acted without necessitating litigation, "It would seem that our public officials are finally learning to take our demands for accountability and a level political playing field seriously. We hope this is the beginning of a trend."
By contrast, past cases with the City of Cincinnati resulted in protracted and expensive litigation.
In a case similar to the Seelbach case, Laure Quinlivan was found using public resources to advance her campaign. Rather than immediately cease the illegal activity and reimburse the City, Quinlivan and the City Solicitor fought to protect and defend what was clearly illegal. Resulting in unnecessary legal costs which were ultimately borne by Cincinnati Taxpayers.
Likewise the City Hall Lobby Case is similar to the Library case. Rather than engage in wasteful legal maneuvering as the City did for five years (and continue now with their latest appeal); the Library recognized their error and corrected it immediately. Apparently for the City Solicitor, there really is a lot to learn at the Library.
Essentially, working with COAST rather than against COAST; Chris Seelbach and the Library did for free what the City Solicitor's office charged the City taxpayers over half a million dollars to do.
This is the sort of collaborative approach we hope to see more of from our public officials.