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
by Danny Cross
While anti-urban Cincinnatians gripe over the
twice-approved $95 million streetcar project — some going so far as to
attach anti-funding amendments to federal bills that will never be
included in the final legislation — authorities on the other side of the
river are demonstrating just how little $20 million on transportation
funding can provide. The state will widen KY 237 in Boone County using
elevated ramps to allow for left-hand turns, adding a freeway-style
element to the residential/corridor area. The two-year project will be
paid for using Federal Surface Transportation Program funds.
Starting this fall all students in Newport
Independent Schools will get free breakfast and lunch because the
district is participating in the Community Eligibility Option in
President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
CBS News says Chief Justice John
Roberts initially sided with the other four conservative justices but
wasn’t prepared to strike down the entire health care law. Roberts wrote the court’s
majority opinion, which upheld most of the legislation.
Here’s three ways the ruling hurt Mitt Romney, according to the Boston Globe.
The Mark Wahlberg/teddy bear film, Ted, brought in $54.1 million over the weekend. CityBeat's film dude said it was good, too.
Scientists say they are on the verge of finding a “God particle” that could explain the creation of the universe. For particle physicists, finding the Higgs boson is a key
to confirming the standard model of physics that explains what gives
mass to matter and, by extension, how the universe was formed. …
Rosen compared the results scientists are preparing to
announce Wednesday to finding the fossilized imprint of a dinosaur: “You
see the footprints and the shadow of the object, but you don’t actually
Spain won the 2012 European Championship soccer tournament on Sunday with a
4-0 victory over Italy. The Spanish team is being considered one of the
greatest ever, as it has won three straight major tournaments, including
the 2010 World Cup and 2008 Euro.
by Danny Cross
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls responded to Rep. Steve Chabot’s
Wednesday attempt to block federal funding for Cincinnati’s
streetcar construction by calling it “an outrageous interference in
local government decision-making.” The Enquirer today recapped the
situation, which involves Chabot adding the following amendment to a
massive federal transportation bill: “None of the funds
made available by this Act may be used to design, construct, or operate a
fixed guideway project located in Cincinnati, Ohio.” The amendment has
little chance at being included in the final passage of the bill, as the
Senate and President Obama would both have to approve and sign it.
A parody video of a Western &
Southern PR representative explaining why the insurance company should
build condos at the site of the century-old women’s shelter has earned a
response from W&S. The company’s VP of public relations told The Enquirer: “Whoever
created the video, we think it’s unfortunate that they’ve taken this
approach,” he said. “We think it’s a distraction from finding a win-win
for all involved.” The video is no longer available on YouTube, however,
due to “a copyright claim by Canipre inc.”
Speaking of funny videos, MSNBC posted this video of Rep.
Jean Shmidt apparently reacting to someone incorrectly telling her that
President Obama’s health care law had been struck down. Schmidt can be
seen twisting around and making strange screaming sounds.
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
by Danny Cross
The ever-debated, never implemented property tax increase
will continue to be nonexistent, as will a new police station, playgrounds,
some public pools, Music Hall renovations and certain street repavings and
building demolitions, according to The Enquirer.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan will make the deciding vote against City Manager
Milton Dohoney’s proposed tax increase, which would add $46 to the owner of a
$100,000. Also against disproportionately taxing rich people are Councilmen Chris Seelbach, P.G.
Sittenfeld, Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn. Quilivan says
the government isn’t the right size and that the government should make the
tougher changes before asking for more revenue.
Here are two ways to report the latest news regarding
potential Duke Energy rate hike connected to streetcar construction:
• From The Enquirer: “Duke
customers could face streetcar tab”
• From The Business Courier: “Cincinnati, Duke making progress
on moving utility lines”
A 15-year-old girl was killed in Over-the-Rhine around 11
p.m. last night. She was reportedly standing with a group of people, though
Police haven’t released any details about the shooter.
A new poll shows support for President Obama’s shift on
More Asians are immigrating to the U.S. than Hispanics these
Adult humans are 16.5 million tons overweight, which
researchers say will threaten the world’s food security and environmental
Approximately half of all new AIDS cases are occurring in
the South, and the region is severely short on HIV specialists.
Attorneys for the Penn State football coach who showered with a
bunch of boys are starting their defense by painting him in a positive light.
Spotify will stop charging $10 per month for use on mobile
devices. Free now.
Facebook acquires Face.com. Ha.
Former baseball player Roger Clemens was acquitted of
perjury charges, the latest in a bunch of wasted time by the federal government
investigating athletes who can afford really good lawyers.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Justin Bieber today compared himself to Michael Jackson, telling Billboard
that his new song “Maria” is his “Billie Jean.” In response to this, we
at WWE! have decided to start calling our traditional Monday dinner of
diced hot dogs and macaroni “Surf and Turf.”
by Danny Cross
The Enquirer today broke out its
Freedom of the Press Card, pressing the city to release details of
the bids to build the streetcar's five vehicles. Enquirer
Editor and Vice President Carolyn Washburn says the newspaper is
being a good watchdog by investigating all the redacted parts of
documents released by the city, which reportedly include typical
streetcar parts, performance data and personal information of
employees. A firm called CAF USA, which won the bid for more than $20
million, is trying to block the release of the data, along with two
losing bidders who claim the information is trade secret.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Gov.
