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.

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