Sunday, January 31, 2010

3C Snail Rail Boondoggle - *YAWN*

The Columbus Dispatch admits that "Even fans doubt slow travel times will attract riders."
Meeting in Columbus? You better be out of the house by 6:30AM to drive to the train station and park in time for the 7:15AM train. Don't schedule the meeting before 11:00AM, because after the train drops you off at 10:32AM (assuming it's on time) you'll still need to catch a cab or rent a car to get to your real destination. You'll have to wrap it up by 2:15PM too, because the last train leaves at 2:53PM, returning you to Cincinnati at 6:00PM. Find a hotel if you miss it, because you won't be back in town until 10:00 the next day.

Of course if you simply stay in your car and drive, you can set the meeting for 8:30AM, and be home for lunch. Or if you already blocked out the day, you could make the most of the trip with a few cold calls or customer visits along the way.

There are over 10,000,000 addresses in Ohio, and every one of them are connected to each other by our existing network of paved roads. You can reach any of them by automobile, and travel according to your schedule instead of somebody else's. The road network is already bought and paid for, and will continue to be maintained whether the $400 million trains run or not. You'll get there quicker too, because while the train might average 39 mph, you will follow a more direct route at much higher speed (add 10 mph to the values shown if you don't mind risking a ticket).
3C Train
over 10,000,000
Avg Speed
39 mph
60 mph+
Capital Road Cost
Already Paid For
Operating CostsHuge Public Subsidy
Privately Paid

The 3C is Governor Strickland's baby, his crowning achievement of office. And where does it get us? He doesn't have any money for libraries, or your kid's school, so he's pawning those costs off on you through local levies. But he managed to find money for this. A system that more than half the state can't use, and the rest won't want to use.

Thankfully it can't startup until 2012, so there's still time to fix it. The Republicans in the Ohio Senate put enough hooks in the enabling legislation to pull the plug on this enormous boondoggle with a simple vote. And if they fail to act, we'll have a chance this November to replace Strickland with fiscal conservative John Kasich, who can kill it by executive order. The state needs to stop bleeding money, not open up a new wound.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rift Deepens Between Voters & Little Miami Schools

This Tuesday voters in Warren County's Little Miami school district are not only deciding on the largest proposed school tax hike in the district's history - a 16.95-mill operating levy - but also whether Ohio education officials will control much of the district should the property tax be voted down. One taxpayer is sick and tired of it.

Little Miami Schools, located in Eastern Warren County, Ohio is risking alienation of the very people who fund the school system through their property tax dollars. It may be too late! By asking the residents of the school district to vote for or against the levy for the 4th time in a little over a year is over the top. Just in November 2009, the will of the residents was made clearly known as they decidedly voted down the levy. By asking them to vote again in February of this year, the district is showing a profound lack of respect for those who already pay hefty amounts of money to Little Miami Schools through current levels of taxation. Now they are asking for a whopping 16 million, which will add over $500/year per $100,000 house/property valuation.

We are being asked to shoulder the responsibility for poor financial decisions made in the past. It’s not fair, especially in lean economic times, to ask this of us. I guess the district is hoping that the odd voting time will catch people off guard, so they can squeak through the passage of this onerous levy. I urge all of my fellow residents to get out and vote on February 2nd and defeat this levy…….again! Alienation is simply the natural result when government views the people as an ATM that can be tapped over and over again.

--Ken Jones, resident of Harlan Twp, Warren County, Ohio

2010-02-03 UPDATE 16.95 mil operating levy fails 55% to 45%. Vote for another, possibly larger levy, is planned for May 4.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Voters Don't Want Rail, Politicians Don't Care

A new Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio Newspaper Poll shows a majority of Ohio voters don't support spending state dollars to run the 3C rail line.

These latest results are a significant change from earlier polling that showed Ohioans were either ambivalent or slightly favored the plan. Lately the realities of the state's budget situation are hitting home, and the plan's promised benefits were wildly overblown, so voters are awakening to the fact that the 3C would be worse than what we have now, which is no trains at all.

Early accounts painted an idealized vision of Ohioans being whisked between their three principal cities the way the Europeans or Japanese are on quiet high speed electric bullet trains. Reality is the 3C will use the usual loud, stinky, deisel trains that Americans love to loathe, and the trips will take more than twice as long as driving.

