Thursday, December 24, 2009

Amtrak Strands Holiday Travelers

An electrical malfunction outside New York City brought train service to a standstill Wednesday throughout the northeastern United States. Some trains are stranded just outside Penn Station. Others are stuck between Newark and New York City. The trains have enough electricity to power the lights and heat but not the engines.

Spokesman Cliff Cole said Amtrak was investigating Wednesday's malfunction and there was no indication human error caused it, but that extreme weather can affect the electrical system. Weather across the region Wednesday morning was seasonally cold but mostly clear. At Washington's Union Station, at least one train was announced as canceled and some passengers said they were told by Amtrak personnel that the problems were related to cold weather. Nicole West-Burns, who was getting off a southbound train, said Amtrak told her and other passengers getting on in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning that the doors were frozen shut.
Electrical problems are nothing new on the Northeast Corridor, by far Amtrak's most heavily traveled route. Three disruptions occurred within a month in 2006. The worst, on the Thursday of Memorial Day weekend, stranded tens of thousands of passengers for up to four hours, some in sweltering tunnels. That was blamed on problems at power stations and substations built in the 1920s near Philadelphia. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving in 2007, damage to overhead wires near New York disrupted service for about 2 1/2 hours.

Cincinnati streetcar supporters maintain that rail travel is far less susceptible to weather trouble than other transportation options. But they continue to ignore the "all or nothing" nature of rail travel. Cars, buses, taxis, and airplanes have the ability to detour around bad weather, closed facilities and other snafus, whether they're weather-related or not. Rail is inherently limited to a single possible path, and when that path is blocked, nothing can pass the blockage, so travelers have no choice but to wait. And all the other travelers simply stack-up behind them.

Amtrak has earned a nationwide reputation for poor service and low reliability. And now Ohio has named Amtrak to be the operator of it's speculative 3C rail starter project. The Urbanophile says, "this would be a big mistake. Amtrak’s brand in most places is terrible and the politics around it have been poisoned. Why would we want to saddle our brand new state of the art high speed rail system with Amtrak’s old school operating practices, antiquated work rules, and legacy costs like retiree pensions? Let’s start de novo on this one. We don’t need to just change technology. We need to change the whole culture around rail operations."

Several thousand holiday travelers in New England probably couldn't agree with him more.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Rail Fail

Winter storms recently hit a number of cities in the northern hemisphere, bringing some colossal rail failures with them.

The Eurostar train which runs in a tunnel underneath the English Channel between London and Paris has been shutdown for the 3rd straight day due to snow, stranding 60,000 travelers. While trolley proponents blather on about underground trains being unaffected by snow, more than 2,000 people were trapped in the dark and cold tunnel -- some for more than 12 hours. How does an underground train get stopped by snow, you ask? Good question. Engineers say especially bad weather meant that snow was being sucked into the trains in a way "that has never happened before."

Almost all international train travel was halted to and from the Netherlands, where the meteorological service issued a storm warning. Trains were delayed in Poland because of frozen points and damaged rails.

And there was more bad news for people trying to use public transport in the South East of England.
  • All London buses have been withdrawn from service due "to adverse weather and dangerous driving conditions".
  • Many Tube lines are partially suspended and the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines entirely suspended.
  • South West Trains is running a reduced service on most routes and passengers are advised not to travel unless their journey is essential.
Not only are Portland (bow to the NorthWest when you say that) streetcars replaced by buses during extreme weather, but "domestic rail services across the UK were delayed and buses replaced trains in many areas."

This year's annual Snow Train, which shuttles skiers between Paris and the French Alps, has also been summarily cancelled. It has nothing to do with the weather, mind you. This rail failed for the usual reason: it's just too darned expensive.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

History Repeating...

Don't Cry For Me, America

In the early 20th century, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world. While Great Britain's maritime power and its far-flung empire had propelled it to a dominant position among the world's industrialized nations, only the United States challenged Argentina for the position of the world's second-most powerful economy.

It was blessed with abundant agriculture, vast swaths of rich farmland laced with navigable rivers and an accessible port system. Its level of industrialization was higher than many European countries: railroads, automobiles and telephones were commonplace.

In 1916, a new president was elected. Hipólito Irigoyen had formed a party called The Radicals under the banner of "fundamental change" with an appeal to the middle class.

Among Irigoyen's changes: mandatory pension insurance, mandatory health insurance, and support for low-income housing construction to stimulate the economy. Put simply, the state assumed economic control of a vast swath of the country's operations and began assessing new payroll taxes to fund its efforts.

