Well it’s getting down to the wire for the Cincinnati City Council Race. Since all I talk about is politics, I figured it’s time for me to say who I endorse personally for council and why.
What I look for in a candidate is someone that understands that the role city government has in its relationship with its citizens and within the region. I want people on council that understand and appreciate the financial challenges that Cincinnati faces, and has a plan to get us out of this mess through growth.
The city leaders need to have an understanding that it’s not taxes that will get us out of the financial mess we are in but reforms and growth of the tax base through population and business growth. We need council people that do not look at our poor as criminals or exploit them for votes. I want council people to provide fiscally sound and proven successful avenues to allow them to become successful members of our community. To do this they need to challenge our city schools to not only provide a few select great schools, but to have every school be as successful as a Covedale Elementary or a Walnut Hills High School. They need to bring jobs back to the city, not only will this help our revenue and tax base, this will help uplift those that struggle now, and take the burden off of some of our city services.
With that said here are my endorsements for the 2011 Cincinnati Council Race:
Amy Murray – she is one of the most sensible people on council; I would compare her to Roxanne Qualls in temperament and pragmatic approach to addressing the issues. She has vision and knows how to work with all on council keep city business moving forward.
Leslie Ghiz – she is an outstanding advocate for the citizens of Cincinnati. Her priorities are well placed in making sure our fire fighters and police officers stay on our streets. She has no qualms about calling a spade a spade. While that may rub some including the Enquirer the wrong way, it is refreshing to hear a politician call out others on council that play politics rather than doing what is best for the citizens of Cincinnati.
Catherine Mills – she is young, bright, intelligent, and knows how to articulate her position. She is someone that can help lead this city into the 21st Century.
Chris Bortz – Chris is someone that understands the role government at the city level. He believes in being fiscally sensible He believes that the city needs to invest in itself to attract more people into the city. I think that while public services is the number one priority of city government, number two needs to be to grow, enhance and promote our city. Chris understands this. Being a Charterite he is not tied down to a political agenda of either the Democrats or Republicans.
Roxanne Qualls – Roxanne’s biggest strength is her insight in community and neighborhood development. Her work in community development is welcome in an atmosphere where many neighborhoods within the city are constantly suspicious of each other and of Council. While I don’t agree with her on many other issues, her leadership in community development is something we need on Council.
Kevin Flynn – he is consensus builder, some one that will be able to bring the two parties together to break the grid lock and actually get the agenda moving forward.
Michael Allen – a former Republican, now independent he is currently not tied to a particular party which is a great thing for the citizens of the city. His prior experience as a judge, county prosecutor, and party chairman will be an asset as far as understanding how things get done at multiple levels. He says he doesn’t want to be a leader on council, but he could likely become a strong leader on council quickly.
Wayne Lippert – Wayne is a common sense businessman. He appears to be very pragmatic about his decision making much like Councilwoman Amy Murray. While hasn’t made himself as well known as an appointed Councilperson, he comes across as someone that has a grasp on the issues and knows how to lead. Hopefully he has done enough to get his name out there city wide.
Chris Seelbach – Chris is my surprise pick. Someone I thought I would never vote for. While I know I would disagree with him on many issues, especially at the national level, I find his love and energy for Cincinnati refreshing. I feel like he is already invested in Cincinnati, and wants it to make it better for all. He seems to understand that the key issues is to bring people and business back to Cincinnati as a way to raise tax dollars rather than raising taxes on the current citizens. I think he is a much stronger than people give him credit for. If he follows in the footsteps of his mentor David Crowley then I don’t think the citizens have much to worry about. Like I said while I will disagree with him on many issues, I think he has the passion and temperament to help move the city forward.
The citizens of Cincinnati deserve a Council with a vision and with leadership. We need those on Council that aren’t looking at what they are going to do once they are off Council but what can they do for Cincinnati on Council. We need to bring people and jobs back to Cincinnati. The people don’t care if they are green jobs, blue jobs, or purple jobs, people just want jobs.
In the end I think this was easiest time I have had in a while to come up with nine council people that I would vote for. I think to put this combination on council would finally begin to end the unlimited politicking and grandstand that is currently infested on council. We need a council that is full of leaders and not politicians. This group represent people that I feel have the best interest of the citizens of Cincinnati at heart. I believe and proudly endorse this group as the best group to lead us forward in the next two years.
Leslie Ghiz recently tweeted “The budget looms…Thoughts on ways to raise revenue W/O taxing.” It got me thinking, how can the city balance the budget? I would imagine there are few accounting tricks left in the bag to help balance the budget this time around. Real leadership is going to have to emerge to balance this budget.
