by Bill Sloat
U.S. judge says state panel can still punish false statements
Since the Watergate-era, Ohio has had a panel with authority to penalize those who deliberately disseminate false information during elections. Cincinnati’s conservative anti-tax group COAST — which has been
outspoken against the streetcar project — has chafed that it might
someday run afoul of the Ohio Elections Commission for spouting off. COAST sees the Election Commission’s job of policing political discourse as creating a government-controlled censorship panel. It asked: How could anybody in Columbus have the power to decide what is true and false in political advertising? Free speech should trump the Election Commission’s power to zip lips, or levy penalties over false statements.So COAST
went to court and filed a challenge last year that asked a U.S. court
in Cincinnati for an injunction putting the Ohio Elections Commission on
ice. Last week, U.S.
District Judge Michael R. Barrett (a former chairman of the Hamilton County
Republican Party) tossed the COAST case out of court.
Barrett agreed with COAST that the back-and-forth of political speech is an important right. But
he declared COAST had not shown its ability to make provocative
statements had been damped, or “chilled,” by the existence of the Ohio
Elections Commission. The lawsuit is styled COAST
Candidates PAC, et al v. Ohio Elections Commission, el al, Case No.
1:11cv775, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio.
Barrett said that if COAST had admitted it planned to lie it might have a better case. He wrote: “Plaintiffs
responded that while they do not intend to engage in false speech,
their speech has been chilled out of fear that any provocative statement
might be challenged as false by political opponents. ... Plaintiffs
have failed to demonstrate something ‘more' than a subjective allegation
of chill in this case.”
Barrett said there was no proof of actual or imminent harm. In other words, nobody had tried to make COAST shut up. Barrett wrote off COAST’s worries as veering into sheer fantasy.
would need to make some statement in the future, then Cincinnatians for
Progress, or some other group or individual, would need to file a
groundless complaint against plaintiffs and defendants would then fail
to follow the provisions in Section 3517.22. The scenario is far too speculative.”
The legal battle started last fall over the streetcar referendum and 20
different COAST-linked tweets against the project. One said the Cincinnati Fire Department had been browned out because city money had been used to “pay for streetcar boondoggle.” When streetcar backers filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission last year, the panel cleared COAST. After citizens voted to continue the streetcar project, COAST said they were
under ongoing threat of being hauled before the state commission and
filed the federal lawsuit.
The challenged state law against political lies says nobody can, “post,
publish, circulate, distribute or otherwise disseminate, a false
statement, either knowing the same to be false or acting with reckless
disregard of whether it was false or not, that is designed to promote
the adoption or defeat of any ballot proposition or issue.” And it is still on the books.
1 Comment · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The Coalition Opposed to Additional
Spending and Taxes (COAST) has long been known locally for its
unwavering opposition to the streetcar project, but the organization
crossed the line into dishonesty on Aug. 6 with its calls to action
about the sale of the Blue Ash Airport.
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
by German Lopez
Blue Ash City Council approved rescinding and redoing its
airport deal with the city of Cincinnati in a 6-1 vote last night. The
deal will free up $37.5 million for the city of Cincinnati — $11 million
of which will go to the streetcar while $26 million will go to
municipal projects. After the vote, the Coalition Opposed to Additional
Spending and Taxes (COAST) vowed on Twitter to lead a referendum on the
deal. But COAST’s opposition is misguided, fueled by their disapproval
of all things streetcar.
Three Greater Cincinnati universities were praised for
their part-time MBA programs. The programs were in the top 100 of a
U.S. News and World Report ranking.Ohio has the second worst toxic air pollution in the
United States, according to a new report from the National Resources
Defense Council. The report also found that toxic air pollution has
dropped by 19 percent nationwide. The report claims this drop is partly
attributed to natural gas, which is cleaner than coal and has become
cheaper thanks to a fracking boom in Ohio and other states. New
pollution controls also played a role, according to the report.JobsOhio is claiming to have saved 11,238 jobs and created
4,666 new jobs during the second quarter of 2012. All the jobs saved and created are expected to keep $712 million in new payroll, according to state
The successor to State Superintendent of Public
Instruction Stan Heffner might not be much better. He also has a history
of using state resources for personal reasons.
Former Judge William O’Neill, a Democratic candidate for the Ohio
Supreme Court, has accused two Republican justices of taking campaign
contributions from parties they heard cases from. O’Neill says the
campaign contributions are a blatant conflict of interest. Mike
Skindell, another Democratic candidate, chimed in to say he would recuse
or refuse money instead of inviting a potential conflict of interest.
The Ohio EPA announced yesterday a new plan for cutting
down on water pollution in Ohio rivers, streams and lakes. The new plan
is a joint effort between Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky to make it more
economically viable through incentives for businesses to cut down on
water contamination.Ohio voters can now change addresses online. The new system will save taxpayer money and combat fraud.
