by German Lopez
Councilman Kevin Flynn still undecided on whether to cast deciding vote to restart project
It's decision day for Cincinnati's $132.8 million streetcar
But hours before City Council expects to make a decision,
it's unclear whether the legislative body has the six votes necessary to
overcome Mayor John Cranley's veto and restart construction for the streetcar
The deciding vote will most likely come from Charterite
Kevin Flynn, who says he's working behind the scenes with undisclosed private
entities to get the streetcar's operating costs off the city's books. If that
deal pulls through, Flynn would provide the sixth vote to keep going.
The project already has five votes in favor: Democrats David
Mann, Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson, P.G. Sittenfeld and Wendell Young.
Three council members have long opposed the project:
Republicans Amy Murray and Charlie Winburn and Independent Christopher
It's a big financial decision for the city.
If the city goes forward with the project, it would cost
$53.9-$68.9 million, depending on whether the city convinces courts Duke Energy
should pay for $15 million in utility costs, according to an audit from
consulting firm KPMG.
If the city cancels, it will incur $16.3-$46.1 million
in additional close-out costs, the same audit found. But it will get nothing for
those tens of millions spent and could face costly litigation in the future.
Council expects to make a final decision at Thursday's 2
p.m. meeting. Follow @germanrlopez on Twitter for live updates.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Progressives need to understand that
there are many more reasons that some Cincinnatians hold steadfastly
against investment in public transportation, especially when so many of
our highways need to be widened and repaved because they are the only
useful mode of transportation available to most people because we don’t
by Danny Cross
Posted In: Media
at 10:41 AM | Permalink
Streetcar opponents allow Sittenfeld to act like a leader in everyone’s face
By all accounts, yesterday’s special council session to
discuss the Cincinnati streetcar was long and contentious, more than 60 streetcar supporters
pleading with an indignant Mayor John Cranley and newly elected council members
still spouting campaign-trail anti-streetcar rhetoric.
After the meeting, Cranley dismissed an offer by major philanthropy organization The Carol
Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation to pay for a study of
streetcar shut-down costs that opponents want to see come in lower than the
city’s estimates before they vote to completely stop the project. Cranley dismissed
the offer because it also came with a note saying that if the streetcar is canceled the foundation will
reconsider its contributions to Music
Hall, the Smale Riverfront Park and other city projects. Cranley would rather make the city pay for the study than negotiate with terrorists respond to threats.
About seven and a half hours into this debacle of American
democracy — which included numerous procedural abnormalities including the
mayor asking Council to discuss and vote on ordinances no one had read yet, an hours-long
delay and a funding appropriation that leaves the cancellation vote safe from
the pro-streetcar-threatened voter referendum (something Cranley railed against
when the city administration kept the parking plan safe from referendum) — Councilman
P.G. Sittenfeld livened things up with something everyone tired of the streetcar
debate can agree is funny: undermining the mayor’s authority by asking fellow
council members to overrule him.
The following video published by UrbanCincy shows Cranley denying Sittenfeld an opportunity to speak. Sittenfeld then asks for a vote to overrule Cranley, which the mayor had to approve, and everyone but Kevin Flynn votes to overrule. (Flynn unfortunately had to vote first, leaving him unable to determine which way the vote was likely to go — a tough position for a rookie politician.) Once David Mann and Amy Murray voted to allow Sittenfeld to speak, the rest of the anti-streetcar faction followed suit, knowing Sittenfeld had the necessary votes to overrule Cranley. Then Sittenfeld spent a few minutes going mayoral on Cincinnati's new mayor.
by Danny Cross
The Cincinnati Enquirer abruptly changed its tone about the
streetcar project yesterday, writing in an editorial that the city should continue the project and leaving the newspaper on the opposite side of
Mayor-elect John Cranley on the two main issues of the campaign it endorsed just weeks ago.
Fourteen months after publishing an editorial against the
streetcar project, the three-member Enquirer editorial board yesterday spelled
out why it now supports completing the project, suggesting that a main part of
its opposition — and to Roxanne Qualls as mayor — was the
current administration’s inability to “argue effectively for the project” that
Cranley and other conservatives used to take office during an election that saw
extremely low voter turnout.
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.”
