Chutzpah meets ignorance

In what may be the best letter-to-the-editor that the Enquirer publishes all year, former judge Mark Painter rips apart the Hamilton County commissioners for not even letting us vote on a plan to preserve two our our region’s most iconic buildings, Music Hall and Union Terminal:

The people of Hamilton County want to restore Music Hall and Union Terminal. But our good intentions have been frustrated. […]

But our commissioners won’t even let us vote on it. […]

Instead, in a breathtaking display of chutzpah compounded by ignorance, two Commissioners, Chris Monzel and Greg Hartmann, at the last minute concocted a back-of-napkin alternate scheme that even they can’t explain. And Monzel is not even sure he will vote for his own plan!

MetroMoves: A Decade Later

Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy:

The election held earlier this month marked the 10-year anniversary of MetroMoves, the Hamilton County ballot issue that would have more than doubled public support for the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA). Specifically, a half-cent sales tax would have raised approximately $60 million annually, permitting a dramatic expansion of Metro’s bus service throughout Hamilton County and construction and operation of a 60-mile, $2.7 billion streetcar and light rail network.

Unfortunately, the 2002 ballot initiative failed, largely due to an anti-tax attitude following the county’s 1996 stadium sales tax fiasco, and Cincinnati’s five light rail lines never came to be.

But in the decade since, gas has jumped from $1.50 to around $4. Downtown Cincinnati has improved significantly, and been transformed into a place where so many people want to live that hardly any apartments are available and new condos are sold out before they’re finished. The city and affiliated groups have proven that they can handle large projects like The Banks, Fountain Square, Washington Park, and the Gateway Quarter.

Even with those factors, I agree with Jake that a county-wide transit tax would be unlikely to pass today, with the resurgence of anti-government furor from the Tea Party crowd. But Cincinnati will continue to move forward — we’re building the streetcar with city and federal funding, and it didn’t require raising taxes — and maybe in a few years the city will be able to launch a new light rail plan.

Someone at the Enquirer is Pushing an Anti-Downtown Bias, Again

Brian Griffin of Cincinnati Blog responds to the Enquirer’s article “Ham. Co. taxpayers subsidizing downtown parking”:

Downtown is not some foreign country. Downtown is not in Kentucky. Downtown is where the Hamilton County Commission meets. Do the Commission members park in lots that the County owns when they are doing County Business?  I am betting they do.  I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they get free parking in county lots.

The headline, whether intentional or not, states that Hamilton County Tax payers are subsidizing Downtown.

Two issues here:

  • The county vs. city mentality needs to stop.  The city of Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County.  You can’t have a strong county or metropolitan area without a strong city.
  • Parking garages are expensive. They are all subsidized either directly (by the government) or indirectly (by the increased cost of good and services at businesses who pay for them). There is no such thing as free parking.

In the article’s comments, I added:

It’s funny because the headline could have just as easily read “Ham. Co. taxpayers subsidizing suburban lifestyle”. That parking isn’t for people who live downtown, it’s for people that commute there.

Cincinnati’s plan to build a streetcar once seemed like a dumb idea. Now that I’ve seen the effects these rail systems can have on cities like Cincinnati, I support the plan. If it were up to me, I would start building the Cincinnati streetcar tomorrow.

Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis, announcing his support for the Cincinnati Streetcar plan