Friday, February 26, 2010

Cincinnati Tea Party Supports COAST Fundraiser Monday Night

"The movement that changed everything"

Cincinnati Tea Party
promotes March 1 fundraiser

Its Chairman Chris Littleton to appear also

Tea Party Logo 

The movement that has changed everything -- the Tea Party -- is promoting the COAST fundraiser Monday night featuring former distinguished Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Rob Portman.  In a blast e-mail to its members on Tuesday, the Cincinnati Tea Party said: "If you don't know about the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) you should," and encouraged its members to attend the fundraiser.

Cincinnati Tea Party Chairman Chris Littleton also committed to attending the event.  We welcome him.

Littleton joins a crowd of elected officials and political dignitaries supporting COAST's mission Monday night, including Congressman Steve Chabot, Dr. Brad Wenstrup, Council member Chris Monzel, County Commissioner Greg Hartmann and County Treasurer Rob Goering.  Still, the event will not be complete without you there, and there are tickets still available.

The event is 7 PM at the Glendale Lyceum, 865 Congress Avenue in Glendale.  Tickets are $75 per person and $125 per couple.

Our Host Committee for this event is:

William and Joann Brayshaw
Joseph Brinck
Piotr Chomczymski
Mary Ann Christie
Robert Coletti
Christopher P. Finney
Jason Gloyd
Joel and Kimberly Grant
Senator Shannon Jones
Curt C. Hartman
Greg Hartman
Theodore and Peggy Hubbard
Robert Kohlhepp
Del and Dorette Landis
Tony Maas
E. Paul Naberhaus
Quentin Nesbitt
Dan and Kellie Peters
John Rabenold
Daniel P. Regenold
Michelle Schneider
Ron and Roseann Siderits
Alex Traintafilou
Don Vonderhaar
Tom Weidman
Dr. Brad Wenstrup
Mike Wilson

Please plan on joining COAST for this important and only major fundraiser of 2010. You may click below to buy tickets through our secure site.
Buy Tickets Here
You may also call COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd at (513) 240-4996 or e-mail him for more information.
The goals and objectives of COAST are neither endorsed or rejected by The Glendale Lyceum.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hazy Lazy Crazy Train

State Senator Shannon Jones also thinks the 3C Snail Rail Boondoggle is a waste of taxpayer money:
Lately, we've heard a lot of talk about Governor Strickland's push to bring passenger rail to Ohio. It's time to set the record straight and make the facts known. Once you review the following information I think you'll agree that the Governor's priorities have gone off-track.

Thanks for taking a few moments to review the facts. I look forward to your feedback.

Shannon Jones

Click pics for larger view

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dr. Brad Wenstrup joins COAST for March 1 event featuring Congressman Rob Portman

We need you there, too

Dr. Brad
Dr. Brad Wenstrup

Dr. Brad Wenstrup, who energized fiscal conservatives in Cincinnnati with his dynamic 2009 run for Mayor, will appear at the March 1, 2010 COAST fundraiser with Congressman Rob Portman. 

The event is 7 PM at the Glendale Lyceum, 865 Congress Avenue in Glendale.  Tickets are $75 per person and $125 per couple.

Wenstrup, a decorated Iraqi war veteran, and Cincinnati podiatrist, is a hero to Cincinnati and Hamilton County voters.  He sacrificed a year of his life to bring hope to Cincinnatians oppressed by the big-government, big-spending policies of Cincinnati City Hall. COASTers earnestly hope this run is not his last.

Our Host Committee for this event is:
William and Joann Brayshaw
Joseph Brinck
Piotr Chomczymski
Mary Ann Christie
Robert Coletti
Christopher P. Finney
Jason Gloyd
Joel and Kimberly Grant
Senator Shannon Jones
Curt C. Hartman
Greg Hartman
Theodore and Peggy Hubbard
Robert Kohlhepp
Del and Dorette Landis
Tony Maas
E. Paul Naberhaus
Quentin Nesbitt
Dan and Kellie Peters
John Rabenold
Daniel P. Regenold
Michelle Schneider
Ron and Roseann Siderits
Alex Traintafilou
Don Vonderhaar
Tom Weidman
Dr. Brad Wenstrup
Mike Wilson

Please plan on joining COAST for this important and only major fundraiser of 2010. You may click below to buy tickets through our secure site.
Buy Tickets Here
You may also call COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd at (513) 240-4996 or e-mail him for more information.

The goals and objectives of COAST are neither endorsed or rejected by The Glendale Lyceum.
2010-02-26 Updated Host Committee members.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Portman appears for COAST March 1, 2010

7:00 PM

Distinguished former US Congressman Rob Portman, who is also a candidate for the United States Senate, will headline a COAST fundraiser on March 1, 2010 at 7:00 PM at the Glendale Lyceum, 865 Congress Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246. Individual admission is $75 per person and $125 per couple.

