Sunday, April 21, 2013

Drive a stake through its heart

On April 29, Roxanne Qualls is calling a hearing at City Council to discuss the fate of the Cincinnati Streetcar project.  In Qualls words, the reason for the hearing:
It’s time to step back and have a robust and transparent public discussion about the best way to move forward.
Really?  You would think it was "time" to have that robust and public discussion before spending $42 million of public monies, but, hey that's just our point of view.

So, at this point, you would expect COAST to rally the troops and push for hundreds of citizens to crowd City Hall and demand that the waste of public monies on this...boondoggle...stop and stop immediately.  But we are not going to do that.
And we are not taking that path because there is simply no reasoning with these people (the six crazies on Council, the Mayor and the Administration).  They have never been concerned even remotely with the economic realities of this project; they have never even run an operating budget for it; they refuse to come to grips with the magnitude of the fiscal mistake they are making.  Indeed, they have done everything in their collective power to avoid having this discussion for six full years.

We could regale you here with the tortured tale of how Council, the Mayor and this administration have ignored every whispered word of caution, every warning flag, and every "red alert."  But that has been documented in the e-pages of this blog for many years.

Very simply, regardless of the economic realities of Cincinnati in 2013 and regardless of the budgetary issues with this project, they persist.

So, COAST, you might ask, how do we stop it then?

Well, we look at Council like a vampire from the old movies.  They will keep coming back at night, when we least expect it, and suck our blood.  They lurk in the shadows with evil intent, and rapaciously prey on the citizenry with regularity.  Indeed, the vampire can't even control his own deviant behavior.

But, still, we can stop them.  But it is we who will have to stop them; not with reasoning to the crazies, but with external forces:
  • First, and most importantly, they must be forced to confront the math of the project.  They simply do not presently have the resources to build this system.  Thus, they are seeking additional funding, from somewhere, anywhere.
  • Their first stop already has been Cincinnati taxpayers.  They have increased property taxes three times for Streetcar bonds, and the first and most likely option is a fourth property tax increase.  We must, here in an election year, apply the pressure from the citizenry to stop this next tax increase.
  • Their second stop is "federal funds."  Somehow they want magic "free" Obama money to rain down upon us to fill the ever-recurring budgetary gaps.  Fortunately, both Cincinnati-area Congressmen are vigorous opponents of further federal funding for the Streetcar.  Congressman Chabot has in fact introduced an amendment to the long-stalled Transportation bill to legally prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation from spending any further monies on the Cincinnati Streetcar project.  We must pursue this to cut off further federal funds for the project.
  • Their third step is to seek funds from the State of Ohio (lots of luck with that), OKI and other funding sources.  This will be yet another a dead end for them.
  • Their next stop is moving costs into other pots, like MSD and the County budget.  We have vigilant County staff and elected officials cutting them off from that avenue.
  • Finally, they will look internally at the City.  Already they have scaled back street repairs (thus more potholes in City streets) and diverted Water Works monies into the project (thus, higher water rates).  But the big question at City Hall is whether they can divert even more capital, and even operating, monies, to the project to get it fully funded.  This calculus has been made infinitely more complicated by the Parking Plot petitions.  We rely upon the public employee unions from stopping further diversion of limited public resources into this Crazy Train.
In short, to stop the vampire, we cannot rely upon the vampire to control his own sinister urges.  This Council simply will not restrain itself.  Rather, external pressures must be applied, and applied with vigor, to assure that Council has no choice but to stop the profligate waste of the past six years.

At some point they run out of money, and political capital, and concede defeat on this unfortunate six year and multi-tens-of-millions-of-dollar diversion for our fair City.

But it is up to us -- all of us -- to drive this stake through the heart of this failed project.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We follow the "living room" rule. Exhibit the same courtesy you would show guests in your home.