Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christopher Smitherman to Host on 700 WLW Tuesday Night

December 30, 2012
For Immediate Release
Christopher Smitherman

Cincinnati NAACP

President Smitherman Host on 700 WLW
CINCINNATI, OHIO- DECEMBER 30, 2012 -President Christopher Smitherman will host for Marc Amazon on 700 WLW on Tuesday, January 1, 2013 from 9:00 PM to 12:00 AM.  Please tune in for a hot show.

You can listen online here.

Wall Street Journal on Fiscal Cliff

The Wall Street Journal has this insightful analysis of the cause and effect of the fiscal cliff, the Real Housewives of the Beltway:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The entire design of the "Cliff" is to scare, screw taxpayers

The entire design of the "Cliff" as created by Washington and as told in foreboding stories for months from the media is that it is a disaster in the waiting that we simply cannot -- at all costs -- allow to happen.  Indeed, the visual picture created by the very term "Fiscal Cliff" makes us shiver in terror that the consequence must be avoided.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Avik Roy: Let's Go Over the Cliff

Avik Roy, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute says going over the cliff won't be such a bad thing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nothing could make us grin more than BizzyBlog's Tom Blumer crying one last time about losing his beloved Jean Schmidt

We grinned from ear to ear tonight seeing consistent Schmidt apologist Tom Blumer of BizzyBlog gnash his teeth one last time about the departure of Jean Schmidt from Congress, Lt. Col. Dr. Brad Wenstrup replacing her, and COAST's role in the dethroning.

What is this "Fiscal Cliff" that everyone fears and how did we get here?

"The Fiscal Cliff."

It has the ring of something we should fear, and indeed the media and politicians designed it and marketed it to be something so awesomely awful that we would, as a nation, as a Congress, be forced to take acts we otherwise would not take in order to avoid it.

We laugh in the face of the fearsome options before us.

UnHappy New Year for Chicago Parkers...

The Chicago Tribune reports that parking rates within the Chicago loop will increase 13% in the new year to $6.50 per hour.  Neighborhood street parking will go up to $4.00 per hour and $2.00 per hour outside the downtown loop area.

A Streetcar full of Myths

From Energy Efficiency & Technology:

Streetcars seem to be the latest fad among urban planners. But the only goal that this form of mass transit promotes is livability, a euphemism for living without a car. And the only folks who really benefit from street car projects are the engineers in well-connected firms that earn millions of dollars planning, designing, and building street car lines. Those are some of the conclusions of Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and author who recently took a look at streetcars and mass-transit policy in a policy analysis paper titled The Great Streetcar Conspiracy. (Read the entire report Here are more of his findings that debunk some myths and misconceptions surrounding streetcars.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This is COAST's experience with public records law as well

The Ohio legislate has done a fine job with Ohio Open Meetings and Public Records laws.  The statutes and crisp, clear and well-written providing the public with broad access to documents that already belong to them -- they are public documents after all!

A third way?

After the 2012 election in which President Obama triumphed, Republicans lost one opportunity after another in the Senate, and lost eight seats in the House, it would be easy to get despondent about the future of the GOP and the nation.  After all, conservative activists gave it all they had with Tea Party energy, verve and creativity at work.

Washington Post says anti-taxers essentially have won

Amidst all the doom and gloom about taxes, the Washington Post this morning has this piece that addresses the shift in position of Democrats on the question of tax relief on middle income Americans.

COAST first quarter 2013 priorities

Immediately after the first of the year, COAST has two legislative priorities, and two legal battles it intends to tackle.

First, in February or March, the PUCO will take up the question of whether Duke Energy may pass on to City-only ratepayers some $18 million in costs associated with relocating utility lines to accommodate the Streetcar boondoggle.

GOP made its own bed

President Obama and the democrats, whose objective it all along has been to raise as much in taxes as possible, must be feeling pretty content these days.  After all, the table has been set for the largest tax increase in American history, and somehow they can blame it on a GOP that is solidly pledged not to raise taxes.

How did we find ourselves in this situation?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Schmidt snubs Wenstrup -- and her constituents -- on way out the door

WVXU's Howard Wilkinson reports here that Jean Schmidt has elected to take the low road -- again -- as she exits stage left from the U.S. Congress.

