by German Lopez
Financial disclosures show mostly out-of-town contributions to pension privatization effort
Issue 4, the ballot initiative that would semi-privatize
Cincinnati’s pension system, obtained most of its financial support from
out-of-town tea party groups, according to financial disclosure forms
filed to the Hamilton County Board of Elections on Oct. 24.
The report confirms concerns previously raised by city
officials, unions and mayoral and City Council candidates: The pension
privatization effort is coming from outside Cincinnati and, in some
Up to Oct. 16, Cincinnati for Pension Reform, which
successfully placed Issue 4 on the ballot, received more than $231,000
from campaign contributors. Of that money, $209,500 came from groups in West Chester, Ohio — organizations called Jobs and Progress Fund, A Public Voice,
Ohio 2.0 and Ohio Rising — and $20,000 came from the Virginia-based
Liberty Initiative Fund, which CityBeat previously reported as an early supporter of pension privatization schemes around the country.Chris Littleton, a leading consultant for Issue 4 and long-time tea party activist, is also based in West Chester. He’s blogged about his involvement in Ohio Rising and Ohio 2.0, and he helped create the Cincinnati Tea Party and Ohio Liberty Coalition, another tea party group.
Upon receiving the contributions, Cincinnati for Pension Reform used
more than $215,000 to circulate petitions, email blasts, advertisements
and other typical campaign expenses.
The infusion of cash from out-of-town sources also helps
explain why Cincinnati for Pension Reform managed to mobilize its
efforts so quickly and without the knowledge of many city officials, who
previously said they’re bewildered by the effort and don’t know where
it came from.
If approved by voters, Issue 4 would semi-privatize
Cincinnati’s pension system so city employees hired after January 2014
would contribute to and manage individual retirement accounts, which
would also be supported by a proportional match from the city. That’s a
shift from the current system in which the city pools pension funds and
manages the investments through an independent board. The idea is to
move from a public plan and instead imitate a 401k plan that’s often
seen in the private sector.
The conservative Buckeye Institute, which supports Issue 4, previously studied the proposal and found it could greatly reduce retirement benefits for city employees.
Although the Buckeye Institute’s report claims Issue 4 could ultimately
save Cincinnati money, it was laced with caveats that could actually
lead to higher costs for the city.
Another study from a finance professor at Xavier University found
Issue 4, if approved, could force the city to cut services, excluding
police and firefighters, by up to 41 percent or increase taxes by a
similar amount in the near term by mandating that the city more
expediently pay off the current pension system’s $862 million unfunded
A major concern for critics of Issue 4 is that it could
cost the city its Social Security exemption. Under the current pension
system, the city doesn’t have to pay into Social Security. If Issue 4
passes, the city’s contributions to the pension system might not be
generous enough to keep the exemption, which could force the city to
make costly Social Security payments.
And if the city doesn’t lose its exemption, city workers
would be left with an individual retirement plan that wouldn’t have the
safety net of Social Security — unlike private-sector workers who get
both an individual retirement account and Social Security.
Supporters of Issue 4 dismiss the criticisms. They say
that Issue 4 is necessary to address Cincinnati’s large unfunded pension
liability, which credit ratings agency Moody’s cited as one of the reasons it downgraded the city’s bond rating in July.
The city’s leaders, who unanimously oppose Issue 4, say
they are working on solving the liability, but they argue it’s better to
reform the system, not scrap it altogether.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls previously told CityBeat
that pension issues for current city employees are covered by reforms
passed in 2011, and she says City Council will take up further reforms
to address the unfunded liability after the election in November.
Voters will make the final decision on Issue 4 on Nov. 5.The full financial report:
Updated with more information Chris Littleton and the involved groups.
by German Lopez
New audit of Lake Erie facility finds improvements, but some problems linger
A re-inspection of the privatized Lake Erie Correctional
Institution (LECI) found the prison is “heading in a positive
direction,” but the facility is still on pace in 2013 to maintain
increased levels of violence similar to
the year before, according to the report.
In 2011, LECI became the first state prison in the country to be
sold to a private company after Ohio, under the urging of Gov. John
Kasich, sold the facility to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) as a cost-cutting measure.
Since then, multiple inspections found deteriorating health and safety
conditions that anti-privatization critics warned of prior to the sale.
The audit, published on Oct. 8 but conducted on Sept. 9 and 10, comes from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC), Ohio’s independent prison watchdog. The inspection was announced beforehand, unlike the unannounced audit on Jan.