July was the hottest month ever recorded, and 2012 has
already had more record temperatures than all of 2011. Meanwhile, Mitt
Romney’s spokesperson promoted climate change denial on behalf of
Romney says campaigns should pull ads that are found
to be dishonest or misleading by fact checkers. Well, his campaign
should get to it.
The U.S. Postal Service reported $5.2 billion in losses in the second quarter of 2012. On the bright side, a recent study found the U.S. Postal Service is the best at delivering mail.The U.S. women's soccer team beat Japan for the gold medal yesterday.
by German Lopez
The Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners yesterday voted
to keep senior and mental health levies flat. As a result, senior
and mental health services will lose funding. Commissioner Todd Portune,
the Board’s sole Democrat,
offered an alternative measure that would have raised funding to levels
providers requested, before voting with the two Republicans. Portune’s measure would have increased property
taxes by $5 for every $100,000 of property worth.Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine released a new report
detailing human trafficking in Ohio. The report found one-third of
trafficking victims got involved in trafficking as minors. In all of
Ohio, law enforcement officials topped the list of buyers for human
trafficking. In Cincinnati, the most common buyers were drug dealers,
factory workers and truckers. Forty percent of trafficking victims in
Cincinnati reported being raped.At the commissioners meeting Wednesday, a Jehova’s
Witnesses group clashed with Harrison Township over land. The religious
group wants to build a hall that they say will attract Jehova’s
Witnesses to the area and bring in tax revenue, but Harrison Township is
worried the building will cause too much disruption. The board will
reach a decision in a few weeks, Commissioner Greg Hartmann said.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius praised Cincinnati Children’s accomplishments during a
visit to a local medical center Wednesday. She also said the medical
progress in Cincinnati “can now be mirrored across the country.”The Ohio State Bar Association has declared opposition to
the Voters First redistricting amendment. The association says it has
“deep concerns” over getting the judicial system involved in the
redrawing process.Local political group COAST has been misinforming its
followers about the Blue Ash Airport deal. The misinformation continues
COAST’s campaign to stop anything streetcar-related.U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio is among the top choices for
presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s vice presidential list, but a new
analysis from the New York Times shows Portman might not benefit Romney
much. Apparently, Ohio voters either don’t know Portman well enough or
feel completely apathetic about him.Ohio’s mortgage delinquency rates are falling. The rate
fell from 4.73 percent to 4.54 percent. However, the average mortgage
debt for individual borrowers went up in the second largest jump in the
country. The average Ohio mortgage debt holder now owes $131,701, up
from $126,503.The number of swine flu cases in Butler County is still going up.Ohio school levies apparently struggled in the special Aug. 7 election.The U.S. trade deficit is at its lowest in 18 months.Apparently, the Olympic Village is a giant orgy.A new study is linking eyes to sexual orientation.
by German Lopez
Posted In: COAST
at 12:54 PM | Permalink
Reworking airport deal doesn't cost Blue Ash anything
The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes
(COAST) has long been known locally for its unwavering opposition to the
streetcar project, but the organization crossed the line into
dishonesty Monday with its call to action about the sale of the Blue Ash
In short, the statement claims that Cincinnati is trying
to force Blue Ash into rescinding the sale of the Blue Ash Airport so a
new deal can be worked that will funnel the sale money into the
The real story behind the sale of the Blue Ash Airport is
not as scandalous as COAST portrays. Some background: In 2006, the city
of Blue Ash agreed to a deal with the city of Cincinnati to buy out 130
of 228 acres owned by Cincinnati at the Blue Ash Airport. Blue Ash would
pay Cincinnati $37.5 million over 30 years, Cincinnati would move the
airport to the adjacent 98 acres and Blue Ash would build a central park on the 130 acres.
The deal was approved by Blue Ash voters in a two-to-one margin with a related 0.25 percent earnings tax to fund the new park.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as planned. As
part of the deal, Cincinnati had to apply for a $10 million grant from
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The expectation was that
Cincinnati would get this grant, making the cost of moving and
maintaining the airport sustainable. But Cincinnati did not get that
grant, and it has since decided to close the airport to save money.
This is where it gets tricky. Under federal law, since the
land was sold as an airport, the money gained from the sale must be
used on airports. That severely limits how Cincinnati can use the sale
What Cincinnati wants to do is have Blue Ash rescind the
original sale and then officially close down the airport before re-selling the
land to Blue Ash. This would let Cincinnati sell the land when it’s not
classified as an airport, which would let Cincinnati use the $37.5 million
in sale money on non-airport projects. Cincinnati has said $11
million of that freed-up money would go to the streetcar, and $26
million would go to municipal projects.
Everyone wins here. Cincinnati shuts down an airport that is no
longer affordable, money is freed up for other projects and Blue Ash is
a good neighbor and doesn’t lose anything. It still gets the park its voters want and pays the same amount for the property.
