Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cincinnati media: How about a few tough questions to our spendthrift Council?

Let's face it, Cincinnati's media plays softball.

The "end game" as far as City Council is concerned is a massive earnings tax hike on the populace right after the fall Council elections.  The Parking Plot was just, in the words of Roxanne Qualls, the "bridge" to get them past the fall elections to implement that plan.

Since this is obvious to the public and to the media, when our Mayor and Council put themselves before the public to finally, after eight years, really discuss the City budget, why does the media have almost no questions or only softball questions.

We thought we might propose a few:
  • You acknowledge that even with the Parking Plot, the CIty budget is structurally imbalanced, in other words you spend more money annually than you take in right?
  • And with the Parking Plot, and with the Streetcar coming on line, we will have even more pressure on the general fund, right?
  • Then what exactly is your plan to balance the budget in 24 months?  What should we expect -- tax increases or cutting police officers and firemen?
  • The recession has been raging for nearly five years now.  You have made no fundamental changes in how we do business at CIty Hall.  Why is that?  What have you done to right-size the budget for the past five years? (Answer: nothing)
  • You each complain about the current budget situation and tell is that the can has been kicked down the road, but wasn't it each of you who voted for these bad budgets?  Why did you do that?
  • What exactly is the source of the dysfunction at City Hall?  Who would you blame for causing this problem of crisis proportions?
  • And if you have not been able to address the fiscal straits in five years, what makes you think the next 24 months will be any different?
  • Councilman Cecil Thomas tells us to plan on growth over the next 24 months being the key -- we will grow ourselves out of this fiscal crisis.  Detroit, Stockton, Harrisburg PA and other cities have relied upon a similar strategy with tragic consequences.  What if that plan does not pan out -- what then?
  • Is there anything else the City can cut other than police and fire positions?  How about the Mayor's bodyguards? How about the Mayor's car allowance?  How about Mr. Dohoney's $35,000 raise? How about flower pots? How about the Mayor's travel budget?  Is there nothing that can be done to save these public safety positions?   
  • Mayor Mallory claimed that this "fix" was the last one needed?  Really?  Is this so?  How does this solve anything long term?
  • By the way, the Streetcar is $27 million overbudget, and the City Pension is $750 million underwater.  What exactly are we doing to solve those problems?   
Cincinnati is known as a softball town.  No one asks the hard questions, because they don't want to ruffle feathers and be seen as the "hard ass" to the Mayor and Council that they must cover.  But what this means is that instead of press conferences, we have pep rallies for the incumbent class, where they are given a platform unchallenged.

COAST is prepared to answer the tough questions with today's submission of our parking meter petitions, as we are prepared to long term.  We simply ask that the news media do its job and make the City Hall plotters answer for what they are doing.

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