Saturday, October 29, 2011

How we got into this mess

Four Council members and one Mayor directly responsible for Cincinnati's woes

Wendell Young, Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas and Roxanne Qualls condemn Cincinnati to police layoffs or massive tax increase

Voting is already underway for Cincinnati's newest Council. And in many ways COASTers know the results largely don't matter. They don't matter because Cincinnati -- formerly the economic and political engine that drives the region -- has rather become a back-bencher in both arenas, with its governing body the laughing stock of the area.

And for that, we have the failed legacy of liberal democrat leadership to thank, presently embodied by Mayor Mark Mallory and his sycophants on Council, Wendell Young, Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas and Roxanne Qualls.

Under the leadership of democrats, Cincinnati's population has shrunk from a high of more than 500,000 in the 1960s to fewer than 297,000 today, a drop of 34,000 in just 10 years. (That's nearly 10 people leaving Cincinnati every single day for 10 years straight, never to return.) And it is no wonder. Census figures show, Cincinnati has one of the highest rates of poverty in the nation.

On top of that, the crime rate has soared, with Cincinnati's streets no longer considered safe, and basic services like trash collection and snow plowing have eroded. On any given day, 17.5% of firehouses are "browned out" -- unavailable for emergency runs.

In the midst of Cincinnati burning, Young, Quinlivan, Thomas and Qualls are fiddling with expensive, mindless projects that do nothing either to grow jobs or to even help the most helpless in our community. Consider these Council members' actions over the past two years:
And for these actions, we have the Council majority to blame: Wendell Young, Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas and Roxanne Qualls.

And their plan? At least Cecil Thomas has been up front about it, the rest have been coy: They want a massive earnings tax increase to fund their largess.

Yes, COAST predicts that by May of 2012, these four Council members will back an increase in the City's earnings tax from the current 2.1% to 2.5% or more. With a majority of Council promising no cuts in major areas of the budget, and foolish new spending like the above, the massive tax hike is inevitable.

So, consider not just ejecting these four policy-makers on election day, but also the dangerous path they have set for Cincinnati in considering your votes this November. If you do, Cincinnati could have a much brighter future.

Cincinnati likely will return these most of these four jokers, but the decision will really be to make Cincinnati even more irrelevant in the 21st Century.

Isn't there a better way?

Friday, October 28, 2011

COAST endorses Christopher Smitherman

Cincinnati NAACP President has been transcendent figure in fighting taxes and spending in southwest Ohio

Christopher Smitherman is at his very best fighting taxes and spending

We are not overstating matters at all when we say that the City of Cincinnati is facing its biggest challenges ever in the coming two-year term of City Council. Under the failed leadership of Mayor Mark Mallory, the City has failed to address pronounced structural budget deficits that are now becoming both undeniable and unavoidable.

The reality is that the City must urgently cut spending, or its citizens face a massive earnings tax increase. Cincinnati faces an operating deficit of more than $34 million annually, a pension fund deficit of more than $1 billion, crumbling infrastructure and a dwindling population.

Who better to address these challenges head-on? COAST endorses
Christopher Smitherman.

The same media in Cincinnati that has attempted to paint a one-dimensional caricature of Smitherman as a bomb-throwing 60s-style black-power radical, has been fascinated by the coalition built between COAST and the Cincinnati NAACP and the personal friendships that have resulted therefrom.

However, those who understand Smitherman as a whole person see him as a bold leader, a loving father and husband,and a successful entrepreneur who has built his own financial planning practice, using for his business and his clients careful fiscal prudence that Cincinnati so desperately needs.

These characteristics make entirely logical his multiple initiatives to bring responsible tax and spending policies to the region. And they are many:

- Smitherman personally gave life to the fight against the 2007 Super-Sized Jail Tax pushed by liberal democrat commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper, along with our power-hungry Sheriff. He initiated the historic petition drive that motivated 336 volunteers to gather 56,000 signatures in 43 days. He helped build the coalition that won the Sam Adams Alliance national award for coalition-building. That coalition won against a million dollar campaign for the jail tax -- 56% to 44%.

- The following year, Smitherman launched the successful drive to rid Cincinnati of Red Light Cameras. That initiative has resulted in similar drives in seven Ohio cities.

