Don Rucknagel Responds

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Several weeks ago, I wrote a piece questioning the Local Green Party‘s endorsement of John Cranley for Mayor, and offered some thoughts on the way forward for third parties in this period, using Kshama Sawant’s inspiring council run in Seattle as an example. Don Rucknagel, co-chair of the party, responded. This piece was published in Streetvibes, along with my rebuttal on Friday, October 25.

As Co-chair of the Hamilton County Green Party, I feel obliged to respond to Ben Stockwell’s uninformed attack on Gwen Marshall, my co-chair. There are some relevant facts that Stockwell seems not to understand. First, times are tough, revenues are down, and the City Council is striving to forestall bankruptcy. We have an $850 million unfunded pension liability that needs addressing. The major issue in this election is that the predominantly Democratic City Council, lead by Democratic Mayor Mark Malory and Democratic Mayoral realtor hopeful Roxanne Qualls want to blow $150 million on a vanity streetcar. The original proposal was for the Streetcar to run from Downtown up Vine Street to University Heights. But when the Governor withdrew his offer of $50 million, the project was scaled back to go to approximately Findlay Market.

The original route was problematical, because it is not clear that there are enough people downtown who will want to ride a streetcar to the stores on University Heights (likewise to Findlay Market), especially if the fare is more expensive than the buses that already go there. Ah, but it may allow people to walk to the University Medical Center (ten blocks from University Plaza rain or shine), or to the University of Cincinnati proper (3 to 9 blocks, depending upon destination) its proponents say. Because they need money to fund it, they are also flirting with a proposal to lease the City’s profitable parking meters($8 million/year) to Xerox in return for a $53 million loan for thirty years. The city would then be at the mercy of a national corporation, despite the proposed high tech nature of the parking meters . The situation may be even more complex than this, because the Port Authority may also be involved. Then there is the question of operating expenses. Qualls is eying Casino revenues. Neither Qualls nor Cranley are addressing the pension problem. Out of sight, out of mind.

John Cranley has been campaigning vigorously against the streetcar as a waste of money and promises to fight it if he is elected strong mayor. Now Roxanne Qualls is promising to seek additional funding from the austerity minded federal government that looks more and more like a banana republic.)to extend it up to University Plaza.

The Hamilton County Green Party endorses John Cranley for Mayor because of his opposition to the Streetcar. In addition, we endorse a collection of candidates for City Council that we think can also be counted upon to oppose it: Chris Smitherman and newcomer Angela Beamon; Charterites Vanessa White and Kevin Flynn; Democrats David Mann and P.G. Sittenfeld; and Republicans Amy Murray and Melissa Wegman. Charley Winburn also opposes it.

In choosing this list of candidates, the Green Party is most concerned about the financial future of Cincinnati if the City goes bankrupt we could lose our parks and other physical assets as well as lose all city funded programs that matter to us.

  • Our biggest looming debt/concern is the over $850 million shortfall in the funding of the Cincinnati pension fund (but we suggest a NO vote on Issue 4 in November 2013.)
  • We remain concerned about the financial games being played and the money being wasted to build the short OTR section of the streetcar and know that this little section will likely be the only section ever built (since there is no possibility of federal or state funding and the city doesn’t have the money for it either), so it is just a waste of money, in addition to that already spent as a down payment on the streetcar, and will give real mass transit a bad name. it’s not clear whether it will financially hurt the bus system since we do not know what the fares will be. Operating expenses and paying off the loan for the parking meter lease will be festering sore in the body politic.
  • We think that the city’s parking system can best be managed by the City employees without sending a huge cut of the profits from parking to the Port Authority &/or other outside investors.
  • The Democrats who have been running Cincinnati for the past generation have tried to bring us the “trash tax,” red light cameras to produce revenue, to transfer our police department services to the County and in general have been supporting the sale of public assets &/or privatizing public services

I shall not address the slanderous remarks and extraneous issues that Ben Stockwell used to fill up the space for his article.