Findlay Market, Taste of Belgium, and wine me, dine me say No on Nine

The election is a mere couple of weeks away.  I have this platform and want to take advantage of it– by getting just a little bit political.  This is something that reflects the content of my blog: I won’t endorse a politician here, or a party, or get into national political issues.  I will, however, weigh in on this issue.

The opposition says they’re anti-Streetcar; in reality, they’re anti-progress.  I remember once hearing someone say that if Cincinnati had embraced trains instead of the steamboat, we’d be a city more like Chicago.  Historically, a certain segment of Cincinnati has rested on familiarity and comfort instead of advancement and progress.  These are the same people who won’t come downtown because it’s “dangerous”, and insist that cars are the wave of the future.

Gasoline prices have been through the roof in recent memory.  Traffic is a mess, and parking is difficult and often expensive.  Our current Metro system, which serves the Southern Ohio region with some success, is funded mostly by the City, despite the county benefiting from its operation.  The Metro is imperfect, to say the least, and has a pretty negative stigma in this car-dependent city, though I know many people who use it every day.

Wouldn’t you love the convenience of having an option? You could choose to drive– or not to drive. You could come downtown and not have to worry about where to park your car, or how you’ll get home if you’ve had a drink or two. You can eat dinner on Fountain Square and then catch a streetcar up to Clifton for a movie at the Esquire. You can live in Clifton and commute to a job downtown. With light rail, you could live in Mason and commute downtown without traffic and with less pollution. Have a client in Columbus? Catch the rail and have a stress-free commute.

Issue 9 is not just about the Streetcar.  Okay, I get it– not everyone can benefit from a streetcar.   However, the entire tri-state area can benefit from light rail connecting Cincinnati to Columbus and Cleveland.  Sure, it would be nice to have easy, quick, carless access to the other cities.  It would be nice for me, a current downtown resident (and soon-to-be property owner) to have easy access to Newport/Covington and Clifton without getting in my car, or taking some other form of rail to my job in the northern suburbs.  Face it: we’re all a little selfish, and we all ask ourselves, “How will this affect me?” The wording of Issue 9 will force a vote on every singleproposition that includes people-moving rail. This would include the rail at the Zoo (it’s within city limits).  This would include rail whose City investments were matched by the Federal government.

The opposition calls the Streetcar a boondoggle.  I call the prospect of voting for transportation– which is something I trust our elected officials to do– the true boondoggle.

If you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing that you like to eat out.  I’m guessing you probably like to shop; you have a job, and you probably participate in cultural activities.  Wouldn’t you love it if more people who were either interested in or created these things– restaurateurs, actors, entrepreneurs, major companies– were drawn here because we were connected, because we were open to progress?  I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard who are from Cincinnati, who left because they felt there weren’t opportunities, that nothing cool or hip or artsy or whatever was happening.

I assure you that this is not the truth, but the perception is still there.  Light rail (and, yes, even a streetcar) will prove this to people who can come here and help better our city, to college students who might stay instead of leaving for New York or Chicago or wherever, and to companies who can bring jobs here.

Vote for your city.  No on Nine.

I’m not the ony person who thinks this.  Don’t trust my opinion on this issue?  Check out the list of people with far more political experience than I do that are against Issue 9.


  • Mayor Mark Mallory (D)
  • Council Member Cecil Thomas (D)
  • Council Member Jeff Berding (D)
  • Council Member Chris Bortz (C)
  • Council Member David Crowley (D)
  • Council Member Greg Harris (D)
  • Council Member Roxanne Qualls (C)
  • Council Member Leslie Ghiz (R)
  • Council Candidate Tony Fischer (D)
  • Council Candidate Bernadette Watson (D)
  • Council Candidate Nicholas Hollan (D)
  • Council Candidate Laure Quinlivan (D)
  • Council Candidate Wendell Young (D)
  • Council Candidate Kevin Flynn (C)
  • Council Candidate Amy Murray (R)
  • Council Candidate George Zamary (R)
  • Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper
  • Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune
  • Former Mayor Arn Bortz
  • Former Mayor Bobbie Sterne
  • Former Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell
  • State Senator Eric Kearney
  • John Eby