With an increasing flow of funds into these entitlement programs, the government's payouts soon became overly generous. Before long its outlays surpassed the value of the taxpayers' contributions. Put simply, it quickly became under-funded, much like the United States' Social Security and Medicare programs.

The death knell for the Argentine economy, however, came with the election of Juan Perón. Perón had a fascist and corporatist upbringing; he and his charismatic wife aimed their populist rhetoric at the nation's rich.

This targeted group "swiftly expanded to cover most of the propertied middle classes, who became an enemy to be defeated and humiliated."

Under Perón, the size of government bureaucracies exploded through massive programs of social spending and by encouraging the growth of labor unions.

High taxes and economic mismanagement took their inevitable toll even after Perón had been driven from office. But his populist rhetoric and "contempt for economic realities" lived on. Argentina's federal government continued to spend far beyond its means.

Hyperinflation exploded in 1989, the final stage of a process characterized by "industrial protectionism, redistribution of income based on increased wages, and growing state intervention in the economy."

The Argentinean government's practice of printing money to pay off its public debts had crushed the economy. Inflation hit 3000%, reminiscent of the Weimar Republic. Food riots were rampant; stores were looted; the country descended into chaos.

And by 1994, Argentina's public pensions - the equivalent of Social Security - had imploded. The payroll tax had increased from 5% to 26%, but it wasn't enough. In addition, Argentina had implemented a value-added tax (VAT), new income taxes, a personal tax on wealth, and additional revenues based upon the sale of public enterprises. These crushed the private sector, further damaging the economy.

A government-controlled "privatization" effort to rescue seniors' pensions was attempted. But, by 2001, those funds had also been raided by the government, the monies replaced by Argentina's defaulted government bonds.

By 2002, ".government fiscal irresponsibility. induced a national economic crisis as severe as America's Great Depression."

In 1902 Argentina was one of the world's richest countries. Little more than a hundred years later, it is poverty-stricken, struggling to meet its debt obligations amidst a drought.

We've seen this movie before. The Democrats' populist plans can't possibly work, because government bankrupts everything it touches. History teaches us that ObamaCare and unfunded entitlement programs will be utter, complete disasters.

Today's Democrats are guilty of more than stupidity; they are enslaving future generations to poverty and misery. And they will be long gone when it all implodes. They will be as cold and dead as Juan Perón when the piper must ultimately be paid.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rand Paul Money Bomb

Are You Ready for a Tea Party?

Published on 14 December 2009 by Christopher Hightower in General News, In The Media

On December 16, 2007, supporters of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul broke the all time fundraising record by raising $6 million in a single day, holding tea parties throughout the USA to protest an oppressive government.

The sentiment spread like a flame of liberty across the entire country, as more people became aware of the dangers government control poses to their lives, liberty and property. Millions of people from all political backgrounds now participate in local tea parties, and are proving too volatile to channel into supporting politics as usual, causing headaches for politicians of both parties who would ignore the Constitution or vote to further burden the people.

Dr. Rand Paul’s race is a microcosm of the ideological struggle afoot. Founder of Kentucky Taxpayers United, Dr. Paul is one of the concerned citizens who stepped forward from the movement to fight the status quo and restore our founders’ vision of liberty. He has shaken up politics in Kentucky, rising above the establishment candidate in the polls, and outraising all candidates in the third quarter.

On December 16, the diverse coalition of patriots backing Dr. Paul will attempt to outraise the establishment machine once again, a feat that would put Rand in a commanding position according to this analysis at the Bluegrass Bulletin. Without the support of lobbyists and special interests, the success of this effort will depend entirely on donations of any size from concerned individuals. So if you are able, please join in this historic undertaking!

Please pledge at and donate what you can on December 16!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

COAST 2009 Christmas Party

You are cordially invited to the COAST 2009 Christmas Party
Thursday, December 17, 6:30 PM at Slatts Pub in Blue Ash

Please come help celebrate the Christmas season, and the efforts and successes of COAST in 2009 with many of our endorsed 2009 candidates and COAST leadership.

When: 6:30 PM, Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where: Slatts Pub
          4858 Cooper Rd.
          Blue Ash,Ohio 45242

Monday, December 7, 2009

Trolleys Get Trapped in Snow, But Buses Roll

The CincyStreetcar blog is falsely implying that streetcars have no problems in snowy conditions, and cites Toronto as a case in point. Like most overly-rosy predictions regarding trolleys, the truth is altogether different.

Last season one snowstorm dumped 15.75" of snow on Toronto creating transit mayhem:
"The extra snow is forcing people to park closer to the middle of the road, sometimes unknowingly impeding the progress of the electric trolleys, which are tethered to wires overhead and can't swerve around them.