Initial cost projections were that the system could be built for $250 million. Now the estimates are over $560 million. The project couldn't get past the paperwork stage without more than doubling the cost, and no reasonable person thinks it's going to get any lower.

Even with overly rosy ridership projections, the trains still wouldn't even come close to covering their costs of operation, let alone their capital costs. This latest poll shows voters have no appetite for a new money pit when we're still struggling to pay for the old ones.

Last year Governor Strickland requested and received legislative approval to apply for part of President Obama's $8 billion high speed rail stimulus. But that was back when it was a $250 million plan, and back when Strickland was promising to cover operating costs through fares. The Republican controlled Senate grudgingly approved it on the condition that Federal dollars cover 100% of the capital cost. The Feds have received over $50 billion in applications for the $8 billion available, so that condition isn't likely to be met. The Senate also included other provisions which would allow them to easily kill the 3C later if proved to be a boondoggle.

State Auditor Candidate David Pepper said he believed there was more public support for passenger rail in Ohio than the Ohio Newspaper Poll indicated. The Strickland administration intends to continue vigorously pursuing the 3C plan, despite public opposition.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marcia Coakley Loses in MA WTF?-ROTFLMFAO

"Let me see if I have this straight. You need to replace perhaps the most beloved liberal in the history of the Senate with a candidate that believes Curt Schilling is a Yankee fan. Because if this lady loses, the health care reform bill that the beloved late senator considered his legacy will die," Stewart said. "And the reason it will die is because if Coakley loses, Democrats will only then have an 18-vote majority in the Senate. Which is more than George W. Bush ever had in the Senate when he did whatever the f**k he wanted to do."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Streetcars Prove Economically Unjustifiable, So Feds Revise Rules

To receive federal funding for a rail project, cities previously had to prove that it was the lowest cost way to reduce pollution or commute times. The Obama administration wants to funnel more money to streetcars, which do neither, and are most often the highest cost alternative, so they've changed the rules to reward "livability" instead. (Who on earth would want to live in a trolley?)

The new policy announced Wednesday, is part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to use transportation and housing programs to keep people from driving and living where they want to, and to invent government make-work jobs related to transit. It might breathe new life into makers of light-rail and other transit equipment who could never survive in the free market.

Among more than 80 cities that could now qualify for funding are Seattle; Cincinnati; Boise, Idaho; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.), who led the push for a federal program designed to promote transit projects whether they make sense or not.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the administration would immediately rescind the "budget restrictions" enacted by the Bush administration and focus on evaluating projects based on the environmental, community and economic-development benefits, as well as on congestion relief. The decision will now also be based on whether or not they're "pretty".

It is arbitrary and capricious to use a nebulous standard like "livability" when awarding public money, especially when there is evidence to show it doesn't matter. Today The Urbanophile critiqued the allegedly legendary livability of Portland, OR, and found their statistics weren't appreciably different from those of Indianapolis, IN, which has no rail transit at all, and barely has a bus system.

Public money should only be invested in public projects that create a measureable public benefit.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another Brilliant Ballot Initiative

Per BikePortland.Org, a ballot measure to be voted on in March in the city of Damascus, Oregon — a small town just 20 miles southeast of Portland (bow toward transit Mecca when you say that) — seeks to prohibit public mass transit.

Measure 3-350 (full text below) would amend the Damascus city charter in two important ways: It would direct the City to not “grant monopoly status” to any agency that wants to operate “public mass transit” in the city, and it would directly prohibit public mass transit within the Damascus city limits.

According to the text of the measure, prohibiting transit is necessary, “To insure that the City of Damascus is open as much as possible to the free flow of vehicular traffic and citizen travel within the city…”

According to City Manager Jim Bennett , this and three other measures on the ballot for a March 9th Special Election were brought forward by a group named ASK Damascus

Bennett refers to ASK Damascus as an “anti-government, anti-tax kind of a group” and says this isn’t the first time they’ve put measures onto the ballot. Two years ago, they were successful in passing a measure that requires a vote from the public before the City can increase any fees or new taxes.

