This time it really is an emergency.

Last night one of my favorite anonymous contributors gave me a heads-up on a couple of ordinances that had been quietly placed on the agenda for the special Budget & Finance meeting tomorrow so that they can go to Council for a final vote by year-end.  The Committee will be discussing 30-year 100% property-tax abatements for Gateway West in Queensgate (the old Holiday Office Park) and the Centennial Project near City Hall.  Both are owned by Neyer Properties.

This is the email I’ve sent to all members of City Council today:

Please vote “no” on the Emergency ordinances related to 30-year abatement on the Gateway West Project and the Centennial Project, both owned by Neyer Properties.

This is a major departure from past practices where we are now allowing developers to use these huge subsidies as marketing tools for redevelopment without ever having to specify the specifics of the project.  How can Cincinnati afford to write a blank check to pay for the infrastructure improvements that are associated with these deals?  How can this be an emergency for the public good when we don’t even know what they are? 

Over the last ten years, our city has experienced a frightening rate of subsidy creep – and yes, it has resulted in exciting development.  But our risk is escalating exponentially and not all development ideas are good ones.  It’s as though we are operating on the assumption that nothing will ever go wrong and that government is smarter than the free market.  Our community needs to take more time to carefully consider the complexities inherent in real estate development and the public is offended at our intentional exclusion from these important decisions.

I’ve also started a moveon.org petition so we, the people, can at least go on record to say we want to be a part of this conversation about what we value and reward as a city.  http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/vote-no-on-no-specific?source=c.em&r_by=9746289

Here are City Council emails if you’d like to put in your 2 cents:

david.mann@cincinnati-oh.gov
yvette.simpson@cincinnati-oh.gov
wendell.thomas@cincinnati-oh.gov
pg.sittenfeld@cincinnati-oh.gov
christopher.smitherman@cincinnati-oh.gov
charlie.winburn@cincinnati-oh.gov
amy.murray@cincinnati-oh.gov
kevin.flynn@cincinnati-oh.gov
chris.seelbach@cincinnati-oh.gov

We’ve only got a few days to have an impact on this decision – but it’s a few days more than we’ve ever had before thanks to the attention of one anonymous citizen who checks City Council-on-line everyday, had the sense to open the documents when he saw them and tell me about it.  That’s tedious, thankless work – but if he hadn’t done it we wouldn’t have a chance.  Because he did we’ve got press coverage coming and an editorial in tomorrow’s Enquirer.  Please do whatever you can to demand our local democracy honors its original intention and allows citizens to be a part of the process on these big, expensive decisions.

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab® S

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10 thoughts on “This time it really is an emergency.

  1. charlie hinkley

    Kathy you are doing a thankless task in many ways, but it is so necessary! I can’t contribute since I’m only a HamCo resident, but good luck here! Ps I like your oblique reference to the Strong Towns concept of long term infrastructure liabilities.

    If we wanted to learn more about these two neyer projects, where would we go looking?

    Reply
    1. executivedreamer Post author

      Hi, Charlie. Thanks for the support. I need all I can get. — As far as learning more about the Neyer projects is concerned, that’s the problem. They don’t even know what they want to build. All the information that is public is in the ordinances which you can find at City Council-on-line. Have you ever used that? It’s kind of fun. Go to http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov, the “government” section. Over to the right at the top of the sidebar, you’ll see a link at the top of the sidebar called Transparency in Government. Go to Council Documents and when you get to the “item search” skip down to the middle of the entries where you can put subject and enter “Gateway West” or “Centennial Project.” I think that should get you there. (now that I write that all done, it’s not real easy, is it?) 3 documents should show up, Harry Black’s interdepartmental correspondence, the ordinance, and a description of the property. Harry’s correspondence contains the most complete info, but it’s not much.

      Reply
  2. Craig Hochscheid

    I’m am told that election records show that the Neyers contributed $26,000 to John Cranley’s mayoral campaign. This is yet more of Cranley’s quid pro quo cronyism for his fatcat pals, all taking place behind the closed doors in the old boys clubhouse.

    Reply
    1. executivedreamer Post author

      Hi, Craig. You’re right. The Neyers were major contributor to Mr. Cranley’s campaign, as were a lot of other developers. But as folks have pointed out to me repeatedly, these same folks also contributed to Roxanne’s campaign. Development is so political that everybody who ever runs – including all members of Council – has to be very sensitive to what this group wants. I wish this were all new under the new administration. Unfortunately this is the way business has always been done and, to my knowledge, no group of citizens has ever challenged that before. This is too much money and a growing amount of risk. I will say that under Cranley, we are moving to a period of development on steroids and it scares me.

      Reply
  3. executivedreamer Post author

    If we were on twitter we could ask Chris Wetterich. He knows almost everything. (I’m pretty sure she didn’t get anywhere near as much.) There’s definitely a strong bias to pro-development with all John’s decisions – which I’m prettty sure he would confirm with pride.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Together We Win | cincyopolis

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