  • Cincinnatus Association
  • Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce
  • Charter Committee
  • Cincinnati Business Courier
  • League of Women Voters
  • Cincy PAC
  • Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Mayor’s YPKC
  • Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce
  • US Green Bldg Council-Cincy Chapter
  • Downtown Residents Council
  • U.C. Student Government Association
  • Queen City Bike
  • Pendleton Neighborhood Council
  • Cincinnati Planning Commission
  • Cincinnati Enquirer Editorial Board
  • Cincinnati Democratic Party
  • Hamilton County Democratic Party
  • Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission
  • The Sierra Club
  • Agenda 360
  • And some more editorial…

    From their Market Matters newsletter, via the Cincinnati Streetcar Blog:

    After much discussion, the Friends of Findlay Market Board of Directors decided to take a stand against Issue 9. If passed Issue 9 will make it more expensive and time consuming for Cincinnati to make important decisions affecting our City’s future. Since Issue 9 seems aimed at putting an end to any hope that we will ever build rail projects, including the streetcar, we believe that Issue 9 is a bad idea for our City and for Findlay Market. We ask you to Vote No on 9.

    Jean-Francois Flechet, from Taste of Belgium (everyone’s favorite Liege waffles) says No on Nine too (also from Cincinnati Streetcar ):

    Issue 9 is NOT about the streetcar, it’s about passenger rail in general, but it is much more than that.

    What is at stake not only the future economic development of Cinicinnati but to a larger extent the preservation of our current electoral system.

    We have a representative democracy with elected officials. If you’re not happy with the decision made by elected officials, do not re-elect them.

    Asking a vote to allocate ANY monies to passenger rail would cripple the decision making and have unintended consequences: if the city wants to allocate ANY amount MONEY for an IMPROVEMENT of the safari train at the Cincinnati zoo that moves PASSENGER on RAILS, what would happen. This would require a vote as this satisfies all the terms mentioned on the ballot!

    I know this is ridiculous. That’s why I would recommend voting NO on 9.

    Businesses you care about will be affected by this initiative.  It’s not about a streetcar, it’s about the future of transport and innovation for Ohio.  Support your favorite local businesses by voting NO on 9.

    38 thoughts on “Findlay Market, Taste of Belgium, and wine me, dine me say No on Nine”

    • I am upset that these issues are linked.
      I am all for regional transportation, but that has proven difficult to move forward. Especially since our region includes 3 counties (and parts of others) in Kentucky. That would be the big win – a light rail from the Airport, Florence, Ft. Mitchell, Crestview, etc.
      What is so wrong about putting these issues up for a vote? If a majority of people do not want their tax dollars going to these projects, why should they go there? Again, I am for rail transit, but I’m fine with voting for it.
      I don’t see much use in a streetcar. That is not going to bring anyone downtown or uptown, not going to make the city cool if it isn’t already.
      So thanks for your article, now I can vote for 9 without reservation, but I do wish these issues had not been linked.

      • How can you be pro-rail and vote for Issue 9?

        Voting in itself is not a bad thing, especially if taxes are being raised. But elections in this case are merely a tactic to delay and stop projects.

        An election will take up to a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars. If this Issue passes, Cincinnati won’t be eligible for stimulus money for rail transport. That 3C project from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati won’t be stopping here. We simply won’t be able to hold an election fast enough to qualify for the money.

      • Jim Carr, you’re thinking doesn’t make sense. Do you fully understand what Issue 9 would do? Do you fully understand what the streetcar proposal is even designed to do? From what you said above it doesn’t sound like it.
        Do you realize that there are NO tax dollars being spent on the streetcar? And do you realize the streetcar can’t be built with out federal stimulus dollars (which you’ve already paid for in federal taxes) and that if those dollars don’t come here because of Issue 9 they will go to another city who is ready to accept them?

        Clear logic shows that Issue 9 is bad for Cincinnati now and will be bad for Cincinnati for decades to come. Vote No on 9, whether you like the streetcar proposal or not.

    • Beautifully put across the board, Julie.

