The Promulgation of Hate

Today’s post is one that I do not want to write.

That said, I feel compelled to do so as it is time some of these things were said.  I will do my very, very best to keep it positive.  After all, fighting fire with fire never works.

I have, numerous times, made it quite clear how I feel about the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) on this site.  For refreshers, and for the sake of brevity, you can read here, here, and here to see past blog posts that have mentioned COAST on this site.  Lastly, Andy Chirch, of “Downtownity,” wrote an article in which I discuss COAST – if you missed it, you can access it here.

However, time & time again I read an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer that clearly leans toward COAST’s principles, and I am not sure why – for an example, please read this morning’s cover story on the streetcar subsidies.  I also see numerous people around town embracing their ideas, and (again) I am not sure why.  I fully understand the desire to keep taxes low, and I embrace the idea of government having a true and time-tested system of checks & balances, but I do NOT condone hate-speech, less-than-honest lawsuits, and the impediment of progress.

With that said, I feel it is past time to let you all know who COAST really is, and how they operate.

I will, briefly, re-post (in its entirety) a few bios below to serve as introduction:

Mark Miller: Engineer and COAST Treasurer. You may remember Mr. Miller’s name as Chris Seelbach asked him to step down as COAST’s Treasurer after Mr. Miller tweeted, on the 10 year anniversary of September 11th: “3% of FDNY died 10 years ago by terrorism. Today Cincinnati lost 17.5% of fire companies by brownouts to pay for a streetcar. Which is worse?”

Jason Gloyd: Real estate agent and COAST Chairman. Mr. Gloyd and his cronies went after Hamilton County Commissioners when they spent 20 cents on a proclamation of Gay Pride Day.

Chris Finney: Attorney and COAST Figurehead. Mr. Finney’s name may be familiar to you, as most who follow local politics have run across his name from time to time, but one piece of his career is conspicuously not spoken of all that much. First – we all know that there is a deficit in Hamilton County’s Stadium Account. Some of us know that Mr. Finney and COAST opposed any tax increase (obviously) a few years ago to plug that deficit. To go further back – in 1996 voters ok’d a half-cent sales tax increase that was supposed to pay for both of the new stadiums (this increase was supported by Mr. Finney and the County Commissioners). More back story – the lease between the Bengals and the County is lopsided, at best. The lease calls for all upgrades to be paid for by the County, revenue to be shared when the stadium is used for other purposes, and, best of all, does not require the Bengals to pay rent in the latter years of the deal. Wow. Hamilton County got the short end of THAT stick. But why? In 1995 Mr. Finney lauded the deal, saying, “the plan makes sense and it won’t cost me a nickel.” Oops. Mr. Finney’s plan, all those years ago, was to increase the sales tax and use the increased revenue to rebate some homeowners on their property tax (namely, wealthy homeowners who stand to gain from receiving rebates on property tax – NOTE: this rebate meant nothing to low-income people – and very little to the middle class). Mr. Finney was quoted as saying, “how does this magic happen – that a tax increase results in lower out-of-pocket expenses and solves these crushing problems? The half of the taxes not returned to property owners will be paid by out-of-county residents.” Oops, again. Mr. Finney is an intelligent man, but he was unable to foresee a future in which residents outside of Hamilton County did not make as much money as planned, nor did he account for the low-income residents INSIDE of Hamilton County. But, the good news is that Mr. Finney and his friends got a nice kickback to cushion their bank accounts. Oh! And one more piece of good news – one of the three county commissioners responsible for getting the stadium deal to go through, Bob Bedinghaus, was hired by the Bengals in 2001 and now serves as the team’s Director of Business Development. So, at least someone is profiting off the deal. Lastly, in 2011, the Wall Street Journal, lauded for its conservative presentation of all things fiscal, called the stadium debacle and the Finney-supported-tax-deal “one of the worst professional sports deals ever struck by a local government.”

Ok – so there are some of the major players.

