The term mandate is thrown around after every election by politicians. In 2009 President Obama believed he had a mandate and two years later the democrats suffered one of the largest defeats in history. Based upon the Tea Party’s victory in 2010, the GOP thought it had a mandate to simply obstruct Obama and stop the government from working, but of course President Obama sailed to reelection in 2012. At the end of the day, voters want our leaders to make smart decisions, not just fulfill dogmatic campaign promises or slogans.
Our Mayor elect and many new members of council ran a campaign dedicated to stopping the streetcar. It’s natural to expect them to carry out the central theme of their campaigns. However, governing sometimes requires our elected leaders to have a vision beyond simple campaign promises, especially if those promises are detrimental to the voters they represent.
The only thing that matters now are the financial consequences of canceling the streetcar after contracts have been signed and construction is under way. The harm of canceling the project now outweighs any benefit for several reasons.
The Cost of canceling is nearly the same as the cost to build
According to the project manager of the streetcar, it will cost between 107.3-124.9 million to cancel the project at this point. http://bit.ly/1fnTuMY I should add these costs do not factor in the inevitable lawsuits from contractors, taxpayers, and possibly the Federal Government. Does it make sense to lose 125 million dollars and have absolutely nothing to show for it as a city?
Canceling now creates an unnecessary budget deficit
Another reason cancelation is fiscally irresponsible is that all the money that has been spent thus far by the city will have to be repaid out of the city’s operating budget. In layman’s terms this means we can’t borrow the money and we will have to pay the money back by immediately cutting city services, laying off city workers, canceling neighborhood improvements, or raising taxes, just to cancel a project that is already paid for. Opponents of the streetcar speak to the operating costs, but residents and property owners on the line have already agreed to pay for the operating costs via a Special Improvement District.
We lose jobs and 45 million dollars of Federal grants
Mayor elect Cranley has said he will reallocate the 45 million dollars from the federal government for other projects. However, the federal government has made it absolutely clear that we will lose our funding if we don’t finish the streetcar. http://yhoo.it/1cIjjSY
In addition, it would take an act of Congress to appropriate the money for another purpose. Do you really think the government will pass a bill just because our Mayor says so? Congress can’t even decide on keeping the government open so there is no chance it will pass an appropriations bill just because Cincinnati can’t make up it’s mind. In sum, canceling the project now means lost jobs, opportunities, and funding in a time when our local economy is still recovering.
Cancellation will have a chilling effect on all big transportation projects in Cincinnati for a generation
We have a documented history of starting big transportation projects and stopping them once they start. http://goo.gl/o3Ji8N If we want to be a city that adds residents, jobs, and businesses we need to show we can function and get things done. Yes the city elected a Mayor and council that are anti-streetcar. Nevertheless, prior to this election, we had two elections on the issue of the streetcar and in 2011 voters elected a pro streetcar council and Mayor who have already started construction. Stopping the project now would not get more cops on the street, improve neighborhoods, create jobs, or balance the budget. Instead, it would damage our brand and limit our ability to compete with other major cities.