That story reports:
A few weeks ago, while in Washington, Wenstrup stopped by Schmidt’s congressional office, hoping to speak to the congresswoman. He told WVXU that he talked to Schmidt’s scheduler and was told later that Schmidt had “no interest” in meeting with him.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Charlie Winburn articulates an intelligent opposition to Mayor's disastrous budget

We did not see this before today, and we're sorry we did not.  Charlie Winburn makes an intelligent, impassioned case against the Mallory budget passed by the Bat Shit Crazy Council.  Read it here.

A gift to the American people

There seems to be universal consensus that the descent into endless debt is dangerous and unacceptable for the nation.  And it certainly is.

Further, mathematically it is impossible to tax our way out of this debt -- certainly not by only taxing the "rich." So, forget the idea of solving this particular problem with additional tax revenue.  It ain't gonna happen.

Chabot Stands Firm Against Streetcar

As the Enquirer reported recently, Congressman Chabot continues his fight to cut off federal funding of Cincinnati's Streetcar Boondoggle.

Many supporters of the Streetcar argue that because a majority of Cincinnatians (they claim) support the streetcar, then it is therefore entitled to Federal Funds. This is possibly the most asinine argument every put forth. Even assuming their portrayal of the two ballot issues is correct, the voters of Cincinnati do not control federal spending. Federal spending is determined by Congress.

A Better Tomorrow for Capitalism

Local attorney Robert Hudson has recently published a book, "A Better Tomorrow: Fighting for Capitalism and Jobs in the Heartland," chronicling the last four years, including our business community's efforts to advocate in favor of policies to re-build the economy.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The year ahead for COAST

COASTers are embarking on ambitious plans for the new year, working tirelessly to help create an environment of growth and opportunity for greater Cincinnatians.  This would be accomplished by a fiscally stable City and County, lower tax rates, and well-considered policies to foster economic growth in the region.

Friday, December 21, 2012

And the year ahead for Cincinnatians

Under the failed leadership of Mayor Mallory and Roxanne Qualls, Cincinnatians will have a tough row to hoe this coming year.

First, in March, Council will have a battle royal over the Mayor's plan to lease the rights to on-street parking meters -- and the right to enforce the same --  to a private company for thirty years.  Once again, COAST will join in a broad left-right coalition to defeat the proposal, and has several legal strategies in mind to defeat the proposal.

Then, around the same time, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will need to decide if Duke Energy can pass $18 million in utility relocation costs relating to the Streetcar project on to Cincinnati-only ratepayers.  COAST estimates that the cost increase for each City homeowner and apartment dwellers will be $6 to $8 per month. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

COAST Year in Review 2012

Wenstrup Defeats Schmidt

A review of COAST's efforts in 2012 must begin with Brad Wenstrup's historic victory over Jean Schmidt in the Republican Primary. Chris Finney delivered a devastating series of talks detailing Schmidt's ethics problems and Brian Shrive managed Wenstrup's primary campaign like a master.

While "wiser heads" were preparing Wenstrup's political obituary, COASTers went diligently about the business of making Jean Schmidt's political obituary a reality.

Possibly our favorite moment of the campaign was this editorial from the Highland County Press just days before the Primary. Some other highlights from the campaign can be found here, here, here, here and here. Of course to get the full flavor, review our online archives from the Summer of 2011 through through March 2012.

Smitherman on with Brian Thomas

Yesterday, Christopher Smitherman was on 55KRC with Brian Thomas from 8-9 am. They talked about the Streetcar; the latest on City Council's attack on SORTA; the lease of Music Hall; and, of course, the attacks from Democrat Chair Tim Burke and Robert Richardson, Jr. against Christopher Smitherman for having the audacity to celebrate the Holidays with COAST.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fear the Cliff, Not the Primary: Roll Call Opinion

Below is an excerpt from an op-ed by Leo Linbeck III in Roll Call Newspaper.  You'll remember Linbeck as the founder of the Campaign for Primary Accountability.
We’re told members of the House Republican Conference would vote for President Barack Obama’s offer to avert the fiscal cliff, but many are afraid of a primary challenge in 2014. Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele has bluntly stated that if not for fear of primary challenges, a deal could be struck in 24 hours.
As someone who has devoted a lot of time thinking about primaries and their role in our electoral system, let me help unpack the dubious, undemocratic assumptions stowed away in this case of conventional wisdom.

