Sunday, March 31, 2013

Judge’s decision puts Cincinnati’s future on hold

Straight talk about the parking plan decision and the budget

Thursday’s decision by Judge Robert Winkler to suspend implementation of the proposed parking lease plan until a possible referendum is placed on November’s ballot was breathtaking in its sweeping scope and impact.
His decision immediately impacts public safety, the #1 concern of Cincinnatians, by forcing drastic police and fire layoffs. At the eleventh hour, with a balanced budget required by law no later than July 1, the city manager must begin laying off 189 police and 120 firefighters. The new police recruit class will also be cut.
Judge Winkler’s decision makes a political pawn out of city services. In addition to the cuts to public safety, his decision forces cuts that include closure of six pools and three recreation centers, elimination of all human services funding, cuts in litter control and more. These cuts threaten the fresh momentum in places like Avondale, Evanston, Bond Hill, College Hill, Madisonville, Walnut Hills, Westwood and other neighborhoods.
A sizable portion of the City’s deficit is the direct result of deep cuts by the Ohio legislature. The parking plan gives the city the ability to recover from the cuts without the deep cuts in core services that are required to fill a deficit of this size.
Those who call the layoffs a scare tactic and claim to offer solutions for a balanced budget with no layoffs are using magical thinking and fuzzy math. Their proposals fail the ‘arithmetic’ test.
The decision wreaks havoc on managing and governing Cincinnati.  All Ohio municipalities use emergency clauses. Judge Winkler’s decision to suspend the city’s powers to enact emergency legislation (which allows laws to take effect immediately) prevents the city from passing laws to take immediate action with money and manpower in disasters, like floods and chemical emergencies, and will make the city less competitive in development deals, where time is money to investors.
I voted for the parking plan because it would have not only avoided the painful layoffs and cuts in services that the manager is now beginning to implement, but will also allow us to continue the city’s growth and momentum. The parking lease is a significant source of investment in Cincinnati’s future at a time when the city is attracting new businesses, younger generations and immigrants.  It supports projects that create jobs, like the I-71/MLK interchange, and enhance quality of life in our neighborhoods, like the Wasson Way bike trail. Read more here.
What can you do? 
·      If you're approached to sign the petition, remember what Mayor Mallory said: 'if you’re signing a petition, you’re signing a pink slip for a cop or firefighter.' 
·      Learn the facts about the proposed parking lease plan. Click on the links I’ve provided in this letter.
·      Make your voice heard. Contact the media, your friends, your neighborhood association. Tell them that the parking plan allows Cincinnati to continue our current momentum in neighborhoods and downtown alike on a scale that we have not enjoyed for a long time.
We will vigorously appeal Judge Robert Winkler’s decision.  Even if court cases drag beyond the July 1 budget deadline, the city will fight for the right to manage its own future.
Judge Winkler’s decision hits the ‘pause’ button on Cincinnati’s progress. Whether it’s decided in court or at the ballot box this fall, the stakes for Cincinnati are high, and the choice over which direction we take – forward or backward – is stark. Together, let’s do what we must to give Cincinnati its best chance for a vibrant future.
For background on the parking plan, click here.

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