COAST and Mr. Finney have appeared in the news as of late due to their role in the parking lease referendum.  So, his name may be familiar to you.  I have heard from some close to the parking referendum that Mr. Finney has a “twisted view” of reality.  Not my words – theirs.

So, why this post today about COAST?  Why continue to beat a dead horse, you ask?

Because I can handle greed, hatred of the urban core, and even a little bit of grandstanding.  I understand how these play into people’s public life.  I may not like it, but I have seen enough of it to understand it and ignore it.

One thing I cannot handle is intentionally misleading the public – those you purportedly support – for your own personal gain.  But again, I have already touched on this far too many times in relation to COAST.

However, my latest discovery has me on edge, and I feel that the citizens of Cincinnati need to know how low COAST can go.  More importantly, I ask COAST to join the rest of us in civil debate.  There is room for all of us at the table, but not when insults and misinformation are tossed around so casually.

There is a website out there, Republicans For Higher Taxes, that is chock full of misinformation, hate speech, and borderline illegal articles that walk an all-too-not-fine line between defamation of character and libel.

It has come to my attention through numerous sources that this website is run by @JeffCapell.  At the time of this posting, Mr. Capell had not confirmed or denied this assertion – so, I cannot say for certain if this is true, only that numerous trusted sources tell that it is so.  Furthermore, Mr. Capell has been known to bash me on Twitter and say rude things about others – rarely stating facts when doing so. One thing IS for certain, Mr. Capell allowed Mr. Finney to use his residency in Blue Ash to file suit against Blue Ash regarding the sale of the airport.  Similar to how Mr. Finney used the residency of a Cincinnati resident to file suit against the City regarding the parking lease.  I have yet to see Mr. Finney sue his neighborhood of Anderson for anything.

Republicans For Higher Taxes, as the name may indicate, is a parody site – lauding the benefits of the streetcar, the IRS, etc.  All of the comments on the site are also parodies.  Those who comment are named, “Christine Seelbach,” “CincyCappell’s Childless Marriage,” “Inbred Westsider,” and many more libelous monikers that I am not going to waste my time publishing.  Even I have my own name for when “I” comment on Republicans For Higher Taxes’ posts: “Mike Moronski.”  It should be noted that when I was teased in the third grade this is what my classmates called me.  I would hope that adults could come up with a better way to insult me.  Seriously, try a little harder – come up with something clever, intelligent, truly insulting.  Alas, I suppose I will have to settle for third-grade humor.  I wish I could expect more from those managing the Republicans For Higher Taxes site.  One thing is for sure – the name HAS caught on!  I have seen people on Facebook calling me “Mike Moronski” in reference to many of my policies that cut costs, promote investment, encourage equitable development, and move the City forward.  I suppose those ARE silly ideas.  Maybe I am a moron.

Moving on.

I will not go to the trouble of rewriting the hate speech that is found all over the aforementioned website, but I will say this – if COAST, or COAST members ARE behind this site, then they had better get ready to go to court.  I am not saying that I will sue them, for I could care less what they say about me – but someone will.  You cannot refer to someone’s wife as a “pig,” or reference someone mistakenly killing their spouse because she looks like a pig, or arbitrarily call a person “racist,” etc., etc., for too long before you end up in court.

Mr Finney:  If you are behind this in any way, I applaud you for being so secretive about it – for surely you know that the hateful slander on this site teeters quite precariously on the legal tight rope.  If you are not affiliated with this site, that would make me very happy indeed – for, as I have already said, we need all opinions at the table, and I hope we can continue to count on yours through polite discourse.  However, if any of your cohorts are managing the page, I would back away from them as soon as possible if you hope to retain any of the slowly dwindling credibility COAST has in this City, er, Suburbs.

