OK, the holidays are officially here. If you have any strength left after shopping last night and all day today, there are numerous theatrical offerings to consider.
CityBeat’s German Lopez noted on Twitter the irony of The Enquirer now supporting both the streetcar and parking plan while the candidate it endorsed attempts to unravel both — Cranley already stopped the parking plan. The comment drew a response from Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn, who is on the newspaper’s editorial board along with Publisher Margaret Buchanan and Editorial Page Editor David Holthaus.
The editorial includes the following paragraph: “In endorsing Cranley, we said he would ‘have to rein in his dictatorial tendencies and discipline himself to be diplomatic, respectful and collaborative.’ What we’ve seen so far is a matter for concern. Hurling insults at professionals like streetcar project manager John Deatrick isn’t what we need. Deatrick enjoys a good reputation as someone who has managed The Banks project and the rebuild of Fort Washington Way. He needs to stay on the streetcar project.”
The editorial was published the same day City Council put completing the project into law and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld announced his decision to support the project’s completion, which Lopez pointed out leaves Council short of the six votes required for an emergency clause that would immediately halt the project without leaving it open to referendum. Without the emergency clause, streetcar supporters could gather the required signatures to put a 5-4 cancellation vote to referendum, which would force the city to continue working on the project until voters decide on it in November.
Mayor-elect Cranley will hold a vote to stop the project on Monday. With Sittenfeld set to vote against halting the project, Cranley will need either newly elected David Mann or Kevin Flynn to vote in favor of stopping it. Both are on the record as being against the project but have left room to consider the financial realities before making their final decisions.
Cranley announced this morning that he will name the new city manager at 2 p.m. today. Cranley removed former city manager Milton Dohoney last week.
A story by The Enquirer’s Mark Curnutte yesterday detailed life expectancy disparities among Cincinnati’s poor neighborhoods, finding a 20 year difference at times between citizens of predominantly black or urban Appalachian neighborhoods and people of wealthy white neighborhoods like Mount Lookout, Columbia Tusculum and Hyde Park. The Cincinnati Health Department will release more statistics Tuesday and a community discussion on the issue is set for Jan. 10.
Pope Francis yesterday criticized the world’s growing wealth disparity, mentioning things like “idolatry of money” and “a new tyranny” in a 50,000-word statement that sharply criticized trickle-down economics.
The Pope via The Washington Post:
"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. … Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."
OTR restaurant Kaze will begin offering lunch hours starting on Black Friday.
Away from home and tired of “Friends-giving” gatherings? Here’s a bunch of restaurants serving good stuff on Thanksgiving day.
Skip Black Friday craziness and use CityBeat’s Gift Guide to shop local this holiday season. There are also plenty of local retailers you can hit up online if you don't wait until the last minute!
If you’re traveling to some stuck-up East Coast city for Thanksgiving, charge the iPad or whatever because there are going to be some storms.
And high winds might cause the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to take all the air out of the Snoopy balloons so no one flies up into the air like in movies.
The NSA reportedly considered revealing the “porn-browsing history” of certain people considered to have ties to terrorist activity in order to discredit them.
Great, now America’s durable goods orders are down. Thanks a lot, government shutdown!
At least the country’s jobless claims are back to pre-recession levels. Thanks, Obama?
The University of Cincinnati Bearcats beat UMass Lowell in basketball last night and senior forward Justin Jackson jammed one in the hoop hard.
Cincinnati foursome Zebras in Public has released some propaganda to promote its new single and sophomore album.
Actually, it’s a new single and accompanying music video for the group’s strong new song “Propaganda,” an ear-grabbing AltRock track that is slated for the new Zebras in Public full-length, Paradise Leg. The follow-up to the eclectic band’s 2010 debut album Scars & Stripes is due early next year.
Papadosio is a trendsetting, progressive voice in the world of Rock, mixing an electronic sound with improvisation and dashes of psychedelia. The North Carolina-based band has created a groundswell through the musical landscape with steady tour dates and the development of its own festival, Rootwire, in Southeastern Ohio, the group's birthplace. CityBeat caught up with drummer Mike Healy, a Cincinnati native, and chatted about his Ohio roots and the development of the Rootwire Music and Arts Festival. Papadosio storms into Bogarts this Friday night for an evening of high energy and eclectic sounds. Click here for tickets and further information.