Screenshot of banner from
As for Measure 3-350, Bennett says it could gain traction and possibly even pass:
“I definitely think it could get support. In a very small community like Damascus, since we’re so spread out, it’s really hard to gauge public support or opposition, but I’d say it stands a reasonable chance of getting adopted.”
Damascus has just around 10,000 residents, of which there are about 7,000 registered voters. Bennett estimates that, depending on the turnout (which he says would be about 1,500 to 2,000 voters), “it wouldn’t take more than 800 to 900 votes to pass something like this.”

Local transit blogger Chris Smith says that Damascus was one of several cities that opted out of TriMet back in the 1990s because they didn’t feel they were getting adequate value in exchange for paying TriMet’s payroll tax (which is their primary means of operating revenue).

Full text of Measure 3-350

Should Charter be amended to prohibit monopoly status for public transit providers and to prohibit mass transit rail within Damascus.

This measure would amend Chapter IX of the Damascus Charter by adding new language to Chapter IX to read:
Public Travel and Transport
To insure that the City of Damascus is open as much as possible to the free flow of vehicular traffic and citizen travel within the city,
a) the city of Damascus shall not grant monopoly status to any public or private provider of transport or transit.
b) No public mass transit rail will be allowed within the city limits.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Council Prepares to Gamble $3.5 Million on Trolley

It's a familiar pattern. The problem gambler talks big about all the wonderful things his next win will bring. Don't mention his long string of losses, he lives in total denial of them. In his mind past performance and statistics are for mathematicians. The gambler's got a good feeling about this one, and just needs to scare up the money. He's already blown his cash and cut expenses, even some necessities. Then it hits him...he can sell the inheritence. The family won't like it, but think how rich they'll be after his next big win. But it never comes, wealth is squandered, and the family disintegrates in the self-destructive cycle.

City leaders talk a big line about all the extra people and money a streetcar will bring. Forget about the hundreds of millions of lost tax dollars that were wasted on the:
  • Infamous Cincinnati Subway
  • Riverfront Transit Center
  • Union Terminal (until the County took it over)
  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
  • Expansion of the Convention Center
  • Demolition of 5th & Race tower for a Nordstrom that never materialized
  • Elimination of the 2nd Street entertainment district for a
  • Pair of stadiums facing insolvency.
Council has a scientific study which says the trolley will make it all better again. Just like the studies they had for all the other failed projects. Besides, Mayor Mallory has a really good feeling about this trolley bet. Now if he can only scrounge up the money.

The City's rainy day fund has been depleted. Social services were whacked. And we've gone into hock to maintain vital public safety services while cutting important maintenance and operations staff. But we're still not meeting our bills. We're a few billion dollars away from having a legal sewer system, and the City retirement fund is on the brink of insolvency too. We're indulging in luxuries while short-changing necessities.

True to form, Mallory, Dohoney & council sold off city assets, including part of one of our airports, and all our street lights to continue their binge. We just recently bought the street lights back on the Smale Commission's recommendation, and have had 2 municipal airports since soon after the Wright Brothers' 1st flight. Voter approval is the only thing standing in the way of them selling off the Water Works and Cincinnati Southern Railroad.

City administrators say the $3.5 million would pay for preliminary design and environmental work to position the city for federal funds. But it's essentially just a bet on the hope of a later payoff.

So what happens if we spend the $3.5 million and get nothing from the Feds? That would be a good question for you to ask a council member. The same officials say the streetcar is dead unless we win at least $60 million from the Feds. Like all unsuccessful bets, this wager would be completely wasted.

Tell Council and the Mayor they shouldn't be gambling with our butter and egg money. If they ever get the city on a solid fiscal footing, then we can talk trolleys.

Accidents Up Despite Spokane Red Light Cameras

Intersections where Spokane, Wash., installed red light cameras in 2008 in the name of safety saw an increase in crashes and injuries in the first year of the controversial program.

There were 38 collisions at the three intersections the year after the city began fining violators caught on tape. That's up from 32 the previous year, according to police collision reports provided to The Spokesman-Review.

Injury accidents at the intersections also rose from 11 the year before to 14 after.

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner called the data '"interesting,'" but cautioned that it's too early to make a final judgment on camera enforcement.

""The program has been effective in that we seem to have caught a lot of people running red lights,'" Verner said. '"If we're not seeing a decline of injury collisions, then we need to figure out why not.'"