Speaking of Suburbs.  I love the suburbs.  I grew up in the suburbs.  I am so very confused by the HATRED the COAST Suburbanites have for the City.  My wife has a great idea – form a Coalition that protests ballot issues in places like Blue Ash and Kenwood.  We can call ourselves, “COST” – The Coalition Opposed to Suburban Taxes.  I ask you this, COAST:  How silly would it look for a bunch of Downtown residents to protest what was happening in the Suburbs?  Methinks it would look very silly, indeed.  Guess what?  Y’all look just as silly – and greedy – because you throw earning money on top of your silliness.

I want to see GREATER Cincinnati succeed.  Many COASTers have sent the exact opposite message – whether they meant to or not.  And again, COAST’s cohorts at Republicans For Higher Taxes are dragging them down.  I give COAST yet another opportunity to tell me that they have NOTHING to do with that site.

Before I close, I would like to send a couple of messages:

Cincinnati Enquirer:  if you truly do get information from COAST, my question to you is simple – “Why?”  I remember a tweet from COAST after Barry Horstman died.  It made mention of the fact that he was “whacked by the streetcar mafia.”  If my memory serves me well, his daughter was quite upset by this.  If I was a staffer at the Enquirer, I would be outraged.  I was not even a fan of Mr. Horstman’s reporting a majority of the time, but that tweet from COAST was about as cold-hearted & unprofessional as it gets.

COAST:  your tastelessness has nothing to do with politics.  If the site, Republicans For Higher Taxes, has anything to do with you, and people begin getting wise to how you play ball, you could be in for a nasty day.  Your website is tough enough to read at times, but it clearly stays further inside the realm of legality and is slightly less hateful than Republicans For Higher Taxes.  I assume you will never read this post, but if you do, please feel free to address my accusations.  I, unlike YOUR organization, will respond.  Furthermore, I will give you the respect of letting you know that I have written this – unlike when you and your friends bash others (including me) on your website, tweets, and elsewhere.

We live in a democracy.  We are all entitled to our own opinions.  I, for one, welcome conservative & liberal ideologies alike.  I, for one, do NOT welcome hate from EITHER side.  For our democracy to work we must engage in civil dialogue.  It is time that we stand up to COAST and their counterparts and let them know that their hateful means of advocacy are debilitating to the democratic process and our City’s progress as a whole.

Economically Moral? (It Is Possible)

So – I think I have made it pretty clear how I feel about the Anna Louise Inn/Western & Southern “deal.”

The “deal” was not a “win/win.”  When one paints one into a corner, one forgoes one’s ability to use the term, “win/win.”

Many people have supported the fact that I continue to publicly support Anna Louise Inn and Cincinnati Union Bethel (who owns the Inn) – others have told me to “let it go.”

Sorry, that’s not going to happen.

Let us, for the purposes of this post, step back from the microcosm of the Anna Louise Inn situation and look at the bigger picture – that of the serious lack of affordable housing in Cincinnati.

Let us also remember that the number one cause of homelessness is lack of affordable housing.

Let us also remember that poverty breeds desperation which breeds crime which breeds more prisoners which breeds less people employed which breeds a dwindling tax base which breeds budget deficits which breeds the lack of security of our first responders’ jobs.

Let us reference PLAN Cincinnati which calls for 1,200 units of affordable housing Downtown (Central Business District [CBD] Downtown, not Over-the-Rhine Downtown).

Let us note that there are currently (taking Anna Louise Inn out of the equation) THIRTY units of affordable housing Downtown in the CBD.  WITH Anna Louise Inn we are still only talking 120 units of affordable housing.  Still a far cry from 1,200.

Let us step away from the morality (or lack thereof) of Western & Southern & their latest acquisition and have a look at the legality (or lack thereof) of the situation.

Yes, affordable housing advocates are upset.  Yes, those who have fought for justice for many, many years are peeved.  Yes, rights-based groups of every kind are up in arms.

But why isn’t the City Government?

Western & Southern, in a true “about face,” very literally overrode City Council, who told them they could not have Anna Louise Inn, yet they got it any way.  As far back as three years ago our Local Government told Western & Southern to back off.  Yet, Western & Southern pushed on and proved that their financial weight trumps elected authority.

