Morning News: Councilman threatens to fire streetcar contractor Trapeze; residents continue fight against Duke Pipeline; companies fall short on job creation after state tax credits

Following a rough meeting with the board of the Southern Ohio Regional Transit Authority earlier this week, Trapeze went before Cincinnati City Council’s Major Transportation Committee yesterday.

click to enlarge Morning News: Councilman threatens to fire streetcar contractor Trapeze; residents continue fight against Duke Pipeline; companies fall short on job creation after state tax credits
Nick Swartsell

Good morning all. Here’s a quick news update.

Trapeze, the company that provides the real-time displays for the streetcar, is on thin ice with city officials. Following a rough meeting with the board of the Southern Ohio Regional Transit Authority earlier this week, Trapeze went before Cincinnati City Council’s Major Transportation Committee yesterday. There, Councilman Chris Seelbach threatened to fire the company if it doesn’t have all of the displays at the streetcar’s 18 stops running in two weeks. Currently, only three are working, a situation that has been cited as part of the reason for the streetcar’s sagging ridership numbers. The company has promised a fix as soon as possible, and has crews working overtime on the displays. Seelbach pointed out yesterday that the company has had a year, more than any other contemporary streetcar project, to get the displays running. Despite Seelbach’s promise, SORTA is in charge of streetcar contracts, so it’s unclear if Council can direct the city to fire Trapeze.

• Speaking of Cincinnati City Council, the race to grab seats in this year’s upcoming Council elections is on. Among the hopefuls we told you about in our look ahead a few weeks ago is Tamaya Dennard, a former staffer on Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld’s campaign. Dennard sat down with The Cincinnati Enquirer recently for a brief Q&A, and it’s worth a read. The Camp Washington resident talks about the strong female role models in her life and her upbringing in College Hill, among other topics.

• A group of faith leaders yesterday announced that a half-dozen local congregations have made a commitment to aide undocumented immigrants, Muslims and others who may be targeted under the incoming administration of President Donald Trump. Trump has promised mass deportations for undocumented immigrants and registries for Muslims in the United States, which has set off alarm bells from some in those communities. You can read the full list of congregations who have signed on, as well as more from those faith leaders about why they’ve made that choice, here.

• States often give tax incentives to large companies to encourage them to create jobs. But do those tax breaks pay off? Sometimes, not as much as hoped. In 2010, the state of Ohio gave Procter & Gamble a big tax incentive to create jobs here. But P&G, like a lot of other companies, failed to live up to its end of the bargain, falling short of the new jobs it promised. Last summer, it paid a $34,000 fee after it created only 214 of the 336 new jobs it promised in order to get the $6.7 million tax break and $250,000 grant from the state. The company’s not the only one falling short after taking taxpayer money — more than 50 Ohio companies have failed to live up to the agreements they’ve made in exchange for tax breaks.

• A group of Greater Cincinnati residents are continuing their fight against a proposed Duke Energy pipeline that would run through several Cincinnati neighborhoods and suburbs. Neighbors Opposing Pipeline Extension, or NOPE, says that adjustments Duke has made to its plan — including making the pipeline smaller and altering its route — don’t do enough to address their concerns about possible leaks or explosions. The company has filed an application with the Ohio Power Siting Board for the 12-mile pipeline stretching from Lebanon to Norwood, which NOPE is opposing. Their strategy: Have residents in the pipeline’s path refuse to allow Duke to run the pipeline through their land, triggering a jury-trial eminent domain fight. In the meantime, Duke is holding a town hall meeting about the pipeline Jan. 26 at Crowne Point Plaza Hotel in Blue Ash.

• A neighborhood in Greater Cincinnati is the healthiest housing market in the country, according to real estate website SmartAsset.com. Edgewood, Ky. ranked No. 1 on the site’s list, getting high marks for how long homeowners stay there, how easy it is to sell a house there, the average value of a home and homeownership costs. The average homeowner in Edgewood lives there for nearly 20 years — four more years than average — and fewer than four percent of the homes there are decreasing in value. Nationally, 16 percent of homes have decreasing values.

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