The numbers contrast with predictions made when the camera program was approved -- that collisions and injuries would decline because drivers would be less willing to run red lights. In the first year of the program the number of crashes at the intersections that police blamed on running red lights held steady at 11.

Traffic safety experts caution that crash statistics fluctuate every year and that it's difficult to prove cause and effect with only a year's worth of data. Police say they're confident that crash numbers will fall as the public becomes more aware of the cameras.

"Typically, there might be a slight increase (in the first year)," said Officer Teresa Fuller, who examines camera violations before tickets are issued. "But those go down in the second year of the program."

The city began fining red light violators caught on camera Nov. 1, 2008. Fuller said the department expects to complete its examination of the program's first year later this month. The department also plans to expand the program to four other intersections later this year.
Councilman Bob Apple, who was the lone vote against the creation of rules to allow the program, said he's not surprised by the numbers.

"I would like to see the council dump Photo Red," Apple said. But in a year in which the city faces a $10 million deficit, "a lot of things are going to trump Photo Red."

While it may be too early to judge the effectiveness of the cameras in Spokane, they have succeeded in catching violators and raising revenue.

Spokane issued 5,690 camera tickets that resulted in revenue of $419,000, Fuller said. After the contracted camera company, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, is paid and other expenses subtracted, police estimate a profit of $103,000.

The Spokane City Council stipulated that camera fines be used only for traffic safety projects. Council members argued that doing so ensured that the aim of the program would remain traffic safety and that the city would not become dependent on the fines to balance the city budget.

Monday, January 11, 2010

We're Missing Out on This?!?

It turns out yesterday was the annual "no-pants light rail ride." Cincinnati remains blissfully rail-free, so we weren't subjected to this visual ass-ault.

In Seattle, hundreds rode Sound Transit sans pants at the behest of the Emerald City Improv. The drama group told people to act like any other passenger, but just without pants.

In Phoenix, about 100 people proved Saturday that showing off cute underwear, even if it's in public, isn't always sexy.

In New York City, hundreds more stripped to their skivvies on the train to celebrate "scenes of chaos and joy in public places."

Washington, DC (former home of the pants-dropper-in-chief) was part of the festivities; and the blog, "Unsuck DC Metro" had perhaps the best take on the day's events.
Call us fuddy-duddies, but this whole No Pants Metro Ride is puzzling to say the least.

Why would anyone WANT to ride the Metro when they didn't have to, and why would they do so with no pants?

Don't get it. Never gonna do it. But there's a fair amount of buzz, and maybe it's a good time, so we'll leave it as a case of different strokes for different folks.

However, if you're going to let your bare skin meet a Metro seat, you might want to read the following post. It has to be one of the most disturbing non-fatal Metro experiences anyone has ever reported. The writer would like to remain anonymous.
I got on the Yellow Line at Pentagon City recently heading back to work at Gallery Place. Since it wasn't that crowded, I sat down on a seat that happened to have a newspaper on it. Little did I realize I had just sat in a pile of bum crap camouflaged by the newspaper. It was everywhere. I got off at Pentagon, and after trying without luck to find help, some friends came to my rescue by bringing some clothes and driving me home where I took about five showers. I then called Metro’s complaint line, and after leaving a voice mail, I got a call back the next day. You’d think they’d want to act ASAP if they had a train car rolling around that was filled with poop! She did take my info and put me in touch with the claims department (all my clothing and shoes were ruined).
I have heard enough about having a “shitty day” to last me a lifetime.
Maybe it was the same person who did this:
7:14 p.m. An inbound Yellow Line train at Huntington was dispatched late because human waste was found on the train.
7:54 p.m. An inbound Orange Line train at Court House was delayed to allow Metro personnel to isolate a rail car because of human waste.
It seems there's something not altogether right about rail people.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Train From Hell Arrives Almost A Day Late

Pulling into Chicago almost a full day behind schedule, one Amtrak passenger recounted "the train from hell," and others are vowing they will never use the rail service again.

Amtrak's California Zephyr arrived 19 hours late full of "tired, hungry and stinky" passengers, according to a story posted on WMAQ's Web site.