To me, this is a very dangerous precedent.

Are elected officials remaining quiet because it is an election year?  Do they feel that this “deal” was a “win/win?”  Or are there simply just so many other things on their minds right now that they don’t have time to comment?

Whatever the reason, I know that if I were on Council TODAY, I would be screaming from the rooftops if for no other reason than Western & Southern does not control this City.  The people do.  The elected officials do.  Or, at least I thought they did.

Which brings me to an equitable, economically sound solution:  Anti-Displacement Ordinances.

These ordinances are nothing new, but they are truly foreign in Cincinnati.  In Cincinnati, if someone wants a building that has people in it – and that someone has enough power and/or money – they can have that building.  End of story.  An anti-displacement ordinance would make this impossible.  Yes, buildings could be acquired, but, like most actions in a democracy, there would be a process in place that oversaw the economic AND moral benefit of the deal (yes, it IS possible to be economically savvy AND morally inclined – in fact, the two tend to work best hand in hand).

Furthermore, an anti-displacement ordinance would NOT make it impossible to reinvest and develop.  No, but it WOULD make that reinvestment and development more equitable & long-lasting (i.e., the folks currently occupying said building to be redeveloped would be given ample notice, time, and finances to relocate).  A community that values ALL of its citizens is one that thrives.  A City that makes it possible for everyone to succeed is one in which people want to live and raise a family – it is also one that does not have to rely on debt-financing to get by until the next fiscal crisis.

There are numerous resources out there on anti-displacement legislation.  Seminole County has outlined some criteria here – you will notice that the anti-displacement ordinance sees to it that buildings are kept up to standard so that they are not even eligible to be bought out.  Only buildings that are in terrible condition are eligible for redevelopment.  Those living in these shoddy conditions will be relocated to suitable housing as part of the anti-displacement ordinance.  This is bad news for slum lords – good news for low-income people.  I know on whose side I am.

I will push for such an ordinance when I am elected to City Council.  An anti-displacement ordinance will promote many things, but the main three (as I see them) are:

1)  Equitable redevelopment of our City’s 52 neighborhoods.

2)  A reduction in sub par living conditions promoted by slum lords.

3)  Protection of our City’s affordable housing stock; resulting in less crime and lower taxes.

Some of you may be saying, “Yeah, but the residents of Anna Louise Inn ARE getting nicer housing.  And they were given ample time of two years to move.  And they ARE getting money to relocate.”  True – but they would not have been able to be bullied in court for three years and drained of funds because an anti-displacement ordinance would have made note of the fact that Anna Louise Inn was NOT in shoddy condition.  Furthermore – I encourage anyone who believes that Anna Louise Inn is definitely moving to Mt. Auburn to show me the paperwork that certifies that the deal is done.

Spoiler alert:  you will be looking for a long, long time.

If you care about Cincinnati and want to see us grow in a way we could have never imagined, join me in bringing along ALL of our citizens and neighborhoods on the journey.  For, if we all move forward together, I promise you that our future will be brighter.  All of us will succeed and have fuller lives – from corporate giants like Western & Southern to residents at Anna Louise Inn.  We need each other if we are to right the ship.  And, sometimes, we need laws to help encourage us to see how dependent we truly are upon one another.

 

#52equals1

If you follow me on Twitter, or if you follow @TeamMoroski (managed by @Paigetastic01, @HeckmannMichael & @RyanBirdNT) then you will have noticed that we are trying to get #52equals1 trending.

There is no more important trending topic on which to focus.

Every other issue that we are all spending so much time on – from streetcars to parking to budgets – is directly tied into the equation, #52equals1.

I penned a post not so long ago titled, “What Can 52 Do For You.” In an effort not to sound redundant, this post is intended to get at the Heart of the 52 neighborhoods in Cincinnati – not simply another post in which I claim to love all 52 of them.  (Well, this post may have some of that in it as well – I cannot avoid it.)

