of newly elected council members say they’re committed to structurally
balancing Cincinnati’s operating budget — a promise repeated by
Mayor-elect John Cranley on the campaign trail and following the Nov. 5
Resolution promises no bus funds used on streetcar
In hopes of quashing rumors, City Council on Wednesday
passed a resolution promising not to use Metro bus money on the
The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit authority had voted
Tuesday on an agreement with the city that contained a provision saying
money from the $42 million transit fund that pays for bus operation
can’t be used on the streetcar.
The agreement needs to be signed by the city as well in
order to release millions of dollars in federal grants to help fund the
streetcar. The city has pledged to match those grants with local funds.
SORTA wants to make sure the transit fund isn’t used for that purpose,
but the city wants to have the freedom to use that money on any
At least one council member questioned the necessity of passing the resolution.
Chris Seelbach said that nobody on council or in the city
administration had proposed or would propose using transit money on the
“I don’t understand why we would need a provision in any
contract that would make us not be able to, when nobody’s proposing that
we do it,” he said.
The resolution has no legal standing preventing council
from later coming back and using transit funds for the streetcar, but
Qualls said she hoped it put citizens’ minds at rest regarding their
Mayor Mark Mallory on Monday published an editorial in The
Enquirer promising that the transit money wouldn’t be used for the
He went further on Wednesday and said during council’s
meeting that he as mayor would never approve the use of transit money
for the operation of the streetcar.
Council also passed a one-month budget for SORTA, requiring that they come back next month to pass another one.
Councilman Chris Smitherman accused Mallory of trying to
flex political muscle in the budget to strong-arm SORTA into taking out
the provision disallowing the use of transit funds for the streetcar. He
questioned the timing of passing a SORTA budget the day after the
transit authority voted to prevent transit funds being used for the
Councilman Charlie Winburn — council's sole Republican — walked out of a Budget Committee meeting in advance of the vote.
However Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said it made sense to
pass the one-month budget because it forbid SORTA from using taxpayer
money to sue the city.
City Solicitor John Curp said it was SORTA’s position in
the lawsuit that it should be the one deciding how transit funds are
used, not the city.
In a reaction to economic sanctions pushed by the United States, Iran today stopped exporting oil to six European nations. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the nation would no longer sell oil to Greece, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal. Also, he appeared on TV to announce that an underground bunker complex for uranium enrichment needed to create nuclear energy is now fully operational.
For some people, City Councilman
Christopher Smitherman is Cincinnati’s wakeup call for change.
Smitherman’s election to council in November proved not only that
independent candidates can get elected, but that city residents wanted
someone who is outspoken and didn’t pull his punches at City Hall.
When a group of Westwood residents decided to form Westwood Works (WW) last winter, they envisioned it as a more positive, productive counterpart to the Westwood Civic Association, which is known for its strident rhetoric. One of WW's first actions was to invite the nonprofit ArtWorks to paint a public mural in the neighborhood.
If anyone is to blame for the controversy over why Councilman Chris Bortz ignored an Ohio Ethics Commission advisory opinion regarding his votes on the city's streetcar plan, it's Bortz himself. Why ask for an opinion at all if he wasn't going to follow it? And once the opinion has been issued, it would be better to come clean about it rather than wait for the slow burn of its release almost a year later, which makes the whole affair look sordid.
While much of the local media attention during the past several days was focused on Cincinnati City Council's vote to approve $2.58 million for the proposed streetcar system, another controversy involving the long-discussed project was brewing that went barely noticed.
Many people have a love/hate relationship with Jason Haap, who operates The Cincinnati Beacon Web site. Say what you will about him, but he has a knack for raising issues before others do and that was the case recently with the need for bilingual signage at Fountain Square.
The possible sale of the Greater Cincinnati Water Works has prompted the latest voter referendum from the We Demand a Vote Coalition. Under a scenario being studied, the city-owned utility could be sold to a newly created regional water authority, overseen by a board of trustees and regulated by rules spelled out in Ohio law. If Issue 8 is approved, however, a public vote would be required before city officials could sell the Water Works.
Cincinnati actually got some positive national press about its police for a change. The New Yorker did a glowing article about the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (C.I.R.V.), the program begun in July 2007 that targets gang members for intervention and helps them get jobs. This is what happens when the department opens itself to new ideas.