Two separate Amtrak trains are having problems of their own, WMAQ said:
  • A Denver-bound train that left Chicago arrived 23 hours late.
  • A San Antonio-to-Chicago train derailed in St. Louis on Thursday, temporarily stranding 176 passengers.
Full story here. Photo from here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter Rail Fail Redux

Eurostar cancelled four services today between London and Brussels and Paris.

But a spokesman for the company said the cancellations had nothing to do with the snow-related technical problem which caused a suspension of its services for three days before Christmas.

The company said passengers on its cancelled services could exchange tickets for travel on another day and that those delayed by more than 60 minutes could get a free single ticket or 50 per cent off a return ticket.

The National Rail Enquiries website crashed this morning after a surge in demand from passengers trying to find information about delays and cancellations.

Southeastern is running either half-hourly or hourly trains from most of its mainline and metro stations, but its high-speed service to London St Pancras is running as normal.

There were no services operating between Sheffield and Leeds on East Midlands Trains.

London Overground services between London and Watford Junction in Hertfordshire is suspended, while the Northern line is closed between High Barnet and Archway. The Piccadilly line is suspended between Acton Town and Rayners Lane.

First TransPennine Express was unable to run any trains between Carlisle and Edinburgh.

There were no services between Glasgow and Edinburgh on CrossCountry services, while buses replaced trains between Inverness and Perth in Scotland.

Virgin Trains intends to run a full service today but warned adverse weather conditions could cause delays and cancellations across the network.

Rails failed elsewhere in the world due to the snow and cold weather. Workers rescued passengers from trains stranded in Shangdu, Inner Mongolia, Vorkula, Russia and South Korea. This seems to be a recurrent problem in China where less than a year ago bad weather shut down 136 electric passenger trains, stranding over 90,000 passengers. The Beijing to Hong Kong train delayed 300 passengers for 47 hours. That's right, almost two days stuck in a train; the horror!

Meanwhile in Cincinnati, some trolley proponents keep trying to perpetuate the myth that rail is somehow invincible to weather. Overblown exaggerations regarding rail are getting old. Overwhelming evidence clearly shows it is just as susceptible to the same laws of physics as every other mode of transportation.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monzel v. Ghiz for Republican nomination to County Commission

It’s shaping up to be two Cincinnati Council members against each other vying for the Hamilton County Commission seat being vacated (thankfully) by David Pepper, who is running for State Treasurer. Both Chris Monzel and Leslie Ghiz have indicated to COASTers that they will be seeking the Republican nomination for the open Commission seat. Both have a long history as politicians and significant voting records on Cincinnati City Council on which to judge their candidacies. COAST looks forward to being part of a vibrant debate between these two seasoned politicians this spring.

Drake Levy Officially Expires

Miracle of miracles! An agency actually drops off the tax rolls

December 31 was an important milestone in Hamilton County tax-fighting history.  On that date, the Drake Center ceased to be a recipient of County tax dollars. Prior to that date, the Drake Center and its 240 patients were receiving a monthly cash subsidy of more than $1 million, $14 million annually.

In 2004, COAST General Council Chris Finney Chaired the Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee and Phil Heimlich was President of the Hamilton County Commission.  Together, they uncovered massive waste at Drake Center, and demonstrated that no other rehabilitation facility like Drake in the nation received a similar local tax subsidy.  That year, a 5-year levy passed over their objections.

However, in 2006, Commissiones DeWine and Heimlich courageously negotiated a sale of the Drake Center to the Health Alliance.  Part of that deal was that after the expiration of the 2004 levy, the Drake Center would be operated without tax subsidy.

When the Health Alliance management team, led by skilled executive Karen Bankston took over, they revealed that the waste at Drake Center was even worse than Finney and Heimlich had uncovered.

Now, Drake Center’s quality measures are much improved, and it actually makes money every month, instead of hemorrhaging taxpayer cash.

COAST was instrumental in fighting the tax, against all of the predictable establishment organizations supporting the wasteful tax, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Cincinnati Post, the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, and the United Way.  Of course, all of these organizations predicted unmentionable calamity of the taxpayer subsidy of the Drake Center’s was discontinued, and their predictions were dutifully supported by a study from the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Economic Studies.