      As a recent transplant I come to Cincinnati with an outside perspective, as a New Orleanian I come here with personal experience with urban rail. Urban rail is important on multiple levels, especially during a time when the economic factors are unstable and worrisome as they are now. During the past decade or so I have watched as two new streetcars lines were built and put into operation in my home city, watched and seen the way that local business in formerly “dead areas” began to flourish.

      While a New Orleans native I have lived in New York and other cities that have good public transit programs. I have not owned a car since 1981. I am also a small business owner and as of recently a homeowner in Northside. In my months here I have determined that Cincy’s public transit is decidedly substandard, light rail is something that can improve that. (Remember that my comments about the transit here come on the heels of four years in Post Katrina New Orleans relying on that public transit. Not flattering…)

      Julie is right, it is not just about the streetcar, it is about progress and innovation. So far I really like my new home here, and as it is my home I want to see it be the best it can. So help the new guy out here, vote no on 9! (And if you happen to vote yes on 7 to support our library system I would be thrilled!)

    • Julie, thanks so much for speaking up. All your points were impeccably put, and I hope loads of people read this!

      Jim, the problem with this charter amendment (that is, a change to our city’s Constitution) is that it doesn’t matter if taxes are going to be raised or not, or even if the city is going to be spending money (with the 3C Rail Corridor, a majority of the funding will be put forth by the state and federal government), we still have to vote on it. And when all the other cities in Ohio are ready to go ahead with the 3C, it’s very unlikely they will want to wait around another 6 months so we can vote on it. They will move forward, and everyone will benefit EXCEPT Cincinnati.

      Naturally if people’s taxes are going to be raised, there will be a vote on the issue. However, holding a vote on EVERY SINGLE thing (from the Zoo Train to repairing rail on the Amtrak at Union Terminal) having to deal with passenger rail is a waste of time and money. If you’re not sure that the people we’ve elected to office can do their job, then vote someone else in. But that’s why we elect officials… so we don’t end up like California.

      I love Cincinnati so much, but it will be hard to keep me here after I graduate if this ballot initiative passes. I’m not the only young person I know who is thinking this way. If you love Cincinnati… you have to vote No on 9. Any other way will hold us back.

      • As Jenny K said, I too love Cincinnati and I definitely love living in Over the Rhine. I really want to spend the rest of my life here, but if Issue 9 passes I will find it very hard to do so. I want to live somewhere with lots of options for transportation, not in a town where there’s nothing but automobiles. Cincinnati has a chance in the coming years to change that drastically, however if Issue 9 passes, we can forget it. Rail will never come through here at all and we’ll be the only city in the country with that kind of restrictive language on its charter!
        No on 9!

    • Jim,
      The streetcar won’t raise taxes. If any project(except highways apparently)raises taxes it will require a vote.
      As for regional rail, Columbus and Federal people have already stated if 9 passes they will write us out of any future rail plans. There will be no votes because there will be no plans.
      Isolating and killing Cincinnati.
      Is this what people really want?

      When you think of vibrant cities, say New York or Chicago do you instantly think about how they’ve kept costs low?
      Or do you think about how they vibrant they are always re-inventing themselves to stay in the forefront?

      The streetcar, light rail and high speed rail are not silver bullets, they are a piece of the puzzle.
      Does Cincinnati keep doing what has been doing or does it move into the future?
      We’ll find out Nov 2.

    • Having lived in Germany for a number of years, I grew to appreciate the availability and wisdom of public transportation to get from place to place. In particular, I loved taking the train. It was fun, easy and affordable. We often took the train from our town into Frankfurt, had a fun night dining in downtown Frankfurt and then imbibing a few biers in Sachsenhausen, where we would take the streetcar back to the train station.

      I currently go quite often to Columbus, and often think how nice it would be to sit on a train, listen to my music or read a book and enjoy the trip regardless of the weather.

      While I rarely go into downtown Cincinnati or Clifton unless I have to, the reasons are primarily trying to find a place to park. If I knew that I didn’t have to worry about it, I would often travel from the eastside suburbs to other parts of the city.