Our Host Committee for this event is:
William and Joann Brayshaw
Joseph Brinck
Piotr Chomczymski
Mary Ann Christie
Robert Coletti
Christopher P. Finney
Jason Gloyd
Joel and Kimberly Grant
Senator Shannon Jones
Curt C. Hartman
Greg Hartman
Theodore and Peggy Hubbard
Robert Kohlhepp
Del and Dorette Landis
Tony Maas
E. Paul Naberhaus
Quentin Nesbitt
Dan and Kellie Peters
John Rabenold
Daniel P. Regenold
Michelle Schneider
Ron and Roseann Siderits
Alex Traintafilou
Don Vonderhaar
Tom Weidman
Dr. Brad Wenstrup
Mike Wilson

Please plan on joining COAST for this important and only major fundraiser of 2010. You may click below to buy tickets.

Buy Tickets Here
You may also call COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd at (513) 240-4996 or e-mail him for more information.

The goals and objectives of COAST are neither endorsed or rejected by The Glendale Lyceum.
2010-02-26 Updated Host Committee Members.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Brinkman, COAST win injunction against State of Ohio

Federal District Court Judge Susan Dlott issues permanent injunction
against State "revolving door" statute  

Federal District Court Judge today issued a final decision in the case of Brinkman et al. v. Budish et al. that the State of Ohio's "revolving door' statute is unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction against the State of Ohio preventing its enforcement.  COAST and former State Representative Thomas E. Brinkman, Jr. originally brought the case because it prohibited volunteer lobbying by Brinkman on behalf of COAST for a period of one year after he left the legislature in December of 2008.

In her decision, Dlott ruled that the State statute violated the First Amendment rights of Brinkman and COAST because it was not narrowly tailored to address the legitimate state interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption, which is what Brinkman had argued in bringing the case.

The decision is here.  The original Complaint of Brinkman and COAST is here.

Cincinnati Streetcar Jilted by TIGER

Cincinnati rail junkies waited in eager anticipation for today's award announcement by Transportation Secretary LaHood. They were crushed to learn Cincinnati received no federal largess for the trolley boondoggle.

Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) is a $1.5 billion discretionary part of President Obama's $787 billion stimulus, or porkulus, depending on your point of view, passed exactly one year ago today. Roughly $50 were sought for every dollar available, so only 51 of 1381 projects received any funding.

Tucson, AZ was awarded $63 million for their streetcar boondoggle. Voters there passed a 1/2 cent sales tax in 2006 to fund the streetcar, among other things. The federal grant essentially completes the other half of their financial plan.

New Orleans, LA was awarded $45 million for their streetcar boondoggle. Funds will be used to extend "the longest continuously operating streetcar system in the world" along Loyola Avenue from the Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street.

Portland, OR (genuflect when you say that) was awarded $23.2 million for their streetcar boondoggle on top of a $75 million earmark received last year. New money will rebuild streetcar lines on Moody Avenue after the road is buried under 14 feet of dirt and concrete to encapsulate hazardous waste.

Dallas, TX was awarded $23 million for their streetcar boondoggle, despite being considered a longshot in the competition. Perhaps using "Molly the Trolley" as a proof of concept demonstration for their urban circulator sealed the deal. More likely it's that they didn't sidestep their Regional Transportation Council, who already runs taxpayer supported (and voted) light rail.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Portman to headline COAST fundraiser

March 1, 2010

COAST is pleased to announce that former Congressman and current US Senate candidate Rob Portman will headline a fundraiser for COAST on Monday, March 1, 2010 at 7 PM at the Glendale Lyceum, 865 Congress Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246.

Individual admission is $75 per person and $125 per couple.  Please plan on joining COAST for this important and only major fundraiser of 2010. You may click below to buy tickets.
Buy Tickets Here
You may also call COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd at (513) 240-4996 or e-mail him for more information.

The goals and objectives of COAST are neither endorsed or rejected by The Glendale Lyceum.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Because of massive over-spending, Stadium Fund faces deficit

There is no question that Commissioners Bob Bedinghaus, Tom Neyer and John Dowlin sold out the voters when they negotiated the Bengal’s stadium lease in September 1996. However, the Stadium Fund would not be in the fix it is today were it not for the continued spending by Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper from a fund that already is insolvent. Their over-spending has accelerated the day of reckoning to the middle of today’s recession, when tax revenues are depressed and the problems even more pronounced.