Councilwoman Ghiz is right we need to increase revenue without increasing taxes. The problem is that increasing revenue without raising taxes takes time, and planning. This will not fix the budget problem in the short term.
So Cincinnati City Council has two choices, either raise taxes, fees, etc. or cut from the budget. To bridge what is nearly a $35 million dollar gap, I don’t see how council can any longer not make cuts to the Cincinnati Police Department and Fire Department given how much of the budget they take up. Believe me, I agree with the conservative block on council, in that the last thing I want council to do is layoff police officers and fire fighters. I have yet to see how the math adds up without some layoffs. My hope would be to minimize the layoffs to the rank and file by making reductions in administrative and non-police/fire personal and expenditures. An internal look at trying to save money by fixing inefficiencies within the departments would save money and jobs as well.
I think it is time for even the most avid supporter of police and fire to acknowledge that with declining city revenues and a declining city population that real cuts to the police and fire budget have to be made. These cuts should be done with care and with minimal impact to the rank and file, but unless someone has a realistic plan that doesn’t cut police and fire, it must be done.
Councilwoman Ghiz is right we must raise revenue without raising taxes. That comes through getting rid of red tape for businesses, working with our school board and neighborhood councils on making all of our neighborhoods attractive places to live, and investing in our infrastructure. This is where the streetcar comes in. It is a project out of the capital fund, and yes the operating cost will be a net loss for the city. But that doesn’t mean that the increase in property values and in turn property taxes would not offset those losses. The city has for years given multi-million dollar tax breaks to companies that have failed to deliver on promises to add jobs in Cincinnati. I am willing to give the city the chance in this project to invest in itself to attract citizens and business to Cincinnati, and in turn increase the tax base.
To increase revenues and to avoid going down the road when it comes to the budget in future years we must increase the tax base through population and job growth. Cincinnati does this by investing in itself through capital projects. We must make our city an attractive place to live not only through outstanding public safety, but with a great school system, strong neighborhoods, and making this city the easiest place to do business in the Midwest.
What does it say for those thinking to come to Cincinnati, if aren’t willing to invest in ourselves through projects like the streetcar? Councilwoman Ghiz is right we must raise revenues without raising taxes, but hard cuts to all departments including police and fire must happen first to balance the budget in the short term.
This is going to be the beginning of a series of blogs about issues that are facing Cincinnati. These issues must be addressed to turn our city into a vibrant urban area. Some of these issues will no doubt overlap but in the interest of not writing one large diatribe I will break this off into several parts.
The first issue I am going to address is population growth. This issue has been brought to the forefront with the recent census numbers that have been released. Currently the number of residents is officially under 300k. This is a continuation of a downward trend since the 1970’s. City leaders must come up with a plan that will finally turn this around. Population growth, especially middle class population growth will equal an increase in tax dollars that Cincinnati desperately needs. I have been ranting about this since 2009; finally it appears that those on council are beginning to take this issue seriously.
One important way to retain and attract people to live in Cincinnati is to continue to provide what I would consider quality of life services within the city. These quality of life services would be anything from reducing crime to working to keep the city pools open. We have to be a city that is accessible to all income groups. Cincinnati cannot pay lip service to the poor and succeed.
Councilwoman Amy Murray did this by staring her pothole repairing initiative. This was great idea because this can improve the quality of life for all citizens no matter what your social economic status is. Fixing the potholes faster will likely lead to less car repairs for those that use city streets, which include city owned vehicles (police cars, fire trucks…etc.) and metro buses. This in turn will likely save citizens thousands of dollars in car repairs; it will save the city of Cincinnati thousands of dollars as well, which may help offset our overruns in the city fuel budget.
Another area that will encourage population growth is by identifying neighborhoods and groups that are working to attract and retain residents to their neighborhood. This is why I implore City Council to work with the Covedale Neighborhood Association and recognize Covedale as an official neighborhood. The facts show this is what the residents want and that this will stabilize neighborhood, increase the value, and the profile of the neighborhood. This will help retain current residents and help attract new residents as well.
Being on Cincinnati City Council has never been a tougher job or as important a job as it is now. The last thing Cincinnati needs is a councilperson that is all about show but has very little in the ability to lead a diverse population. Cincinnati needs to evaluate its’ council candidates not as Democrats or Republicans but determine who has the leadership qualities, fiscal values and is confident enough to handle the pressure that comes with leading Cincinnati through this challenging time.