So, celebrate this one small victory for common sense, in the face of all of the establishment nay-sayers who always think higher taxes are a dandy idea.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New year from COAST!!!

Leave your many fond recollections of COAST in the comments.

COASTers celebrate the Christmas Season

Thanks to everybody who joned us at Slatts Pub to celebrate the holidays. We had a fabulous turnout and everyone had a great time.

David Pepper’s “Deeply Illegitimate Act”

David Pepper betrays his own promises,
and Hamilton County taxpayers
It is hardly unusual for politicians to lie to us about their intentions on raising our taxes – we have come to expect that.  It is extraordinary, however, for a politician to tell us in advance that such an act on their part would be nothing short of treachery. 

Commissioner David Pepper not only went back on his repeated promises not to reduce the Stadium Property Tax Rollback, but a year ago told us that this very act that he undertook – independent of fiscal considerations -- would be a “deeply illegitimate act.”  This is an important, defining issue for Hamilton County.

David Pepper told Hamilton County voters on his own blog that it did not matter the fiscal state of the Stadium Fund –“Fulfilling the PTR Promise -- Some Things are Simple” – he would firmly oppose all efforts to eliminate or reduce the Property Tax Rollback that was an integral part of the 1996 deal with the voters.

What the readers of the Enquirer will never learn – because the Enquirer refuses to tell us – is that Pepper and fellow liberal democrat Commissioner Todd Portune have made the Stadium Fund deficit infinitely worse by voting to add hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending for the Banks project since they took office – spending from an insolvent fund.

Thus, Pepper’s treachery is all the more pronounced.  He scored the amazing trifecta of duplicity by (i) promising never to reduce the rollback, (ii) voting to accelerate spending to make the deficit worse, and (iii) then voting to reduce the rollback, brazenly claiming he had no other option.  Even worse, pepper received more than $40,000 in contributions for his County Commission race from Bengals executives and attorneys to do their bidding on the Commission.

David Pepper, who voted when he first joined the Commission for the “Super-Sized Jail Tax,” without submitting it to a vote of the electorate, has shown himself unqualified for the office he currently holds.  He is utterly unworthy of the promotion to State Auditor, a post he is currently seeking.

COASTers save Stadium Property Tax Rollback

Despite David Pepper’s treachery, calls and letters from COASTers in response to repeated COAST calls to action saved the full Stadium Property Tax Rollback on Monday, November 30.  Because of an overwhelming outpouring of support from COASTer’s clearly and firmly demanding retention of the rollback, Commissioners Portune and Hartman voted to save the rollback for 2009, forcing the County to scale back spending form the insolvent fund and cut elsewhere to fund its deficit.

Thank you COASTers!!!

Stadium Fiscal Fiasco Featured in New York Times

Hamilton County voters have been oppressed by the worst deal stadium deal in the nation thanks to current Bengals executives Bob Bedinghaus and Jeff Berding.  COAST has documented the torment of the taxpayers ever since.  Now the New York Times has featured the fiasco on its front page over the holidays.  Read it here – Stadium Boom Deepens Municipal Woes.

Behind-The-Scenes Intrigue of Stadium Property Tax Rollback

"et tu, Todd?!?"

There’s plenty of back-stabbing and intrigue on the intense Stadium property tax rollback story in the halls of the County Courthouse.

We got ourselves into the Stadium financing mess in Hamilton County not because of the Reds, Bengals, and unprincipled politicians.  Indeed greedy team owners and selfish politicians did what they are expected to do – act in their self-interest. 

However, the media and the voters were asleep at the switch following the Stadium Sales Tax vote in 1996, leading to the disaster that generated many headlines, including the recent New York Times feature story.

Even worse, the voters and media are ignoring the story happening right under our noses today, exacerbating the misery of Hamilton County taxpayers.

·                     The local media steadfastly refuses to cover the continued spending of hundreds of millions of dollars from the bankrupt Stadium Fund by Commissioners Portune and Pepper, making the fiscal prospects of the fund without a tax increase or general fund subsidy impossible and the situation more urgent than it otherwise would be.  Why do they insist on ignoring the story?

·                     The Stadium Fund fiasco and Pepper’s broken promises has created a significant rift between Commissioner Portune and Pepper, including last-minute back-stabbing and name calling.  Their character shines through.

