Tuesday, December 8, 2015

COAST Christmas Party - you're invited!

Please join us for our annual Christmas Party.

Monday December 14th, 6PM
11320 Montgomery Road

Thursday, November 5, 2015

SORTA's relentless drumbeat for a tax increase continues

Make no mistake: It is coming.  The bureaucrats at and consultants for SORTA are constantly beating a drum for more of your tax dollars.

The latest comes in today's headline in the Enquirer: Study: 75K Cincy jobs unreachable by transit.

Now, the "company line" from SORTA is that, starved for resources, if only they had more of your hard-earned tax dollars they could provide quality transportation services for poor people in our fair City. 

The only problem is that we told SORTA and City Council all of this before they decided to spend $148 million building the Streetcar to nowhere and committed another millions per year to Streetcar operations.

Community-based organizations who make it their job to be concerned about these same poor people – the NAACP, the Baptist Ministers Conference, the Homeless Coalition – spoke vociferously and repeatedly about how the Streetcar would take scarce tax dollars that could be used to connect poor people to jobs, healthcare and shopping, and spend it on a useless amusement park ride for yuppies and urban hipsters.

So, as far as COAST is concerned, SORTA has made its bed and it can sleep in it – without any more of our tax dollars!

And let’s never forget the words of the SORTA resolution on December 17, 2013, at the key moment in the Streetcar debate:
The Board of Trustees of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority has volunteered to assume responsibility for streetcar operating costs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

So long, farewell to Rick Bryan and Jim Sumner

COAST is shedding crocodile tears this morning at the loss of BlueAsholes Rick Bryan and Jim Sumner in yesterday's Blue Ash Council elections.

The very long-time Council members were well known for junkets to Germany on the taxpayer dime, a massive parks project that cost taxpayers millions, and of course bizarre and inexplicable support for the Cincinnati Streetcar of all things.  Both had attempted to use the Blue Ash platform as a launching pad toward higher office -- Sumner to County Commissioner and Bryan to State Representative.  Both failed as the Blue Ash schtick did not sell on a larger stage.  Both also supported every bad idea to emanate from Republican loins, such as Congressman Jean Schmidt and the Jail sales tax.

The defeats are as thoroughly welcome as they are surprising, which speaks to the need to recruit strong candidates in every race.

So Rick Bryan and Jim Sumner, we don't appreciate your years of service to the taxpayers.  Don't let the door hit you in the ass as you head out.  And please don't come back.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Public-private partnerships take "toll" on public

Remember Mayor Mallory's Parking Plot?  And proposed tolls for the Brent Spence Bridge?  These are all new-fangled financing schemes where the cash flow emanating from the use of public improvements is vested in private entities, who then float bonds payable with those revenue streams in exchange for an up-front public benefit today.

In the case of tolls, they are used to build roadway, bridge and tunnel projects that the public entities cannot afford, and in the case of parking revenues, they are being used to front millions in current dollars for capital projects.

Today's Washington Post highlights these public-private partnerships running off the rails and costing taxpayers dearly.  

Stepping back, why is one of the wealthiest nations on earth unable to fund its infrastructure without selling its income streams to for-profit entities?  Simply, because it can't control its spending.  At the federal level, entitlement spending -- medicaid, medicaid, ObamaCare and social security -- is gobbling so much of the federal budget, the government can't afford comparatively small amounts for crucial public improvements.  At the state level, the inability to say "no" to public employee unions -- salaries and pensions -- has bankrupted local and state governments, again preventing relatively paltry sums from being available for capital projects.

So, the "public benefit" to public-private partnerships is largely illusory.  Proceed with extreme caution.

Friday, October 16, 2015

COAST Endorses Ken Crawford for Norwood Mayor!

COAST is proud to support Ken Crawford for Mayor of Norwood

Ken is a young conservative ready to empower the people of Norwood with his plan to restore accountability and transparency in local government.

You can learn more about Ken Crawford's platform here. Get involved in the campaign and make a contribution here.