Since the democrats have taken control of the County Commission, and knowing that the fund was broke, Portune and Pepper have committed to $90 million in new spending on the Banks infrastructure, and Commissioners have spent more than $20 million on outside counsel. This and other mis-spending has driven a Stadium Fund deficit that requires a tax increase or a subsidy from the County’s general fund in 2011.

Perhaps even worse than the negligent financial projects of a prior commission, Portune and Pepper have committed to spending millions on future phases of the Banks project, knowing that the fund was hopelessly insolvent, thus committing County voters to a nearly inevitable tax increase.

Breaking a solemn campaign promise, David Pepper has proposed eliminating the property tax rollback that was a fundamental part of the stadium tax deal. Pepper also relies upon a new ticket tax from ticket sales at the two stadiums to close the gap, but fails to mention that these two revenue sources will not pay for the estimated $30 million annual Stadium Fund deficit. Pepper could not find a second vote for his fundamentally dishonest plan.

So, Commissioners Portune and Pepper have decided to pursue a sales tax increase to fund the Stadium Fund deficit. It is on four separate sales tax increase proposals that they are having public hearings this week and next, including two that will again bypass voters.

While Portune and Pepper are playing the same broken record that we can blame Bob Bedinghaus for the fiscal straits of the County, the reality is that Portune and Pepper have significantly worsened the deficit, and did so when they well knew the fund was insolvent.

County Commission holds hearings on yet another sales tax increase for Stadium Fund

February 10 and 17 at 9:30 AM
Apparently unable to understand the meaning of the word “no,” Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper will hold hearings on yet another proposed increase in the sales tax this week and next week. Again, not learning the lessons of the past, among the options on which hearings will be held is increasing the sales tax without a vote of the electorate.

The hearings will be held Wednesday, February 10 at 9:30 AM and again on Wednesday, February 17 at 9:30 AM. Both public sessions will be in the County Commission offices on the 6th floor of the County Administration Building, 138 East Court Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.

COASTers are encouraged to attend the meetings and testify, or call or write their Commissioners at the addresses and numbers noted below:
Greg Hartman
David Pepper
Todd Portune
E-mail (Click)

COASTers will recall that in 2006, voters rejected a sales tax increase for a new jail. Not understanding that message, Portune and Pepper tripled the size of that tax and implemented a sales tax in2007 without a public vote. A unique coalition of the NAACP, COAST, the Green Party and the Libertarian Party united to place the issue before the voters and defeat the tax, despite more than $1 million spent by tax advocates, including $100,000 spent by David Pepper’s ultra-wealthy mommy and daddy.

The desire of Portune and Pepper for more of your tax money is congenital and can only be counterbalanced by a vocal and resolute public telling them our objections. Please speak out once again, because apparently they did not hear you the last two times.

Widespread Agreement Against 3C Snail Rail Boondoggle

Throughout Ohio, editorials lambasting the 3C Snail Rail Boondoggle have been abundant. Below are some excerpts with links to source articles. First, some background:
"Three times -- in 1975, 1976 and 1982 -- Ohioans have decisively rejected the use of public money to finance passenger rail in Ohio, twice by breathtaking margins. In 1982, a proposal to build a high-speed rail system was defeated, 2,420,593 to 775,605. And there isn't the slightest doubt voters would react similarly if given a chance to kill the ridiculous rail plan now being pursued by Ohio's leaders -- a plan that would waste hundreds of millions in tax dollars.

High-speed rail remains an enticing idea for Ohio. But this is a state where political expediency almost always trumps what's best for the taxpayers. So the rail plan rolled out by Strickland will be such a colossal failure that when the time is ripe for Ohio to consider a rail idea that is clean, fast and thoughtful, voters will still be so furious over the debacle of 2010 that they'll probably reject it."
Brent Larkin, Cleveland Plain Dealer
High speed?!? 79 MPH is not high speed.
"Yet that's the fastest that passenger trains between Cleveland and Cincinnati will go when they start running, possibly as soon as 2012. This puzzles and disappoints some Ohioans, especially because President Barack Obama announced new rail lines on Jan. 28 as cogs in a national "high speed" network.

A week later, a number of Ohioans, including lawmakers from both parties, are describing the eventual three-hour trip between Cleveland and Columbus as life in the slow lane. The $400 million-plus Ohio railroad would be slower than car travel, because the 79 mph top speeds cannot be reached consistently on a line that shares rails with freight trains.

"Why are we bothering with something that's low-tech?" asked congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Toledo, in an interview with The Plain Dealer.