Weasel Words from Qualls Crew

Today's heralded news that Council resolved not to use transit funds for the Streetcar would seem at first to be good news.

UPDATE Brian Thomas picked up on this same point this morning on 55KRC listen below starting at 15:20

However, lost in the shuffle are the weasel words involved:
BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Cincinnati, State of Ohio: 
Section 1. That the City of Cincinnati hereby resolves that it shall not use City transit funds that are intended for use by the Metro bus system to pay for any portion of the Cincinnati streetcar or its operation, and that the City further resolves that the City of Cincinnati shall continue to strive to be a leader in the area of regional public transportation in all of its different forms. 

Crybabies Mallory and Qualls Threatening SORTA

Today Cincinnati City Council voted to transfer transit funds to SORTA for just one month of 2013.

As WVXU reports, this is a direct response to SORTA's refusal to allow transit funds to be used for the Streetcar:
“I believe in this instance it’s probably to express our city’s concern with how the SORTA Board is using the appropriated budget,” Curp said.
We tend to agree with Councilman Charlie Winburn:
“It’s bad leadership today and I normally commend everybody for great leadership. It’s terrible leadership.  It’s not thinking it through.  You’re not being rational.”   

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SORTA Stands up to Mallory

Kudos to the board members of SORTA, the organization charged with running Greater Cincinnati's public transportation system.

Today they voted to adopt language that makes clear that no Transit Funds will be used for the Streetcar.

The vote was 7-6 in favor of protecting Transit Funds from the Streetcar.  All 6 "County Appointees" plus one "City Appointee" voted to protect SORTA, while all but one of the 7 "City Appointees" voted to sell out SORTA to Mallory and his Streetcar minions.

Jay Hanselman with WVXU has the story here.

UPDATE - The Enquirer has more on the story here.

Ohioans Moving Forward on Right to Work Initiative

Guest Post from Ohioans for Workplace Freedom

The effort to make Ohio the 24th Workplace Freedom state has been all the buzz for the last few days with Ohioans for Workplace Freedom featured in national, regional and local media across the US.

But more important than media buzz is action.
  • Scores of new volunteers signed up to help circulate the petition across Ohio.
  • 46 organizations requested presentations on the Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment at their groups to move forward to support the effort or launch signature gathering efforts.
  • Past our existing county coordinators, 16 new people have volunteered to help organize their county to gather signatures for this effort where we didn't have someone before

Tim Burke, Democrats attack Smitherman for attending COAST Christmas Party

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Ahh, the holiday season, a time for friendship, celebration, and in some cases putting differences aside for a little brotherly love.

Well, not for Hamilton County Democrat Party Chairman Tim Burke and Cincinnati union organizer Rob Richardson, Jr. (Local 265 Labor Union). They yesterday sent out an e-mail blast attacking Cincinnati City Council member and NAACP President Christopher Smitherman for ... (you are not going to believe this) ... 

Monday, December 17, 2012

COAST Holiday Party Recap

What a wonderful night reminiscing over the events of the past year, and sharing each others' company.

COAST; COASTers; and our friends accomplished so much this year. Quite frankly, we can't imagine ever being able to top ourselves!

COAST Holiday Celebration Monday December 17

Directions to deShea's are available here.

RSVP here.

Mallory says there's nothing to see here...

Fresh of the Enquirer story detailing how Mayor Mallory plans to syphon off bus funds for his Streetcar, Mallory now claims he has no intention of using SORTA funds for the Streetcar.

With all do respect, we think we'll go ahead and call nonsense on this one.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Heritage Foundation - "Michigan Unions’ “Freeloader” Myth"

Lachlan Markay has a great piece up at the Heritage Foundation's Foundry Blog. 

