Saturday, August 30, 2014

Deteriorating Music Hall first major victim of Cincinnati Streetcar folly

Two fundamental propositions are undeniably true:
  • Music Hall is a gem in Cincinnati, architecturally, historically, and as the home for Cincinnati's world-class symphony orchestra. 
  • Music Hall is outdated and falling into disrepair.

But it is equally true that:

  • Music Hall is an asset of the City that historically has been governentally-supported by the City, not the County.
  • If the City had properly invested in the facility and maintained the facility over the years, it would not be outdated and falling into disrepair.
  • Finally, if the City had properly prioritized its use of capital dollars for the past eight years under Mayor Mallory and Finance Chair Roxanne Qualls, it could easily have afforded its obligations to Cincinnati's Music Hall.
The City has made a cascading series of catastrophic fiscal decisions over the past eight years, the greatest of which is the Cincinnati Streetcar project.  Costing more than $133 million to build (the
published reports of capital costs are vastly underestimated), the Streetcar has diverted important City and Federal resources that could have been better-expended on "taking care of what we've got," instead of allowing our most cherished assets to decline.

Now, let's assume that one accepts the proposition that as wealth flees the City, it is appropriate that the obligation to maintain the assets of our City should be regionalized.  If that proposition is true, then politically, we need to bring along those suburban voters we are asking to now pay the bill, and not embark on new ventures without broad community support.  Yet, the Streetcar project was opposed by a unanimous County Commission, the state legislature, the Governor, and both local Congressmen. More than three quarters of County voters opposed the project, as did two-thirds of City voters.  No major capital project has ever advanced in this City with so little community support.

Thus, a sub-theme of the proposed tax for Music Hall was: Why the hell should we take this burden off of the shoulders of the City when they are wasting money right outside the front door of Music Hall on this ridiculous Streetcar project.  And the proper answer was, then, to strip Music Hall from the proposal and tell the City to solve its own damn budget problems.  Politically, the decision was a natural consequence of the irresponsibility of City Hall.

Music Hall has become the latest and first major victim of the Streetcar folly of Kevin Flynn, P.G. Sittenfeld and David Mann.

But there's more to come.  Shortly after the Music Hall decision, the Enquirer reported that the vague promises of funding the Streetcar $3.8 million operating deficit (the published reports of operating costs are also vastly underestimated) were vacuous and hopes of a $5 million federal bailout were equally empty.  There simply is no "there" there, and the City taxpayers will be left holding the bag.  Yes, Flynn, Sittenfeld and Mann lied to the voters who had just put them in office a month earlier on crystal clear promises that they would de-fund this project.

Thus, the next axe to fall is layoffs for police, firefighters, and street maintenance personnel, or a major tax increase, to fund the poor choices of this Council and the preceding Council.

Cincinnati Music Hall is the latest and greatest victim of the Cincinnati Streetcar project, but certainly it will not be the last.


  1. Should we have thought about this before we made the streetcar our single-minded obsession?

  2. Bologna. Bologna. Bologna. I have read the first full paragraph, and I'm done with your story. I drove through Cincy once and wondered about the state of rail transit in the city. I was surprised to hear you had none. Now, this you should have done and not left the other undone.

  3. More Libertarian nonsense. It seems that you folks never tire of rooting against the home team.


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