      I agree with you, Julie. We need to get on board (pardon the pun!) with not only improving our environment, but also with accepting that mass transit can be enjoyable as well as convenient. I support voting no on 9.

    • Julie, thanks for veering from your regular content to talk about something that will, no doubt, have significant ramifications on Cincinnati’s future and potential prominence.

      You are correct in saying the results of Issue 9 will directly impact future efforts to recruit professional and cultural talents to Cincinnati. Issue 9 will also directly affect our ability to hold on to our current YP talent (both the homegrown and imported variety), instead of having these bright stars move to innovative cities including Chicago, Portland, Denver, Austin, Boston and other young professional hot beds.

      Furthermore – you astutely point out your political experience is not extensive. Nor is mine, and that is why I believe issues involving rail, transportation and other matters should be decided by people with the acumen and knowledge base, not easily swayed Average Joes and Janes with a narrow perspective on the matter.

      Cincinnati cannot turn into a municipality governed by referendum, similar to California’s current political management. By putting every rail issue to a ballot, we will be burdening our city with expensive voting measures that truly should be left to the politicians we elect into office – not special interest groups with deep pockets and volunteers who convolute the message.

      Cincinnati has had big ideas since the 1800s – unfortunately our city has been too afraid to embrace these big ideas. Let’s buck the trend, say NO on 9 and hold tight to our aspirations for a thriving, successful city.

    • Julie you and Jean-Francois both have excellent olfactics and I am with you on this one, it stinks. FYI closer to the issue of our food so does issue 2.

    • I beg to differ with one of your points, you said, “not everyone can benefit from a streetcar”. This statement is categorically false, everyone WOULD benefit from it, just not directly. I support us (and the US) trying to match the public transit systems of Europe and Japan. Those against it are inevitably undereducated, foolish or both. My only fear related to moving forward is that the same people who cannot budget for a rainy day would be managing the finances.

      I generally against absolutes, and I think this absolute is silly.

      • I agree with you– but by focusing just on the streetcar and its benefits, I think that we’re missing the big picture of local, state and national transportation. Not everyone can directly benefit from the streetcar, but being against it because you do not benefit directly from it is silly.

        If you notice, this was a PRO transit post. 🙂

    • Sorry, I am dead against the streetcar. I can’t see where it is anything but an expensive sideshow, and a very divisive one at that. Julie said it won’t benefit everyone – I think it would benefit only a very few.
      Someone posted that it will cost nothing. That is not what has come out of the stories, but even assuming phase one (downtown to uptown) were to involve no additional tax dollars, who is going to pay for the inevitable operational deficit it will immediately begin running?

      As to regional transport, put a proposal together, and I’ll vote for it. All the noise about mobocracy seems out of bounds to me. Why wouldn’t huge commitments of public dollars be put up to a vote? A few years ago we had the measure for a jail. I voted for it, but the public voted decisively against it. Then the county commissioners decided they could go ahead with the project anyway. There are a lot of arguments about what representative democracy is, but purposely ignoring the expressed will of the electorate should not be part of it. Likewise here, why wouldn’t we want the public to express their views on this? Some of the posts suggest it is because they are too stupid. That is a tough argument to make. What other proposals are they too stupid to vote on?

    • Jim,
      What is your definition of “few”?
      54% of the jobs in the ENTIRE city of Cincinnati will be within walking distance of the streetcar.
      By every definition I know of 54% is a majority.
      Also, 56% of the tax base is in the CBD so the majority of the services in your neighborhood come from downtown. If the tax base is increased in the core, theres more money for services in your neighborhood.
      Develop has followed rail in every city it has been built, what makes Cincinnati the unique place that it won’t happen?

      And if 9 passes you won’t vote on any regional rail because Columbus officials have already said they will write us out of any future plans.
      A yes on 9 is no for all rail.
      No on 9.

    • Amen, Jim Carr. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Jason: The streetcar will cost no tax dollars? Is that supposed to be a joke? Show me the list of private donors who are putting up the millions of dollars to finance the construction and operation.