Right-to-work laws represent “the freedom to freeload,” conservative commentator Steven Crowder was told by a union protester outside the Michigan state capitol shortly before another protester punched him in the face.
The gripe is a common one: If workers are free to choose whether or not they wish to join a union, Big Labor claims, they can still enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining without footing the bill.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


By law, Ohio municipalities need to at least plausibly have balanced budgets.  In order to do that, politicians must do something that is against their nature: obtain as much in revenues as they choose to spend.

Cities that are governed properly, Republican and Democrat, have structurally balanced budgets.  In other words, they don't use the one-time sale of assets and other budgetary gimmicks to obtain that plausible balancing. Poorly-governed municipalities, on the other hand, sell the seed stock to feed the herd, leaving nothing for the Spring planting.

The latter is the case in Cincinnati.  Mayor Mallory has foolishly mortgaged the farm, eaten the seed, sold the virginity of his three beautiful daughters and burned the barn as he leaves office next December after eight years in office.  He will leave the City in a shambles, chaos.

The latest example is the plan to raise at least $21 million to fill a one-year operating budget gap this year by selling the rights to collect revenue from on-street parking in the City for 30 years.  One, two or three years from now the budget will be just as out-of-balance as it is today, but that asset will be gone.  And we will have more than $50 million in new debt from the Streetcar, and a pension system that is hundreds of millions of dollars under water.

Interestingly, Mallory's carefully-assembled coalition of crazy lefties actually rebelled in this last budget cycle on some of his budgetary plans -- refusing to eliminate earnings tax reciprocity, and refusing to take the property tax up to the authorized maximum 6.1 mills.  This, without commensurate spending cuts, actually makes the chaos at City Hall -- the structural imbalance of the budget -- even worse. 

By the time the fiscal chickens come home to roost, Mallory won't even live in Cincinnati any longer, and we will be left holding the bag.

So, more than ever before, City Hall is enveloped in financial and management chaos.  And with an election for four-year terms of the Council and a new Mayor in 2013, it looks to get much worse before it gets better.


As detailed below, Mayor Mallor and his merry band of thieves at City Hall are diverting yet another revenue stream into the Streetcar pot of money at City Hall -- SORTA funds. This is but the latest tile in the mosaic that allows us to understand the legacy of Mayor Mallory, who entered his lame duck, term-limited 8th year as Mayor at the beginning of December.

The simple fact is that, at the expense of every single other priority, Mayor Mallory and Milton Dohoney are obsessed with building the Streetcar.

Any rational partisan of the project would likely have given up the ghost after Governor Kasich killed $52 million in state funding in January of 2011; not this administration.  Others would have relented when the State legislature cut off all future funding or when the County Commissioners refused to allow MSD to pay for utility relocation to facilitate the construction; not these Einsteins.  Still others would have thrown in the towel when Duke Energy refused to fund $18 million in its own utility relocation costs; not these characters.

For six years, they have been quietly amassing money from various parts of the City budget to pay for their Streetcar project, shorting street paving, public safety, the casino revenue windfall, and now looting SORTA funds to pay for the project.

We hear that Mallory has been in a snit for 24 months against the business community because they have not been sufficiently firm in their support for the streetcar folly, burning bridges with folks who could help move the community forward.

Single-minded obsession may get us a Streetcar someday, but at what price to this City?

The six Council members who are propping up this failed Mayor in this obsession should pay a price for the mis-direction they have allowed for Cincinnati.

Now the Mayor wants to loot SORTA budget for his Streetcar wet dream

To fund their Streetcar wet dream, Mayor Mallory and the crazy Council majority behind him:
  • have increased property taxes on Cincinnati residents, 
  • have diverted funds from filling potholes and resurfacing streets,
  • have floated more than $30 million in new bonded indebtedness,
  • are seeking to increase Duke utility charges for City residents and business owners,
  • have already committed to spend the casino revenues on its operating expenses.
But, as we all know, none of that is enough.  So, today the Enquirer reports that City Manager Milton Dohoney and Mayor Mallory want to amend the City agreement  with SORTA to allow the City to dip into SORTA funds to balance the City budget generally, and to fund the Streetcar specifically. Oh. My. Goodness.