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
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
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The Jelly Bus: This is not actually a bus
wrapped in jelly, as the name suggests. It is a bus dressed up like a
jet whose route connects to CVG airport. Of course, Northern Kentucky’s
2x TANK already services the airport, but just imagine the novelty of a
trolley bus that looks like a jet airplane — a Jelly Bus!
by Danny Cross
Someone divided $1.5 million by 30
Most Cincinnatians don’t view The Cincinnati Enquirer as a beacon of journalistic innovation, but
today’s homepage headline pointing out that streetcar construction is
costing the city an average of $50,000 a day was a reminder of how
interested our Sole Surviving Daily is in drumming up negativity about the project.
Hundreds of streetcar supporters packed the Mercantile
Library last night outlining the several different ways they plan to campaign
to save the project — including various forms of litigation The Enquirer typically enjoys playing up
as potentially costly to taxpayers — a story similar in concept to the
anti-streetcar protests The Enquirer gave attention to leading up to the election.
The Enquirer’s cursory wrap-up of the
event was removed from the cincinnati.com homepage this morning, and it's currently not even listed on the site's News page even though it was published more recently than several stories that are. Left behind on the homepage is a real joke
of analysis: the fact that the $1.5 million monthly construction cost divided
by 30 days in a month amounts to $50,000 per day, assuming workers put in the
same amount of time every day in a month and the city gets billed that way,
which it doesn’t. The $1.5 million figure has been known for weeks, but $50,000 per day
sounds dramatic enough that concerned taxpayers everywhere can repeat it to other ill-informed people at the water cooler. If these math whizzes wanted to really piss people off they would have broken it all the way down to $34.70 per minute, 24 hours a day. Man, fuck that streetcar!At least the story’s third paragraph offered a piece of
recent news: Halting construction will still cost the city $500,000 per month because it will be on the hook for workers who
can’t be transferred and costs of rental equipment that will just sit there.
(For Enquirer-esque context: It will
still cost $16,667 per day or $11.57 a minute to temporarily halt the project.)
Also, the note in the headline (“Streetcar, which Cranley
plans to cancel, still costing $50K a day”) reminding everyone that Cranley
plans to cancel the project that is currently costing money seems unnecessary
considering THE ONLY THING ANYONE HAS HEARD ABOUT SINCE THE ELECTION IS THAT
CRANLEY PLANS TO STOP THE STREETCAR. It does nicely nudge readers toward the
interactive forum they can click on and publicly lament how
people who don’t pay taxes have too much control over our city.
(Additional professional advice: Consider changing the
subhed from, “It'll be costly to stop, and costly to go on, but work continues
until Cranley and new council officially stop it” to something that doesn’t
sound like you have no idea what the fuck is going on.)
For context, the following are the streetcar stories
currently presented on the website homepages of local media that have more
talent/integrity than The Enquirer:
WVXU: Streetcar supporters will remain active to keep
WCPO: Federal official: Cincinnati will forfeit $40M in
grants if streetcar project is canceled
WLWT: Standing-room-only crowd attends Cincinnati streetcar
Cincinnati Business Courier: Feds: If you kill the streetcar, we want our money back
CityBeat: Streetcar supporters pack Mercantile Library, Fountain
SquareCityBeat: Streetcar cancellation would cost Cincinnati federal fundsCONSERVATIVE MEDIA BONUS: 700WLW even has a relevant piece of
streetcar news, although you have to scroll past a video of Russian kids
wrestling a bear and an article suggesting that Obamacare is the president’s
Katrina (whatever that means): Feds: Use money for streetcar or pay it back.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 29, 2013
THURSDAY MAY 23: Most people wouldn’t feel that great
about taking a job when one of the tasks at hand is to find your own
replacement, but that just goes to show you how disconnected average
people are from the world of corporate executives (they get $1.6 million
signing bonuses, you dumbass!)
by Andy Brownfield
Measures front Duke $15 million, add utility responsibility to move lines to city code
Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday approved a set of
measures to alter funding of the $110 million streetcar project in order
avoid further delaying its 2015 opening.
The three measures set up $15 million to front to Duke
Energy to move utility lines out of the proposed path; changes the
source of funding to repay some $25 million in bonds used to pay for the
streetcar; sells $14 million in bonds for streetcar improvements; and
changes the municipal code to clarify that it is the responsibility of a
utility to relocate its structures.
The $15 million comes from the $37 million sale of city-owned land near the former Blue Ash Airport.