Higher speeds could be possible eventually. The Ohio Rail Development Commission says that with modifications, speeds of up to 110 mph on the 3C line could be reached by 2022. Anything faster than that, however, would require different tracks and could cost tens of billions of dollars."
Stephen Koff, The Plain Dealer
The devil really is in the details.
"Never mind, if you can, the money. The federal government doesn't have the $400 million. More than likely, our children and theirs will end up paying back the Chinese for the loan. And Ohio, with an impending $7 billion hole in the next two-year budget, can hardly afford the $17 million annual subsidy to operate the rail system.

From the start, the details have been squishy. Last March, the Ohio Department of Transportation said the project would cost $250 million. Several months later, the estimate was revised to $400 million. And after applying for $564 million in stimulus funding, ODOT now says $400 million will do the job.

Amtrak's self-serving estimate that 478,000 passengers a year will ride the Ohio trains, and Strickland's projection that restarting passenger-rail service will create at least 8,000 jobs and pour $1.2 billion into the state's economy are not grounded in exhaustive studies. More important than the boast that 6 million people live within 15 miles of the so-called 3C Corridor is how many live within 15 miles of those three train stations.

That's the rub. People will take the train if it is convenient and economical. As currently planned, this system is neither.

The four trains traveling the 3C corridor will average 39 mph, topping out at 79. Promoters tantalizing the prospect of 120-mph bullet trains eventually speeding along the corridor rarely mention that to accommodate those trains the tracks would have to be replaced.

The estimated $36 to $50 roundtrip ticket between Columbus and Cleveland or Cincinnati seems reasonable until you factor in the inevitable $120 hotel bill. The way the train schedules are structured, you could not travel to a Reds, Bengals, Indians or Browns game and return the same day. Ditto for Clevelanders and Cincinnatians taking the train to a Buckeyes football game.

The schedule also is not conducive for business travelers. Under a typical scenario, someone boarding the train in Cleveland would spend roughly 13 hours and 45 minutes away from home, with a maximum of about four hours and 45 minutes of meeting time in Columbus.

For those of us who romanticize about taking the train, reality has us stranded at the station."
Joe Hallet, The Columbus Dispatch
Cleveland says screw Cincinnati and Dayton.
"For starters, state planners should begin with just 2Cs -- Cleveland and Columbus. If the same number of passenger train cars were to be purchased -- the biggest single projected expense is $175 million for five new trains, each with five passenger cars, a food car, a locomotive and a control car -- the service would be faster and the trains more frequent.

Local cost-sharing Requiring communities to pony up a good portion of the costs for any new stations or local upgrades would add to the political buy-in and free up money for extra rail and signal improvements to allow the trains to run a lot faster than the advertised maximum of 79 mph. Some of the federal grant could then be set aside for future expansion to Dayton and Cincinnati. Having local communities pay for train stations had been part of an earlier plan.

More frequent service and smarter scheduling into Cleveland would allow Ohio passenger rail to connect to the soon-to-be-high-speed Amtrak trains running the Midwest corridor from Chicago to New York and Washington, D.C., across the northern tier of Ohio.

Keeping the initial investment confined to 2Cs would probably contribute to a more amicable and seamless integration of passenger and freight in Ohio, too.
The Plain Dealer Editorial Board

Newark doesn't think it will work, but can't bear to say "No".
"Ohio's initial rail offerings will be quite weak in the eyes of consumers who almost always will pick the easiest, fastest and cheapest option for travel, especially in our quick-paced modern world.
From a Licking County perspective, at least, we seriously doubt many will drive to Columbus, pay to park their car downtown, buy for a train ticket, wait for the train, then ride either direction at a maximum speed of 79 mph for about three hours and still need transportation to their final destination. One could argue even residents of Columbus might not desire so much trouble when they just can hop in their cars.

Thus, there's a real chance this entire project, despite its ability to create new jobs, could become a major drain on state coffers at a time when Ohio faces a budget deficit of at least $7 billion for 2011-13.

With that said, Ohio's rail project might be worth the financial risk."
Newark Advocate
Will anybody ride this train?
"It may be a boon to students and the elderly. Some will take the train because it’s fun, or because it’s ecologically friendly. But we can’t build a passenger rail network based on the people who fall in these categories; there simply won’t be enough riders to justify the investment.
The vast majority of projected riders will have a choice, and these riders will look for convenience, economy and fast service. I don’t think they will find it.

For example, under the proposed 3C schedule, a family of four going from Dayton to Cincinnati to spend a day at the zoo would drive to downtown Dayton at 8 a.m., take the 8:24 train for 1.5 hours to downtown Cincinnati, take a bus to Clifton, and be at the zoo no earlier than 10:30 a.m.

They will have to leave the zoo at 3:30, so they can make the last train at 4:15 and are home by 6 p.m.

