Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Smitherman conducts blistering, brilliant cross examination of City Manager on Streetcar

It's possible for the explosive developments at City Hall to get lost in the cacophony of treble scandals emanating from D.C.  But still, Monday's cross examination by Council member Christopher Smitherman of Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney over his plan to continue with the Streetcar, and to fund the $17.4 million in already-known cost overruns, was notable.

Here are some highlights:

  • The City Manager predicts further (but unknown in amount) overruns as the project progresses.  Indeed, now that the bid with low bidder Messer has expired, he has no idea even what the initial contact price will be.
  • The Manager has no upward limit for the cost of the Streetcar at which even he would recommend pulling the plug. The "sky's the limit."
  • The Manager has no authority from Council to fund the Streetcar at the current budget, but he intends to keep spending until there is an affirmatie vote of the Council to stop the waste.  In other words -- despite what Roxanne Qualls has said, he has a blank check from Council.  
  • He admits there is no reason to build the boondoggle unless it extends up the Vine Street hill to Clifton and around the uptown area, but he also has no idea how much that will cost, how he intends to pay for it, or when that leg possibly wil be built.
  • He is still hoping for some magic Obama money to fill some of the gaps in the funding of the Cincinnati Streetcar project.
  • The original budget for the Streetcar was $110 million, and that included getting up the Vine Street Hill.  And now that the project is at $135 million and counting just to go to Findlay Market, no one has been held accountable, no one disciplined, and no one fired for their errors in being off at least 20% in the project costs.
In short, Dohoney remains just as defiant, just as deluded, just as foolish as when the project was first conceived.

It was a blistering, brilliant performance by Christopher Smitherman, and yet another disappointment from an out-of-touch-with-reality City administration.

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