22 that found a sharp rise in violence and various health problems. In other words,
CCA had time to prepare for the latest inspection but not the one
conducted earlier in the year, which could explain some of the mixed improvements.
“The CIIC inspection team’s overall sense is that
conditions have improved,” the report claimed. “CCA has poured
significant resources into the prison, including removing or changing
staff, hiring on former (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction) staff, investing in additional security measures, and
bringing in outside consultants.”
But for all the improvements, CIIC found issues of safety,
security and inmate discipline linger: “Although improved slightly, the
percentage of inmates reporting that they feel unsafe or very unsafe is
still high.”CIIC found inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff assaults
remain on track to match 2012’s higher levels of violence. The previous
CIIC audit found inmate-on-inmate violence had increased by 188 percent
and inmate-on-staff violence had increased by more than 300 percent
between 2010 and 2012.
Staff reportedly told inspectors that there was
“significant progress” in rates of violence throughout
2013, but the provided statistics for the year don’t reflect an improvement.
In some areas, conditions measurably worsened: CIIC
reported that a “significantly higher percentage of inmates” tested
positive for illegal substances in the first eight months of 2013
compared to the same time span in 2012.
Disciplinary actions and use of force were noted concerns
for CIIC, even though LECI staff apparently made strides to exert
more control over the inmate population. The prison also has more
serious misconduct than similar minimum- and medium-security facilities.CIIC didn’t formally inspect medical services and
recreational facilities, but inspectors received various complaints from
inmates in both areas. The amount of inmate grievances against staff
actions also remain higher than the years before CCA took over the
facility, although CIIC found slight improvement.
Still, the report repeatedly praised CCA for its
improvements, particularly in rehabilitation and reentry services, better performance of rounds and shakedowns,
and stronger health services and records. One
example: CIIC found inmates are receiving 47.9 percent more GED
diplomas, which certify a high school-level education, than they did in 2011, putting
LECI’s GED achievement level at the average for similar
Staffing issues also improved, although the staff turnover
rate remains above the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
average and security officers reported poor morale because of low wages.
For some critics of privatization, the poor conditions come as no surprise.
Before CCA bought LECI, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio
repeatedly warned that the for-profit incentive encourages private
prison companies to cut services, security and staff while maintaining
as many prisoners as possible, since the prison’s pay is based on how
many inmates it holds.
CityBeat previously reported on the deteriorating
conditions at LECI after inmates’ insider accounts, requested public records
and numerous state reports found increasing violence and health concerns
(“From the Inside,” issue of May 29).
The full CIIC audit:
by German Lopez
CityBeat endorsements unveiled, report slams JobsOhio, tax reform could hurt city budgets
CityBeat yesterday revealed its endorsements for the City Council and mayoral races. Check them out here. Also, early voting is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are extended.
JobsOhio and similar privatized development agencies in other states create scandals and potentials of conflicts of interests instead of jobs,
according to an Oct. 23 report from Good Jobs First. The report found
that privatized development agencies in seven states, including Ohio,
tend to also exaggerate job claims and resist basic oversight. JobsOhio
in particular is chaired by people who donated to Gov. John Kasich’s
campaign. The agency also received public money without informing the
legislature, and it gained a legal exemption from full public audits,
public records laws and open meeting rules. Kasich and Republican
legislators in 2011 established JobsOhio to replace the Ohio Department
of Development. They argue JobsOhio’s privatized,
secretive nature helps the agency establish job-creating development deals at the “speed of business.” But
Democrats say JobsOhio is ripe for abuse, difficult to hold accountable
and unclear in its results.
A bill that intends to bring uniformity to Ohio’s complex municipal income tax code got a makeover,
but cities say the bill still reduces their revenues. Business groups
are pushing for the bill so they can more easily work from city to city
and county to county without dealing with a web of different forms and
regulations, but cities are concerned they’ll lose as much as $2 million
a year. Many cities already lost some state funding after Kasich and
the Republican legislature slashed local government funding, which reduced revenues for Cincinnati in particular by $22.2 million in 2013, according to City Manager Milton Dohoney.Opponents of Issue 4, the tea party-backed city charter amendment that would semi-privatize Cincinnati’s pension system, say it could force the city to cut services by 41 percent or raise taxes significantly. CityBeat analyzed the amendment in further detail here.
