by German Lopez
Streetcar pause looms, feds freeze funds, foundation threatens contributions to city
Mayor John Cranley and a majority of City Council appear ready to pause the $132.8 million streetcar project
on Wednesday after moving forward yesterday with 11 ordinances that
aren’t susceptible to referendum. The bills allocate $1.25 million to
stop contracts tied to the project and hire expert consultants to study
what it would cost to continue or suspend the project — information a majority
of council plans to use to gauge whether the project should continue
after the pause. Streetcar supporters planned to hold some sort of
referendum on the pause ordinances, but Cranley, who previously spoke in
favor of the “people’s sacred right of referendum,” now says that the
city shouldn’t be required to continue spending on the project until
voters make a final decision in November 2014, as would be required
under a traditional referendum.
Meanwhile, the Federal Transit Administration yesterday announced it froze $44.9 million in federal grants for the streetcar
until Cincinnati agrees to move ahead with the project. The decision shows
Cranley and other opponents of the project were in the wrong when they
claimed they could lobby the federal government to reallocate the grant
money to other projects. But the decision should also come as little
surprise to the new mayor and council, considering federal officials
warned of the consequences of canceling the streetcar project on three
separate occasions in the past six months.
The Haile U.S. Bank Foundation also joined the fray
yesterday with an email to city officials plainly stating that the
streetcar project’s cancellation “will definitely cause us to pause and
reconsider whether the City can be a trusted partner” and endanger
contributions to the carousel in Smale Riverfront Park, the shared-use
kitchen at Findlay Market and the renovations of the Globe Building and
Music Hall. The email also offered to pay for a study that would
evaluate the costs of the streetcar project going forward. But Cranley
brushed off the letter as a threat and argued the Haile U.S. Bank
Foundation “can’t be a passive-aggressive dictator of legislative
Although his nomination to the city manager spot was initially met with praise, some are beginning to raise questions
about Willie Carden’s refusal to live in Cincinnati and his history,
including an ethics probe that found he was wrongfully taking pay from
both the city and private Parks Foundation. Councilman Chris Seelbach
said he’s also worried about the process for Cranley’s pick, which
didn’t involve a national search and never put any other candidates in
front of council.Democrats on the Hamilton County Board of Elections have asked state officials to investigate Republican Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters for improperly voting.
Republican State Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati plans to introduce
on Wednesday a new version of his overhaul of the state’s renewable
energy and efficiency requirements. The new version will dampen a plan
that would have allowed Canadian hydroelectric power facilities to
satisfy Ohio’s renewable energy requirements, but it will also allow
decades-old hydro plants along the Ohio River to fulfill the
requirement. Seitz and other supporters of the overhaul argue it’s
necessary to make the requirements friendlier to businesses and
consumers. But opponents of the bill, including businesses and
environmentalists, argue it would effectively ruin Ohio’s energy
requirements and, according to a study from the Ohio State University
and the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy coalition, cost Ohioans $3.65
billion more on electricity bills over the next 12 years. CityBeat covered the proposal in greater detail here.
Ohio schools can now tap into a $12 million program
to make their facilities safer through various new measures, including a
radio system directly connected to emergency responders, cameras and
intercoms. “Naturally, after Sandy Hook, I think we were all just
extremely upset about that, and you want to be able to do something,”
Republican State Sen. Gayle Manning told StateImpact Ohio.
A report found staff weren’t at fault for the high-profile prison suicides of Billy Slagle, whose case CityBeat covered in further detail here, and Ariel Castro, who held three women captive in his home for nearly a decade.
Popular Science argues Amazon’s plan for delivery drones isn’t realistic.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and local businesses collaborate on a groundbreaking visual and musical experience
2 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Over-the-Rhine and Washington Park are gearing up for LumenoCity, a musical and visual collaboration
that is the first of its kind in the world, featuring the Cincinnati
Symphony Orchestra and Music Hall itself.