Well, not according to COAST. Even though less than
one-third of the money is going to the streetcar, COAST insists Blue Ash
is getting screwed in the deal so Cincinnati can fund the streetcar. The organization
claims the new deal will result in “Blue Ash’s pockets” being “picked”
for streetcar funds.
But Blue Ash is not paying for the streetcar. It is paying
for the 130 acres of land to build a park. It has been paying for that
land for more than five years now. What Cincinnati does with the money
from the sale is of little relevance to Blue Ash.
That hasn’t stopped COAST from doing its very best to link
the deal to the streetcar. After all, when something is remotely
related to the streetcar, it’s a sure bet COAST will be there, trying to “hold the line” against the project, which the
organization sees as wasteful spending.
That’s where irony comes in. The organization is adamantly
against any new spending and taxes. That is its basic purpose. But in
this case, the organization is so blinded by its disapproval of the
streetcar that it is actually opposing a deal that saves Cincinnati
money. By freeing up $37.5 million in funds and closing down the
airport, Cincinnati is stopping unnecessary spending and gaining a new,
temporary revenue stream. That will let the city continue funding other
projects without higher taxes or raising overall spending.
In other words, the deal is doing the exact kind of thing
COAST promotes. But if there’s anything COAST is more determined to stop
than extra spending and higher taxes, it’s the streetcar. Screw any
principles and standards. If something is slightly related to the
streetcar, COAST will be there to oppose it.
That’s why COAST’s Twitter feed is filled with these kind
of petty retweets (from @GOCOAST): “Coming soon to Cincinnati. RT @lzzbott:
Got punched in the back and five dollars stolen from me at the trolley
station...yay.” This kind of flimsy connection is how the organization
opposes the streetcar.
COAST says it is not alone in its opposition. In the Blue
Ash Airport statement, the organization claimed that the City Council’s
streetcar “boondoggle” has been blocked at “every turn,” citing the
pulling of funds by Gov. John Kasich, Hamilton County commissioners
Chris Monzel and Greg Hartman and Congressman Steve Chabot.
The statement leaves out one important group of people
that has approved the streetcar: Cincinnatians. Just like the park
deal was approved by Blue Ash voters, Cincinnati voters have approved
the streetcar twice — once in 2009 and most recently in 2011.
For an organization that claims to want to protect
taxpayer money, COAST seems out of touch with the proven interests of
taxpayers in both Blue Ash and Cincinnati.
by Danny Cross
Gov. John Kasich has something to say
to anyone waiting on federal funding to help fix their bridges (and
while we're at it, any local governments who need funding for
something other than food and water): Forget about it. During an interview with Enquirer editors and reporters yesterday,*
Kasich said tolls are the best means for funding a new Brent Spence
“I do not believe that a white
charger is going to come galloping (from Washington) into Cincinnati
with $2 billion in the saddlebags,” Kasich said. “So if that
isn’t going to happen and all we do is delay, delay, delay and we
push this thing out until 2036 ... holy cow!”
* CityBeat had a similar meeting
scheduled but we forgot about it and weren't here at the time —
sorry Kasich, we'll get ya next time!
Things are about to get weird in a
Clermont County courtroom if David Krikorian and Chris Finney get
their wish — to have Jean Schmidt on the witness stand on May 17.
Finney, the attorney for Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending and
Taxes (COAST), has been representing Krikorian, a former Democratic
and independent candidate who unsuccessfully ran against Schmidt for
Ohio's 2nd congressional district seat, has served Schmidt with a
subpoena as part of Krikorian's lawsuit claiming a Schmidt lawsuit
against Krikorian was frivolous. COAST's ghost-written blog posted
commentary in February in response to accusations from Brad Wenstrup
that Schmidt was using campaign funds to pay off legal fund debt from
earlier campaign nonsense against Krikorian. Eastsiders mad.
Some high-level Procter & Gamble
executives are getting the Bearcat Bounce out of Cincinnati, heading
to Singapore where the company believes growth opportunities for its
beauty care products are the highest. About 20 positions will be
moved to the Singapore office during the next two years.
Does it matter that Mitt Romney might
have led a group of teenagers in a “pin that dude down and cut his
hair” prank during the '60s? The Nation says Obama's gay-marriage
announcement caught Romney off guard. As expected, Obama's fundraiser at
George Clooney's house raked in the dough, raising $15 million in one
British Prime Minister David Cameron
only recently learned what LOL means in text-speak. The explanation
occurred during witness testimony from Rebekah Brooks, the former
head of Rupert Murdoch's the now-defunct News of the World.
Brooks was forced to resign last year amid a phone-hacking scandal.