      “Some of the posts suggest it is because they are too stupid.” Why do the “No on Nine” folks do that? I’ve never understood the reasoning behind insulting people who disagree with you on political issues. Yeah, that’s the way to get them to see the light. I suppose it just makes them feel better about themselves when the issue passes.

      5chw4r7z: “Columbus officials have already said they will write us out of any future plans.” Link please. Which “officials” said that?

    • kid-cincy,
      No one is calling anyone stupid that I know of, do you have a link?
      Some blogs have proposed that people are voting in their own self interest instead of the good of the community.

      You want a link, here it is, an Enquirer story blasting issue 9, and the Enquirer is against the streetcar.

      “If Issue 9 is approved…officials in Columbus and Washington, hoping to sidestep entanglement in local politics and potentially costly delays, may begin excluding Cincinnati from future major rail plans.”

    • It’s not about the streetcar. Whether you love it or hate it, Issue 9 is so much more far reaching than the streetcar.

      We can’t be left behind. We don’t want to become like California.. and that’s what Issue 9 will ultimately turn us into. we’ll be the laughingstock of the nation, and I, along with thousands of other UC grads in my class, will sadly be more than likely to be looking to settle and be employed elsewhere.

    • Very nicely put! I think that it would be easier to even see my step kids if they could hop on a train and come down. My step-daughter was in Italy this summer for college and it was too easy to simply hop on a train or metro to get anywhere that she needed to go! It sucks being back here she says.

      In Philly ( we flew in and took a train to get into the city. How nice would that be to be able to fly into CVG and take a train downtown? That apparently makes too much sense.

      BUT, Issue 9 is NOT about that so we need to JUST SAY NO to 9!

    • A train to Cleveland would be nice. That has been talked about for at least 30 years. Let’s do it.
      A train to the airport, or from the Eastern corridor – great idea. That’s been on the table for at least 20 years.
      All of a sudden the tremendous momentum for these projects is going to be sidetracked because voters might have a say? Why not put the local station for the 3C at Coney and just bypass the city limits?

      Assuming a local train, once I get downtown, I could ride the downtown, uptown, and Clifton shuttles. They could be painted up to look cute.
      Or I could ride an expensive streetcar. That seems to have really gotten under Smitherman’s skin. And others. And has a very fuzzy connection to business development in uptown and the Spring Grove area, which has been moribund.

    • I understand that the way Issue 9 is worded it makes people feel like they are voting FOR light rail and the like, when they are actually voting against the ease of possibility in the future. Very tricky.

      I’m a former resident of Paris. Don’t get me started. The folks who are so scared of change are the ones that are burying this city.

      Non sur Neuf!!

    • 5chw4r7z —
      “No one is calling anyone stupid that I know of, do you have a link?”

      How about the link we’re on?

      “Those against it are inevitably undereducated, foolish or both.”

      Also, someone asked about which state officials were saying Cincy would be excluded from transportation plans. You responded with a link providing some Enquirer speculation. Not the same thing.

      How about this idea – get some minivans from the clunkers program, give them to the OTR electric car company, paint them up, and run them all over downtown, uptown, Clifton, even (gasp) Kentucky. What would that cost? Less than $180M?

      My problem with this whole thing is I don’t want to lose an opportunity to vote against the streetcar.

    • Jim, Jim, Jim,
      If you haven’t gone on all the fact finding trips and talked to other city leaders, you’re not dumber than our leaders, you’re less educated than they are.
      Voting on something because you instinctively think you know what drives investment with out knowing all the facts?
      That’s foolish.
      If buses haven’t spurred investment, a couple minivans won’t.
      But you can get it up and running and prove me wrong.
      And its not Enquirer speculation if Columbus leaders are saying this is what will happen.
      Again why is Cincinnati the singular place in the country where rail won’t drive investment.

    • 5chw4r7z
      So one either blindly follows our all-seeing and all-knowing city leaders, or one is ignorant. Most of the things our leaders have told us over the last 30 years have been either wrong or dead wrong. After expensive commissions and fact-finding tours.