Remember to Vote for Ken Crawford for Norwood Mayor on election day.

We are excited to see the possibilities that will emerge with new and dynamic leadership in Norwood!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Vote "No" on Issue 22 Property Tax

The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) urges Cincinnati voters to reject the permanent property tax increase that will appear on the ballot as Issue 22.

With proposed projects such as restaurants, beer gardens, roads, and golf course expansions, this tax hike arguably does more to destroy nature than it does to enhance it.

COAST opposes a permanent, costly property tax increase as well as the poor accountability of the funds that would be raised. Under this Charter Amendment, spending decisions would be made by the Mayor and his appointments to the Parks Board, largely removing our elected City Council from the process.

We are concerned that this lack of accountability creates a backdoor path for the Mayor and his appointees to approve unpopular projects that Council would otherwise not approve.

“Cincinnati voters should reject a permanent property tax hike that hurts our parks,” says State Representative Tom Brinkman, a long-time Cincinnati resident and COAST co-founder. “Please Vote No on Issue 22.”

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It's Official: Ohio Supreme Court is overtly hostile in Sunshine Law cases

So, it turns out we are not paranoid after all and it's not just our imagination.

A group devoted to transparency in government in Ohio, the Ohio Coalition for Open Government (OCOG) has issued a report that confirms the view that the Ohio Supreme Court most often sides with government officials in cases involving government access and transparency.

COAST has pursued with vigor litigation involving open meetings and public records to assure that the public's business is conducted in the fresh air and sunshine, before the public.  Unfortunately, in decision after decision, the Ohio Supreme Court has chipped away at what surely is a well-written state and local public records law.  They have, in short, made mincemeat of what is a well-written statute, issuing rulings clearly contrary to statutory language to achieve their desired policy outcome.  It is truly shameful. 

The OCOG report goes even further, to name names of the offending Justices.  The worst offender: Justice Terrance O'Donnell.  The best: Justice Judith French.  

Read the OCOG press release here. And the OCOG full report here 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Something smells in North College Hill

A major story is brewing in North College Hill, where reformist politicians, citizen activists and public interest attorneys have been trying valiantly to reform the corrupt City, and have encountered legal and political obstacles aplenty in response.  This is a City that will not reform easily.

Here are the bullet points:

1.    The City just last week experienced a second mayor resignation since the last election.  Read about that here.

2.    There is an election this fall for the Mayoral and all Council seats, determining the direction of the City for coming four years.  The City until now has been in the grips -- as you will see below -- of the bureaucrats and City Solicitor, who have something other than the best interest of the public in mind.  The reformers have a strong candidate for Mayor in place and may capture control of the municipality.

3.    The reformers already control City Council, but the administration and City Solicitor have been manipulating municipal governance to attempt to place any reforms behind the control of the Council. 

Now, what's going on?

·      In 2011, the City hired the City Manager's wife to be "Economic Developer" for the salary of $41,000.

·      But in order to boost the City Manager's OPERS retirement plan calculation, the Manager's salary was increased by that amount, and the wife was paid nothing.  Under Ohio PERS calculations, retirement payments are based upon the last three years of salary.

·      Five of seven NCH Council members voted in favor of the ruse to mislead OPERS.

·      When caught red-handed with the ruse, which was documented in writing, OPERS ruled that NCH was paying the Manager "$41,000 fora position that he does not hold and for work he does not perform."

·      Then, the City administration and Solicitor switched stories, and began to claim that the wife of the Manager was never serving as "Economic Developer" and the City Manager was at all times performing those duties.  

·      This was so even though the Council approved the pay increase based upon the City Manager's wife performing those duties (two for the price of one!) and the City Manager continued to tell Council for several years that his wife was performing those duties.  Indeed in 2012, the wife made a public appearance at the NCH Business Association as NCH Economic Developer.  She also appeared at Council as the “Economic Development Director” in 2012.  Council was never told that the wife was not performing those duties until the Spring of 2014.