Of course, this is precisely why our coalition partners, the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, the Cincinnati Green Party, the black Baptist Ministers and others, have opposed the Streetcar project.  Very simply it is nothing more than an elitist transportation system that is designed to get upper income riders to and from partying hotspots downtown and in Over-the-Rhine, instead of doing what public transportation ought to do -- help the most needy in out community get to work, hospitals and other health care, shopping and home.

Because it really does none of those things, the Streetcar is really not a transportation system.  Because it is so fantastically expensive, it diverts serious resources that could be directed to real public transportation.  Further, the City is shorting street paving, police and fire protection, and stressing the remainder of the City finances for its Streetcar wet dream.

While we are blasting away at the Mayor and Council, let's give credit where it is due for principled elected leaders standing firm against Streetcar funding:
  • COAST thanks Council members Smitherman, Winburn and Sittenfeld for their steadfast opposition to this foolish commitment of City and federal resources.  
  • We remind our readers that one of Governor John Kasich's first acts as in office was to cut $52 million in ODOT funding for the foolish capital project.  
  • Senator Shannon Jones introduced and passed a ban in the state budget for any further Streetcar funding.
  • The Hamilton County Commissioners preventing MSD from funding utility relocation costs for the Streetcar project.
  • Congressman Chabot and Wenstrup are committed to eliminating any further federal funding for the Streetcar.
So, it's not all bleak.  We have leaders who are trying to do the right thing, and convince this foolish City administration to abandon this black hole of spending before it progresses further.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Read the Standard & Poor’s Report on Cincinnati

At the end of November Standard & Poor’s provided the below report on Cincinnati’s creditworthiness.  Note this line:

The outlook revision reflects our view of the city's revenue losses, which are contributing to a forecasted structurally-imbalanced budget for 2013

The budget Council is passing today does nothing to address the issues raised by S&P and only serves to hasten the city's decline.

In short, Cincinnati is screwed. Mallory and Qualls have proven themselves unserious and the rubber stamp crew: Quinlivan; Seelbach; Young; Thomas; and Simpson allow them to destroy a once great city with impunity.

Streetcar Bond Offering

As Cincinnati prepares to borrow countless Millions of Dollars to fund the Mallory-Qualls-Quinlivan Streetcar to NoWhere we thought you'd like to read the City's Preliminary Official Statement regarding the Streetcar Bonds.  We note the delicious irony of the acronym for Preliminary Official Statement.

One Question:

Why do they insist on Bankrupting Cincinnati?

Chris Finney and Christopher Smitherman on 55KRC

Listen to Jerry Thomas' interviews of COAST general counsel Chris Finney and Cincinnati City Councilmen & NAACP President, Christopher Smitherman this morning on 55KRC AM.

Learn how to contact PUCO to stop the Duke Streetcar Tax here.

Holiday Party with Christopher Smitherman

Join Cincinnati Councilmen & NAACP President Christopher Smitherman to celebrate the Holidays with COAST.

Directions to deShea's are available here.

RSVP here.

Chris Seelbach is a funny guy

Politicians surprise us in their stupidity, or perhaps into fooling themselves into how stupid the voters are.  And it's funny to watch them prevaricate to squirm out of a tough spot.

Yesterday the Finance Committee of Cincinnati City Council moved the budget proposal of City Manager Milton Dohoney on to Council for a vote by approving the same, with some not insignificant modifications.  However, the most controversial of the Dohoney proposals, the long-term lease of the right to regulate parking spaces (and collect revenue therefrom) along Cincinnati streets, received approved of a 5-4 approval of the Committee. And Councilman Chris Seelbach was one of the majority approving the budget proposal.

Now, the parking proposal has been widely panned by COAST, the normally silent Enquirer editorial board, the Hyde Park Community Council and the Clifton Town Meeting.  Thus, timid and cowardly Council members are naturally shying from the idea.

Thus, notwithstanding this fairly straightforward parliamentary process to approve the budget that included Seelbach's affirmative vote, Seelbach shortly thereafter tweeted and maintains that he does not support ceding parking sovereignty on public streets to a private company.

Thus, Seelbach wants it both ways.  He voted to "balance" the City's budget on the back of the ill-conceived parking idea, yet he maintains publicly that he oppses the idea.  Huh?