Total transit time: 5 hours. Total cost: $73. (Four round-trip train tickets at roughly $60, bus fare at $8 and Dayton parking at $5.)

Compare that to driving less than two hours in a car for about $60 ($.51 per mile based on IRS estimates and $10 in parking).

Without sufficient ridership, the proposed benefits to Ohioans are diminished because benefits of reduced traffic congestion and smog are generated when trains are well-used. If ridership is low, the high fixed costs and up-front investments of rail cause the cost per-passenger to skyrocket.

The challenge facing 3C planners is to create a system that provides convenience at a reasonable price to encourage ridership. I hope they succeed, but I’m not sure enough Ohioans will find the proposed rail system either fast or frequent enough to be worthwhile."
Michael Gorman, Dayton Daily News 
It's too much money; money we don't have.
"The Obama administration and Congress are sending a trainload of $8 billion to Ohio and various other states to spur rail development, but this is a problematic gift. This is money the federal government doesn't have, and spending it adds to the annual budget deficit and the national debt.

If the economy were humming along and the state and federal governments had their budgets in balance, perhaps investing in futuristic rail projects would make some sense. But that just isn't the case.

Expanded passenger rail someday might divert travelers off roads and out of planes, helping to relieve congestion on the ground and in the air, but trains virtually everywhere require tax subsidies. And Americans these days have little or no spare money to prop up such operations."
Editorial, Columbus Dispatch
Want to know what you can do about it?
"...before interstate highways and reliable cars were available, train service made sense. Now it doesn't, unless it's the 200-mph service like they have in Europe and Japan...

...the only way huge investments like this make sense is that if they change the equation. If we can put business folks in these other cities in a fraction of the time it takes them to drive, and at a competitive price, trains might make sense.

Why spend this money on the train when the money can be put to better uses that will benefit a greater number of people when there is little expected use means taxpayers will be funding it for years to come.

To whom in Congress or state government should letters/e-mails be written to express the concern and displeasure — in hopes of avoiding future obligations in the state or putting this money to more productive uses?

Well, my only advice is to organize a letter/phone/e-mail campaign urging your state and federal representatives to revisit this issue. Right now, it appears that Gov. Strickland and a handful of others are so desperate to create even a modest number of jobs that they don't stop to think about what it's adding to our country's long-term debt problem.

I wish our state leaders would start acting responsibly rather than grab any bucket of federal money they can get their hands on."
Brian Tucker, Crain's Cleveland Business
2010-02-09 Update: Actually we're trying to cheerlead against this failure because it moves Ohio backwards. It won't "create at least 8,000 new jobs" either. Heck, it won't even have one fourth that many daily riders.
"Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is lashing out at critics of the state's plan to use $400 million in federal stimulus money for a startup rail service, calling them "cheerleaders for failure."

Strickland said Tuesday he's tired of people who attack every idea that comes along and always look for something negative to say. The governor said that's not the way to move Ohio forward.

Strickland, a Democrat running for re-election, said the plan will create at least 8,000 jobs and is a first step toward building a passenger rail infrastructure.

Some Republicans have questioned the plan, and newspapers have been full of letters to the editor on the topic, some supportive, some critical.

Strickland said other states would have rejoiced to receive $400 million in federal funding."
Ohio News Network

COAST takes Red Light Camera Campaign to Toledo, Cleveland and Garfield Heights

After huge wins against Red Light and Speeding cameras in 2008 in Cincinnati and 2009 in Heath and Chillicothe, Ohio, on February 6 COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd presented its victories to an audience in Cleveland, where residents from Cleveland and Garfield Heights pledged to pass petitions to ban the pernicious devices in their communities.  COAST has pledged legal and logistical support for the effort.  COAST has also committed to helping Toledo get the issue on the ballot there in 2010. 

Cleveland Plain Dealer Columnist Regina Brett says, "The problem I have with the cameras is they make me a jittery driver. Every time I drive down Cedar Hill into downtown Cleveland, I have to time it just right. If the light even tries to turn yellow, I hit the brakes so the camera won't nail me. One day, I hit my brakes and so did the guy behind me. But the guy behind him didn't.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

More Winter Rail Fails

Local rail junkies continue to perpetuate the fiction that rail travel is somehow immune from snow and ice. They imply that travel delays will magically disappear if we will only open our wallets (and those of our children and grandchildren) to rework our entire transportation infrastructure around passenger rail.

Another winter storm battering the eastern United States foreshadows our tragic losses if we do. Amtrak operates most of its routes, and its most highly traveled routes in the affected region. They have also been selected to operate the 3C Snail Rail Boondoggle here in Ohio. Amtrak operates the only high speed rail line (Acela) in the USA from Boston to DC. Here's what's happening in that neck of the woods:
Amtrak Service Adjustments Due to Severe Winter Weather
February 6, 2010
9:30 a.m.

