Why the Charter Amendment?
Watch Mark Miller's
on the Subject. Click Below:
We Demand Partners submit
Petitions to City of Cincinnati
to place Trolley measure on Ballot.
On August 3, 2009 we formally issued our demand for a vote on
passenger rail transportation to Cincinnati City Council. Hundreds
of petition forms containing 11,530 signatures were officially
transmitted to the Clerk of Council, who will have them verified
according to the statutory procedure, eventually causing the
anti-boondoggle charter amendment to be placed on the November 3rd
The entire WeDemandAVote.com coalition, comprised of the
Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, COAST, Southwestern Ohio Green
Party, and Cincinnati Libertarian Party, would like to thank the
many volunteers who circulated the petition.
We would especially like to thank the thousands of citizens who
participated in the democratic process by either signing our
petition, or by listening with open minds to the merits of our case.
Widespread common sense and vigorous debate leave us more convinced
than ever that voters should decide passenger rail transportation
matters, not politicians.
A few notes from the field:
We expected to find more support in far-flung
neighborhoods than along the planned route. Neighborhood anger at
the ridiculous trolley plan was as expected, but we were pleasantly
surprised at how productive signature gathering efforts were at
Findlay Market and Fountain Square. City leaders noticed too, and
forced us to sue them in Federal Court to halt their harassment.
1st amendment wins again.
Some of COAST's LGBT members had been telling us how
prevalent fiscal conservatism is among their community, so we made a
concerted effort to saturate the Pride Parade and Northside 4th of
July Parade. We certainly weren't disappointed. These two events
out-produced many church festivals. We had no luck recruiting LGBT
leaders to "come out" in support of our cause, but community members
were some of the most knowledgeable and budget-savvy voters we
encountered. Thanks, let's find more ways to work together.
Special thanks goes out to Councilmember Roxanne
Qualls. Her insistence that uptown be included on the route
introduced tremendous uncertainty into the proposal. City planners
scrambled to figure out how, and indeed if they could get up the
hill, and struggled with a near-doubling of the cost. All of that
gave us the time we needed to conduct a rather relaxed signature
drive. If not for that, the streetcar might be underway by now.
The biggest boon to petition production, however,
was Mayor Mallory. His mishandling of the budget, frequent junkets,
and utter obliviousness to the plight of the beleaguered taxpayer
engendered a rage among the electorate that had people yanking
petitions out of our hands to sign them.
Today the campaign also enters the second phase. Now we have an
opponent. Cincinnatians for Progress will try to convince voters to
trust city leaders to do their thinking for them. They'll ridicule
the act of voting. And in their heart of hearts, they'll be
thinking, "These rubes aren't smart enough to decide whether this is
a good plan." The CFP message reflects the attitude of the current
administration. To them, "progress" is condescending contempt for
This November, voters will say, "right back at you."
Submitted by Mark Miller, WeDemand Event Chairman
WHY THE TROLLEY SHOULD
This project is opposed by the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, the
Green Party, the Libertarian Party, Hamilton County Business Owners,
and the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes. These
groups form the WeDemandAVote.com coalition and are gathering
signatures on an initiative petition to require voter approval prior
to spending taxpayer dollars on rolling stock or right-of-way
acquisition. However city officials continue to force this project
down citizens' throats despite widespread public opposition.
100% of the area proposed for streetcar coverage is presently served
by taxpayer subsidized municipal buses. In fact, most of the proposed
streetcar route directly overlaps existing bus routes, further
congesting downtown streets. No plans for integration between bus and
streetcar systems have been proposed.
The route conspicuously avoids vast sections of the urban core,
providing poor transportation coverage. Proponents tout the economic
development potential of streetcars in other cities, but have confined
the proposed route solely to portions of the urban core that are
already fully developed. This plan is not "shovel-ready" because the
route needs to be reworked in order to provide full transportation
coverage, and full economic development coverage before it can be
Costs for the project (capital and operating) will be shouldered by
all 330,000+ city residents. But the project will only serve perhaps
20,000 citizens in the urban core. Excitement among the few
beneficiaries of the system is, of course, very high. However loathing
for this latest political boondoggle is even greater among the much
larger number of taxpayers who receive no benefit from it at all.
Tax increment financing is well established in the project area, but
provides minimal funding, due to poor route selection explained above.