·                     Lost in the story of Portune’s vote against a property tax increase is Portune’s continuing drive towards yet another massive sales tax increase.  Methodically throughout the County’s budget processes since the failure of his sales tax hike in 2007, including in the recent Stadium Fund vote, Portune has resisted cutting spending, and dipping into reserves, making a sales tax more likely in 2010 or 2011.  Like all liberals, Portune never gives up.

·                     Finally, we rarely see a politician “outed” like Pepper has been on the rollback vote – calling his own position “deeply illegitimate” and providing a clear roadmap to the logic of his treachery.  Not one media outlet has covered his duplicity.

And we wonder how we got into this position to begin with!  As a community, let’s stop sweeping things under the rug.

Five bad Republicans join Strickland and democrats to raise Ohio income taxes

After sixteen years of Bob Taft and George Voinovich, and lemming-like Republican leadership in the House and Senate such as Jean Schmidt, Ohioans have gotten used to Republicans voting in favor of every single bad tax-and-spending bad idea to come up in Columbus.  Five Republican Senators sold us out once again.

However, under House Minority leader Bill Bachelder, a committed conservative voice in Columbus, and following the disastrous 2006 elections when Republicans lost all but one non-judicial statewide office, we thought maybe they had learned their lessons.  We were wrong. 

When the Ohio Supreme Court declared that proposal to bring slot machines to Ohio racetracks was subject to a referendum, it created an $800 million hole in Ohio’s budget.  Predictably, democrat Governor Strickland and democrat leaders in the Ohio House and Senate proposed an income tax hike for Ohio’s already-oppressed taxpayers. 

House Republicans were united in their opposition to the Stickland plan.  Moreover, we appeared to be saved by a firewall against tax increases erected by the Republcian-controlled Senate.  Over Thanksgiving, the Senate adjoured without acting on the Strickland tax hike proposal.  Then, in mid-December, Senate president Bill Harris, Clermont County Senator Tom Niehaus, Mark Wagoner of suburban Toledo, and John Carey and David Goodman both of suburban Columbus.

COAST thanks Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantifilou for condemning the traitorous acts of these so-called Republicans. 

We encourage the remaining Republicans in the Senate to act like Republicans and remove these traitors from their leadership posts in the Ohio Senate.

Driehaus aide convicted of election fraud

Media again hides dirty democrat secret

Local Enquirer readers in October and November learned about a paid campaign worker for the pro-casino, Issue 3 campaign’s conviction for election fraud.  What the local media failed to report was that this felon was instrumental in the 2008 election of Steve Driehaus to the United States Congress.  COAST wonders if the remainder of his campaign is as dirty.

Walter Sullivan, a worker for a vendor promoting State Issue 3 legalizing four casinos in Ohio, was caught in October of falsifying multiple absentee ballot applications as a first step toward stuffing the ballot box.  In December, he pled guilty to five  felony charges and was placed on two years of probation by Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Pat DeWine.

What the media refuses to report, however, is that Sullivan was part of the democrat machine that helped elect democrat Steve Driehaus to Congress.  Read his resume here where Sullivan lists his employment with the Driehaus campaign.

On his myspace page, Sullivan calls himself “’Nati Thug” and brags of association with the Obama campaign, ACORN  and the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee ( ).  One listed group, Grassroots Campaigns, who hired him starting in August of 2008, lists both the DCCC and ACORN as clients ( ).

Cincinnati Residents Avoid Trash Tax (for now)

New Council member Laure Quinlivan
wants trash tax on City residents
Four Council members, the Mayor and City manager are committed to imposing a $20 per month trash tax on Cincinnati residents, the same residents who are being driven from their homes in record foreclosures due to already-high property taxes. 

Thanks to COAST members who called and wrote their Council members, and Council members Leslie Ghiz, Chris Monzel, Charlie Winburn, Jeff Berding and Chris Bortz, that trash tax was not included in the 2010 budget.

COASTers should be aware that new Council member Laure Quinlivin, and Council veterans Cecil Thomas, Laketa Cole, and Roxanne Qualls all supported raising the trash tax.  Because Council closed its budget gap by spending down its reserves rather than cutting spending and because big government advocates never go away, COAST confidently predicts that the trash tax proposal will be back again.