I am endorsing Brad Wenstrup for Mayor of Cincinnati. Mark Mallory is trying to move the city forward, but he has lost the faith of the citizens of Cincinnati. He lacks the leadership skills necessary to bring our city together during this critical time. While I support the streetcar project I feel his leadership has tainted the cause and that until he is replaced as the leader of the streetcar initiative and the leader of Cincinnati the streetcar issue is a dead issue. We need someone to provide true leadership in this city, and while I may disagree with Brad on the streetcar issue, I feel his leadership skills are something that this city must have. He will be the type of Mayor that doesn’t try to play the politics as usual game but will do what he feels what is best for Cincinnati and not for what is best for his political career.
My Cincinnati City Council Slate in no particular order:
I feel it is time we replace most of the incumbents that make up the voting majority on Council. Their leadership has been questionable at best, and their handling of the situation when it came to layoffs of city workers and public safety works can be labeled as childish. The majority on council today is largely responsible for the situation we are in, including approving a budget over the last couple of years that projected a rise in revenues while the state and the rest of the country were projecting declines. Of that majority I feel Greg Harris is the least culpable given the amount of time he has spent on Council(less than one year), and further more I find while I have fundamental disagreements on several issues I find he is far more pragmatic in his reasoning and is truly trying to make Cincinnati better. The best thing he could do is to distance himself from the Laketia Cole and the rest of the “Fab Five”.
My picks are far more conservative than the make up of the current council. I do believe that political parties are not as much a factor at the local level, with that said though we need a major shake up on council and I feel these nine would provide that. Lastly while I have reservations about Antria Brockman taking the Green Party endorsement I feel she would be a good addition to Council as pseudo independent candidate from a background that many of our residents indentify with and she would bring a perspective that Cincinnati City Council has lacked for years.
We must elect a council that is different than the current dysfunctional mess that we have today. We have all complained that Cincinnati Council doesn’t listen to the citizens and they have made terrible decisions time and time again. If we want that to change we must change who is on council and who is in the majority. We can’t expect to elect the same people and hope they will do a better job than what they are doing today
I understand that Issue 9 (better known as the Street Car Issue) is an extremely controversial and important issue in this city. I think though that both sides have mischaracterized what this is really about. This issue in the end isn’t about whether a streetcar should or should not be built. The issue is about how are we going to govern this city.
The reason I am voting for NO on Issue 9 is because making decisions by ballot initiative rather than having those that we elect make those decisions is a very bad way of running a government. What is the point of having elected officials if we are going to vote on single issues like this? We do not need to become another where the people vote on what seems to be every law. This is extremely costly and becomes extremely inefficient, and in the end you have people voting for or against laws that have consequences that the voters had no ideas about. For instance I would be willing to bet that the majority of voters in Cincinnati think that voting yes on Issue 9 means that Cincinnati will not have a streetcar system and voting No means we will have a street car, both assumptions are false and couldn’t be farther from the truth. In the end we elect officials to make decisions and if we disagree with those decisions we need to remove those that we disagree with from office. Which seems to be the problem we have in Cincinnati. We keep on complaining about our elected officials not doing the job but then we reelect them to office.
Let me be clear about this also. Voting No on Issue 9 does not mean the streetcars will be coming to Cincinnati. All it will mean is that we will leave it up to the people we elect to do their job, which is to govern. If you as a voter do not want streetcars in Cincinnati you have the perfect opportunity to prevent that from happening this fall. All you have to do is vote out Mayor Mallory and those that are running for council that want the streetcars and vote in the people that are opposed to them. It is simply that easy.
On lets not let those that say you should vote YES for this Issue 9 confuse the issue. This issue while they may tell you it’s about the streetcars, they are wrong. What this issue is about is allowing to continue to use the system to force votes on issue that our elected officials should be dealing with at our expense. While I agree that we should have a say if Cincinnati should have streetcars we should use that voice to vote in the elected officials that share our beliefs and work to do what is best for our city rather than spending money that the city and county do not have on these single issue items.
Hamilton County and Cincinnati are both facing over the next few years what could amount to a financial collapse. Tax revenues are dropping, and people and business are moving away. We are also struggling to bring new business to the Hamilton County and Cincinnati area. What should we do to save this county and the city?
The first thing we must do is recognizing that the old ways with the same elected officials isn’t working. We need to elect new people that have new ideas and that are not afraid to think outside the box and to work with more than just the people within their party.