As I have stated on this site – I have lived in three of Cincinnati’s unique neighborhoods – North Avondale, Pleasant Ridge, and Downtown.  I have worked in Over-the-Rhine, East Walnut Hills, Lower Price Hill, Northside, and Mt. Auburn.  One of this things I have always liked about Cincinnati is how DIFFERENT each community is.  The personalities of the neighborhoods could not be more distinct if they tried.  In Atlanta, where I grew up, there were idiosyncrasies in the City’s neighborhoods, but nothing compared to Cincinnati.  And Cincinnati has far fewer people than Atlanta – so, what does that tell you?  It tells ME that the citizens of Cincinnati have BIG personalities and truly CARE about their neighborhoods.  They care so much that they are willing to stand up proud and scream it from the rooftops of Price Hill, Mt. Washington, Sayler Park, Westwood, Hyde Park, Oakley, South Fairmount, Clifton, Riverside, Bond Hill and more.  You can even hear the 248 households in Paddock Hills screaming out for attention.

But who’s listening?

If you were to pay attention at neighborhood Community Council meetings the answer to that question would be, “NO ONE.”

Now, I am not saying that NO ONE at City Hall listens.  I AM saying that this is how the neighborhoods feel.  And, as we all know, perception is reality.

It is time the neighborhoods had someone they feel listens to them.  These people already exist on City Council, but we can do better.  I have said it many times, and I stand by it – I am running to serve as a voice for the voiceless.  There are too many people in our neighborhoods who feel that they do not have a voice.  If our City is to move forward, this HAS to be addressed.

There are many in our low-income neighborhoods that feel the City is playing a shell game with our homeless & social service population.

There are many in our middle and upper income neighborhoods who feel they have never received a valid explanation of the streetcar.

There are many ALL OVER our City that feel the dwindling Neighborhood Support Program (NSP) funds is indicative of City leaders’ disdain for the neighborhoods.

Regardless of how much, or how little, truth is in these statements – they are a fact.  It IS possible to discuss the streetcar in terms of neighborhood development, but it takes time and it takes courage.  It IS possible to reinvest in the Downtown core and NOT move social services and make them someone else’s problem.  It IS possible to keep Anna Louise Inn and the Drop Inn Center in their long time locations.

I relish in having these conversations.  More so, I relish listening and learning.  Just ask Michael Heckmann, Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator, or Nick Tilly, Volunteer Coordinator – they have been spending as much time as me in our neighborhoods and they have heard these same things.  They LISTEN.  Every single day, Michael, Nick and I are creating ideas for the long term financial stability, safety, and vitality of our 52 neighborhoods.

I run for all 52 neighborhoods.  I will do my best to represent all of you.  And, until I figure out how to bi-locate 26 different times, be on the lookout for Michael and Nick.  They will be in a neighborhood near you – count on it.

In closing, I will close how I close many of my speeches at Community Council meetings:

I do NOT promise to vote the way you want me to vote every time.  I do NOT promise to say things that you will agree with all of the time.

I DO promise that even if you disagree with how I vote you will understand why I voted the way that I did, because I will (as I have always done) go to great lengths to explain why I feel the things that I feel.  I DO promise that I will return your phone calls when you call my office.

Lastly, I DO promise to listen.  Every time.  Every day.

To contact Team Moroski with your unique neighborhood concerns, use any of the addresses below:

Michael Heckmann:  neighbors@mikemoroski.com

Nick Tilley:  volunteer@mikemoroski.com

General:  info@mikemoroski.com

To contact me, simply do so through this website.

Unity Assists.

#52equals1

In Support Of Anna Louise Inn

John Barrett was quoted in the paper on May 14th, 2013 as saying the Anna Louise Inn (ALI) deal was a “win/win.”

I disagree.