And now they're getting tough on anyone who gets in their way, promising to tow you if you don't keep the route clear. The TTC admits there has to be a better way for the Better Way, but they haven't found one.

"So far on McCaul alone, we had about 13 vehicles in a matter of an hour and a half," complains TTC spokesman Mario Jurinic. They're asking you to park at least a foot and a half away from the rail or be on the hook for a tow and a ticket.

And it's not just the TTC that's dealing with the tight squeeze. A driver named Dave found himself boxed in by a stuck streetcar, leaving him no way to get his parked car out of the space he'd found."
The year before that Toronto streetcars had similar problems sharing the road with cars:
"Snow shovellers used to shaking their fists as plows leave a mountainous windrow at the bottom of their driveways may now sympathize with the TTC, which saw St. Clair streetcar service paralyzed on Sunday because of piles of snow left by city plows.

Snow removal machines clearing Avenue Road left a hefty barrier of snow across the new and controversial dedicated streetcar lanes on St. Clair Avenue West, blocking service for at least two hours and forcing at least six streetcars to sit idle. A similar problem caused delays to streetcars on Queens Quay."
Snowstorms create gridlock on streetcar routes. Buses can get around stalled cars, stuck cars, parked cars, and other track blockers, while streetcars simply stack up and go nowhere. Buses get creative and adapt to these messes, but streetcars just sit around and wait for a tow-truck for themselves or the offending vehicles.

Even in the North American Mecca of public transit, Portland (bow when you say that), TriMet advises riders to not only prepare for delays, but if things get really bad, expect a bus to show up to replace your failed rail option:
"During a major disruption, we use shuttle buses
If we expect MAX, WES or Streetcar service will be interrupted for a significant period of time, we'll send out shuttle buses to carry riders between stations. That means you'll go to the station like you normally would, but you'll board a shuttle bus instead. (It will pull up near the station, with a sign that says "Shuttle.") Unless otherwise indicated, the buses will stop at all stations your train would serve during its normal hours of operation."
TriMet notes that bus service will be curtailed on some routes with very steep hills, but these are the same routes that are too steep for a streetcar under normal conditions.

If we're going to wind up using buses for our steepest hills, and sending buses out to bail out stuck streetcars, why should we bother with trolleys in the first place?

Riders made a choice a half century ago. They abandoned old money-losing streetcars in favor of new inexpensive buses. The old-timers who gave us this city were smart folks. They made the right choice; let's honor it.

Photo courtesy of here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meet Future Senator Rand Paul This Weekend

Even if you don't live or vote in Kentucky, their next senator will have a profound effect on the composition of our federal government. That's one reason you should take an interest in this race. Another is the quality of the candidate. Rand Paul is the son of Congressman, and former Presidential Candidate Ron Paul, and has as much common sense and fiscal conservatism as his famous father. Plus he's a very personable and down-to-earth guy who loves to discuss politics with regular folks like us. He's also a proud member of COAST.

This weekend you will have two chances to meet, and get to know him yourself. Both events are free and open to the public. He will share some remarks at the following receptions for him:

Friday, December 4, 2009
5:00 - 6:30 PM
400 Buttermilk Pike
Fort Mitchell, KY 41017

Saturday, December 5, 2009
4:00 - 5:30 PM
2395 Progress Drive
Hebron, KY 41048

Immediately following Saturday's reception, Dr. Paul will give the keynote address to the Boone County GOP Dinner. This event is also open to the public, and is a bargain at $50 per person. A luxurious meal will be provided while you hear from nearly every prominant Republican politician in northern Kentucky. Reservations are encouraged, but not necessary. Call Michael Moreland for details at 859-816-1314.

2009-12-09 Update View some of Rand's remarks below.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Hartmann, Portune keep property tax rollback
Pepper, however, reneges on solemn pledge

In a clear display of the power of COASTers to impact public policy, even with liberal democrats in control, today the Hamilton County Commission voted 2-1 to retain the Stadium Property Tax Rollback at least for one more year. The overwhelming response to the COAST Action Alert really worked!

COAST was joined today at a hearing of the Hamilton County Commission by the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors as being the two lone voices in favor of keeping the full property tax rollback. Of course, COAST's message was bolstered by the dozens of calls, letters and e-mails over the past two weeks to Commission offices demanding that they retain the rollback.

The County's administration had recommended postponing the annual $5 million payment to Cincinnati Public Schools, and eliminating 40% of the rollback for 2010 as ways to close a $13.8 million hole in the Stadium Fund for 2010. Now, Commissioners Hartmann and Portune are working to close the remaining $7.2 million gap (other savings were found by the administration elsewhere).

