No one likes paying unnecessary taxes or wasteful government spending, but not everyone agrees on abortion, gay rights or whether pornography is harmful.
A regional group that’s trying to revive its fading political power, the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), knows this lesson well. That’s why at the same time it’s trying to attract potential new followers via a membership recruitment drive, COAST is obscuring some of its more dubious efforts.
COAST recently announced that it would hold three recruitment meetings throughout the area and also seek input on which issues to advocate in the coming year. Two of the meetings, in Pleasant Ridge and Cheviot, already have been held; the third is scheduled for Feb. 2 in Loveland.
COAST’s motto is “limiting the rate of taxes and spending and stopping the abuse of power by government officials.” According to the group’s Web site, “COAST advances this cause by consistent and principled adherence to limited government and lower taxes in fighting legislation and ballot initiatives that increase taxes and spending beyond the rate of inflation, and by supporting candidates for public office who advance these principles.”
That all sounds nice, but there’s more to the group’s story.
Although COAST pegs itself as an organization concerned with fiscal issues, its leaders often have veered into socially conservative causes. Those include opposition last spring to a resolution by Hamilton County commissioners proclaiming June 14 as “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Day.”
In its newsletter, COAST criticized the two Democratic commissioners who approved the proclamation: “In yet a further waste of county resources, Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper proclaimed Saturday, June 14, 2008, as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day. COAST is just bursting with pride at this proclamation on behalf of our county. We are sure (Sheriff) Simon Leis is also proud of his endorsed County Commission candidate,” referring to Portune.
The phrasing in that sentence, no doubt, was COAST’s feeble attempt at humor by using over-the-top, stereotypical language in a pseudo-satirical way. I’m sure if they could have figured out a way to work the word “fabulous” into the sentence they would have.
Regardless, county commissioners noted that the only expense involved was approximately 20 cents, to make a photocopy of the proclamation. They also added that COAST never objected to other frequent county proclamations such as the one for the National Day of Prayer.
COAST’s leaders include attorney Christopher Finney, longtime adviser to conservative Republican politician Phil Heimlich, and former State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., an antiabortion activist.
Brinkman and another COAST member, Mark W. Miller, were behind the ballot initiative approved by voters in 1993 that became known as Article 12. The charter amendment prohibited Cincinnati officials from enacting any laws aimed at barring discrimination against gays and lesbians. The law remained on the books until 2004, when — in a sign of changing times and attitudes — voters repealed it.
Miller also is affiliated with Citizens for Community Values. That’s the Sharonville-based group that crusades against perceived evils in society like pornographic movies in hotel rooms, gay marriage and on occasion CityBeat, while urging the election of conservative Christian evangelicals to public office.
Miller attempted to explain COAST’s frequent forays into non-fiscal matters.
“Officially, COAST is silent on social issues like homosexuality,” he wrote on a local blog. “But a lot of fiscal conservatives tend to be social conservatives too, and sometimes that spills over.”
It’s interesting to note that COAST’s only recent successes have come when it’s teamed with centrist and left-leaning groups, such as the NAACP, on defeating a proposed jail tax and stopping the use of red-light cameras. When COAST has struck out on its own lately, it’s failed.
Like the national Republican Party, COAST is at a crossroads. If it wants to remain relevant, it must decide whether its future lies in protecting people’s wallets or in policing their bedrooms. Most folks don’t mind the former but are fed up with the latter.
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