This is the primary source of the vast disparity between payers and
beneficiaries. Proper route selection would allow most project costs
to be paid for out of real property appreciation in the area served,
the residents of which are also the primary beneficiaries. The current
proposal cannibalizes existing infrastructure budgets in non-served
It's estimated that 40 permanent jobs will be created as part of the
streetcar program. They include 15 drivers for the seven planned cars,
10 maintenance workers, 5 managers, and 10 office and clerical staff.
That's about $4.5 million per job for a $183 million capital project.
This project requires another year of public hearings and
reengineering before it will be a viable infrastructure project,
therefore it is not "shovel-ready." This project is confined to a tiny
portion of the Cincinnati metropolitan area which is already fully
developed, so the stimulus effect will be negligible. Long term jobs
created by this project are far too costly to justify. Therefore, this
project is not suitable for inclusion in the pending stimulus bill.
is a YouTube Video.
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Photo Enforcement Defeated at the Ballot Box in Texas & Ohio
Voters in College Station, Texas as well as Chillicothe and Heath, Ohio vote to ban automated ticketing machines.
Posted: 04 Nov 2009 12:01 AM PST
Voters in three cities sent a clear message to local lawmakers yesterday by adopting charter amendments that ban photo enforcement. In addition to kicking two camera supporters from the city council, 72 percent of those voting in Chillicothe, Ohio approved a total prohibition on the use of red light cameras and speed cameras. In College Station, Texas the vote was much closer, but at the end of the night 52 percent wanted the red light cameras to come down. In Heath, Ohio 51 percent voted against the cameras.
A total of nine cities nationwide have used the initiative process to ban camera enforcement since 1991, with camera proponents never having won a public vote.
The triple defeat for the photo enforcement industry came despite a well-funded public relations effort in each of the cities. In Chillicothe, Redflex Traffic Systems sent a glossy mailer to every voter while the mayor demanded that the Ohio Supreme Court ban the public from even voting on the issue -- a move high court justices swiftly rejected. Citizens Against Photo Enforcement (CAPE), the group responsible for the ballot measure, claimed an additional victory as voters elected camera opponent Bruce Arnold, who won the seat of council president, Jeremy Siberell, who won the fifth ward and Dustin Proehl, the only incumbent to have voted against cameras. CAPE leader Rebecca Valentich told TheNewspaper that she was thrilled with the outcome.
"We came together as individuals, and we united as a community," Valentich said. "The people have spoken, and very clearly. Our voices have been heard and thanks to the people and their strong voices, the cameras will be coming down. It is a huge victory, and one that we can all be proud of. And although our mayor has gone on record saying that he will fight the will of the people, his fight against the rights of the people will only bring a stronger united front from the community."
In College Station, Texas the city's automated ticketing vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) bankrolled a front group to conduct mass mailings and push polling in an effort to save the program that would have earned the company more than $11 million over the life of the contract. The ATS-funded group reported raising $71,240 in contributions, but not one dollar came from anyone living in the local community. To supplement the vendor's effort, the city allocated taxpayer money to send red light camera promotional material to every voter. College Station activist Jim Ash, who led the fight to put the issue on the ballot, watched the results with a large group of supporters.
"It has been nothing but celebration here," Ash told TheNewspaper minutes after the results became final.
In Heath, voters were bombarded with the same advertisements from Redflex, but they failed to persuade a majority. Voters also defeated Mayor Richard Waugh who had introduced photo enforcement as the signature issue of his administration.
"You can fight city hall and win, when you have a passion for what you believe in," We Demand a Vote spokesman Lori Lyons said in a statement.
Yesterday's results are consistent with previous public votes on the topic. In April, eighty-six percent of the votes in Sulphur, Louisiana rejected speed cameras. In 2008, residents in Cincinnati, Ohio rejected red light cameras.
Seventy-six percent of Steubenville, Ohio voters rejected photo radar in 2006. In the mid-1990s, speed cameras lost by a two-to-one margin in Peoria, Arizona and Batavia, Illinois. In 1997, voters in Anchorage, Alaska banned cameras even after the local authorities had removed them. In 2003, 64 percent of voters in Arlington, Texas voted down "traffic management cameras" that opponents at the time said could be converted into ticketing cameras.
August 21, 2009
The Hamilton County Board of Elections has certified the
Streetcar and Water petitions. Total signatures
required for each petitions was 6,150 valid
signatures. The Streetcar petition signature count was
actually 7,515 good signatures. The
Water petition met the count 6,150
threshold. The Hamilton County Board of Elections is
deciding whether to count the additional 3,500
signatures that were collected for Water. Smitherman
says, " This is great news for all groups which spent a
large part of the year collecting signatures. This is a
giant step for Democracy which translates to
citizen ownership in the ballot."
The Cincinnati NAACP remains concerned that the Mayor
and City Council will write confusing language for
ballot. The Cincinnati NAACP does not write the language
that citizens will see on the November 2009 ballot. The
Mayor and City Council support the $200 million
Streetcar proposal and sale of Cincinnati Water Works.
Now, City Officials are faced with the reality that both
issues will be decided by voters their last chance to
undermine democracy is to direct their lawyers to
write confusing language for the ballot. Smitherman
says, " The Mayor and City Council must leave their
Ivory Towers to run a convincing campaign that
Cincinnati needs a $200 million streetcar and to sell
their Water assets while laying off 300 city workers and
while accumulating an unfunded city pension
plan liability of $1.3 billion."
OPINIONS--July 19, 2009
Project on hold!
Click Here to Read Details
Dusty Rhodes says the following about the Streetcar Plan:
"The City of Cincinnati
Trolley proposal is another "pie in the sky" dream which
would cost taxpayers untold millions with no apparent
benefit beyond allowing some local "visionaries" to
fantasize they are in Portland, Oregon."
(Click to read full article)
Recorder Wayne Coates adds the following:
I would have to agree with Auditor Rhodes' assessment that
our county needs to get back to common sense governance.
(Click to read full
Stephan Louis "Takes the Bus" while Petitioning to Allow
Cincinnati Voters to Vote in November on the NOW $220
Million Trolley Plan!
Read News Stories about the recent News
"We're 1/2 way there"
5 News Story Click Here
Tom Luken Named Honarary Chair of Campaign
WeDemandAVote.Com formally launches Trolley Petition
Press Conference May 21, 1:30 PM
Signature totals, coalition members and campaign
leadership to be announced
(Surprise announcements to be included!)
On Thursday, May
21, 2009 at 1:30 PM at Ollie's Trolley at the intersection of
Central and Liberty Avenues in Cincnnati, Ohio the WeDemandAVote.Com
coalition will formally launch the petition drive to stop the
wasteful $200 million trolley planned by Cincinnati City Council.
At that time, signature collection totals to date will be announced,
and coalition members and campaign leadership will be introduced.
The Trolley petition drive is the fourth
petition drive for the WeDemendaVote.Com coalition. In 2007, it
placed the Super-Sized Jail Tax on the ballot with 56,951
signatures. In 2008, it placed the Red Light Camera ban and the the
Proportional Representation system of electing Council on the
ballot. Despite being massively outspent by their opponents, the
Coalition has prevailed at the ballot box in two of the three
In 2007, the WeDemandaVote.Com coalition won the prestigous
"Modern Day Sam Adams" Award and its top prize of $10,000 from
the Sam Adams Alliance in Chicago for their community-based
organizing against the Super-Sized Jail Tax. The Trolley
petition needs 6,150 signatures. The formal filing deadline is
September 3, but petition organizers expect to complete their work
and submit their signatures much earlier than that.
Download Trolley Petition
Download Instructions for Trolley
Click Here to Read Smitherman's Letter
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Click Here for Complete Archive
Final Total 56,951
To Read The Press Release
WeDemandAVote.com Chairman, Daniel Regenold and NAACP President Christopher Smitherman announced Friday, July 13, 2007 that they have received a total of
56,951 Signatures out of 28,750 needed to place the Sales Tax issue on the Ballot in November."Our partnership of 7 organizations has worked hard to make this happen for the Voters of Hamilton County. The voters need a chance to review this $900 million Sales Tax Increase and vote on it!" said Regenold and Smitherman. The petitions now go to Hamilton County Auditor Dustry Rhodes for 10 days for public inspection then on to the Board of Elections for 10 days where signatures will be reviewed against Voter Signatures Cards. A final decision on the number of signatures approved should come around August 10, 2007.
Read About What the Green Party of Southwestern Ohio Thinks About
the Cincinnati Streetcar Plan
Click here for Press Release