Despite his solemn and repeated promises to retain the rollback at all costs, David Pepper flip-flopped on the issue and today called for eliminating 40% of the rollback. Pepper told us just a year ago that he considers "any move to divert dollars from the Property Tax Rollback to be a deeply illegitimate act." Yet, today, he voted in favor that that very deeply illegitimate act that he promised he never would. Yes, David Pepper lied to the voters of Hamilton County.

Greg Hartmann introduced a resolution to fully fund the rollback and address the deficit in the Stadium Fund in other ways. Todd Portune reluctantly joined in voting for the Hartmann resolution.Please call and write - again! Please call or e-mail Commissioners Hartmann (946-4405) and Portune (946-4401) and thank them for retaining the rollback. Please also call or e-mail David Pepper (946-4409) and tell him you know he broke his promise to Hamilton County taxpayers.

COASTers Jason Gloyd and Chris Finney testified today before the Commission, pointing out these repeated prior promises and the intentional policy of just the past few years to fund Banks spending from a Stadium Fund Commissioners know is bankrupt, quoting from democrat Dusty Rhodes' letter (click on "May 20, 2009 - Statement on 'The Banks.'") of earlier this year, warning Commissioners their continued over-spending was putting the stadium fund at risk. When the Stadium sales tax was approved in 1996, a firm promise was made that 30% of the sales tax revenue would be devoted exclusively to property tax relief for owner-occupied single family homes. It was that promise that was again kept today (at least for one more year).

Thank you for your help!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Portune & Pepper's Reverse Robin Hood Scheme

Faced with shrinking revenues, Commissioners Portune and Pepper will do anything rather than curb spending. Their latest conspiracy is a new low. The merry duo want to continue giving millionaire sports teams free or reduced rent for the stadiums, and continue underwriting private real estate moguls for the $800 million Banks waterfront apartments and luxury retail development. In order to do so, they will renege on the $5 million payment promised to Cincinnati Public Schools as part of the same deal.

Cincinnati NAACP President Christopher Smitherman highlighted that a majority of CPS students are African-American and many of them are too poor to afford to attend a game at the stadium. Pepper and Portune are, in effect, robbing the poor to payoff the rich.

Inexplicably, the School Board voted 4:3 last night to approve the scheme. Just 21 days ago, voters approved a renewal levy based on CPS' insistance that they were desperate for money. Now that they are giving it away so freely, voters can plainly see they were lied to again. Smitherman, who endorsed this past levy, says, "I do not think the School Board can justify this transaction to voters in 2010 or 2011 when they ask for another levy."

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Most Expensive Distance Between Two Points Is Always a Rail Line

By Daily Mail Reporter
11th November 2009

A Network Rail boss told staff to travel to a conference by coach [bus] because trains are too expensive.

The senior executive decided on coach travel after it was found that taking 200 of the company's staff from Reading to Coventry by rail could cost as much as £27,000.

Instead, the staff will now be collected by coach from Network Rail's head office in Berkshire. Own goal: A Network Rail boss told staff to travel to a conference by coach because trains are too expensive.

Travel expenses will amount to £12 a head by coach, with overall spending being £2,400 - less than a tenth of the cost by train.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Healthy" Tax Hikes From Senate Democrats

Our friends at Americans for Tax Reform have published a full list of the tax hikes that Senate Democrats passed Saturday night in their so-called "Health Bill." We know, President Obama promised no tax increases at all on the middle class, and most of these hit everybody. We'll hold our breath awaiting his veto. These tax hikes include:

Individual Mandate Tax (Page 324/Sec. 1501/$8 bil): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the following schedule (capped at 8 percent of income):

Single +1
Single +2
2016, etc.

Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS).

Employer Mandate Tax (Page 348/Sec. 1513/$28 bil):  If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $750 for all full-time employees.  Applies to all employers with 50 or more employees.

If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer).

Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans (Page 1979/Sec. 9001/$149.1 bil): Starting in 2013, new 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans ($8500 single/$23,000 family).  Higher threshold ($9850 single/$26,000 family) for early retirees and high-risk professions.  CPI +1 percentage point indexed.

From 2013-2015, the 17 highest-cost states are 120% of this level. 

Employer Reporting of Insurance on W-2 (Page 1996/Sec. 9002/Min$): Preamble to taxing health benefits on individual tax returns.

Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 1997/Sec. 9003/$5 bil): No longer allowable to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin)

HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike (Page 1998/Sec. 9004/$1.3 bil): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

FSA Cap (Page 1999/Sec. 9005/$14.6 bil): Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited).

Corporate 1099-MISC Information Reporting (Page 1999/Sec. 9006/$17.1 bil): Requires businesses to send 1099-MISC information tax forms to corporations (currently limited to individuals), a huge compliance burden for small employers.

Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals (page 2001/Sec. 9007/Min$): $50,000 per hospital if they fail to meet new "community health assessment needs," "financial assistance," and "billing and collection" rules set by HHS.

Tax on Innovator Drug Companies (Page 2010/Sec. 9008/ $22.2 bil): $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to share of sales made that year.

Tax of Medical Device Manufacturers (Page 2020/Sec. 9009/$19.3 bil): $2 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to shares of sales made that year.  Exempts items retailing for <$100.

Tax on Health Insurers (Page 2026/Sec. 9010/$60.4 bil): $6.7 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to health insurance premiums collected that year.

Eliminate tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D (Page 2034/Sec. 9012/$5.4 bil)

Raise "Haircut" for Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI (Page 2034/Sec. 9013/$15.2 bil) : Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only.

$500,000 Annual Executive Compensation Limit for Health Insurance Executives (Page 2035/Sec. 9014/$0.6 bil)

Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax (Page 2040/Sec. 9015/$53.8 bil): Current law and changes:

Wages (Employer/Employee)
Self-Employment Net Income
Current Law and New Rate on First $200,000 ($250,000 MFJ)
New Rate on Amount Which Exceeds $200,000 ($250,000 MFJ)
The 0.5% new rate addition is not deductible for the self-employment tax adjustment.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tax Hike (Page 2044/Sec. 9016/$0.4 bil): The special tax deduction in current law for Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies would only be allowed if 85 percent or more of premium revenues are spent on clinical services

Tax on Cosmetic Medical Procedures (Page 2045/Sec. 9017/$5.8 bil): New 5% excise tax on elective cosmetic surgery to be paid by the surgery patient.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pepper and Portune plan early Christmas "present" for homeowners

Urgent COAST call to action:
Please contact Hamilton County Commissioners to urge that they keep stadium property tax rollback

The drive for higher taxes and spending from the Hamilton County Commission under our liberal democrat Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper continues, this time with a vote in the coming weeks on elimination of the stadium property tax rollback, a massive tax hike on single family homeowners in Hamilton County.

Screwed gif

Please contact your County Commissioners today to urge that they retain the property tax rollback, so the taxpayers are not screwed by the politicians in the stadium deals once again.

Todd Portune, (513) 946-4401, fax (513) 946-4446

David Pepper, (513) 946-4409, fax (513) 946-4407

Greg Hartmann, (513) 946-4405, fax (513) 946-4404

When running for office, both Portune and Pepper made solemn pledges that they would retain the property tax rollback. However, Portune and Pepper have since spent the stadium fund into the red, and they are now claiming a tax increase is their only option: read yesterday's articles in the Cincinnati Business Courier and the Cincinnati Enquirer. Consider this:

  1. Commissioners have spent more than $11 million on outside counsel from the stadium fund over the objections of Prosecutor Joe Deters and the Common Pleas Court Judges, who oversee outside counsel. Deters claims he can do the work for less money and the Commissioners actions are wasteful. Commissioners are so insistent on spending these monies on Thursday they sued the Commissioners at the Ohio Supreme Court to keep the money flowing to their favored counsel. (COAST reported here on how we intend to countersue the Commissioners over this illegal contract and spending.)
  2. Commissioners have committed to proceed with tens of millions of dollars of improvements and development subsidies at the Banks project from the Stadium Fund, knowing they did not have the ability to pay for these improvements without a tax hike.
  3. As COAST reported here, in August, rather than cut their profligate spending, Commissioners borrowed an additional $5.5 million to subsidize the stadium fund.

As COAST reported here, Commissioners Portune and Pepper have made it an article of faith, beyond mere fiscal considerations, that they would not eliminate the property tax rollback under any circumstances. Consider this unequivocal statement from Commissioner Pepper just one year ago:

Far beyond a debate over tax policy . . . this is a much more fundamental issue of basic governance, and adhering to the clear consent of the governed. In that light, I consider any move to divert dollars from the PTR to be a deeply illegitimate act. It lacks fundamental integrity. And it's simply not an option.

David Pepper, PepTalk Blog, Nov 18, 2008

When Hamilton County voters passed the stadium sales tax in 1996, a key part of the bargain was that 30% of the revenue from the ½ cent sales tax would be devoted to property tax reduction. It is that rollback that is imperiled because of the poor fiscal policies of Portune and Pepper.