CityBeat: I wanted to ask you about the Rootwire Festival. How did you guys start the festival and decide on the location?
Mike Healy: Some of us went to school in Athens, Ohio, and we actually played some festivals there before we started doing Rootwire six or seven years ago. We checked out the property and really liked it and had an idea to do a festival ourselves from traveling a lot and making so many awesome friends across the country we could collaborate with and create an amazing event. We decided (on) that land because we had previously visited it, Kaeppner Woods, outside of Athens in Logan. It is absolutely beautiful, some of the oldest mountains in the world in the Appalachian foothills. There is a lot of great energy there, it’s beautiful and it just couldn’t be a more perfect place to throw a festival the last four years. That’s how that place came about. The festival, we have just been collaborating with so many amazing friends. We just invite our friend bands and friend artists from all over the country and installation artists from all walks of life. It’s just been an absolutely amazing time for four years.
CB: I saw the band for the first time this year at the All Good festival (in Thornville, Ohio). Listening to your music, it feel like there is a little bit of a spiritual element to it. Do you guys consider yourself spiritual or religious and how does that inspire your music?
MH: I would say that none of us are religious. There are definitely all sorts of messages throughout our music of some sort of divine connection to Mother Earth and taking care of the place we live and taking care of others and loving others, all kinds of common things we like to talk about. I guess if you want to call it spiritual you can — we call it a no-brainer. You love your neighbor you take care of each other. You want peace in the world and all these universal values I feel like people can connect to. There are definitely a lot of those messages in our music. I don’t find any of us to be religious at all. Music is our religion, honestly. We are always searching for alternative thinking. We are all into the green movement and really into eco-building and sustainable living and alternative energy. All these things are on our mind a lot and we speak about them in music.
CB: The band has relocated from Ohio to Asheville, N.C. I heard you moved to a cabin somewhere outside of town. You must be together as a band a lot of the time — or all the time. Is it hard being around each other so much?
MH: We actually don’t live in that cabin anymore. We are spread out around town living with our girlfriends and stuff. We do spend a lot of time together. We are on the road 200 days a year. We are always just hanging out on the tour bus together. Even when we are home we still get together and hang out. We are a big ol’ band of brothers (and) just love spending time together. We really enjoy making music and we are all really great friends. It is totally insane. We are gone all the time and it is hard on our ladies, spending so much time away. It’s quite the crazy lifestyle. It is not for everyone. We love it. We try to do the best to make it work.
CB: What is your favorite part of being on the road?
MH: Definitely playing music every night. That is what we live for. The whole set up and tear down and all the long hours of waiting around are not so fun, but once you get on stage and are able to create and get people dancing and seeing all these smiling faces everywhere, that definitely fuels us. Some of the favorite times too are when we are on the road and have a couple days off that we get to go do beautiful things like go visit beautiful national parks or go on some crazy hikes or go relax at a really nice hotel or someone’s house. Those kind of times we look forward to because it is nice to relax and see friends all around the country.
CB: What is your favorite song to play live?
MH: That’s a hard one. We have like 50 songs that we have in rotation. I love all of them. I really like playing a new one that Anthony (Thogmartin) wrote called “New Love.” (There) are really fun new songs we have been playing live a lot in every town. Everybody has been really digging it. It is hard to pick a favorite because I love all the material.
CB: The band has played a lot of festivals, particularly around Ohio. Do you have a favorite festival moment?
MH: There are so many. I guess we love playing All Good every year, because those have been some of the biggest crowds we have ever got to play in front of. We got to play on the main stage last year in front of 15-20,000 people. Previous years … we got to play after Flaming Lips one year and right before Primus one year and those crowds were like 30,000 people. It was totally insane. It was so cool. Those are definitely high moments. Obviously Rootwire is a big moment.
We have started playing some festivals on the West Coast and all over the country. We are really enjoying trying new ones out. We have played so many in the Midwest and East Coast and it has been so nice to try some new festies out west. This year we are doing some of our first international plays. We are really excited to go down to Central America and play … in December. There is so much going on.
CB: Can you describe your songwriting process?
MH: There (are) several different ways we go about doing it. We will have a jam session and we come up with a song on the spot and write it together in the rehearsal room, and somebody will have a riff and we will go around adding pieces of the puzzle together as a group. Other times, somebody will have almost a completely finished song idea and bring it to the table. People will learn their parts and put their own flare on it. Sometimes someone will have half a song and come to somebody else to help finish it and someone else will write lyrics.
