30 December 2008

Article 16 Charter Lanquage

I cannot believe that the voters would pass such an initiative as this. Who is going to vote to ammmend our City Charter to specifically stop all rail? It would be one thing if the ammendment would mean a tax reduction, but it doesn't. My feeling is that the people leading this are underestimating the intelligence of the voter.
Be it resolved by the people of the City of Cincinnati that a new Article XVI of the Charter is hereby added as follows: The City, and its various Boards and Commissions, may not spend any monies for right-of-way acquisition or construction of improvements for passenger rail transportation (e.g., a trolley or streetcar) within the city limits without first submitting the question of approval of such expenditure to a vote of the electorate of the City and receiving a majority affirmative vote for the same.
Why pick on passenger rail specifically? Why not a Charter Ammendment to stop road widening? Maybe the funding of SORTA should be subject to a popular vote?

15 comments:

Radarman said...

Chris Smitherman has been using his position at the NAACP as a 10th seat on the City Council from which he was ousted by the voters. To see him allied with Brinkman and Jeffre on this issue is mind-bending. But they will make much mischief.

CityKin said...

I know that currently the City is getting ready for the widening of I75, and some of that involves purchasing ROW for a future rail line. Would this language stop that too?

Randy Simes said...

Once the language of this is made known there is no way that it passes a popular vote. While every neighborhood or every person may not agree on the specific streetcar plan out right now I don't think that they want to essentially prohibit passenger rail entirely.

Randy Simes said...

CityKin,

Yes this would stop that ROW acquisition and put it towards a popular vote. In a nutshell it is an effort to stymie any rail efforts right from the get go.

DP said...

Typically projects on interstates, including ROW acquisition, are funded entirely through state/fed sources. Is there something about the associated rail ROW in the I-75 project that would make it different? Amendment (which I certainly don't support) says that the city can't spend money on rail - doesn't say anything about the State or the Feds.

CityKin said...

The language would prohibit city staff from spending time on the project, which I know they are doing. It would also prohibit the City from using any Federal pass-through money for said purposes.

DP said...

I realize it's a peripheral issue, but for what it's worth - my read was that the city would be prohibited from spending actual $ on ROW or construction. As an interstate, the I-75 projects are led (both during planning and construction) by ODOT on behalf of FHWA. The city's only role in the projects is to sit on steering committees. The city never touches the federal or state $. And non-construction/acquisition expenditures (such as staff time) aren't mentioned in the text I've seen.

So I don't see it as an issue - I think there are plenty of other valid arguments against the amendment that should be focused upon (elected representation, barrier to Union Terminal/Amtrak/intercity rail improvements, just plain stupid, etc.)

John Schneider said...

We can win this.

kid-cincy said...

Right now, the streetcar issue is running just under the radar for most voters. They've heard about it, but probably don't feel strongly one way or the other. But that can (and probably will) change quickly once Smitherman and Brinkman make it appear that the "Yuppies" are getting something that costs millions while "we" don't get anything, but "we" pay for it. A large part of what sank the Metro reorg plan that went up for a vote a few years ago was that the rail portion was being built for the east side first, with a promise to build something to the west side later. The west side folks didn't go for it then, and if I had to bet on it, I don't think they'll go for the OTR streetcar this time around either. And if the NAACP comes out against it, I just don't see how the issue could pass, esp. in the current economy.

CityKin said...

^But that was a county-wide vote, right? I just don't think you are going to get a majority of city residents to vote against all rail spending.

Jason said...

I really think that we can fight this opposition effectively if there is a large organized movement to counter what they are trying to accomplish.
As pointed out already their proposal is ridiculous and would essentially cripple this city from ever being anything more than it is now in terms of mass transit. IF this issue makes it on the ballot we need to make sure that everyone sees how crippling the fine print really is.

kid-cincy said...

CityKin,
You're right, I forgot that it was county-wide last time. That's a significant difference. But I'm still not sure that folks in Westwood, Sayler Park, or even Mt. Washington, for that matter, will support the streetcar issue.

CityKin said...

The half-cent sales tax increase for the Metro Moves plan was soundly defeated overall in 2002 but had strong support within the city. Seems to me there is support within the city limits to start some sort of rail system, especially one that is not a sales tax increase.

kid-cincy said...

Actually, if I'm reading the results correctly from the Board of Elections website, the issue lost in the city 59% - 41%. Now that's better than it did in the county as a whole, but it still indicates that the issue wasn't extremely popular in the city limits.

CityKin said...

Could you send me a link, I would love to see the data?

2002 was 6 years after the half-cent sales tax for the stadia and one year after 9-11. Gas had never been over $1.75 a gallon, ever. In 2001 we had riots, and also the Bengals moved into their spacious stadium, that had run millions overbudget. The team was terrible, and the lease signed away all of the County's rights.

The taxpayer had a well deserved bad taste in their mouth after figuring out they had been hoodwinked by Mike Brown and Bob Bedinghaus.

In that situation, no sales tax could have ever passed. Today, there is no sales tax. It will be a fight, no doubt, but I believe the ammendment can be defeated because it over-reaches.