City Settles COAST Lawsuit Over Harassment of Petitioners

The City of Cincinnati as well as the operators of Fountain Square and Findlay Market have agreed to stop harassing COASTers collecting signatures on petitions for ballot issues.  The broad settlement agreement, finalized in November, allows petitioners to collect signatures peacefully on sidewalks, public streets, Fountain Square and throughout Findlay Market without registering in advance and without harassment from Cincinnati’s finest.

COAST and WeDemandAVote.Com petitioners were harassed collecting signatures in these City venues for the past three years for the Super-Sized Jail Tax, Red Light Cameras, Proportional Representation, the Cincinnati trolley and the Water Works proposal.  In addition to the broad relief afforded COAST and WeDemand petitioners, the defendants paid COAST attorneys fees of $7,500.

Great Tax Protesters of History: Lady Godiva

We want more tax protesters
like Lady Godiva!

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’s 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: Lady Godiva.

The namesake of a fine Chocolate for sure, and titillatingly famous for riding around town on her horse completely naked, the story behind Lady Godiva’s fame is really in fighting against higher taxes.
Lady Godiva (1040-1080), was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry, in England, in order to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants.  Read more about Lady Godiva here.

COAST's wish for the New Year in 2010 is that we have more female tax fighters like Lady Godiva!

Pepper Seeks New Government Teat To Suckle

Freedom Center in talks to lean on Federal Government

Too many pigs suckling on state and local government
Forces Freedom Center to look to Washington

After sucking more than $70 million from the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and the State of Ohio with over-hyped attendance projections and financial performance (read: lies), the National Underground Freedom Center appears to have run out of luck getting more state and local funding. 

Thus, it has now turned to the Federal government as a new teat to suckle for its endless operating losses and capital budget needs.  The Federal Government, as everyone knows, is the source of endless largess and unlimited funds, and will hold no one accountable to  silly standards like attendance and fiscal performance goals.  The failed Freedom Center is brought to you courtesy of former Procter & Gamble Chairman and Current Walt Disney Corporation Chairman John Pepper, who of course could affored to endow the institution against the losses he created if he so chose. 

Portune For Something, Anything

Does anyone other than the editors of the COAST Newsletter think it is funny that County Commissioner Todd Portune floats his name out there for any and every job opening? 

Just like the media chased the story of the boy in the balloon, perhaps the only thing funnier is that the pliant editors of our local news rags – with no confirmation from anyone other than Portune – dutifully continue to run each of these self-promoting rumors.  Perhaps we should call Portune “balloon boy” for his all-too-frequent attempts at self-promotion.

COAST here takes a tour of the recent Portune trial balloons, all of which have fallen flat.

Read here how Portune promoted himself for Chairman of the Ohio Democrat Party.  This effort failed.

Read here how Portune promoted himself for Ohio Lieutenant Governor. 

Read here how Portune floated his own name for the United States Senate.

And here how he promoted himself for Ohio Attorney General

COAST also remembers him toying with the idea of running for Congress against Steve Chabot, but can’t immediately find that link. 

Don’t get us wrong, we want Portune to go – leave the County Commission.  It’s just that no one will take him!

Will it get as bad as Pittsburgh?

Just when we think it can’t get any worse, it does.  In Pittsburgh, having run all for-profit businesses out of town, they are seriously considering taxing college tuition.  We are not kidding!

Students also point out that the tax would not be covered by financial aid — a poor undergraduate on a full scholarship at Carnegie Mellon would be hit with the same $400 tax as her wealthiest fellow student.

A Belated COAST Correction

COAST hates to make mistakes, but wants to acknowledge and correct them when we do.  In a pre-election e-mail COAST said of the local ballot issues that “no agency stands to lose more than about 15% of their funding if their levy fails.”  This was not true.  The MRDD levy funds the vast majority of their services.  The MRDD levy passed in November.

COAST Symphony Night Scheduled

We like Tchaik!

COAST Symphony Night has been scheduled for Thursday, February 4. The Symphony that evening features Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings and Symphony No. 4.  It will be a great evening out with fellow anti-taxers.  If you are interested in joining us, please e-mail COASTer Chris Finney.