TODD PORTUNE: One of the nice things about Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune is he never gives up trying to find a way to help taxpayers get out of the supremely bad deal that led to the construction of the Reds and Bengals stadiums. A 1996 sales-tax increase approved by voters was supposed to pay the debt, but is nowhere near enough — leaving mounting deficits that will total more than $700 million by 2032. Portune once tried to sue the NFL, alleging anti-trust violations, but a judge said the statute of limitations had expired. Now Portune wants to add a tax to Reds and Bengals tickets, so people who actually use the stadiums are the ones that pay for their debt. An Enquirer calculation says the tax would add 44 cents to the price of a Reds ticket and $14 to the price of a Bengals ticket. That’s far more preferable than cutting county services. Team owners should make this happen.
THE ENQUIRER: Every time we think the region’s only surviving daily newspaper finally might have shed its anti-streetcar bias in its coverage, it gives us a new reason to despair. The latest incident occurred May 23, when The Enquirer printed an article under the headline, “Streetcar only slightly faster than walking.” It alleged the planned streetcar’s 6.7-mph average speed will be “only slightly faster than a very brisk walk.” As the excellent Cincy Streetcar Blog noted, however, studies have shown the average walking speed in an urban area is about 3.3 mph for pedestrians under 60 years old, and 2.9 mph for those over 60.
Even for the faster group, the observed speeds were under half the speed of the streetcar. To put things in perspective, a 6.7 mph pace would translate into an 8:57 mile. If one were to enter the Flying Pig Marathon and run at an 8:57 mile pace, they would finish in the top 20 percent of the field. Let’s be nice, and hope no one at The Enquirer can do math.
CHRIS BORTZ: In a bizarre series of events last Thursday and Friday, a worker on a Cincinnati garbage truck filed a police report alleging City Councilman Chris Bortz called him “nigger” in a confrontation on a Mount Adams street, then retracted the allegation less than 24 hours after it was publicized. The worker, Shawn T. Allen of Golf Manor, had said Bortz used the slur and threatened to “shoot his ass” when Allen blew the horn on a garbage truck several times early Thursday morning, because Bortz’ vehicle was blocking its way. Allen filed his report around 1 p.m. May 19; by 3:30 p.m. the next day, it was withdrawn. Bortz was part of a council faction that unsuccessfully pushed to implement “managed competition” for garbage collection, which potentially involved privatizing the service and laying off municipal workers. Was this just sour grapes by a disgruntled worker, or something more?
KENTUCKY TAXPAYERS: Here’s how desperate the Bluegrass State is to create jobs, since it relied too heavily for years on tobacco farming and not enough on investing in education. The commonwealth’s Tourism Development Finance Authority has approved granting $43.1 million in tax incentives over a decade to Ark Encounter, a theme park based on the biblical story of Noah’s Ark. The project will be built near Williamstown by a group of investors including the people behind the absurdist Creation Museum in Petersburg. The park allegedly will create between 600-700 jobs and have an economic impact of $250 million in its first year; we remain skeptical it will come even close to that. Regardless, state government should not subsidize the spread of fundamentalist Christianity — or any religion, for that matter. Gov. Steve Beshear should read the First Amendment again.