Converting Mercy Mt. Airy Hospital into a crime lab for the county coroner’s office could cost $21.5 million,
well under the previously projected $56 million. Hamilton County
Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco says it could be the most economical way for
the county to get a crime lab, which the coroner’s office says it
desperately needs. Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman says
he’s still concerned about operating costs, but he’ll review the new
estimates and advise county commissioners on how to proceed.
An Over-the-Rhine business owner says Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) “dropped the ball” with incentives for retail businesses,
and he’s now looking to move his store, Joseph Williams Home, to the
suburbs. Specifically, Fred Arrowood says 3CDC has done a lot to
accommodate restaurants and bars, but it failed to live up to promises
to attract and retain retail businesses. But 3CDC points to its own
numbers: Spaces in OTR are currently leased in contracts with 20
businesses, 15 restaurants or bars and 14 soft goods retailers.
Cincinnati State and the University of Cincinnati yesterday signed an agreement that will make it easier for students with two-year degrees at Cincinnati State to get four-year degrees at UC.
The Cincinnati Enquirer hosted a City Council candidate forum yesterday. Find their coverage here.
Northeast Ohio Media: “Ohio abortion clinic closings likely to accelerate under new state regulations.” (CityBeat reported on the regulations, which were passed with the two-year state budget, here.)
Gov. Kasich and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, two Republicans widely perceived as potential presidential candidates in 2016, don’t register even 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, a key primary state.
Cincinnati-based Omnicare agreed to pay $120 million
to resolve a case involving alleged kickbacks and false claims,
according to lawyers representing a whistleblower. The company says the
settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing.
Chef David Falk of Boca wrote a moving love letter to Cincinnati.
On Oct. 29, local residents will be able to give feedback
to Cincinnati officials about the city budget — and also nab some free
pizza. The open budgeting event is from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29
at 1115 Bates Ave., Cincinnati.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Good Jobs First says privatized agencies create scandals, not jobs
JobsOhio and other privatized development agencies have created scandals and potential conflicts of interests
instead of jobs, claims an Oct. 23 report from Good Jobs First, a
research center founded in 1998 that scrutinizes deals between
businesses and governments.
The report looked at privatized development agencies in
seven states, including Ohio, and found that many of the same problems
and scandals appear from state to state.
“These experiments in privatization have, by and large,
become costly failures,” the report found. “Privatized development
corporations have issued grossly exaggerated job-creation claims. They
have created ‘pay to play’ appearances of insider dealing and conflicts
of interest. They have paid executives larger salaries than governors.
They have resisted basic oversight.”
The report focuses much of its findings on JobsOhio, a
privatized development agency that Gov. John Kasich and Republican
legislators established in 2011 to replace the Ohio Department of
Development. The agency uses tax subsidies and other financial
incentives to attract companies to Ohio with the intention of creating jobs.
But the report states JobsOhio “assembled a board of
directors whose members included some of (Kasich’s) major campaign
contributors and executives from companies that were recipients of large
state development subsidies. It received a large transfer of state
monies about which the legislature was not informed, intermingled public
and private monies, refused to name its private donors, and then won
legal exemption (advocated by Gov. Kasich) from review of its finances
by the state auditor.”
It found similar issues in privatized development agencies
in Wisconsin, Arizona, Indiana, Florida, Rhode Island and Michigan. In
some cases, the scandals have cost states millions of dollars with
little job creation to show for it, according to the report.
The latest report concurred many of the findings in a
similar 2011 report from Good Jobs First, which sought to warn states,
including Ohio, about the potential risks of privatized development
For JobsOhio, a major cause for concern in the report is
how difficult it is to hold the agency accountable. State legislators
have approved multiple measures that shield JobsOhio from public
scrutiny, including exemptions that exclude the agency from public
records laws, open meeting rules and the possibility of a full public
Some of the controversy also focuses on how the state funds JobsOhio.
“The proposal called for ‘leasing’ the state liquor
profits ($228 million the year prior) for up to 25 years to JobsOhio,
which would eventually issue $1.4 billion in bonds to pay for the use of
the funds,” according to the report. “Critics charged that this was not
a fair market price for profits that could potentially amount to $6
billion over the term of the agreement.”
The report laments that the privatized and secretive
agency represents a shift for Ohio, which the report claims “was an
early practitioner of online subsidy disclosure.”
Good Jobs First concludes privatized development agencies
perpetuate an economic environment in which big companies already have
too much say.
“The privatization structures we describe here, including
the increasing use of corporate seats for sale on governing or advisory
boards, absolutely favor large businesses that have the money and
executive staff time to pay and play at such levels,” the report
concluded. “But small businesses already get short shrift in economic
development resource allocation, and they are still suffering the most
in the Great Recession’s aftermath.”