WASHINGTON, DC – Due to severe winter weather conditions, which has resulted in downed trees and power lines on portions of tracks in Virginia, the Carolinas and across the mid-Atlantic region, Amtrak has canceled several trains for February 6.
The following operating plan is in effect for Saturday, February 6:
Carolinian trains 79 and 80 will operate only between Raleigh and Charlotte with no alternate transportation between New York and Raleigh. Palmetto trains 89 and 90 are canceled in their entirety between New York and Savannah.

Northbound Northeast Regionals:
• Train 82 is canceled in its entirety between Richmond and Boston
• Train 88 is canceled Richmond to Washington
• Train 194 is canceled Newport News to Washington
• Train 66 is canceled in its entirety. (Washington to Boston)
• Train 156 is canceled Lynchburg to New York.
• Train 152 is canceled Washington to New York.
• Train 160 is canceled Washington to New York but will operate between New York and Boston.
• Train 192 is canceled Washington to New York.
• Train 182 is canceled Washington to New York.

Southbound Northeast Regionals:
• Train 195 is canceled Washington to Richmond with no alternate transportation.
• Train 67 is canceled in its entirety. (Boston to Washington)
• Train 99 is canceled New York to Washington.
• Train 147 is canceled Washington to Lynchburg.
• Train 165 is canceled Boston to Washington.
• Train 199 is canceled New York to Washington
• Train 159 is canceled New York to Washington
• Train 121 is canceled New York to Washington Acela Express Service: Acela Express trains 2207 and 2251 between New York and Washington and train 2220 between Washington and New York are canceled. Silver Service trains 97 and 98, operating between New York and Miami are canceled with no alternate transportation. Trains 91 and 92 will operate between Miami and Savannah only. Crescent trains 19 and 20, which operates between New York and New Orleans, are canceled with no alternate transportation. The Auto Train is canceled in its entirety between Lorton, VA and Sanford, FL. Capitol Limited trains 29 and 30, operating between Washington and Chicago is canceled with no alternate transportation.

All other Amtrak service, including the Piedmont (Raleigh - Charlotte) is expected to operate normally.

Amtrak regrets any inconvenience. This information is correct as of the above time and date. Information is subject to change as conditions warrant. Passengers are encouraged to call 800-USA-RAIL or visit for schedule information and train status updates.
DC Metrorail also cancelled all above-ground train service starting at 9PM last night, which continues through today until who knows when. In Philadelphia, SEPTA cancelled all trolley and regional rail service for the day.

With rail service at a virtual standstill, one might wonder how all those poor automobile travellers are faring. These cities all have real time traffic info available online from a system similar to our Artimis.

There are a few splotches of red here and there, and quite a lot of yellow, as you would expect during the height of a snowpocalypse, but look at all that green! Looks like the people who choose to be responsible for their own transportation are getting through, while those who depend on government-operated transit will be left out in the cold.

2010-02-09 Update: Unsuck DC Metro has a good followup post here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Continuing Controversy Surrounding Cincinnati Station

The Cincinnati Beacon wonders, "Were the streetcar advocates full of sh!t?" Voters were told if they didn't reject Issue 9, the 3C Snail Rail Boondoggle would stop in Sharonville instead of downtown.

The downtown station for the 3C was planned for Eastern Avenue near the Montgomery Inn Boathouse. When nearby residents found out loud stinky diesel trains a day would rumble through their quiet upscale community up to 12 times a day, they stormed a City Hall hearing and had it relocated near Lunken Airport. Sharonville would be the primary Cincinnati station, despite Issue 9's failure.

Today, Bill Sloat at The Daily Bellwether reports that it may be moving to Bond Hill, again keeping passengers away from downtown. Two sites near the old Norwood Showcase Cinema site are under review.

Noticably absent from any consideration is the failed Riverfront Transit Center Boondoggle. After taxpayers spent some $40 million to build a state-of-the-art train station in the heart of downtown, nearly bankrupting the stadium fund in the process, that bride remains stranded at the altar. How many empty train stations can one city afford?

The beauty of this fiasco is that any change in station location must be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration, along with new environmental impact studies, to go through the evaluation process all over again. Moreover, the new site will also have to undergo review for compliance with Council's new "Environmental Justice" ordinance.

Both of these useless time-wasters should delay the 3C Snail Rail Boondoggle until Kasich is Governor, and can kill the plan.