- The same coalition has implemented a ban on a sale of the WaterWorks -- to ourselves -- for nearly $475 million.

- That same coalition twice has placed on the ballot a Charter Amendment to stop Mayor Mallory's foolish Streetcar project. This year, Smitherman enticed the Police, Firefighters, CODE Labor Union, Baptist Ministers, Westwood Concern and others to join the fight.

- This year, that same coalition placed on the ballot a ban on a Cincinnati trash tax.

Smitherman was the first politician to blow the whistle on the insolvency of Cincinnati's pension system. He has spoken out against other wasteful spending in the City.

Smitherman's critics say that he is simply following COAST's lead on these issues, but that simply is not so. Each of these initiatives originated with Smitherman and his hard-working volunteers at the Cincinnati NAACP.

COAST is not naive enough to think it will always agree with Smitherman -- and it intends to hold him accountable as our newest Council member just like everyone else we back and those we oppose.

However, we know he has (i) the proper fiscal values with which to approach the challenges facing Cincinnati, (ii) the open mind to hear others' points of view and (iii) the tough-minded leadership to boldly take Cincinnati in a new direction. And we know he will not kowtow to the Mallory/Qualls agenda that promises to bankrupt the City in short order.

Monday, October 3, 2011

COASTer acts to stop Quinlivan abuse of tax dollars to fund her campaign

Systematic, pervasive and continuing use of tax dollars challenged
Since she was sworn into office two years ago, Council member Laure Quinlivan started her re-election campaign, using tax dollars and City staff to support it.
When she printed her official City letterhead and business cards, she included a reference on each of, which is a site paid for by "Quinlivan for Council," and contains campaign materials encouraging the election of Ms. Quinlivan to City Council.

Last November, COASTer Mark Miller wrote to the City Solicitor demanding that he act to stop Quinlivan's abuse of tax dollars to fund her campaign. Upon investigation, the Solicitor reached agreement with Quinlivan to stop using City resources to fund her campaigns and arranged for her to repay the City $644 for this illegal use of tax dollars.

This year, COAST received another tip, that campaign e-mails were originating from her Council offices, and again demanded that the Solicitor act to enjoin this illegal use of City tax dollars to fund her campaigns. The City Solicitor refused, instead marginalizing the misuse of City resources, arranging for Ms. Quinlivan to re-pay the City an insulting 13 cents of misspent City funds.
Interestingly, the Quinlivan e-mails and Quinlivan web site are built on a platform from www.BlueUtopia.Com. As you can see by clicking on Blue Utopia link, the site is "A Powerful and Affordable Campaign System," "Helping Democrats and Progressives at Every Level." In short it is a website devoted to assisting political campaigns, and has no other purpose.

So, COAST did a public records request demanding documentation of the use of the website by City personnel. What he found was astounding. Quinlivan's official City Council office and personnel, paid with City tax dollars, had accessed the site a total of 111,825 KB of data. You can read the report here yourself. Further, we learned that her official City office had accessed www.BlueUtopia.Com more than 2,300 times over a six month period of time (and that's from fewer than 10% of the data that COAST requested.
In short, Quinlivan is running an active City Council campaign, or at least the electronic portions thereof, from her Council offices, costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

"This is a systemic, pervasive and continuing misuse of tax dollars that is illegal," said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. "It involves not just City computers, City servers, City internet services and City offices, but the misdirection of City staff on City time from their official duties. This is a fundamental breach of the trust that City voters have placed in Quinlivan."
It also happens that the actions of Quinlvan in this regard are illegal. In 2002, COAST conducted a petition drive to insert into the City Charter a provision making the spending of City tax dollars to fund political campaigns illegal. The voters approved that provision and Ms. Quinlivan's actions, even after having been warned against this type of conduct last year, flouts this express Charter provision.

COAST notes that just this week, State Auditor David Yost and Secretary of State Jon Husted proposed making the knowing misuse of tax dollars for campaign purposes a criminal offense.

COASTer Mark Miller sued Quinlivan in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on Thursday. You can read the entire complaint here. The hearing on the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order is before Judge Steven E. Martin on Monday (today) at 8:30 AM.