Monday, August 10, 2009

Monzel asks Cincinnati to cease and desist all streetcar activity

Cincinnati City councilmember Chris Monzel has submitted two motions pertaining to the City's streetcar proposal – one asking the City to cease and desist all activity related to the planning, building operation and establishment of the streetcar proposal "until such a time as the issue is decided by the voters", and one asking that City administration report back to council on all funds that the City has spent thus far on engineering, planning, and promotion.

Monzel has opposed the streetcar proposal since a press release issued in March 2008, shortly before council authorized city manager Milton Dohoney Jr. to study whether the then four-mile, $102 million circulator could be financed.

He has maintained that it's a bad plan because the citizens don't want it, telling WCPO in May 2008 that "if you really went out there and polled the citizens, then it would be overwhelmingly against the idea of streetcars."

Instead, Monzel said that the City should focus its money on The Banks project to generate economic development.

"There are a lot of other worthy projects that are either in the pipeline or under consideration that will surely get postponed or cancelled if this project goes forward today," Monzel said. "We owe it to the taxpayers to step back and take a good look at the best way we should be spending precious city resources. There are 50 other neighborhoods which all deserve economic development considerations."

Monzel repeated that opinion following Mayor Mark Mallory's State of the City speech in February.

The Banks is projected to take nearly a decade to complete, while the streetcar, now priced at $185 million with the inclusion of a connector to the Uptown neighborhoods, could be running by 2011., a coalition composed of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP, the Coalition to Oppose Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), the Southwestern Ohio Green Party and the Cincinnati Libertarian Party, have submitted petition forms containing 11,530 signatures to have a charter amendment placed on the November 3 ballot that would require a public vote before the City could acquire rights-of-way or construct any improvements for any passenger rail project.

Monzel was the first to sign a COAST pledge to not vote to increase taxes or fees during his 2010-2011 council term, if elected, and appears prominently on the website. The COAST pledge also is the main feature of the front page of Monzel's campaign website.

In June, the City selected Cincinnati Streetcar Development Partners to design, build, operate and maintain the streetcar system, and council gets the final say on what language would be used if the amendment is placed on the ballot.

Mallory and seven of the nine council members support bringing streetcars to Cincinnati, while councilmember Leslie Ghiz and Monzel oppose the project.

Previous reading on BC:
Partnership selected to manage streetcar project (6/15/09)
Cincinnatians for Progress has new website, endorsements; two-thirds of way to ballot (6/9/09)
Give Back Cincinnati sessions to focus on streetcars (1/29/09)
City will issue RFP for Uptown streetcar route analysis (1/26/09)
Corryville homeowner says Kroger redevelopment would hinder streetcar (8/6/08)


Anonymous said...

Monzel is a douche. He's just as screwed up as Smitherman and Finney.

COAST said...

Congratulations Kevin, for being the first news outlet in the region to correctly characterize the anti-boondoggle charter amendment. You got it exactly and precisely right. It's refreshing to see someone finally get beyond all the emotion, cut through the hyperbole, and convey it factually. Nice work.

casey said...


Kevin LeMaster said...

COAST...I don't believe I characterized the amendment as anything.

COAST said...

^Exactly. And you're the very first one who hasn't attempted to put some spin on the language.

Travis Estell said...

"Monzel said that the City should focus its money on The Banks project to generate economic development."

Monzel: "There are 50 other neighborhoods which all deserve economic development considerations."

So, he understands how spending money in one neighborhood (The Banks) will benefit all 52 neighborhoods in the city. But he doesn't understand how spending money in three neighborhoods (the Streetcar) will benefit all 52 neighborhoods?

Paul Wilham said...

Monzel, Coast, et all, apparently do not care, or understand, that Cincinnati must compete with other cities to attract new business and the streetcar gives Cincinnati a competitive edge.

Perhaps Monzel is "OK" with cities like Indianapolis and Louisville, who actually have revitalized their city cores, attracting businesses that might have moved to Cincinnati, if the city had anything to offer.

It's funny COAST isn't upset that taxpayers pay Monzel 62,000.00 a year as a city councilman, for what is obviously a "part time" job, while cities 2-3 times as large as Cincinnati have "part time" councilmen who are payed a fraction of what the taxpayers of Cincinnati pay out for our "quality" councilman like Monzel who seems intent on making Cincinnati the laughing stock of not only the State, but the entire midwest as well?

When Cincinnati isn't competitive and can't attract new business and a quality workforce, just who is going to may Monzel's salary? COAST?

Anonymous said...

You know, the funny thing is, Monzel will almost certainly vote against the COAST Charter Amendment in the privacy of the voting booth on November 3rd.

At heart, Monzel's a big picture guy who went to school in Boston and worked in SF for a while. He understands what these systems can do for cities. He's no dummy.

But his actions are totally controlled by his minder and COAST-plant, Brad Beckett, surely the least-trusted, most-disliked Council staffer at City Hall. Beckett wants to earn his stripes to run with the big dogs, and that's why he gets Monzel to say the things he says and do the things he does.

Sad, really. I'm a Republican and would happily vote for him (and have in the past) if he had any spine on this issue.