It all depends on what is happening during the creative process. Sometimes we will be on tour sitting on our laptops and all of a sudden a riff will come to our heads and we will start writing the song while sitting on the van or the bus and then bring it back after (the) tour and bring it to the band and go from there. Sometimes we are walking through the woods and we get an idea in our head and sing it into our phone real quick and then we will go back later and hop on the computer and our instruments and figure it out and bring it to the band later. It just comes to you sometimes. It’s crazy how it works. It is part of the creative process — you just never know when you will get an idea that will pop into your head and you have to jot it down somehow.
CB: Being with the band in Athens, I am sure you have spent a little time in Cincinnati. Do you have any fond Cincinnati stories from the past?
MH: Oh yeah. I grew up in Cincinnati. I lived there until I was 18 and then I went to Athens for school for seven years and then I moved down to Asheville. I’ve been playing drums since I was 3 years old and I have been in a band non-stop since fourth grade, so from fourth grade all the way through senior year I was in so many different projects. I played at Bogarts all the time for the Battle of the Bands in high school and got a lot of exposure back then with my younger bands. Now it’s full circle and now my band Papadosio is back playing at Bogarts again. We played there last year for the first time since high school. It was great. It has a lot of memories for me (from) when I was younger.
CB: Where did you go to high school here?
MH: I went to Clark Montessori in Hyde Park. I played in a steel drum band all through junior high and high school too and played all over the city and also toured the country. I played in Hip Hop bands and Rock & Roll bands, Metal bands, Alternative Rock bands, all sorts of bands in Cincy, as well as steel drum ensembles and the steel drum band in high school. I was quite the busy musician all throughout my childhood.
CB: This is basically a hometown show for you, so it will be fun to be back.
MH: It’s great — so many friends and family.
Japanese gastropub Kaze will be expanding its hours to include lunch beginning on Black Friday (Nov. 29). The restaurant will now open at 11 a.m. and stay open through their regular dinner hours ('til 1 a.m. Sunday-Thursday; 'til 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday).
The new lunch menu will include some dinner favorites plus a bento box or a sashimi lunch plate with Chef Hideki's freshest seafood and rice. All items range between $8-$23, with cheaper starters and cups of soup. And the restaurant will also be offering the option of lunch reservations plus outdoor winter seating in their heated garden patio.
For those of you who don't need a cocktail at lunch, Kaze will also be offering a selection of "mocktails," mixtures of their regular cocktails sans booze, along with their regular full-service bar.
Kaze is located at 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. More info at kazeotr.com.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld on Monday announced he will vote to continue the $132.8 million streetcar project.
Sittenfeld’s support for the project means the incoming City Council might not have the six votes required for an emergency clause that would immediately halt the project and make a cancellation vote insusceptible to referendum.
If streetcar supporters successfully put a cancellation vote to referendum, the project would be forced to continue until the streetcar once again appears on the ballot in November 2014. The continuation would sink more costs into the project as construction is forced to progress for nearly a year.
Sittenfeld’s announcement preceded a vote from the outgoing City Council to officially write the streetcar project into law, which means Mayor-elect John Cranley, a streetcar opponent, won’t be able to take administrative action to halt the project and instead must bring the project to a City Council vote after he and other newly elected officials take office on Sunday.
The two remaining swing votes in the incoming council — David Mann, who Cranley on Monday named as his choice for vice mayor, and Kevin Flynn — previously discussed delaying the project as council analyzes whether it should permanently cancel or continue with currently ongoing construction.
But Sittenfeld equated a delay to total cancellation after warnings from the federal government made it clear that the city could lose federal funds for the project even if it only delayed progress.
If either Flynn or Mann move to support the streetcar project, streetcar proponents would gain a five-vote majority on the nine-member council to continue the project and preclude a referendum.
Sittenfeld characterized his decision as the better of “two bad choices.”
“We can pursue a project that has never earned broad public consensus and that has yet to offer a viable and sustainable budget,” he said at a press conference, “or we can scrub the project and throw away tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, forgo a massive federal investment and have nothing to show for the enormous effort and expense.”
