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.
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.