Steve Beshear are considering a private-public partnership that
includes tolls to fund renovations to the Brent Spence Bridge.
President Obama enjoyed an enthusiastic
welcome from Los Angeles LGBT supporters at an event in Beverly Hills.
Republicans are saying Obama is being all glitzy in California so
he's out of touch with Americans' struggles.
Russia would like Iran to be involved
in forcing a political transition in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton says Syrian President Bashar Assad should quit and
The U.S. is losing patience with
George Zimmerman's bond hearing has
been set for June 29. He returned to jail on Sunday after a judge
revoked his bond for failing to disclose $135,000 in funds raised for
his legal defense.
Thousands of homes in the Atlantic and
Gulf coasts are at high risk for hurricane damage, and New York City
has the highest risk of losses.
Do you use LinkedIn or eHarmony? Well,
you shouldn't. Also, both sites were hacked and had user
A car called the Honda Fit EV has
earned the highest ever miles-per-gallon equivalency rating from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency — 118 mpg.
More than 80 lawsuits by former NFL
players have been consolidated and filed in a Philadelphia federal
court, accusing the league of hiding details that linked head trauma
to permanent brain injuries. The NFL denies culpability.
The Reds are still in first place.
by Danny Cross
The FBI has been investigating the
long-stalled Kenwood Towne Place development for the past year, and a
grand jury will determine whether crimes were committed involving the
improper use of funding for the project, according to The Enquirer.
CityBeat on May 16 reported that Nathan Bachrach, host of local radio
show Simply Money, was among those in heat over the
The city of Cincinnati used eminent
domain to secure a piece of Over-the-Rhine property to build its
streetcar maintenance facility.
So, uh, Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan
rewrote the lyrics to John Fogerty’s “Proud Mary” (“Rolin' on
the River”) as part of a promotion for the World Choir Games.
Celebrities such as Bootsy Collins, Nick Lachey and Jerry Springer
participated. Cool? Awkward? The city does look pretty nice — shots
were filmed at Fountain Square, Great American Ballpark, Findlay
Market, the School for Creative and Performing Arts and the
Serpentine Wall.John Edwards is basically off the hook after
jurors returned from nine days of deliberations believing that the
government did not prove its case. Edwards was found guilty one one
charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions to hide his
pregnant mistress, but a mistrial was declared on five charges.
President Obama and Mitt Romney
reportedly spoke on the phone yesterday. Romney says they exchanged
pleasantries and congratulations. Obama apparently gave Romney some credit for his health care bill, which sounds kind of passive aggressive.
The nation's unemployment rate is up to
8.2 percent; apparently a third month of disappointing payroll led to
the addition of only 69,000 jobs.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
is being called “Nanny Bloomberg” in response to his proposed ban
on extra large sodas by people such as 18-year-old Johnny Ojeda of
Kansas City, who reportedly pounded a 21-ounce soda and its 240
calories in front of Kansas City Star reporters.
“A lot of teenagers get them,” said
On the other hand, today is National
And cancer is expected to increase
worldwide by 75 percent by 2030, partly due to poor nations adopting
unhealthy Westernized lifestyles.
DC Comics' Green Lantern is revealed to be gay in an issue that comes
out next week. Green Lantern is one of the comics' oldest heroes and
the latest in a growing number of out superheroes. From the San
Jose Mercury News:
In May, Marvel
Entertainment said super speedster Northstar will marry his longtime
boyfriend in the pages of "Astonishing X-Men." DC comics
has other gay characters, too, including Kate Kane, the current
And in the pages of Archie Comics, Kevin Keller is one of the
gang at Riverdale High School and gay, too.
Some groups have protested the inclusion of gay characters, but
Robinson isn't discouraged, noting that being gay is just one aspect
"This guy, he's a media mogul, a hero, a dynamic type-A
personality and he's gay," Robinson said. "He's a complex
by Danny Cross
City chooses vehicle models and vendor
Mayor Mark Mallory last
night announced during his State of the City address that the city
has chosen the model and vendor for the first batch of streetcars. The mayor's office today released details about the vendor, along with renderings of the streetcars Cincinnatians can expect to see traversing the 4-mile
loop that will cover 18 stops connecting The Banks, Government Square, Fountain
Square, Broadway Commons, the Gateway Quarter and Music Hall.According to the release,
the vendor, CAF USA, has produced light rail vehicles for Pittsburgh,
Sacramento and Houston and streetcar vehicles for the international
cities such as Besançon and Nantes, France; Belgrade, Serbia;
Antalya, Turkey; Stockholm, Sweden; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Spanish
cities Zaragoza, Granada, Sevilla, Bilbao and Vitoria. Officials
in February broke ground the Cincinnati Streetcar system, and the city hopes to add
additional phases connecting the Uptown area near the University of
Cincinnati once funding is secured.
following are renderings released by the city: