Clang, Clang, Clang, Goes The Trolley or, What Part of "We Are Out of Money" Don't You Understand?
I've noted in the past the progress (read: regress) of Cincinnati's push for a streetcar line to revivify a city that is not simply shedding people like an Alaskan husky [sheds fur] on a summer's day but is broker than broke. Indeed, the Queen City is flat-ass busted to the tune of a $50 million budget deficit and a school system that is cutting its budget by $21 million.
In shoveling scarce funds to projects that are useless at best and catatsrophic at worst, Cincy is, alas, a model for virtually every other municipality in the country, maybe the world. Phase One of the Great Streetcar Revival plan is upon the place that drunken statesman Winston Churchill once mumbled was "among America's most beautiful inland cities," a $128 million boondoggle that will surely double or triple in price as the years of construction wear on. So read on, MacDuff:
In a series of 5-3 votes mirroring the action of council's budget committee earlier this week, council gave city administrators approval to proceed with $44 million in grants and $64 million in bonds that will finance most of the Downtown-to-Uptown streetcar line's $128 million first phase.
Those votes, city administrators said afterward, could be the final ones needed from the council before about 2½ years of construction begins, probably late this fall….
The only discouraging words about the streetcar project Wednesday came from Councilman Charlie Winburn, who merely noted: "We're spending a whole lot of money today on the streetcar."
What did you do during the Great Recession, Daddy? I made a series of 5-3 votes to flush tax dollars down the toilet, son, even though city residents opposed the streetcar plan by a whopping 2-to-1 margin.
Wake up, America, and especially pols at all levels of malfeasance: We Are Out of Money.