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Voters on Tuesday elected John Cranley to the mayor’s office and six council members — out of nine total — who oppose the streetcar project, giving streetcar opponents enough votes to cancel the project once the new government takes power on Dec. 1.
But, as first reported by CityBeat on Oct. 9, cancellation could carry all sorts of costs with $94 million tied to contractual obligations, including supply orders and other expenses from contractors and subcontractors, and $23 million already sunk on the project.
If the city were to cancel, it would also need to return nearly $41 million in grants to the federal government, according to a June 19 letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Canceling the project would cost jobs as well. About 150 laborers are currently working on the project, according to Deatrick. He says there’s also management positions involved, but he couldn’t offer an estimate for those jobs and whether they’re working on the project full- or part-time.
Deatrick says that it’s difficult to pin down how much cancellation would ultimately cost because the issue would likely be worked through litigation as the city tries to minimize cancellation costs and developers — such as Messer Construction, Prus Construction, Delta Railroad and CAF USA — attempt to maximize what they recoup from the project.
Another concern, according to Olberding, is cancellation’s impact on the operating budget. She says the roughly $2 million in federal grant money already spent on the project would have to come out of the operating budget, and litigation costs would come from the operating budget as well.
The capital budget, which is financed through bonds and other forms of debt, pays for capital projects like the streetcar. The operating budget typically goes toward day-to-day operations, including police, firefighters and human services.
The operating budget has been structurally imbalanced since 2001. If millions in litigation costs and repayments to the federal government are added to it, the city could be forced to cut services and jobs or raise taxes.
There are also concerns about how the federal government and Cincinnati’s business partners would react to the cancellation of such a major project. Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, Cranley’s opponent in the mayoral race, previously told CityBeat that pulling back on a commitment could break the faith developers and the feds placed in Cincinnati when they agreed to take on the streetcar project.
Cranley and other anti-streetcar elects argue the long-term costs — the $88 million in the capital budget for the current phase of the project, the cost of future expansion and $3-4 million that it would cost to operate the streetcar annually — outweigh even the costs of cancellation.
Cranley previously told CityBeat that he would help developers involved in the project find other work in the city to recoup the revenue lost from the project’s cancellation. He says Messer and Prus in particular are based in and already work heavily in Cincinnati, so it’s unlikely they would try to cut ties with the city.
Streetcar supporters aren’t convinced. If the city pulls out of such a big commitment, officials argue both the federal government and developers could be compelled to look for a more reliable source for future work.
Meanwhile, Deatrick says current construction work is progressing on time and within budget. He expects the track on Elm Street to be laid down between 12th and Henry streets by the end of the year.
As for the next phase of the project, Deatrick says there’s still no estimated cost. He attributes much of the project’s current political problems to construction bids coming in over budget earlier in the year — a turn of events that led City Council to put another $17.5 million to the streetcar project — so he says the city needs to be really careful with future estimates if it decides to expand the streetcar system.
Despite the fresh political threats, the city still intends to conduct meetings with businesses on Nov. 14 and 18 about the benefits of the streetcar. Deatrick says those meetings should show the economic benefits of the rail line that go beyond the streetcar’s use as a transit network.
Supporters of the streetcar often point to those benefits as their reasoning for backing the project. Citing a 2007 study from consulting firm HDR that was later evaluated and supported by the University of Cincinnati, supporters say the streetcar project would produce a three-to-one return on investment.
Deatrick acknowledges those projections are now outdated, given all the changes the project has gone through since 2007. He says the city has people working on updating the numbers and looking at other economic effects the HDR study may have missed.
But opponents of the streetcar project say it’s simply too expensive and the wrong priority for Cincinnati. Still, the potentially high cost of cancellation could prove a bigger fiscal concern.
Either way, Cincinnati should find out the full consequences to the project in December.