Why Ohio and Hamilton County taxpayers are so incredibly screwed

            To put the daily waste of money into some context, COAST steps back to provide some perspective as to what taxpayers can expect over the coming 24 months on the budgetary front in the State, Hamilton County and City of Cincinnati.  It is not a pretty picture.  In fact, the tax-and-spend worst is yet to come from our state and local leaders thanks to indiscipline.
            In Columbus, the state is facing an $8 billion deficit during the coming biennial.  In Hamilton County, the general fund is broke, and deficits in the Stadium Fund approaching $10 million per year start next year.  In the City of Cincinnati, the City closed a $40 million deficit with a series of accounting gimmicks and by draining its reserves. Still, the City has yet to address an $800 million deficit in its pension funds.

            With the economy remaining depressed, the faint hope of increased revenues simply will not begin to make up for the huge fiscal holes that exist in each of these budgets.  And worse, during the 2009 and 2010 budget battles, lawmakers in the State, County and City have shown no courage to fundamentally restructure the way government does business to assure that the burden on taxpayers will not increase.  Indeed, both Democrats and some Republicans seem willing to once again embrace massive tax hikes to solve their budget problems.

            Unless we elect leaders willing to tackle these structural problems in government, and scale back at a very fundamental level what we expect government to do, the 2010 and 2011 fiscal solutions are limited to massive tax increases.

However, when your lawmaker tells you “we had no choice,” understand that indeed they did, and they refused to accept the alternative.

Portune, Pepper act to raise sales tax yet again

Behind the scenes at County government

            Todd Portune and David Pepper have voted again to hold public hearings to raise the County sales tax to fund the deficit they have created in the County’s stadium fund.  Commissioners attempted in 2006 and 2007 to raise the sales tax, and each time the voters rejected the cash-grab.  In 2007, Portune and Pepper passed the tax without a vote of the electorate.  Only due to the effort of a unique coalition of COAST, the Cincinnati NAACP, the Green party, the Libertarian Party, Cincinnati Progressive Action and others, was the issue placed before the voters and defeated.

Nearby Butler County already has an advantage over other surrounding counties, which any hike would amplify. Do we really want to incentivize people to take their business elsewhere?

            The hearings take place on February 10 and February 17.  The location has not yet been announced.
            In November, David Pepper showed his low character by breaking his clear promise to taxpayers not to eliminate ore reduce the property tax rollback that was a part of the stadium deal.  His fellow democrat Todd Portune surprisingly rejected that tax hike, hanging Pepper out to dry all alone. 

Portune, far from being an advocate of fiscal restraint, finally came out of the fiscal closet, openly declaring he favors an increase in the County sales tax.  Pepper, while publicly claiming to oppose s sales tax hike (does his word mean anything?), voted in January to hold public hearings on the hike, a legal prerequisite to a sales tax increase.

Insides are predicting that Portune and Pepper will compromise on some tax increase.

The third Commissioner, a Republican, Greg Hartmann has said he opposes any tax hike and instead prefers spending cuts to balance the County’s stadium fund.

All aboard train to wasteful spending!

Despite polling numbers showing that Ohioans do not want spending on rail projects, Federal, State and City leaders proceeded in January to squander hundreds of millions of dollars on wasteful rail projects.
Obama-Claus left $400 million in Ted Strickland's stocking. This was part of $8 billion spent nationwide on a diesel, slow-speed rail system on existing tacks between Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland.  Travel to Cleveland initially is projected to cost $38 per person and take 6.5 hours to complete.  Mark Miller has an excellent critique here

The Silver lining? COAST earnestly believes that the 3-C rail line will become the next Paul Brown Stadium, a poster-child for excessive and wasteful government spending that will serve as an example to stop other big-government solutions.  We just wish these all-to-frequent lessons did not cost so very much.


            On another front, the City of Cincinnati continues to await word on whether it qualifies for magical Obama money (free money!) to fund the boondoggle trolley from the failed National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the horribly wasteful Riverfront Transit Center to Findlay Market. 

            But that did not stop City leaders in January from spending $775,000 in funds the City simply does not have to pay for $775,000 work on the first phase of the trolley plan, including an environmental impact study, financial planning and some of the initial engineering work.

Apparently, the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts was not enough evidence that voters want to rein in spending.  Perhaps we need to throw a few more of the bums out in November to get their attention.]

City, County leaders want new metro tax to fund transit

Apparently forgetting the 69% rejection in 2002 of the County-wide 1 cent increase in the sales tax to fund an expanded county-wide bus system, and a light rail system, Todd Portune, Roxanne Qualls, and Chris Bortz are promoting a new County tax to fund SORTA and other big-government transportation plans. Maybe Bortz can use this to fund his trolley.

Photo courtesy of here.