A quick bio for those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Barrett.  John Barrett is the CEO of Western & Southern financial group.  He has invested MILLIONS of dollars into Cincinnati and, historically, has been a good steward of Downtown Cincinnati’s development.  That is, until recently when he acquired, through years of lawsuits, the ALI from Cincinnati Union Bethel (CUB).

Years ago, when Mr. Barrett began lobbying to buy the ALI (which is OWNED by CUB), the community came out in support of ALI.  Every member of City Council supported CUB’s right to keep ALI in its current location on Lytle Park because, once again, they OWNED the property.  I will not proceed by recounting all of the court cases that followed, as I want this post to be short and to the point.  All I will mention is that the lawsuits ended up having their desired intent – they held off CUB’s ability to renovate ALI for so long that they would HAVE to accept Mr. Barrett’s terms and sell the property.  You see, the Federal Tax monies that CUB needs to continue supporting the women at ALI was about to expire, and they had to make a decision – keep spending money they didn’t have in court fees & lose out on the Federal monies, or agree to play ball with Mr. Barrett.

Painting someone into a corner is NOT a “win/win” situation.  It is tantamount to bullying.

ALI got $4,000,000 and the women who live at ALI will be “allowed” to live in their home for the next two years while their new facility gets renovated.  These are both good things.  CUB will also be able to harness the power of the Federal monies – also a good thing.  What is NOT a good thing is that, after YEARS of community & bipartisan support, Mr. Barrett still got his way.

I have worked with low-income people throughout the entire course of my adult life.  I have advocated for affordable housing and rehabbed buildings for this purpose.  Years ago, when I reached out to 3CDC to form a relationship with them, my intentions were questioned by many of my affordable housing cohorts.  Still, I pushed on with the ethos that making friends is the surest and most effective form of protest.  To date, I have formed numerous excellent relationships with folks at 3CDC, and I have been impressed with how they have managed the redevelopment of much of our downtown core.  No one is perfect, but I feel they have been good stewards of their role in Cincinnati, all told.

I have felt quite fortunate to find myself with good friends in ALL of the nonprofit worlds of Cincinnati – from 3CDC to our region’s social service leaders.  It is this bridge building upon which we, as a city, need to focus if we are to continue our forward momentum as a City known for progressivism and tolerance.

Which brings me to my point.

After lunch with my friend, Evan Hennessy, and after a day to digest the news I received from Pete Witte yesterday that ALI was sold to Mr. Barrett, I have come to this conclusion:  Mr. Barrett needs to resign from his Board position at 3CDC.

3CDC has proven that they are interested in working with social service agencies in redeveloping Over-the-Rhine (OTR).  Yes, the relations can be a bit tricky, but the principle parties at 3CDC have shown me that they are willing to listen and put their money where their mouth is (just look at Mercer Commons, which will have a number of affordable units in it when all is said and done).

Mr. Barrett, who holds great opinion-making power on the Board of 3CDC has proven that he is not of the similar mindset.  A nonprofit redevelopment corporation as important as 3CDC deserves to have objective, compassionate, and well-intentioned people on their Board.  I feel that Mr. Barrett has shown, quite publicly, that he not only does not hold the low-income members of our community in high esteem, but also many of the initiatives 3CDC has completed or has in the works.

Mr. Barrett has contributed much to the City of Cincinnati.  It is a real shame that he may be remembered only for this attack on ALI and CUB – however, I hope this is not the case. I truly wish he had backed down years ago from the ALI fight, but he didn’t.  The reason he won is because we let him win.  There is often no ramification for folks like Mr. Barrett.  While asking for his resignation from the Board of 3CDC may not seem like much, it is at least a step toward letting him know that WE, the citizens of Cincinnati, do not appreciate his latest acquisition of ALI, or the manner through which he acquired the property.

Anna Louise Inn deserves better.

3CDC deserves better.

Please join me in calling for Mr. Barrett’s resignation from the Board of 3CDC here.  If you agree with this proposal, please share this blog post on your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIN profiles.