Council voted 6-3 to approve the front money, improvement
bonds and bond repayment, a vote that largely mirrored a Monday Budget
and Finance Committee vote. Councilman Chris Smitherman was the sole
“no” vote on the ordinance to change the municipal code.
Councilmembers Cecil Thomas, Wendell Young, Roxanne
Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson voted to pass
funding, while Councilmembers Smitherman, P.G. Sittenfeld and Charles
Winburn voted against.
“My concern with all of these votes … in particular the
Blue Ash Airport dollars, these were promises that you made to the
neighborhoods and I don’t have the confidence that the legal battle
against Duke Energy is going to yield a 100 percent win for the city of
Cincinnati, so there’s no assurance that these dollars are going to come
back,” said Councilman Chris Smitherman, one of the most vocal
opponents of the streetcar.
“I want to be clear that it’s something that I don’t support.”
The $15 million would be fronted to Duke to move its lines
while the city and utility work out who is responsible for funding the
Duke estimates the full cost at $18 million and argues
that the lines would not have to be moved if the streetcar wasn’t being
built. The city maintains that it has always been the responsibility of
utilities to move or upgrade their structures — which the third measure
clarified in the municipal code. If the city loses a legal battle against Duke, it will not
recoup the $15 million.
The second proposal switches the source of funding for
streetcar bonds from money coming into city coffers from southern
downtown and the riverfront area to a 1995 fund set up to collect
service payments from the Westin/Star, Hyatt and Saks. The measure wouldn't use any additional new money for the streetcar.
That downtown area wasn’t bringing in as much cash as
expected but the city hopes to repay the other fund once the downtown
district — which includes the Banks and the casino — rebounds.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
City Council’s budget committee voted 6-3 Sept. 24 to use $29 million from other projects in part to move utility
lines and pipes to accommodate for streetcar tracks.
by Andy Brownfield
Group threatens referendum of Blue Ash Airport resale
The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes
(COAST) has threatened to block a move that would allow Cincinnati to use $37.5 million from the 2007 sale of the Blue Ash Airport for projects other than aviation, $11 million of which would go to the Cincinnati streetcar.
The Blue Ash City Council voted Thursday to re-do the sale of 130 acres at the Blue Ash Airport to the City of Cincinnati. COAST
says it wants to put the matter before voters in a 2013 referendum,
which would halt the sale and re-instate the original agreement made in
2007 when Cincinnati made the sale.
The two cities decided to re-work the $37.5 million sale
because a federal rule requires proceeds from the sale of an operating
airport to be used for other aviation projects. The money would be
returned, airport shut down and then the property re-sold to Blue Ash
for the original amount.
“When they originally sold it they were stupid, which is
typical of the City of Cincinnati, and did not realize that the proceeds
on the sale of the airport have to go to other aviation-type things,” says COAST Chairman Tom Brinkman. “Now that they want to get the
streetcar, they want to crack that money.”
Brinkman openly admits he doesn’t want the money to go to
the streetcar (“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that
boondoggle doesn’t occur”) but says COAST is working with a group of local
pilots who want money from the sale to go to Cincinnati’s Lunken
Blue Ash is confident that the ordinance they passed approving the re-sale isn’t subject to referendum.
“Blue Ash believes everything enacted was lawful and would
survive any challenge,” says City Solicitor Brian Pachenco. He declined
to discuss specifics
The city wants the airport land to build a park.
Pachenco said the ordinance wasn’t written specifically to
exempt it from referendum attempts, but nevertheless it falls under a
section of the city’s charter that makes voters unable to recall it.
COAST isn’t so sure.
Chris Finney, legal counsel for COAST, said the buying and
selling of land under the Blue Ash charter is subject to referendum. He
said the ordinance was written to avoid using that language, but what
was happening was in reality a sale.
For its part, Cincinnati doesn’t seem too concerned with the threatened referendum.
“We’re not going to talk 'what ifs' at this point,” city
spokeswoman Meg Olberding said. “The streetcar has had two previous
referendums that have been shot down.”
She pointed out that only $11 million of the sale was
going toward the streetcar, and the remaining money would be available
for other projects.
Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach was also unconcerned.
“COAST and groups like COAST have tried to put up every
obstacle possible to prevent the streetcar from happening and we have
overcome all of them,” Seelbach said. “I am 100 percent positive if this
comes to a vote we will overcome it again and the streetcar will be