Ohio unemployment rises to 10.9% in December

Legacy not just of Strickland, but also of Bob Taft and Jean Schmidt

            Ohio unemployment figures for December were 10.9%, one of the worst performances in the nation.  It would be easy to blame this on Ted Strickland and the democrats that presently control Columbus, and Republican leaders are rejoicing in doing so.  But from COAST’s perspective, the news is the bitter fruit of the bloated government embraced by both the Taft administration and the Republican legislature.

            “It took more than three years of Ted Strickland to ruin Ohio’s once-vibrant economy,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd.  “Ohio is uncompetitive for jobs, and the fault for that falls squarely on the shoulders of Bob Taft and Jean Schmidt who voted for his high-tax proposals.

So, thank you Jean Schmidt

As we head into another year with Jean Schmidt as our Congressman, and with the Ohio economy imploding before our eyes, COAST steps back to take a minute to thank Jean Schmidt for all of the things she brought to us:

· Thank you Jean Schmidt for raising the sales tax
· Thank you Jean Schmidt for raising the gasoline tax
· Thank you Jean Schmidt for instituting a new tax on dry cleaning
· Thank you Jean Schmidt for instituting a new tax on hair cuts
· Thank you Jean Schmidt for an increased Hotel-Motel tax
· Thank you Jean Schmidt for wasted money on the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
· Thank you Jean Schmidt for hundreds of millions wasted on TARP
· Thank you Jean Schmidt for porkbarrel spending in the 2nd Congressional District.
· Thank you Jean Schmidt for repeatedly embarrassing the district and the Republican Party with your antics, lies, and fawning behavior. 

And who said we never said anything nice about Jean Schmidt?

COAST backs Ohio Estate Tax Repeal

            The COAST Board met recently and decided to back a state-wide initiative to abolish Ohio’s Estate Tax.

Ohio’s Estate Tax is one of the worst in the nation.   Currently only about 30 states have an Estate tax.  What makes Ohio’s Estate Tax so bad is that most other states offer a large Exemption (like the Federal Estate Tax) which protects most people from having to pay the tax.  Ohio’s current exemption is only $338,333.  This low exemption threshold throws many small business owners, and farmers into a situation where if they die their children or spouses are forced to come up with a large cash amount to pay the estate tax due or be forced to sell their businesses.   About 80% of the estate tax proceeds go to local communities with the remaining 20% going to the state.   However, the monies are distributed inequitably with affluent municipalities getting the majority of the money.   This estate tax burden is one more thing that make’s Ohio’s business climate unfavorable.

At our COAST fund raiser last March, Ohio Republican Gubernatorial candidate John Kasich talked about how important it was for us to do things in Ohio to keep the most prosperous people here who are leaving the state in a large number.    Why in the world would we encourage the exact people who are carrying a lot of the tax load to leave the state?   One of the first things that can be done to reverse this trend is to eliminate the Estate Tax.

Currently, we are looking at ways to establish a Coalition of Liberty minded groups to take on the tax in the 6 surrounding counties.  This will require us to get about 30,000 signatures in March-May of 2010.  Our ability to beat the tax will be dependent on people like you.  By getting involved in this movement we as a group can send one more signal to our elected officials that we are watching what they are doing and that we want them to LEAVE US ALONE.  If you are interested in getting involved in this movement please contact Dan Regenold —

            Contributions for the Estate Tax campaign can be sent to: COAST, 3630 Zumstein Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45208.

Great tax protesters of history: John Hancock

"Let every man do what is right in his own eyes."

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 heroes of limited government and lower taxes: John Hancock.

John Hancock is known for his bold signature on the Declaration of Independence, but the steadfast role throughout the Revolution of this man who had so much to lose was an important backbone to the formation of this nation.  He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the Declaration of Independence, but his role in the revolution was so much more.
Before the American Revolution, Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, having inherited a profitable shipping business from his uncle.  Thus, he had much to lose by opposing the crown.  As tensions between colonists and Great Britain increased in the 1760s, Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause. He became very popular in Massachusetts, especially after British officials seized his sloop Liberty in 1768 and charged him with smuggling.
Although not one of the Boston Tea Partiers, he provided crucial support for it.  Hancock was elected as moderator at a Boston town meeting that resolved that anyone who supported the Tea Act was an "Enemy to America.”  Hancock and others tried to force the resignation of the agents who had been appointed to receive the tea shipments. Unsuccessful in this, they attempted to prevent the tea from being unloaded after three tea ships had arrived in Boston Harbor. Later, Hancock was at the fateful meeting addressing the tea issue, where he reportedly told the crowd, "Let every man do what is right in his own eyes."

COAST salutes John Hancock and asks, in this era of timid and unprincipled businessmen and politicians, where are the modern-day John Hancocks?