·      There is a taxpayer lawsuit to fix all of this before Judge Robert Ruehlman that has reached the stage of cross-motions for summary judgment.  Pleadings in that case are linked here.

·      In addition, Council has now passed resolutions to return the City Manager’s salary to the amount that existed before the $41,000 “Economic Developer” ruse.  However, the City Administration continues to illegally pay him at the higher salary, and refuses to stop the illegal expenditures.­

So, through litigation or elections, the fleecing of the taxpayers of North College Hill could stop this fall.  It is up to the voters and Judge Ruehlman if these clearly illegal expenditures continue.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rapacious Xerox Corporation sues City of Cleveland over Red Light Cameras

Giving us one more reason the voters of Cleveland should string their elected officials up by their toes from the nearest streetlight pole, today the Xerox Corporation sued the City of Cleveland over the early termination of its red light camera program.

Let's recite the facts.  In August of last year, the citizens of Cleveland submitted signatures to the City to ban red light cameras in that fair City.  In June of that same year -- while City fathers knew the petitions calling for repeal were being circulated -- the City signed a new 3-year contract with Xerox for the operation of the cameras, with an early termination penalty built-in.

In November of last year, the voters of the City of Cleveland -- in a COAST-backed Charter amendment banning the cameras -- voted to ban the devices by a stunning 77% of the vote.

Now as a matter of law, the Courts will need to sort out the legal claims.  But how contemptuous of the citizenry is it for the Mayor, Council and administration to sign a contract binding the City to either allow the cameras or to pay a penalty to Xerox for their early termination?

Remember, earlier this year, Columbus and Cincinnati City officials were implicated in a bribery scheme over the pernicious devices perpetrated by officials of RedFlex, a prime competitor to Xerox for the confiscatory red light camera business.  That confession by a RedFlex official arose from the bribery charges in the procurement of the $1 billion Chicago red light camera contract.  These new developments are on top of those burgeoning bribery scandals enveloping the red light camera industry.

And remember that this greedy Xerox Corporation is the same filthy bastard that wanted to enslave Cincinnatians to a Parking Plot that sold our meters to the private profiteers.

Finally, remember that COAST was a leading organization, along with our WeDemandaVote.Com partner, the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP that stopped both of these programs dead in their tracks.  (Deep bow from COAST.)

The voters of Cleveland need to hold their elected and appointed officials accountable for signing a contract potentially exposing them to this liability.

Read about it here from FoxNews.Com.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Boston Olympics debacle shows prescience of COAST

The debacle that is the U.S. Olympic Committee bid to bring the 2026 games to Boston, resulting in yesterday's announcement that the bid was abandoned, highlights the great work COAST did fifteen years ago to stop a massive waste of tax dollars before it got (very far) off the ground.  Of course, many commentators point to the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens as significantly contributing to the insolvency of that Country, and the near-collapse of its economy.

It's now hard to believe, but in there was a group of do-gooders in the 1998-1999 timeframe who organized to bring the 2012 Olympic games to Cincinnati.  Now, no one wants to question their motives and their positive intention to boost the City, and actually bring the leviathan event to our fair river city, but we did at that time question their funding proposal.  They wanted two things from the public: (i) taxpayer money to fund the pitch for the boondoggle and (ii) even worse, they wanted taxpayer guarantees for any shortfall in funding for the games, an obligation that could have cost into the billions of dollars.

And, true to form as to how things work in Cincinnati, they got their taxpayer money -- simply by asking.  And the local community activist lemmings lined up behind them just as the green balloon brigade for the Streetcar.

But there was one single organization -- only one -- who stood up and exposed the proposal (as well-intentioned as it may have been) for what it was: an absolute waste of limited money, taxpayer money.  That organization was COAST.

For, until the Cincinnati 2012 Committee asked for taxpayer dollars, we were silent.  If private donors want to throw their money down a rat hole, it was just fine with us.  But when they went for tax dollars for their doomed proposal for the games, we spoke out, and estimated the true cost to the City and State to be in the billions, information the Cincinnati 2012 Committee underestimated.