The organization also takes issue with the idea that
public agencies aren’t “nimble”: “In all of our years tracking
development deals, we have yet to hear of a state agency that lost an
important deal because it failed to provide labor market or real estate
or incentive data in a timely manner.”
Asked about the report, Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols
responded in an email, “We don't pay much attention to
politically-motivated opponents whose mission is to combat job
Kasich and other Republicans claim JobsOhio’s privatized,
secretive nature is necessary to secure job-creating development deals
with private companies in an economic environment that, through the
Internet and globalization, moves more quickly than ever before.
Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Ed
FitzGerald, claim the agency is ripe for abuse, difficult to hold
accountable and unclear in its results.
State Auditor Dave Yost plans to release an audit of
JobsOhio soon, but no specific date or time frame is set for the
release. The audit was granted prior to state legislation that barred
the state auditor from doing a full sweep of JobsOhio’s financial
details.The full report:
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The parking plan’s lump sum payment is
being reduced to $85 million, down from $92 million, and the city could
be on the hook for $14 million to $15 million to build a garage.
by German Lopez
Streetcar's cancellation unlikely, parking payment shrinks, Kasich could expand Medicaid
By the time a new mayor and City Council candidates take
office in December, the city will have laid out roughly half a mile of
track and spent or contractually obligated at least $117 million
for the streetcar project. The contractual obligations mean it could
cost more to cancel the project than to finish it, which will cost the
city an estimated total of $88 million after deducting $45 million in
federal grants. Still, mayoral candidate John Cranley and several
council candidates insist they will try to cancel the project upon
taking office. Check out CityBeat’s full in-depth story here.
The parking plan’s upfront payment has been reduced to $85 million,
down from $92 million, and the city, as opposed to the Greater
Cincinnati Port Authority, could be on the hook for $14 million to $15
million to build a garage at Seventh and Sycamore streets, according to
an Oct. 9 memo from City Manager Milton Dohoney. The city manager claims
the lump sum payment dropped as a result of rising interest rates and
the Port Authority’s decision to relax parking meter hours outside
Over-the-Rhine and the Cincinnati Business District. The parking plan
leases Cincinnati’s parking meters, lots and garages to the Port
Authority, which plans to hire private companies to operate the assets. CityBeat covered the plan in greater detail here and the controversy surrounding it here.
Gov. John Kasich is considering using an executive order
to expand the state’s Medicaid program with federal funds. The
executive order would expand eligibility for the government-run health
insurance program so it includes anyone up to 138 percent of the federal
poverty level, or nearly $15,900 in annual income for an individual.
Kasich would then on Oct. 21 ask Ohio’s seven-member
legislative-spending oversight panel to approve federal funds for the
expansion. Kasich, a Republican, has aggressively pursued the Medicaid
expansion, which the federal government promises under Obamacare to
completely fund through 2016 then phase down and indefinitely hold its payments at 90
percent of the expansion’s total costs. But Republican legislators
claim the federal government might not be able sustain the payments,
even though the federal government has met its payments for the much
larger overall Medicaid program since it was created in 1965.
At its final full session before the November election, City Council approved nearly $854,000 in tax credits
for Pure Romance to bring the company to downtown Cincinnati for at
least 20 years. Councilman Charlie Winburn, the lone Republican on
council, was the only one to vote against the tax incentives. The city
administration estimates the deal will lead to at least 126 new
high-paying jobs in downtown Cincinnati over three years and nearly $2.6
million in net tax revenue over two decades. Gov. John Kasich’s
administration was originally supposed to provide some tax incentives to
the company, but it ultimately reneged after supposedly deciding that
the company isn’t part of an industry the state typically supports.
Critics say Kasich’s administration is just too “prudish” to support a
company that includes sex toys in its product lineup.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio yesterday announced it’s suing Ohio
over anti-abortion restrictions passed in the 2014-2015 state budget.
The ACLU claims the restrictions are unrelated to the budget and
therefore violate the Ohio Constitution’s “single subject” rule, which
requires each individual law keep to a single subject to avoid
complexity and hidden language. CityBeat covered the state budget in further detail here.
Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman says he’s monitoring the impact of the federal government shutdown
with some concerns. “I’m more concerned if this goes more than four
weeks or so, when we start talking about reimbursement programs for our
larger social programs such as food stamps and cash assistance to the
needy and those types of things. We just don’t have the money to front
that type of thing,” he said. CityBeat covered the shutdown in further detail here.