Memory has not yet dimmed of the treachery of Portune and Pepper in enacting the Super-Sized Jail Sales Tax increase in 2007 without a vote of the people, only months after a smaller tax was rejected at the polls. COAST and the WeDemandAVote.Com coalition successfully placed that issue before the voters with a petition drive, and defeated the massive tax increase.

COAST needs you urgently to contact Portune and Pepper and demand they keep their word, and retain the property tax rollback. Further, that they drop their suit to retain their expensive outside counsel, and curtail their over-spending. Finally, please contact Commissioner Greg Hartmann and thank him for keeping his word to retain the property tax rollback.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

COAST Issues Taxpayer Demand to Pepper/Portune

over $13.5 million Banks attorney fee insider deal

while Commissioners confront elimination of promised tax rollback

The shameful case of wasted money and insider dealing at the Stadium/Banks project continues unabated.

Two sad chapters in this story are playing out not in the halls of the County Commission and the Ohio Supreme Court. Here’s an update:

· Prosecutor Joe Deters and Hamilton County’s Judges have criticized the contract of Ohio law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease that has sucked more than $13.5 million from the taxpayers since 2002 for legal work on the Stadium and Banks projects. In October, Hamilton County’s Judges, who under Ohio statute are permitted to authorize such outside legal contracts, revoked the agreement, forcing a showdown between Commissioners Pepper and Portune and the judges. On Friday, the Commissioners filed a bizarre suit, with themselves acting as attorneys, against their own Judges at the Ohio Supreme Court. COAST has sent the Prosecutor a taxpayer demand letter seeking to sue the Commissioners over the continuation of the illegal contract. Under the letter, Deters either must sue the Commissioners himself or allow COAST attorneys to do so on his behalf. Portune and Pepper receive thousands of dollars in campaign contributions through their contacts at the Vorys firm.

· Also, this month, the chickens finally come home to roost on the massive over-spending in the stadium sales tax fund, including the recent massive over-spending on the Banks project. As COAST reported here and here, when the stadium sales tax was passed, a solemn promise made to the taxpayers was that 30% of the revenue from the ½ cent sales tax would be devoted to property tax reduction. Both Pepper and Portune have made explicit campaign promises to retain the rollback, not just as a matter of lower taxes, but as an article of faith with the voters.

Still, when confronted with the option of cutting spending or eliminating the sacrosanct rollback in September, Portune and Pepper opted instead to take on $5.5 million more in debt in the fund for just several months, making elimination of the rollback almost a foregone conclusion.

So, prepare to be screwed again by our liberal democrats on the Commission in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

COAST v. City of Cincinnati in Federal Court Today

Council allows pro-tax rallies,
but not those advocating limited government

COAST attorneys will appear before the United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, November 17 to defend the Preliminary Injunction it received nearly a year ago requiring City officials to provide equal access to certain spaces within City Hall for press conferences and rallies promoting limited government.

In February of 2008, Cincinnatians Active to Support Education and 60 other individuals and organizaitons rallied inside City Hall to support a massive tax increase for Cincinnati Public Schools. Only months later, COASTer Mark Miller requested that the City allow a rally in that exact location for organizations supporting the ballot issue promoting a ban on red light cameras and proportional representation, and he was denied such access.

"The City grants or denies access for press conferences and rallies based upon the viewpoint of the speaker," said Chris Finney, lead counsel for COAST in the litigation. "That is unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. Judge Barrett properly enjoined the City from continuing such unconstitutional practices, and we are proud to defend that victory for common sense, fairness, equaity and the Constitution in the Court of Appeals."

COAST challenged the discriminatory policies of the City in federal court. In that action, Federal District Court Judge Michael Barrett issued a preliminary injunction against that City policy, finding that it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. The City has appealed that decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, one step beneath the US Supreme Court.

The oral argument is scheduled for 9 AM Tuesday at:
United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
6th floor-West Courtroom
Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse
100 East Fifth Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

In 2008, COAST and its partners in the WeDemandAVote.Com coalition collected 15,000 signatures to place before City voters a ban on red light and speeding cameras. The WeDemandAVote.Com coalition members are the NAACP, COAST, the Libertarian Party of Ohio and the Green Party of Southwest Ohio.

Despite organized opposition from the Democrat Party, Mayor Mallory and a host of big-givernment advocates, and despite the discrimination COAST and the WeDemand Coalition faced in achieving access to the interior spaces of City Hall, voters enacted the ban, the first in the nation. Since then, voters nationwide have adopted such prohibitions.