To explain his decision, Sittenfeld cited concerns about how much money has been dedicated to the project at this point, including $32.8 million in sunk costs through November and a potential range of $30.6-$47.6 million in close-out costs, according to estimates from the city. Sittenfeld noted that, at the very least, half of the city’s $87.9 million share of the project will be spent even if the city pulls the plug now.
Sittenfeld also voiced concerns that pulling back from the project and effectively forfeiting $44.9 million in allocated federal funds would damage Cincinnati’s reputation with the federal government. That could hamper projects he sees as much more important, such as the $2.5 billion Brent Spence Bridge project.
“I did my part to avoid getting us into this reality, but it cannot be wished away,” Sittenfeld said.
There was one major caveat to Sittenfeld’s decision: the operating costs for the streetcar, which the city estimates at $3.4-$4.5 million a year.
Sittenfeld said the cost must not hit Cincinnati’s already-strained operating budget and instead must be paid through fares, sponsorships, private contributions and a special improvement district that would raise property taxes near the streetcar line.
A special improvement district would require a petitioning process in which property owners holding at least 60 percent of property frontage near the streetcar line would have to sign in favor of taking on higher property taxes to pay for the streetcar.
“Ultimately, that’s a decision for the citizens,” Sittenfeld said.
If the special improvement district doesn’t come to fruition, Sittenfeld cautioned that the streetcar project would be more difficult to support going forward.
Asked whether Sittenfeld thinks some of the people who voted for him will see his decision as a betrayal, he responded that his conclusion shows the “thoughtfulness and carefulness” people expect of him when it comes to taxpayer dollars, given the costs of cancellation.
If you don’t want to spend all day cooking (or all day waiting for someone else to cook), the following are some of the local restaurants offering Thanksgiving dining options to satisfy friends, family and kids. Reservations are required for pretty much all meals and buffets, so call ahead.BB Riverboats Thanksgiving Day Cruises: Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings … on the river. $40 adults; $20 children. Cruises 1-3 p.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m. 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.
Boi Na Braza: A three-course meal with 16 cuts of meat, including turkey. $37.99. Noon-7 p.m. 441 Vine St., Downtown, boinabraza.com.
Cascades Restaurant: Entrées include roast turkey with andouille cornbread stuffing plus Coca Cola and brown sugar-glazed ham with pineapple cranberry compote. Garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato, green bean casserole and desserts round out the menu. $12.95. 5:30-8 p.m. 4554 Lake Forest Drive, Embassy Suites, Blue Ash, 513-981-3752.
Chez Nora: Buffet with turkey and cornbread stuffing, ham, sweet potato casserole, biscuits and gravy and more, including pecan pie. $21.95 adults; $11.95 children; free for under 5. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 530 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-8027, cheznora.com.
Claddagh Irish Pub: Buffet including a salad bar, roast turkey and extensive dessert bar. $24.95 adults; $9.95 children. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Multiple locations including 5075 Deerfield Blvd., Mason, 513-770-0999, claddaghirishpubs.com.
deSha’s: A Thanksgiving dinner buffet with a carving station, entrées including smoked gouda pasta, sides and a variety of desserts. $32.95 adults; $12.95 children. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 11320 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-247-9933, deshas.com/cincinnati.
Fall Feast: This is the ninth year of Give Back Cincinnati’s community Thanksgiving celebration. Join 4,000 neighbors, homeless and underserved individuals for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner plus free coats, haircuts, health screenings, pediatric dental checkups, live music and a big-screen TV. Free. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; doors open at 9 a.m. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, fallfeast.org.
The Golden Lamb: Special Thanksgiving menu featuring an entrée choice of oven-roasted turkey with sage stuffing, slow-roasted prime rib, both or vegetarian Shaker tomato pie. $24.95-$29.95 entrée; $13.95 for 10 and under. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 27 S. Broadway St.., Lebanon, 513-932-5065, goldenlamb.com.
La Petite France: All-day Thanksgiving buffet with breakfast until 2 p.m. plus dinner items until 6 p.m. Appetizers include escargots bourguignon and pâté maison; entrées include roast turkey with all the trimmings and baked ham in champagne; assorted international cheeses; and desserts including crème brulee, pumpkin clafoutis and more. $32.95 adults; $15 children ages 4-12. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 3177 Glendale-Milford Road, Evendale, 513-733-8383, lapetitefrance.biz.