Hamilton County’s government shrunk by more than one-third in the past decade.
City Council yesterday passed a resolution condemning
State Sen. Bill Seitz’s attempts to weaken Ohio’s renewable energy and
efficiency mandates. A study from Ohio State University and Ohio
Advanced Energy Economy found Ohioans will spend $3.65 billion more on
their electricity bills over the next 12 years if the mandates are
repealed. CityBeat covered the attempts to repeal the mandates in further detail here and the national conservative groups behind the calls to repeal here.
Early voting turnout is so far “anemic,” according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Ohio has the No. 12 worst tax environment among states, according to a report from the Tax Foundation. The rank is unchanged from the previous year’s report.
A central Ohio school might ban Halloween.
Bill Nye explains Jupiter’s big red spot:
Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.
by German Lopez
City to get $85 million lump sum, down from $92 million
The parking plan’s lump sum payment is being reduced to $85 million, down from $92 million, and the city could be on the hook for $14 million to $15 million to build a garage, according an Oct. 9 memo from City Manager Milton Dohoney to council members and the mayor. Dohoney wrote that the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority, which is leasing Cincinnati’s parking meters, lots and garages under the 30-plus-year deal, reduced its lump sum payment because of rising interest rates and its decision to reduce parking meter enforcement hours outside of Over-the-Rhine and the Cincinnati Business District.Under the reviewed deal, the Port Authority also handed the responsibility of building a garage at Seventh and Sycamore streets to the city of Cincinnati. Dohoney recommends using the parking plan’s upfront payment to fund the garage, which will cost between $14 million and $15 million, according to city spokesperson Meg Olberding.If City Council approves the allocation, the upfront funds would be effectively left at $70 million to $71 million.The city still estimates it will get at least $3 million in annual installments from the lease. Supporters of the parking plan claim it’s necessary to fully leverage Cincinnati’s parking assets to fund development projects and help balance the operating budget. The plan also requires private operators, which will be hired by the Port Authority, to upgrade Cincinnati’s parking assets. The upgrades should allow parking meters to accept remote payments through smartphones, among other new features.Critics claim the plan gives up too much local control over the city’s parking assets. They say the city and Port Authority could easily be pressured by private operators to hike parking rates far beyond the 3-percent-a-year increase currently called for under the plan.The plan has also been mired in controversy, notably because the city administration withheld a consultant’s memo from the public and council members that claimed the plan is a bad deal for the city. The city administration says the memo was based on outdated information, but opponents still criticized the lack of transparency behind the deal.Dohoney wrote in the Oct. 9 memo that the Port Authority’s board plans to meet on Oct. 19 to finalize contracts with private operators. If all goes as planned, the Port Authority estimates the new parking system will be in place by April 2014.
by German Lopez
Mayoral primary today, groups to push same-sex marriage, JobsOhio likely to remain
Today is the mayoral primary election between Democrat Roxanne Qualls, Democrat John Cranley, Libertarian Jim Berns and Independent Sandra “Queen” Noble. Qualls and Cranley are widely seen as the frontrunners. The big difference between the two candidates: Qualls supports and Cranley opposes the streetcar project and parking lease. Polls will be open
until 7:30 p.m. tonight. To find out more information and where to vote,
visit the Hamilton County Board of Elections website here.
LGBT groups, civil libertarians and legislators came together in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus
yesterday to announce Why Marriage Matters Ohio, a new statewide effort
to educate and persuade Ohioans to support legalizing same-sex
marriage. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, Equality Ohio,
Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign are all involved. The
efforts have also been endorsed by faith and business community leaders,
according to the groups. The groups say the campaign is partly in
response to public polling. The 2013 Ohio Values Survey from the Public Religion Research Institute
found Ohioans evenly divided on same-sex marriage: 47 percent supported
it and 47 opposed it. But the survey went against earlier polls from The Washington Post and Quinnipiac University, which found a plurality of Ohioans now support same-sex marriage.
If he’s elected governor, Democrat Ed FitzGerald says he would make changes to JobsOhio
to make it more transparent and open to a public audit, but he says he wouldn’t dismantle the privatized development agency altogether.
