Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Anti-Rail Initiative: Update

A few months ago, I warned that the so-called "streetcar petition" potentially risks far wider consequences for our community--at a very time that major opportunities are arising. This is because it is drafted to apply to ALL passenger rail uses, not just the streetcar idea that is now before the City Council and being hotly debated in the community.

I was pleased that my discussion of this convinced some streetcar opponents to change their position on the ballot initiative because they support other forms of rail that could be a benefit for our region.

Today, Governor Strickland echoed that sentiment, explaining that if Cincinnatians adopt a charter change forbidding City spending on ANY aspect (right of way acquisition, etc.) of passenger rail without an affirmative vote of citizens, it could ultimately "exclude [Cincinnati] from a system that will be interconnective, not only with Columbus and Dayton and Cleveland, but Chicago and other major, major cities as well."

It's a competitive world out there. Voluntarily removing ourself from true economic opportunity, while our competitors are proactively grabbing hold of such opportunities, is clearly not the right direction.

If the streetcar opponents had simply wanted to stop the streetcar proposal now at City Hall, which they have every right to do, drafting ballot language that focused on that alone would have been simple enough. Inexplicably, they drafted something very different.


Support LR Oppose Choo Choo said...

I support rail. I used to work for a company that put the issue on the ballot twice. However, as has been explained a million times over, the petition was written as such so no matter what they called it the voters would have the right to vote on it. What's wrong with giving the people an opportunity to vote on the matter?

Jason said...

"What's wrong with giving people an opportunity to vote on the matter?"
Nothing, except when it means we won't be able to compete for the federal and state funding needed to bring the rail systems through our city. If we have to vote on it first, that means we have to wait as long as 6,8,10 months or more for the next general election to come around. As the COAST and NAACP petitioners are aware, this means we will be left behind when decisions are made about where federal and state dollars will go because this is a very competitive process. Our city leaders have to aggressively and quickly fight for our spot on the proposed routes. This charter amendment will cripple us from being competitive for these sort of projects for years to come. While the rest of the midwest becomes connected by regional highspeed rail and lightrail, Cincinnati will be left with a bunch of silly ballot initiatives to vote on and no real public transportation. Where will that leave us when gas is $6/gallon?? I don't want to live here anymore if thats the kind of city we're going to turn in to.

Quim said...

The negative impact of this shortsighted referendum could have on the entire state is brought up here
But I wouldn't worry too much about that, Cincinnati & Hamilton County's loss would probably just wind up being Dayton & Montgomery County's gain.

Anonymous said...

David, it's hardly surprising to see you come out against allowing the voters to decide an issue.

David Pepper said...

Actually, the voters are going to vote on it this November, which is fine and part of the Charter process.

I just want to be sure they're informed that this is about a lot more than the streetcar.

Quim said...

"David, it's hardly surprising to see you come out against allowing the voters to decide an issue."
Anon - he never said that.

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