SHERROD BROWN: Let's hear it for the U.S. senator from the great state of Ohio. There's a lot of reasons to like Brown, such as the recent video he made as part of the “It Gets Better” project, where he offered encouraging words to gay teenagers who are bullied and harassed. But what really has us onboard the Brown bandwagon is his spirited opposition to the disingenuous tax cut deal that President Obama struck with GOP lawmakers. “It doubles down on a failed strategy of tax cuts for the super-wealthy that would explode our deficit without strengthening our economy,” Brown said. “It’s too high a price to pay for the support of those who have continually refused to put the middle class first.” Thanks for keeping it real, Sherrod.
JOHN KASICH: This isn't a good start to Kasich's gubernatorial term, no matter how much his ideology has blinded him. The governor-elect's opposition to the 3-C Connector rail project has just cost Ohio $385 million in federal aid. President Obama had pushed for the passenger rail project, which would offer daily service between Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland, and would've created 16,000 jobs throughout the state.
But Kasich was opposed, so Transportation Department officials are giving Ohio's share (along with Wisconsin's $810 million) to 14 other states including California, Illinois and New York — states that know the value of having multi-modal transit. Mr. Kasich, we expect to see you unveil a plan on your first day in office that creates at least as many jobs that were just lost.
STREETCARS: The city of Cincinnati's proposed streetcar system won another victory last week when state transportation officials awarded a $35 million grant to help build its first phase. The latest grant brings the total allocated to the project so far to roughly $150 million, enough to cover initial capital costs for the project. Additionally, a state transportation advisory committee recommended an award of $1.8 million for planning and preliminary engineering for the project's second phase, giving Cincinnati a leg up in the process. “Especially in light of the budget problems facing the city, I am convinced that we must use every economic development tool we can to bring residents, jobs, businesses – and tax revenue – to the city,” said City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. “The streetcar alone has a $3 return for every $1 invested.” Sounds like a good deal to us.
DAVE RAGER: One of City Hall's longest serving and highest paid employees has announced his retirement, after plans to convert the city's Water Works utility into a regional water district have come to a screeching halt. Rager, director of the Greater Cincinnati Water Works, e-mailed his employees last week to inform them of his departure at year's end. Rager said Mayor Mark Mallory had pulled his support for the water district concept, meaning it likely won't be accomplished anytime soon. Labor unions that represent utility workers were opposed to the change, as was the NAACP's local chapter. Rager, who often filled in as city manager over the years, retired in 2007 but was rehired as a contractor to help shepherd the water district changeover.