In what was a somewhat amusing, but telling, episode, the State of Ohio did vote to fund the proposal-- and Governor Taft dutifully signed on, and within just a matter of days the International Olympic Committee eliminated Cincinnati in the first cut of cities from the list of contenders.  Pants yanked down around ankles!

We love Cincinnati boosters, and community organizers.  What we don't love is the further oppression of local taxpayers to fund their latest pipe dream. Pay for it yourself!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Seitz calls for cities to refund Red Light Camera ticket fines

Red Light Camera Investigation Prompts Call for Cities to End Legal Action, Issue Refunds

Senate Republican calls for cities to apologize and end the program
COLUMBUS State Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) called on cities using red light cameras to immediately end their lawsuit against the State of Ohio, apologize to the General Assembly and refund fines to drivers.

Seitz made the demand following news reports of a federal investigation alleging that an executive of a red light camera company bribed city officials to keep the cameras running despite legislative action to ban them.

“I call on the cities to apologize and dismiss their lawsuit,” said Seitz, who has led the effort to outlaw red light cameras, including recent action to reduce state tax dollars going to local government funds by the amount of the fines. “We always knew it wasn’t about public safety. It was about money; we just didn’t know it was about shady money.”

According to news reports, RedFlex CEO Karen Finley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. Federal court documents allege that improper campaign contributions were directed at elected officials in Columbus and Cincinnati during an eight-year period between 2005 and 2013.

"I have always maintained that photo enforcement cameras were more about money than safety," Seitz continued. "Today’s criminal case proves how right I was, even though I never dreamed that municipal officials would take bribes to fleece their own taxpayers. Apparently, a new side benefit of our recent state law on restricting and regulating the use of these cameras will be to restrict the opportunity for corrupt officials to receive bribes. I call on the cities that continued to disregard our state law to immediately dismiss their lawsuits against the state and to make full restitution to the motorists whose traffic tickets are the product of corrupt activity by the very municipal officials who are supposed to be protecting the taxpayers against governmental abuse.”

Read the federal court document here:

In 2014, the Ohio Senate voted to prohibit cities from using the cameras, and the cities sued the state in an attempt to overturn the ban. The court case is still pending.

Read local media coverage of the investigation and bribery plea here:
# # #

State Senator Bill Seitz represents the 8th District in the Ohio Senate, which encompasses a portion of Hamilton County. Learn more at www.OhioSenate.gov/Seitz. You can download a high-resolution photo of Senator Seitz for your use by clicking here.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Enquirer: Now we know Streetcar operating costs

So, part of the Streetcar shell game during the reign of Mayor Mark Mallory and Finance Committee Chair Roxanne Qualls was to never project operating income den expenses from the Streetcar.  Yes, it is hard to believe, but City Council and the administration steadfastly refused, before, during and after embarking on the Streetcar boondoggle, to run numbers for an operating budget, until now.

This was by design and for two reasons: First the number would have been unacceptably large, and second because it deviated from their standard theme that the Streetcar "costs" were entirely capital in nature.  Indeed, the whisper campaign they started and perpetrated was that the ticket sales and advertising revenue from the Streetcar would pay the operating costs.  It was, of course, the foundation of Rob Richardson, Jr.'s false claims complaint against COAST to the Ohio Elections Commission on behalf of Streetcar advocates that no operating fund dollars were getting plowed into that wasteful project.

The underlying theme of all of these mechanizations was that the Streetcar would have no impact on City operations.  Because the City cannot run a deficit like the federal government, any losses must be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget (i.e., police, fire, or road maintenance) or by (heaven forbid!) revenue increases.  And the City could not tolerate admitting that it intended to ultimately cut police and fire services to fund their pet Streetcar-to-nowhere project or -- gulp -- to raise taxes.