Yeah, Seelbach claims he is against the privitization even though he voted for it.

Chris Seelbach is a funny guy.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

COAST general counsel Chris Finney to appear on 55KRC with Jerry Thomas at 7 AM Friday

COAST general counsel Chris Finney will appear on AM 550 (WKRC) with Jerry Thomas at 7 AM tomorrow morning (Friday) to discuss the City budget fiasco, including the surrender of the law enforcement function in collecting and enforcing on-street parking, dramatically increasing the City's property taxes, and taxing commercial garbage collectors.

Listen in!

John Cranley and Brian Thomas

John Cranley discussed the Cincinnati Budget on 55KRC this morning with Brian Thomas.  Well worth a listen.

Xerox Speed Camera Tickets A Stopped Car!

It'd be hilarious if it weren't part of a blatant usurpation of governmental power.

Note, that Xerox is part of the group that has gone to Court to keep it's proposal to run Cincinnati's parking operations secret. Perhaps their proposal includes the option of giving parking tickets to moving cars!

The Baltimore Sun has the story here.

Enquirer does some Digging on Parking Proposals

Barry Horstman at The Cincinnati Enquirer has started to dig into the proposals, and posted the documents online.  Check out his article, here.

Of course, COAST has already reported most of what he reports.  Including the "event rate"; immediate doubling of neighborhood parking meter rates; and "booting" of cars.  Read our earlier coverage of the details here and here.

Don't forget to contact Council today!

Cincinnati Budget Punishes Workers While Ignoring Reality

Special Guest Column by Amy Murray

Cincinnati’s proposed budget has generated a great deal of heat, particularly the proposal to privatize street parking meters – which from experience in other cities will mean higher costs and aggressive ticketing enforcement by a private company seeking maximum revenue. This move will make downtown and neighborhood business districts less desirable and drive away customers and visitors.

What seems to have been lost in the shuffle is the proposal to eliminate the municipal income tax reciprocity credit.  This credit allows Cincinnati residents to work outside the city without being hit by double municipal taxation. 

For example, my neighbor across the street works in Blue Ash.  Currently, she pays 2.1% in municipal income taxes: 1.5% to Blue Ash, and .6% to Cincinnati.  Under the Proposed Budget, my neighbor will pay 3.6% in municipal taxes: 1.5% to Blue Ash and 2.1% to Cincinnati.  That’s an increase of 71%! It’s even worse for my neighbor who works in Norwood.  She will be paying 4.1% in municipal income taxes!  That’s a 95% tax increase! This tax increase is expected to generate $6.5 Million from 15,000 Cincinnatians.  That’s over $430 per person in 2013.  Do you know anyone with an extra $430 in their pocket?  I sure don’t.

Of course, this new tax arrangement won’t work in reverse.  Live in Blue Ash and work in Cincinnati?  You currently pay a maximum of 2.1% municipal income tax rate.  If Cincinnati ends its reciprocity agreement, you’ll still pay a maximum 2.1% tax.  The City Manager’s budget plan only works to punish Cincinnati residents who find work outside the city limits. I guess they want to stop encouraging people to live in the City.

Does anyone believe that increasing taxes won’t harm efforts to attract and retain businesses in Cincinnati and surrounding communities?  Increasing taxes will only lead to a greater exodus of working families from Cincinnati. Simply put, eliminating the municipal income tax reciprocity credit is not the solution to Cincinnati’s budget woes – it will only make it worse through the loss of residents who work outside the city taking their tax dollars with them.

But there is more. This budget is being balanced on the back of the residents and businesses of Cincinnati including all these cost increases to work and/or live in the city
  • Increasing rates for all city parking meters and garages
  •  Raising property taxes to the maximum level allowed by law
  • Eliminate reciprocity between jurisdictions on the earning tax
  • Eliminating trash collection for all commercial properties
And even with all of these higher taxes, the City’s budget will still, yet again, be structurally unbalanced. The City continues to spend each year more than it takes in. This has caught the attention of S&P who has attached a negative outlook to its debt rating for the city of Cincinnati.