COAST frequently brings suit to fight for access to governmental forums on equal footing with pro-tax forces, including suing Sheriff Leis in 2007 over the Super-Sized jail tax, suing Cincinnati Public Schools over abuse of school yards for political signs, and suing the Fairfield City Schools for sending home pro-levy flyers with school children.

"Some day, politicians and bureaucrats will learn," said Finney, "that they cannot abuse the power of their office to advance their big-government agenda. COAST stands firm in stopping these particularly pernicious practices."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NoKY Tea Party for Oppressed CA Farmers

The Situation
In actions that can only be described as lacking the most basic humanity, the U.S. Congress has turned off the water to Central Valley farmers, leaving their land dry, their field's fallow, all in an effort to protect a small 2-inch minnow. You read that right, tens of thousands are now unemployed and waiting in food lines because of the federal government's decision to protect a fish.

The Effect
Not only do we have farmers out of work and on the verge of losing their farms, but this is the 'bread basket of America' and we ALL depend on these farmers for food. Unless legislation changes things in the next few weeks, it will be too late for the Farmers to get water for 2010 and we will begin importing 97% of our food.

In addition, if the environmental policy of the federal government can shut off irrigation water to thousands of acres in California and in so doing eliminate the American dream for tens of thousands of American farmers, what is to stop them from coming to your neighborhood, county or state and doing the same thing to you, your family or neighbors?

How Can We Help
The Tea Party Patriots have decided to take a "Farm Relief and Freedom Rally" road trip to CA and they are visiting Northern Kentucky on the way. Here are the details:
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2009
Time: 3:00pm - 8:00pm, Patriot Bus arriving at 5:00
Location: Richwood Flea Market
Street: 10915 Dixie Hwy
City/Town: Walton, KY
Harlene Holland - born in El Progreso, Honduras and now a U.S. citizen, she will address the forms of oppression she is now seeing and feeling in America that she saw in her youth.

Jim Waters - from Freedom Kentucky will address Cap and Trade
Health Care and the Copenhagen Treaty will also be addressed.

COAST Thanks Brad Wenstrup and GOP

COAST desires to thank Dr. Brad Wenstrup and the Hamilton County GOP for the fantastic run Dr. Wenstrup had for Mayor of Cincinnati and the broad support Dr. Wenstrup enjoyed from all corners of this community. Dr. Wenstrup ran a spirited race that forced public debate of the failed trolley proposal of Mayor Mallory and the tax-and-spend policies of his administration. At last, conservative voters and advocates of limited government were given real choices by a strong party, and for that we are grateful.

Specter and Scozzafava Disappointing, Predictable

Two experiences are lessons for local GOP voters
What happens when Republican voters embrace candidates who fundamentally disagree with our message of limited government and lower taxes? Invariably the uncomfortable marriage results in disappointment and in some cases downright betrayal. So, for those advancing an abandonment of principle in favor of a “bigger tent,” COAST asks GOP voters to look towards real-life experiences in deciding who should be our leaders for the future. Read here about important lessons learned and decisions before us.

Arlen Specter
Arlen Specter was a consistent disappointment for advocates of limited government since he joined the United States Senate in 1980. He cemented his liberal credentials in 1987 by opposing Reagan nominee to the US Supreme Court Robert Bork and opposing the Clinton impeachment in 1999.

Specter fully embraced Washington’s big-spending ways in earlier this year by supporting President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill.

In 2004, Specter was challenged in the Republican primary by conservative Pat Toomey, whose primary theme was Specter’s treason on the tax and spending issue. However, (entirely predictably) most of the state and national Republican establishment, including President Bush and the state's other senator at the time, Rick Santorum, closed ranks behind Specter. Specter narrowly avoided a major upset with 51 percent of the primary vote.

Toomey went on to lead the wildly successful Club for Growth that has up-ended tax-and-spend Republicans nationwide.

On April 28 of this year, facing a defeat in a second Republican primary challenge from Toomey, Specter switched parties giving Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the US Senate.

Dede Scozzafava
In September of this year, President Obama appointed long-time Republican Congressman John McHugh as Secretary of the Army, setting up an election for the open seat in Congress. In July, Scozzafava was selected by 11 Republican Party county chairs located in the New York’s 23rd Congressional district to be the Republican nominee.

In quick succession, Scozzafava was endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the largest labor union in New York State and liberal Democrat blogger Markos Moulitsas, of the Daily Kos.

Fortunately, Doug Hoffman running on the Conservative Party line in New York gave limited government voters a choice in the election.

