Friday, July 17, 2009

RIP (for now): Reforms To Save Dollars/Jobs

Turns out, Charlie Luken was right about the difficulty of trying to argue with those who print newspapers for a living, even when taxpayer dollars are at stake.

Today I learned that media lobbyists succeeded in killing (through a Governor veto) proposed County reforms (using the internet for some public notice requirements, and a pilot effort to explore online advertising) that would have saved both taxpayers dollars and County jobs. Given the tough budget news of this week, and work we are all doing to make the best of a difficult situation, the timing could not have been worse.

I appreciate the bipartisan effort that was made to get these reforms as far as they went in the legislature.

We'll see if we can bring these ideas back in a future legislative process.

UPDATE: Ironically, this just appeared on the Enquirer's website -- state will seek to pay for rail initiatives through . . . . advertisements on signs along the highway.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Connecting Citizens to Jobs Created: A New Policy

The challenging economic and budget times continue, unfortunately. Outside of reducing expenses to reflect revenues, the only way we're going to get out of this is renewed economic activity. More jobs, more sales, more economic growth, more tourism, more businesses, etc.--and more revenue. We need an upward spiral to replace what has been a painful downward spiral.

While the media focuses on our and other budget woes, we are simultaneously pushing hard to stimulate economic growth.

And today, we took a concrete step to ensure that County residents get connected to as many job opportunities as possible, and specifically to those jobs that are created by our economic development efforts.

Going forward, jobs created by the County, City and other efforts will all be posted at our Superjobs Center. Entities that partner with or receive public dollars in a way that helps them create jobs will be required to make those job opportunities accessible to citizens of the community.

The Super Jobs Center has a strong track record of providing job training and other services to connect citizens to jobs throughout our community. Children's Hospital, GE and many others use it already for their hiring and skills testing, with good results. And they are achieving the best results in the state.

So when citizens in the future hear about MSD rehabilitation projects, stimulus-funded construction projects, community development projects, and others, they will also know where to find the jobs that are generated from all this work.

For the resolution that passed, go here.

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.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Citizens Grab Prescription Drug Discount Opportunity

A program to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for County residents is off to a good start.

Since we launched in late January, through the end of May, 2,694 citizens have become holders of the County's prescription drug discount card. They have on average saved 20.63% on each purchase--or $9.51 per purchase. That's real dollars in your pocket, and tens of thousands in just a short time community-wide.

Thanks to all those organizations that are helping make this a success.

To get your card, or to get your organization, business, or community involved in the program, go to:
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