I encourage you to write to your City Council members and remind them that it is a tough economic time for everyone and the City should limit their spending and balance the budget without causing a greater burden to the families and businesses in the city!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why the parking issue is so important

Corners of our community that previously have been silent as the City engages in one reckless budgetary decision after another have spoken up and spoken up in unusually forceful terms about the recommendation of the City administration to enter into a long-term lease not only of parking lots and garages owned by the City, but the very right to collect parking revenues from parking along the City's streets.  These vociferous opponents include the Green Party, the Clifton Town Meeting, the Enquirer, Hyde Park Neighborhood Council, and others.

Most (but not all) of the commentary to date has focused on the foolish fiscal policy of selling an asset (or leasing it long-term) to fill a budget hole for only six months or one year, which is what the administration is proposing.  Certainly, that is unwise policy.

But as with Red Light Cameras, there is a second and much more pernicious problem with the plan: the sale of the City's police powers, the privatization of the law enforcement function.

This particular act of selling on-street parking revenue streams is odious because we trade policy that should be multifaceted -- with impacts on public safety (where is parking safe and needed?), parking policy (e.g., needed high turnover rates), economic development (discouraging people from shopping in the City's business districts or even live in the City) to a private company that has only one motivation -- maximizing profits.

Further, the enforcement function also naturally migrates from these and other multifaceted considerations, including constitutional considerations of innocence until proven guilty, right to confront witnesses, burden of proof, justice and fairness, to, again, purely being about maximizing revenues.

By thus turning over the home rule powers (to set parking rates), the police powers (to enforce parking laws) and the judicial function (of hearing appeals to liability) to a private entity, we enter a brave new world where a private company -- largely independent of judicial review -- can extract monies from the citizenry in fairly small increments, and our duly elected but clueless Council gladly turns this power over to them so they can continue wasting money on excess personnel and a Streetcar the City can't afford.

Candidly, far more than the money at issue, the City is trading away its governmental powers for a few pieces of silver.  These powers are held by these Council members as a fiduciary for the citizenry, and the trading away of these powers long term is a breach of that fiduciary obligation -- and likely illegal.

The voters of this City rightly should remove these unprincipled Council members from power in November of 2013, but (as with the stadium deal and ObamaCare) by then the damage will have been done.

We have only ourselves to blame for electing scoundrels who fail to understand the power with which they have been entrusted.


Tell Them to Stop
As City Manager Milton Dohoney continues his snow job on City Council, COAST has been digging into the details of the Request for Proposals.  Available here.

Even the Enquirer calls the Parking Deal "Misguided."

As we've already noted, under the lease, rates at neighborhood meters would immediately double, all meters would be enforced Seven days a week and a new "Special Event" rate will go into effect.

But wait, there's more.  This deal just keeps getting worse for residents and everyone who works and shops in Cincinnati.

How's this grab you? From the RFP:

"Booting will be allowed"

Not familiar with booting?  Imagine having your car towed without leaving its parking space. Imagine standing next to your disabled car while you wait, and wait, and wait, for the sort of person who would disable cars for a living to come accept your extortionate fee and allow you to continue with your day.

"Concessionaire will have the flexibility 
to install new meters on street, 
in areas not currently metered"

How many times have you parked your car in a free spot and thought, "gee, if only I had to pay an exorbitant rate to park here and had to fear that my car would be disabled if I didn't get back fast enough..." Well, those days will soon end, because Milton Dohoney is going to allow meters to be added to parking spaces not currently metered.

And quite possibly our favorite, just for its sheer hypocrisy:

"The City's living wage ordinance 
will not apply to the Concessionaire's employees"

And just how will Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas and Wendell Young explain their lack of outrage over this part of the deal?  Weren't they howling mad about U Square just a few months ago? Make's you wonder if it isn't just all theater with them!

This deal will only exacerbate the City's problems and funnel even more businesses out of Downtown and Cincinnati's neighborhoods and into the suburbs.  Christmas shoppers won't even think of going Downtown. They will hop in their cars and head straight for Kenwood or Rookwood.

Council votes on the budget Friday at 10 am. Make your voice heard. Let them know that you know that this is a bad deal.
Click on the names or copy and paste email addresses to send an email now.