The controversy centers around the following highlighted phrase in the ballot language (emphasis mine):
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."
Opponents of the amendment have argued that the phrase is misleading. One issue is that by specifically calling out trolley or streetcar they are leading folks to believe that is the sole thing impacted, though “passenger rail transportation” has a far broader meaning.
COAST maintains that the use of “e.g” clearly indicates that they are two examples of a larger population. But this leads to the second issue. While “e.g” may be commonly used and understood in contracts, non-lawyers constantly confuse it. So, one would expect that the average citizen could misunderstand the phrase on the ballot.
Despite the protestations of COAST, I have been a technical communicator for 20 years. and long ago learned that people (very smart people) are confused by “e.g.” and “i.e.”. The abbreviation “e.g.” means “for example” while “i.e.” means “that is”. So again, you would expect a lot of readers of this ballot issue to read “e.g., a trolley or streetcar” as meaning only trolley or streetcar projects are impacted by this amendment. This is further exacerbated by COAST’s constant reference to the amendment as being anti-streetcar.
You can read a longer treatment of the recent meeting at Building Cincinnati.
I was especially amused by the following quote from that post:
"The language is an extremely simple sentence," Finney said. "It speaks for itself. These people feigning that they can't somehow understand the Queen's English, it seems to me to be a bit contrived."It seems a little out of touch to me. 1. it is an abbreviation of a Latin phrase, and 2. last I checked Cincinnati was not part of the English realm.