McCormick and Schmick’s: Serving their full menu plus a Thanksgiving plate with soup or salad and a turkey dinner. $24.99; $9.99 children 12 and under. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 21 E. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-721-339, mccormickandschmicks.com.
Metropole: Chef Michael Paley mans the fire for this classic Thanksgiving feast with farm-to-fireplace menu items. Prices vary. 2-8 p.m. Metropole, 609 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-578-6660, metropoleonwalnut.com.
Mitchell’s Fish Market: Three-course Thanksgiving menu with oven-roasted turkey, stuffing and cranberry relish plus mashed sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Regular menu also available. $24.99 adult; $8.99 children. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Multiple locations including Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., mitchellsfishmarket.com.
National Exemplar: A traditional dinner with prime rib or turkey. $27.95. Noon-7 p.m. 6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-271-2103, nationalexemplar.com.
The Palace: Traditional Thanksgiving day buffet with prime rib, turkey, vegetable lasagna, side dishes and dessert. $49.99 adult; $39.99 senior; $24.99 children. Noon-7 p.m. 601 Vine St., The Cincinnatian Hotel, Downtown, palacecincinnati.com.
Restaurants at the Palm Court: Thanksgiving buffet with turkey, ham, prime rib, short ribs, salmon, stuffing, potatoes, squash, pecan pie and more. $65.95 adults; $49.95 seniors; $19.95 ages 5-12. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 35 E. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-421-9100, orchidsatpalmcourt.com.
Palomino: Slow-roasted turkey dinner with apple-sausage stuffing, garlic herb mashed potatoes, herb-roasted vegetables, homemade cranberry relish and turkey gravy. $26. Noon-8 p.m. 505 Vine St., Downtown, 513-381-1300, palomino.com.
Parkers Blue Ash Tavern: Thanksgiving dinner with a carving station, side dishes, salad, a seafood bar and homemade desserts. $31.95 adult; $10.95 ages 5-10. Noon-7 p.m. 4200 Cooper Road, Blue Ash, 513-891-8300.
The Phoenix: Traditional turkey, prime rib or beef dinner. Includes live music and family photos. $29.95 adults; $16.95 children; free for 4 and under. Noon-6 p.m. 812 Race St., Downtown, 513-721-8901, facebook.com/phxrestaurant.
Red Roost Tavern: Buffet including turkey, ham, salmon, beef, cheese, charcuterie, pumpkin ravioli and dessert. $49.95. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 151 Fifth St., Downtown, 513-579-1234, cincinnati.hyatt.com.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse: A traditional three-course turkey dinner with choices like gumbo, Caesar salad, steak house salad, oven-roasted turkey breast with gravy, sausage and herb stuffing, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, pumpkin cheesecake and more. Full menu also available. $36.95; $12.95 children 12 and under. 1-8 p.m. 100 E. Freedom Way, The Banks, Downtown, 513-381-0491, ruthschris.com.
Seasons 52: Dinner offering Plainville Farms roasted turkey with gravy, traditional stuffing, mashed potatoes, maple-glazed butternut squash, French green beans and house-made cranberry relish. $25.95; $12.95 children. Noon-8 p.m. 3819 Edwards Road, Norwood, 513-631-5252, seasons52.com.
For the third time, a representative from the federal government yesterday reiterated to Cincinnati officials that if the $132.8 million streetcar project is canceled, the city would lose $40.9 million in federal funds and another $4 million would be left to the discretion of the state government, which could allocate the money anywhere in Ohio. The repeated reminders are necessary as Mayor-elect John Cranley and the incoming City Council prepare to delay or potentially terminate the project once they take office in December. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Chief Counsel Dorval Carter said even a mere delay could lead to the federal government restricting or outright terminating the federal grant deals. But Cranley, a long-time opponent of the streetcar project, appeared unfazed by the news at a press conference following Carter's thorough explanation. "If we have to, we’ll give the money back," he said.
Cranley yesterday announced his intent to appoint Councilman-elect David Mann as his vice mayor. Cranley said Mann passed the "bus test," an unfortunate hypothetical scenario in which the mayor dies after being hit by a bus. Cranley also cited Mann's numerous accomplishments, ranging from achievements at Harvard University to previous stints as mayor when top vote-getter in the City Council race automatically assumed the position. Mann promised to work with Cranley to make his administration a success and respectfully disagree but move on when the two men differ.
