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Fix Cincinnati’s Deeply Ingrained Mentality

By Readers · June 10th, 2009 · Letters

Regarding Joe Wessels recent column, “Let’s Not Make Another Mistake” (issue of May 20), I’m not for or against streetcars, as I don’t really think that’s the real issue as far as “spurring economic growth” here is concerned. I also don’t have an irrational “brand loyalty” to Cincinnati.

But since getting here two months ago, I’ve read how streetcars are supposed to spur economic growth by linking Clifton with downtown and the waterfront. It’s ridiculous. There’s already Metro for this — specifically the 17, 18, 19 and 78 routes. Lack of economic growth isn’t due to Cincinnati lacking a “cool” streetcar or other “cool” public transportation.

Other cities are cited as examples of how better public transit improves a city. But let’s be honest: Those other cities are nothing like Cincinnati. Not by a long shot.

The problem with conditions here isn’t just economic — it’s a cultural one, a deeply ingrained mentality.

There’s just no sense of getting things done or of creativity here.

I’ve lived in many other cities, and it amazes me how backward it is here. People say Cincinnati is “conservative,” but people in other conservative cities get things done, stay on top of new developments, maintain the city and take care of what they own and how they look/dress. There’s a sense of mature individuality.

Not here. The first thing I saw upon arrival is how rundown and worn out this city is, and its people look just as downtrodden. There’s no real pride or individualism here, only Westsiders and Eastsiders posturing over who’s “better,” cliques of natives who think this is the center of the universe and a lot of small-minded, passive-aggressive hater types — all over the place like swarms of locusts — who don’t want anything ever to get done.

That’s not “conservative.” That kind of mentality doesn’t build anything: cities, business or economies. Address that mentality in your paper. How many other places in the world started a subway and never finished it?

So streetcars are supposed to be the next “cool” thing to spark economic growth? Come on, it’s a cultural problem, not a public transportation issue. You should realize that much. It’s obvious just from reading your paper — look at your articles and all the childish corruption they constantly reveal, for example. And by the way, the public transportation in this town is incredibly inefficient by design. I’m amazed at how stupidly it’s run. This is what should be addressed rather than streetcars.

A Metro system that’s actually useful: That’s what “shoulda” “woulda” “coulda” been. Get that accomplished first. It’s already here. Fix it.

Then work on changing the mentality here. That’s when you’ll see economic growth. Just look at Over-the-Rhine — really think a bus on a rail is gonna get rid of that? — Michael Williams Downtown



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