Of course, that was all a lie, a ruse, a smokescreen, a shell game.  As the Enquirer so accurately states in its headline today: Now we know.

Now we know the truth: The Streetcar is going to cost the taxpayers $4.7 in losses per year.  That's $4.7 million per year from police protection; $4.7 million per year from fire protection; $4.7 million per year from road maintenance.  That's because there is no other source of operating funds and nowhere else to cut from the City Budget.

At some point, the number $3,5 million in operating losses was tossed out there by the City.  COAST called bullshit on that, and proudly calculated and predicted that the losses would be in the $5 to $10 million per year range.  And understanding that the City's current $4.7 million operating loss number does not include depreciation of the rolling stock and other known expenses of operating the Streetcar, it loos like COAST's projections will be spot on.

So, Rob Richardson, Jr. who exactly was lying and who was telling the truth?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

We just watch in awe

OK. Let's start with a question:
Is there a capital project or an "economic development" project you are so in love with that the cost-benefit analysis is utterly irrelevant? 
Of course not.  We are not talking about saving lives or Western Civilization.  We are addressing the expenditure of scarce tax dollars to leverage a greater level of development for jobs and yet other capital projects.

So, the careful analysis of the ROI for each capital dollar spent should be the yardstick for approving those expenditures.  Should be.

Thus, we watch in awe as today it is reported that the utility relocation costs associated with the "next mile" of Cincinnati Streetcar track and yet Streetcar supporters are massing for yet another public hearing demanding that City Council continue the spending to expand the Streetcar route into Uptown.

Now, all of this is entirely predictable: All of the cost estimates, warning bells, overruns, alarms, headlines and data from other jurisdictions were unheeded as they plowed forward with Streetcar Phases 1 and 1A.  And, even Council supporters conceded when the Downtown route was approved that there was no reason to build the Riverfront-to-Findlay Market leg unless we intended to run the Streetcar to and around uptown.

We are blessed, however, that consistently Mayor John Cranley has been throwing cold water on these unfunded pipe dreams.  He, the voice of reason at City Hall, has consistently opposed Streetcar funding.

So, read today's latest from the Enquirer on the Streetcar.  We watch in awe as the out-of-touch tax and spenders try to plow forward in fiscal irresponsibility.

It is a sight to behold!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Eric Holder, Libertarian?

The groundbreaking WeDemandAVote.Com coalition that was launched in 2007 among the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, COAST, Ohio Libertarians, the Ohio Green Party and others had many political pundits scratching their heads:

How could this diverse group come to agreement on anything?

However, as time has marched on, many in our community have developed a deep understanding as to how conservatives, progressives, Libertarians and Greens could unite:

Government has simply become too big, too intrusive, too oppressive 
for the good of the people it supposedly serves.  

A bigger jail, red light cameras, a trash tax, higher parking fees...the citizenry can only take so much, and in Cincinnati working men and women had had enough.  The unifying theme was: Leave us alone!

Now, one would have thought that the other end of that political spectrum were President Obama and his hand-picked Attorney General Eric Holder, who seem to have devoted their professional existence to the expansion of government into every nook and cranny of our lives, and an increase in taxation and spending to accompany that.

Thus, color us shocked that in his last official act as U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder issued an utterly remarkable report, here, that decries the abuse of power by the City of Ferguson in a myriad of ways, primarily in harassing citizens with oppressive traffic laws, a rapacious enforcement system, and a biased Court system.  Holder systematically explains how unchecked local government causes untold hardship on the very citizens who need help, not harassment by government.

Is Eric Holder, after all, a libertarian? 

The real story behind the Holder report is that we can choose to have a system of limited government, where our elected and appointed officials live inside tight bounds of power defined by the Constitution and an activist citizenry, or we can live as vassals of our elected and appointed officials, cowering in fear of their next capricious act.

In this February article New York Times reporter Shaila Dewan connected these dots, and noted the COAST/NAACP alliance as one of several developments throughout the nation where historic divides have been bridged to fight oppressive and unjust local government.