A Cincinnati Health Department report found life expectancy can vary by 20 years from one part of Cincinnati to another. Black men in particular can expect to live nearly 10 years less than white men. The Health Department said in a press release that it wants to find out why there's such a disparity.
A Quinnipiac University poll shows Republican Gov. John Kasich still ahead of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald in a 44 to 37 percent match-up, but FitzGerald is gaining ground. About 71 percent of Ohioans in the poll said they don't know enough about FitzGerald to form an opinion about him, so FitzGerald still has time to build positive name recognition while Kasich has an opportunity to paint his opponent in a negative light before the November 2014 election.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters might be investigated by the Hamilton County Board of Elections for improperly voting.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan asked the Hamilton County Board of Elections to cancel an automatic recount of the Nov. 5 vote, which Quinlivan was entitled to after she placed 10th place in the City Council race by only 859 votes.
The grand jury for the Steubenville, Ohio, rape investigation indicted four people, including a school superintendent.
Four Ohio corrections officers were fired over the escape of an inmate serving a life sentence for rape, officials announced Monday.
The University of Cincinnati is aiming for an attendance record when it hosts Louisville for a Dec. 5 game at Nippert Stadium.
The deadline to select Medicare coverage is Dec. 7 at midnight.
Scientists could be on the verge of learning how to erase and rewrite memories.
Morning News and Stuff will most likely be out of service until Monday, Dec. 2 as CityBeat staff celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday.
Mayor-elect John Cranley on Monday announced he will appoint Councilman-elect David Mann to act as vice mayor.
“Quite simply, he passes the bus test,” Cranley said at a press conference, suggesting that Mann is capable of doing his job if the mayor were to die after getting hit by a bus. “He’s the one guy who can serve as mayor and preserve the city’s heritage.”
Cranley cited Mann’s numerous accomplishments, including his time with the prestigious Harvard Law Review journal and previous stints as mayor when the top vote-getter in the City Council race automatically assumed the position.
Mann and Cranley promised to work together, even if they don’t agree on every issue.
“Your success will be the city’s success,” Mann said to Cranley. “When we disagree, we’ll disagree with respect and go forward.”
Speaking on priorities he shares with Cranley, Mann
outlined his intentions to structurally balance the budget, cancel the
parking plan, investigate whether the city can afford to terminate the
streetcar project, tackle the city’s high poverty rates and refocus city
funding to benefit all local neighborhoods.
Cranley and Mann will officially take office on Sunday, along with the rest of the new City Council.
Although it has already been explicitly stated in two letters from the federal government, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Chief Counsel Dorval Carter on Monday reiterated that if Cincinnati were to unravel the $132.8 million streetcar project, the city would lose $40.9 million in federal grants and another $4 million in federal funds would be transferred to the state government, which could appropriate the money to any project in Ohio.
The clarification is necessary because Mayor-elect John Cranley and a majority of the incoming City Council are looking into pausing and potentially canceling the streetcar project once they take office in December. Cranley says he will lobby the federal government to reallocate the federal funds, even though the federal government has repeatedly insisted it’s not going to happen.
Carter joined City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on the phone on Monday to walk council members through the legal technicalities involved in cancellation and how the federal government would react to such circumstances.
According to Carter, merely delaying the project at this point would break the city’s agreement with the federal government and lead the federal government to restrict the federal funds, ask the city to repay the money it already spent or terminate the deal altogether.
Still, Carter said cancellation might not hurt the city’s chances, at least from a legal perspective, of obtaining federal funds for other projects.
“It will not preclude you from pursuing other projects,” he said. “You would just have to pursue those on their own merits.”
But Carter agreed with Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls that the city’s credibility could be weakened if the streetcar project were canceled.
President Barack Obama’s administration has prioritized light rail projects like the streetcar, according to Carter, so the reclaimed federal money would likely go to other cities pursuing similarly ambitious transit projects.
At a press conference following the council meeting, Cranley appeared unfazed by the news.
“If we have to, we’ll give the money back,” he said.
Although much noise was made about the council meeting, there wasn’t much news in the way of substance. The federal government already outlined the cancellation costs in separate letters sent to Mayor Mark Mallory in June and earlier in November.