Predictably, establishment Republicans such as Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and John Boehner backed Scozzafava. The National Republican Congressional Committee spent more than $900,000 to advance Scozzafava’s candidacy. Conservative Hoffman was endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Three days before the November 3, 2009 election, with poll numbers indicating that she was likely to lose in the three-way race, Scozzafava ended her campaign, releasing her supporters to "transfer their support as they see fit.” The following day, Scozzafava threw her support to Democrat Bill Owens, calling him "an independent voice who will put New York first."

Democrat Owens won the race by four percentage points and on November 7 became one of Nancy Pelosi’s votes for the new socialist Heath Care bill.

The choice of Hamilton County Republican voters
Hamilton County’s GOP has been plagued by candidates and elected officials who have embraced higher taxes and spending at every opportunity, including Congresswoman Jean Schmidt who voted in favor of all of Bob Taft’s tax increases, Sharonville Mayor Virgil Lovitt who repeatedly endorsed higher taxes and endorsed liberal democrats for election and Bob Taft himself.

Now, we face an election for an open seat for Hamilton County Commission. Whom should GOP voters support? A candidate with a long record of voting in favor of taxes and spending? A candidate who has endorsed liberal democrats in closely contested races? A candidate who publicly declares: “Just because I am a Republican doesn’t mean anything?”

Or should we favor a candidate who has consistently supported Republcian principles, the Republican Party and Republican candidates?

The choice is ours. Have we learned the lessons of Specter and Scozzafava, or will Republican voters continue to undermine their own cause.

COAST, WeDemand Bat .500 for 2009 Season

Referendum on Trolley, Water Works sale

The November 3 elections were one on and one out for COASTers. COAST pushed Issues 8 and 9 on the November ballot, starting with petition drives this spring and summer that gathered more than 30,000 signatures to force a vote on both issues.

Issue 8 prevents the City from selling the assets of the Water Works to a regional Water District without a vote of the electorate. City Manager Dohoney had planned on selling the water works for $475 million dollars to a new regional entity and then charging back that purchase price to the ratepayers. The new $475 million in revenue for the City would then be squandered as the billions the City already has. Voters approved the measure clipping Council’s wings by a 61% vote.

Issue 9 was the higher-profile issue designed to force a public vote on issues such as the proposed $185 million streetcar system and the $60 million Riverfront Transit Center. Opponents spent more than $100,000 to defeat the measure, including $5,000 donated by streetcar vendor Parsons Brinkerhoff. Issue 9 was defeated by 56% of the vote.

COAST thanks our many volunteers, our partners in the WeDemandAVote.Com coalition, the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP and its President Christopher Smitherman, the more than 30,000 voters who supported limited government and the more than 15,000 petition signers who brought us hope for more limited government.

Great Tax Protestors of History:

Mahatma Gandhi

So often, advocates of bigger, more oppressive government position their cause as “good” versus the “evil” of those seeking more liberty and more limited government. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but with a massive government public relations machine, a complicit media, a massive dependent non-profit sector, and rapacious politicians and bureaucrats backing this theory, it becomes an uphill battle to fight.

So, in this edition of COAST news, we highlight one of the many heros of limited government and lower taxes: Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 on the Salt March

protesting the British Salt Tax

Read here how Ghandi started the decline of oppressive British rule in India with the Salt March of 1930, opposing none other than the British Salt Tax.

In 1930, Ghandi launched the first act of organized opposition to British rule, and the start of his campaign of non-violence with a march protesting the 1882 British Salt Act. The 1882 Salt Act gave the British a monopoly on the collection and manufacture of salt, limiting its handling to government salt depots and levying a salt tax. Violation of the Salt Act was a criminal offense. Even though salt was freely available to those living on the coast (by evaporation of sea water), Indians were forced to purchase it from the colonial government.

Here is the declaration of the Indian National Congress, headed by Ghandi, before the start of the Salt March

We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities of life, so that they may have full opportunities of growth. We believe also that if any government deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them the people have a further right to alter it or abolish it. The British government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the xploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. We believe therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj or complete independence.

The Salt March drew worldwide attention to the Indian independence movement through extensive newspaper and newsreel coverage. Protests against the salt tax continued for almost a year, ending with Gandhi's release from jail and negotiations with Viceroy Lord Irwin at the Second Round Table Conference.[2] Over 80,000 Indians were jailed as a result of the Salt Tax protests. The campaign had a significant effect on changing world and British attitudes toward Indian independence, and caused large numbers of Indians to actively join the fight for the first time, but failed to win major concessions from the British.

Read more about Ghandi’s Salt Tax protests here.