This incredible Washington Post article from September of last year, How municipalities in St. Louis County, MO, profit from poverty, explains in excruciating but necessary detail how self-serving government officials either intentionally or thoughtlessly create endless misery for citizens living on the margins of society.

This choice is clear from the Holder report, and the preference of the Department of Justice toward constrained governance is equally clear.  It is a remarkable end to his tenure as U.S. Attorney General.

COAST exists, in great part, to check the nature of man and government to oppress the citizenry.  We are as a State and a nation blessed to have had founders and visionary elected officials that have put in place over the centuries and decades constitutional and statutory constraints on the power of government officials.  We gladly use these tools -- lawsuits, ballot issues, election campaigns -- to keep government in check.

We welcome the recent attention to the outrageous conduct across the criminal justice system in Missouri, but note that the petty indignities that ultimately ignited months of riots in suburban St. Louis exist throughout the nation.  Left and right, black and white, rich and poor, can and should unite to reaffirm the principles of limited government that have made America the greatest country on earth.  It is an endless battle to keep the powerful in check.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

COAST attorney argues ObamaCare case at the US Supreme Court

2014 was a rush, for sure.

In that year, COAST ascended to oral argument before the US Supreme Court in its battle before the Ohio Elections Commission.  And we won 9-0 in a Clarence Thomas-authored opinion.  

That case was skillfully shepherded to victory -- in intensely sophisticated ways -- through the maze that is the US Supreme Court appellate process, by Jones Day partner Michael A. Carvin.  Carvin is an experienced Federal appellate advocate that specializes in Supreme Court work.

Thus, COAST was quite proud today when Mr. Carvin argued for the Plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the last best hope of conservatives to overturn the devastatingly bad piece of socialist engineering for America that is ObamaCare.

Read about his appearance in virtually any media outlet.  

We told you, we told you , we told you

The drip, drip, drip of bad news on the Cincinnati Streetcar project continues.

We don't wish bad for Cincinnati.  We really don't.  Indeed, we tried our hardest, we did, to stop our out-of-control City Fathers and Mothers from making this epic mistake of debt and deficits.  They did not listen and they did not heed the reality of mathematics.

But today's Business Courier story on the Streetcar is just part of more to come.  It's simple:

  1. Cost overruns on the construction of the project, meaning either that the monies must come from the City's operating funds or more debt.
  2. The operations of the Streetcar will cost more than the income, and indeed more than City leaders and Streetcar boosters have told us.  By definition, this means either high taxes and fees, or it means a reduction in critical services such as Police and Fire protection.
Note that the latest Streetcar bad news is reported by relentless Streetcar boosters at the Cincinnati Business Courier.  Read it here.

So, we wish it were't so.  We wish we were wrong all along.

But we were not.  And Cincinnati taxpayers will pay the price.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Empower U announces Spring course offerings

COAST Board member Dan Regenold "goes the extra mile" each year by organizing a series of free seminars for the public to attend to become educated about our constitutional structure and the rights of citizens to be involved.

Here are their Spring 2015 offerings, and as always they are high-quality and well presented.

Please join us for Empower-U Spring 2015!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Now Illinois grapples with problem of public sector unions; Ohio left in the dust

In the galloping competition between States for jobs, the cascade of remarkable actions of state after state continues.  For who would have guessed that rust-belt states like Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan (!) could roll back -- and keep rolled back -- union gains to better their local economies?

Yet they did, courageously.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

COAST Founder Begins Term in Ohio House

COAST is proud of the electoral success enjoyed by founding member Tom Brinkman in 2014. First unseating an incumbent in the Republican primary, then cruising to victory in November. Now, the hard work starts as Tom rejoins the Ohio House.

Congratulations to Tom Brinkman.

State Representative Tom Brinkman was sworn in by State Treasurer Josh Mandel on Monday, January 5, 2015. Accompanying Tom on the floor of the Ohio House are his wife Cathy and daughter Kelley.