      And regarding the speculation. Sorry, it was just the Enquirer reporting the speculation of some politicians and ex-pols. “At a news conference at a Walnut Hills cafe, two former Republican state Senate presidents and a Democratic state representative from Hamilton County said that Issue 9’s requirement of public votes on the proposed Cincinnati streetcar system and other rail plans could cause state and federal officials to simply bypass the city when planning future transportation networks.
      If Issue 9 is approved, former state Sen. President Stanley Aronoff said, officials in Columbus and Washington, hoping to sidestep entanglement in local politics and potentially costly delays, may begin excluding Cincinnati from future major rail plans.”

      Sounds like scare tactics. The only actual leader is one of the Driehaus clan, who is speculating.

      Again, I think rail would drive investment, but not this cute streetcar thing, more a regional light rail. If people really need some cool transit to OTR, I think the electric cars from OTR would be dynamite. And unique. And inexpensive. Maybe we could even get everyone on board with that plan.

      BTW, I have seen a lot of people making comments on key differences between the Portland streetcar thing (only part of their solution), and the Cincinnati proposal. Not to mention the really big problem – with 70% more population, they have the number of murders in 3 years that we have in 1. We need everyone pulling together on that situation, which is a big reason we don’t need silly issues like the streetcar alienating chunks of the electorate.

      If folks figure out that yes is no, this is going down 70-30.

    • Jim,
      You’re blindly following leaders YOU elected? I’m not.
      I can only feel sorry for you.
      Guess I won’t see you on any of my streetcar victory parties as we ride around OTR.

      Peace out and take care.

    • Here is the big picture.
      The streetcar plan is set up to fail. You can’t go forward with something like that with key constituencies dug in against you. Which is what we have today. A failed plan like this will only add fuel to the fire of distrust of local government.
      There is so much anti-business feeling in important neighborhoods, and so much serious crime, that expending energy elsewhere and opening up political rifts in the process is counterproductive.
      The mayor needs to be selling the plans, and selling himself, before any thing even on the streetcar scale is launched. Until that happens, this would just be digging a deeper hole.
      City government does not have a good track record with their projects and expected payoffs. Empire Theater, Owning the Realty, Cable car to Mt. Adams, Skywalks yea/nay, Entertainment district, Fountain Square re-re-redevelopment, the Blanks, and of course Ft. Square West. But that is no reason to not try something new. However doing such a project before some progress is made on the distrust, fear of change, and lack of public safety is deadly. Not saying those all have to be fixed; that may not be possible. But how about the key players just agreeing to work for the same things? I’m primarily talking about the NAACP here. COAST has no real influence, at least on the city electorate, the ones who haven’t had a Republican mayor since 1971.
      I need to see our mayor inspiring the key groups to join him, then maybe I can believe the streetcar has a chance. Before that it could actually be a disaster.

    • I disagree totally. Leaving it up to our so called elected officials is not working so well these days. Just look at the President and Congress right now on what they are doing to “FIX” healthcare. Every so called fix they have come up with so far will have the opposite effect and end up destroying the system and raising costs for everyone.

      The “elected official” that came up with this streetcar boondoggle is no different. Obviously when our “elected officials” stop representing those who got them in office something is wrong. Just who are they really representing, THEMSELVES is the answer.

      I live in the county and am therefore a victim of the incompetency of our City officials as well that I cannot VOTE on. I’m paying for an extra 5% sales tax to Mike Brown and property taxes that increase every year. Taxes are at point that no one can even think of retiring. How can someone on a fixed income keep up with the taxes that keep getting levied upon us.

      So Yes, if I could actually vote on Issue 9, I would vote for it. At least my vote would be counted and not rely on someone who does not represent me.

    • Light rail will happen, sooner or later. Eventually we will run out of room for expressways and cars (and money for gasoline and oil). Be careful hiding your head in the sand. You might eventually get run over or die from exhaust fumes.

    • FYI: Voting yes on 9 won’t stop the streetcar.
      Its a vote on whether we want to vote on the streetcar.
      So if 9 passes, there will be another vote on whether we want the the streetcar.
      But hey the streetcar has only been drug out since ’05, how long did the Banks drag out? 10 yrs?
      You native Cincinnatians sure love your bureaucracy.

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