"He would sign them off 'DC' in the main," Brooks
said, referring to Cameron's initials. "Occasionally he would
sign them off 'LOL' — 'lots of love' — until I told him it meant
'laugh out loud,' and then he didn't sign them off [that way]
It was certainly an LOL moment during Brooks' testimony in a
London courtroom Friday as part of a judicial inquiry into media
ethics. But the disclosure also underscored the warm personal ties
between the prime minister and Brooks, the former head of media baron
Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers who was forced to resign in
disgrace last summer.
Someone found a really old Mayan
calendar, and it offers good news: It goes way beyond Dec, 12, 2012.
Major League Baseball phenom Bryce
Harper is in town for a three-game series with his Washington
Nationals. The 19-year-old was the No. 1 overall pick in 2010 and is
the first superstar-caliber player to make it to the big leagues this
quickly prompting comparisons to Ken Griffey, Jr. at that age. Here's
the local spin about on freak outfielder coming to town for a
weekend series against the Reds.
by Kevin Osborne
Tuesday's primary election yielded a few surprises that even jaded political pundits didn't see coming. Chief among them was the stunning upset that Brad Wenstrup pulled off against incumbent Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt. Wenstrup, a podiatrist who is an Iraq War veteran, got 49 percent of the vote to Schmidt’s 43 percent, according to final, uncertified results. That means Wenstrup will either face off against Madeira businessman David Krikorian or William R. Smith – a virtual unknown who didn't campaign – in the November election for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District seat. The race between the two Democrats remains too close to call.Another surprise was U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur's victory over U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary for a Congressional district in northeastern Ohio, near Cleveland. The two veteran lawmakers were redistricted recently into the same area, meaning one would be knocked off after Tuesday's primary. Kucinich was one of the most progressive members of Congress and an ardent Iraq War opponent; it's unclear if he plans to stay in politics in some fashion.In what's bad news for Mitt Romney, no matter how his handlers try to spin it, the ex-Massachusetts governor scored a razor-thin 1 percent victory over upstart Rick Santorum in Ohio's contest for the GOP presidential nomination. Romney got just 12,019 more votes than Santorum, despite outspending the former senator from Pennsylvania by a sizable margin. Romney also won in Alaska, Idaho, Vermont, Virginia and his home state of Massachusetts; Santorum won in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Meanwhile, Newt “I coulda been a contender” Gingrich scored a single victory, in his native Georgia. Bye, Newt.Despite being defeated twice before in the general election, former appellate court judge William O'Neill of Cleveland easily won over Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Fanon Rucker to become the Democratic Party's nominee for the Ohio Supreme Court. O'Neill received nearly 72 percent of the vote. He will face off against incumbent Republican Justice Robert Cupp in the fall.The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) suffered a defeat Tuesday when one of its leaders, ex-State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., lost to Peter Stautberg to get the Republican nomination for the newly created 27th District seat in the Ohio House. Stautberg handily defeated Brinkman by 61-39 percent.It also looks like State Rep. Denise Driehaus prevailed in the hotly contested Democratic primary race for the new 31st District seat in the Ohio House. In Hamilton County, Driehaus got 57.5 percent of the vote, compared to 24.5 percent for Luke Brockmeier and 17.9 percent for Terry Tranter.In non-election news, the small Clermont County town of Moscow is beginning to clean up four days after a tornado leveled much of the area. Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency inspected the damage Tuesday, and will issue a report to Gov. John Kasich within a few days.Speaking of Kasich, our (not so) beloved guv was the sole person out of the nation's 50 governors not to sign a letter protesting proposed cuts to the Air National Guard. A Kasich spokesman said Odd John didn’t add his name to the letter because it was circulated at a meeting of the National Governor’s Association in Washington last month, and Kasich didn’t attend because he’s not a member.On the national scene, President Obama held his first press conference of 2012 on Tuesday. Obama accused the Republican presidential candidates of casually "beating the drums of war" over Iran without having the political courage to directly advocate a military attack before voters. “Now, what's said on the campaign trail – those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. They're not commander-in-chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I'm reminded of the costs involved in war," he said.About 600 people were ordered to leave their homes today in southeastern Australia due to rising floodwaters. Floods have hit three eastern states this week, causing at least two deaths and millions of dollars in damage. Nine thousand people had been evacuated from New South Wales on Tuesday.
1 Comment · Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Jill Haney, owner of Cincinnati-based JH Image Consulting, wrote a column in today’s Business section of The Enquirer
that was very helpful for professionals of all ages! Titled “Try to
restrain your use of !!!,” the piece explains that when communicating in
the business world it is not wise to end sentences with exclamation
by Kevin Osborne
A series of contradictory tweets and blog comments posted by members of an anti-transit group has observers wondering of there is dissension in its ranks — or whether one member simply has anger management issues.Ever since an initiative put on the Nov. 8 ballot by the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) was rejected by voters, someone with the group has vowed on various local blogs that it still would try to block Cincinnati’s streetcar project.