FitzGerald acknowledges he would prefer a public agency to land the
state’s development deals, but he says it’s unrealistic to expect the
Republican-controlled General Assembly to repeal JobsOhio. The agency
was established by Gov. John Kasich and fellow Republicans in 2011 to
replace the Ohio Department of Development. Democrats have criticized
JobsOhio for a lack of transparency that has mired it in several
scandals and potential conflicts of interest lately, while Republicans
insist the agency’s privatized, secretive nature help it establish
job-creating development deals more quickly.
In a letter to the city manager, Councilman P.G.
Sittenfeld is calling on the city to host town hall meetings with the four final candidates for Cincinnati Police chief. Sittenfeld says the meetings would help assess how the next police chief responds to
the community and takes feedback. City Manager Milton Dohoney announced
on Sept. 5 that city officials had narrowed down its pool of candidates to four:
acting Chief Paul Humphries; Jeffrey Blackwell, deputy chief of the
Columbus, Ohio, Police Department; Michael Dvorak, deputy chief of the
Mesa, Ariz., Police Department; and Jerry Speziale, deputy
superintendent of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police.
Hamilton County commissioners are likely to keep property taxes higher
to pay for the stadium fund, which is running in the positive for the
next five years after years of shortfalls. Last year, commissioners agreed to reduce the property tax rollback
by half, effectively raising property taxes by $35 for every $100,000
in a home’s value. With yesterday’s news, it’s looking like the property
tax hike will remain permanent. Even without the full rollback in
place, the stadium fund is expected to start producing shortfalls again
in 2019. The rollback disproportionately benefits the wealthy, who end
up getting much more money back than low- and middle-income residents.
Meanwhile, county commissioners might take up an insurance policy with PNC Bank to meet debt obligations on the stadium fund
for the next three years. Commissioner Greg Hartmann says the plan
would give the county enough time to refinance, which could help reduce
the fund’s problems.
City Council committees moved forward with two major pieces of legislation yesterday:
• Qualls’ plan would enforce stricter regulations on the city’s lobbyists and expand disclosure requirements for city officials to make the political process more transparent.• Councilman Chris Seelbach’s proposal would help address cellphone theft by making it more difficult to sell the stolen devices.
As it stands, the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund needs more money to stay solvent. Still, officials say the fund needs time for newly implemented changes to start making an impact.
Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino now stands as the top earner among Ohio casinos, according to the latest state data.
New hybrid engines could lead to a new era of more affordable spaceplanes.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:53 AM | Permalink
Decision also keeps city’s emergency powers intact
The Ohio Supreme Court today rejected an appeal for a legal challenge
that threatened Cincinnati’s parking plan and the city’s emergency
The lawsuit, which was backed by the conservative
Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), claimed the
city could not bypass a referendum on its plans to lease its parking
meters, lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority by
invoking an emergency clause.
City Council regularly uses emergency clauses on passed
legislation to bypass a 30-day waiting period for implementing laws. The clauses also
make legislation immune to a referendum.
COAST, which opposes the city’s parking lease, argued the
City Charter doesn’t clearly define emergency clauses to deny a
Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler sided with COAST in
the first round, but the ruling was appealed and the Hamilton County
Court of Appeals ultimately ruled in favor of the city.
With the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal, the appeal court’s ruling stands.
City Solicitor John Curp applauded the decision in an email to various media outlets.
“I believe that politics belong in the legislative branch
of government and not in our courts. This decision reaffirms that
politics should stay on the Council floor and short-term political
interests not be dragged through the judiciary where the consequences
can have a long-standing impact on the public safety and economic
interests of the City,” Curp wrote. “Consistency in interpreting
long-standing legal rules is important in promoting a vibrant business
climate in the City. The Courts have reaffirmed that the City of
Cincinnati is free to operate at the speed of business.”
COAST is now trying another legal challenge against the
city’s parking lease. This time, the conservative group is claiming that
the city manager made “significant and material” changes to the lease
without City Council approval.
Curp declined to take up the second legal challenge
after concluding that the changes made to the lease were ministerial and a
result of delays caused by COAST’s first legal challenge. But by having
its proposed challenge denied, COAST gained the legal rights to sue the
city over the issue.
Supporters of the parking lease argue the plan is necessary to
leverage the city’s parking meters, lots and garages to finance
development projects that will grow the city’s tax base.
Opponents claim the lease gives up too much control over
the city’s parking assets and will hurt businesses by causing parking
rates and enforcement hours to rise.
CityBeat covered the controversy surrounding the parking lease in further detail here.
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The Greater Cincinnati Port Authority on
Aug. 23 acknowledged that it will increase enforcement when it takes
over Cincinnati’s parking meters.