We must have Cincinnati and Hamilton County governments come together with a comprehensive plan for stability and growth for the area. While there is need to reduce spending and cutting out government waste, we also must have a plan for growth and development. The city and county should be focusing on three areas’ to do this. Merging all departments that are duplicated at the city, township and county levels. The next area of focus should be making Cincinnati and Hamilton County a better place to operate a business. The third area is to have a plan to attract people to move back to Hamilton County and Cincinnati.
The first thing that the city and county must do is cut cost. One of the best ways to do this is to merge departments that are duplicated. There is no reason why both the city and the country should both be paying to do the same things. We need to eliminate waste not create and perpetuate more bureaucracies in this region. We need to look at all departments including Public Safety and see what makes sense. The time for business as usual must come to an end.
The next thing we must do is make Hamilton County and Cincinnati a better place to run a business. We have the assets with the proximity to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport plus having both Lunken and Blue Ash Airports in the County, along with the Ohio River, and two major North/South Interstates we have a great set up as far as major transportation in the region. We are easy to get to, and must use that to our advantage, whether it is by rail, plane, or car.
We must expand and improve on this infrastructure. We have a unique set of assets and must capitalize on this to attract new business. We must also make this area friendlier when it comes to taxes. The state of Ohio is notorious for how unfriendly it is for businesses to operate. The city and county must do everything possible within the current law to make Cincinnati and Hamilton County easy to operate a business.
The last major factor we must address is the fleeing of our citizens out of Hamilton County and Cincinnati. We must attract those that have moved out back to Cincinnati, and keep our young professionals that are graduating from the surrounding Universities in the city and the county. To spur this growth we must reduce property taxes in both the city and the county and attract more jobs to the region.
The other major area that will help bring people back to Cincinnati and Hamilton County is to improve the Cincinnati Public School system. We must hold the school board accountable and force them to come up with new approaches to teach our young people. It should no longer be acceptable that CPS only has a couple of great schools with in the district and the vast majority of the schools failing. We fix this by taking new approaches in academics and in discipline. If they are unwilling to change then our local government must vigorously support a comprehensive charter school program.
Our city and county governments must recognize that they must work together to turn around this economic situation in this area. It benefits no one and it would be nearly impossible for Hamilton County to prosper without Cincinnati and vice versa. With that said we must have our elected officials from both sides engage the current economic situation together to come up with a comprehensive plan. If our only response is going to be to continue to cut essential services and we have no combined plan for development and growth for both the county and city then will never recover from this free fall.
Cincinnati has been losing people for well over a decade. We have been losing people for a couple of main reasons. The perceived inadequacies in what the Cincinnati Public School System can offer, and crime have been hurting this city for years. These two factors alone have driven many people and jobs away from Cincinnati. Our leaders have been slow in responding to these issues, and now Cincinnati is where it is at today because of the lack of response. We need new leaders that are will to make the changes necessary to help Cincinnati come back from the what is the brink of becoming another Detroit.
One of the first issues that must be addressed is the perceived racial issues within Cincinnati. I say perceived because I do not believe that it is as bad as the Jessie Jackson wanna be Chris Smitherman makes it. I do though believe that enough people believe there is a problem that it must be addressed. The question is how do we do that? I feel the best course is to find true leaders in the community and get them to become vocal advocates for Cincinnati and what it is truly about. I also feel that we can come up with incentives for new and existing small business owners and for residents of Cincinnati that would actually help the minority population specifically and Cincinnati as a whole. We must become a city that looks within and uses our resources and people that live in Cincinnati to turn Cincinnati around.
The second issue we need to turn around is the problem with the Cincinnati Public School System. This problem is not unique to Cincinnati, many school districts in urban area’s struggle with their school systems. Cincinnati is making strides in making it’s public school better. The biggest problem we have is again is with perception. We have a perception problem because we fail to market what we have that is great about our school system. We need to do a better job of marketing, and this something that if the school board won’t do, that the city leadership must work with the school board to get done.
The third issue this city faces is a leadership issue. We need new leaders with a new vision and voice to turn Cincinnati around. For to long we have elected the same people and have expected different results. I think that in Cincinnati there is a real disconnect between the people of Cincinnati and their elected officials. It seems like most of our elected officials don’t understand the day to day struggle most of us face. The biggest example of this is the Laketa Cole lead Cincinnati budget that did away with the 5% budget cuts that were originally agreed upon. We need new leaders that understand and can relate to all of our needs and that will make turning Cincinnati around their number one priority.
Cincinnati can become the most livable city again. We can do this by bringing people back to live in Cincinnati. To do this it will take a lot of hard work by our city leaders. We will have to sell Cincinnati to the people that left that this isn’t the same city it was 10-15 years ago. To do this we need a new vision and new voices to bring about this change.