• Brooklyn Indie Folk quartet Jus Post Bellum comes to Over-the-Rhine's MOTR Pub tonight for a free, 10 p.m. show with local headliners Young Heirlooms. Inspired by traditional American Roots, Blues and Country music, as well as modern Folk, the Civil War and American history in general, Jus Post Bellum (latin for "justice after war") features the captivating dual vocal approach of guitarist/keyboardist Geoffrey Wilson and Hannah Jensen and is fleshed out by the bass and cello of Daniel Dieber and drumming of Zach Dunham. The group's live shows are said to be quiet, mesmerizing affairs, so maybe keep your loudmouth drunkard friends at home for the night.
Jus Post Bellum's second album, Oh July, is set for a Nov. 12 release. Here is the new album track "Gimme That Gun":
• For Dar Williams' latest album, last year's In the Time of Gods, the veteran Folk singer/songwriter looked to the past to address modern challenges. The songs on the album, featuring guests Shawn Colvin and Larry Campbell, use characters and tales from Greek mythology to poetically examine today's personal, social and political issues. Always noted for her fantastic lyric writing (which often showcases her sharp wit), In the Time of Gods and its interesting device find Williams really challenging herself and, ultimately, succeeding on levels she hadn't reached before.
Williams brings her Gods tour to Oakley's 20th Century Theater tonight. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25-$30. The show is not general admission; seats are reserved by section.
Here is the opening track from In the Time of Gods, "I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything":
• Impressive new Cincinnati band Temple plays tonight at Northside's Mayday, the launch of a mini-tour with Columbus Sludge Metal crew Bridesmaid. The band makes compelling progressive, psychedelic Metal and features members of local acts like Black Dove, Paralyzer, The Awakening and Ohio Knife. Tonight's show also features local band Crushed Velvet and kicks off at 10 p.m. There is a $5 cover charge.
Click here to check out a pair of songs from the band, or just hit the play button below:
• Tonight's show at Bogart's in Corryville featuring star rapper Yo Gotti has been cancelled. Refunds are available at the point of purchase.
One good thing about Halloween falling on a Thursday is that we get two weekends of celebrity costumes to dissect.
Heidi Klum always pulls out the stops for Halloween, hosting a major bash every year. And her costumes are always over-the-top. This year is no different, though Heidi wasn’t dressed in a crazy cyborg suit or a scary Kali goddess getup — Ms. Project Runway was unrecognizable as an old ass lady!
There’s a 15 percent chance this is actually just Heidi Klum after a week with no Botox, green juice or airbrush artists.
There are essentially three categories in which Halloween costumes fall: “sexy” costumes, offensive costumes and pop culture costumes. As Julianne Hough proved with her Orange Is the New Black-face ensemble, it’s typical for costume categories to overlap. Here are my fave star costumes of the year, which happen to all be celebs dressed as other celebs. #meta
Miley as Lil' Kim
Honey Boo Boo family as the Kardashian Klan
Ellen as Nicki Minaj
Jenny McCarthy as Miley’s mouf
So apparently "funeral selfies" are a goddam thing – Bust, The Atlantic, Jezebel and others are all talking about the trend this week. Some people argue that kids of the digital age don’t know how to express their feelings except by documenting every passing moment — no matter how somber — on social media. This is just the modern way of grieving! Which actually make sense because, come to think of it, when I went to a funeral as a young teen, all the kids would snap self-portraits in church with disposable cameras, run to Walgreen’s afterward and then scan them to our LiveJournal pages — hashtags just weren’t invented yet! Oh wait, none of that actually happened because that’s fucking strange behavior no matter your generation.
Guy Fieri né FERRY is all over the news this week. The intolerable TV “chef” got into a recorded altercation with his drunk hairdresser who had just gotten sloshed on a plane (taking them to Flavortown, I presume).
Fighting is never the answer, children, but who wouldn’t want to beat down the person responsible for basing a real hairstyle...
...off of a hat primarily given as a gag gift:
Pictured: “Flaming Flair Hair Visor,” not the actual scalped head of Guy Fieri
Two days after the cat fight, the King of Donkey Sauce found himself in court testifying against the man who allegedly stole his neon yellow Lamborghini (which is equally as obnoxious as Guy himself), resulting in one of the best trial sketches of all time.