Cincinnati’s old money attacks the future with the promise of a failed past

If you had thought that former Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson was gone, you were wrong. In the most recent publication of Cincy Magazine (not to be confused with Cincinnati Magazine), Bronson wrote a vanity piece about the new $322 million Great American Tower at Queen City Square.

The 800,000 square-foot office tower is adding a large amount of modern office space to Cincinnati’s central business district while also dramatically altering the city’s famous skyline long dominated by the historic Carew and Central Trust towers. What was interesting about Bronson’s story is that he took a platform for which he enthusiastically touted the new tower and how it was accomplished, and turned it into an opportunity to lob attacks at other major projects like the Cincinnati Streetcar and The Banks development along the central riverfront. It took Bronson no more than eleven sentences before he dove head-first into his attack of both projects.

“But the biggest building project since Carew Tower in 1930 has been overlooked, as politcos and mediacrats chatter about streetcar fantasies and the geologic progress on The Banks,” Bronson exclaimed. “While City Hall itches to spend more than $100 million on trolleys, while county leaders lean on chrome shovels and declare victory on the 14-year Banks promise, the $400 million Great American Tower has risen from the ground like Jack’s Metropolis beanstalk.”

Aside from Bronson’s factual errors about the tower’s price tag, it being the largest building project since Carew Tower (The Banks, UC complete rebuild, hospitals, Paul Brown Stadium, Great American Ball Park), or his odd comparison with Tabart’s famous English fairy tale, what is most striking is his unprompted attack on other major development projects to help further promote his beloved metropolis beanstalk.

The new tower does speak to Cincinnati’s ability to get things done during tough economic times, but lets not forget that the Great American Tower at Queen City Square is a vision that dates back to the 1980s as Atrium III, then more contemporaneously in the 90’s with the Queen City Square moniker. At that point the tower was envisioned as a towering brick skyscraper complete with a dramatic spire on top. But aside from that, Mr. Bronson continued.

“In less time than it took to name The Banks or buy one streetcar, Barrett and the Lindners at Great American Insurance have remodeled Cincinnati.”

Now there is a name we all know…the Lindners, Cincinnati’s old money power family. Over the years, the Lindners have at some point owned Kings Island, the ATP Tennis Center, Chiquita, Great American Insurance, United Dairy Farmers, and even the Cincinnati Reds. But what does this have to do with The Banks development or the Cincinnati Streetcar, well Mr. Bronson gives us some insight later in the same Cincy Magazine piece.

“The city has put $5.5 million into infrastructure improvements for Queen City Square, but Western & Southern put up nearly 10 times that much, and has invested $500 million in city projects over the past six years. “If the government subsidizes it, it’s not going to work,” Barrett says. “We need private money in it, our stake. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. Those conservative talking points ring loud and clear to anyone who has advanced beyond middle school social studies.

In 2004, the Lindner family raised more than $300,000 for the Republican Party through their regular household parties and other events, and in 2005, Carl Lindner Jr. was among a mere 53 entities that gave a maximum $250,000 to support the second inauguration of the beloved President George W. Bush.

So what Bronson has done, is effectively frame both the Cincinnati Streetcar and The Banks development as some sort of government subsidized projects that have been poorly run, thus further supporting the conservative talking points littered throughout this Cincy Magazine story. The problem is that Mr. Bronson failed to mention that Queen City Square also received $45 million from the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority (which also owns the land) in addition to the millions of dollars it received from the city.

The problem here is not just the overtly political leanings of this story, but rather the unnecessary and unprompted attacks of other development projects in the area. The Cincinnati Streetcar is expected to be taking on its first passengers in early 2013, and the first-phase of The Banks will house its first resident next spring. This means that in a span of six years the Cincinnati Streetcar will not only have been envisioned, planned, funded, but built as well. Meanwhile, The Banks will have its first-phase completed in 14 years which includes two stadiums, a reconstructed Fort Washington Way, museum, and transit center. Both projects will have been completed in significantly less time than the 30-year vision that has been Queen City Square.

So what does this tell us? Well firstly it tells us that large development projects take significant amounts of time. It also tells us that the old money, political interests in Cincinnati are still strong and they are still fighting to remain relevant as a new generation steps up to the plate with a new vision for Cincinnati.

Over the past 50 years, this old generation has overseen Cincinnati through a period of decline.  Now a new generation wants to restore Cincinnati to its previous stature and beyond.  So, the final thing this tells us is that the next generation of leaders and visionaries will have to fight to rip control away from the cold death grip of Cincinnati’s old money power brokers who still obviously have the influence and authority to do what they wish.

  • Great Article. Personally we should be thankfull for ALL development given the bureaucracy of city govenrnment. Talk about smoke filled rooms and good old boy network.

    Unfortunately Cincinnati is like “crack addict” right now, addicted to federal monies. We take too long to build things because we have SO MANY City People involved and no clear leadership. Eventually when the federal monies run out, and they will run out, what do we do?

    I look at a city like Indianapolis and watch how fast Lucas Oil Stadium was built, how quickly the Conrad went up, the latest Convention center expansion.

    Those things happen because they have a city govenment that works, with good processes and people who are hired because they are the best for the job. No “shifting’ of people who are unqualified just because we cant ‘fire’ the incompetent. We pay WAY to much for city employees compared to other cities when those jobs could be outsourced at far less cost. The city Pension problems speaks for itself.

    Before we pat ourselves on the back for Banks and Streetcar (both good projects) we have to realize that we need to REALLY fix a city government and city council that far too often, gets in the way.

    What we REALLY need, Is new people involved in the “Political machine” of Cincy politics and we need to dismantle the “dysfunctionality” of city hall. We need to pick up the pace of development and the way city government works (or doesnt work).We need to have the guts to fire those that don’t do anything other than take up space, and a paycheck and bring in competent forward thinking people. That will be hard to do and it takes new people with fresh ideas and vision.

    AND, I predict, the next major battle in this decade, if we are to really move forward and build on current sucesses.

  • john

    i think anyone who uses the word trolley these days is seriously outdated.

    the baby boomer generation is not the future. they are living in the past.

    they ruined their downtowns, and invented the commute.

  • John couldn’t have said it better. Great article.

  • Zack

    Why bash a project that will transport maybe 20% of your workforce from parking garages and domiciles to your wonderful building, and bash another project where 2% of your tenants will live, 35% will shop and get their coffee?

    PS- to the developers; yes you are the tallest building, but when I fly into CVG, Carew still looks taller due to the elevation. Whatever lets you sleep well at night though…

  • Bronson’s a hack. Are people still taking him seriously? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Bronson, et al, are part of the “incredible shrinking city” old guard. Let them rot out there in the ‘burbs. We’ve got work to do.

  • Ed

    Old money and conservatives, ugh! Let’s get rid of them and 3CDC all at the same time! Bring back Springer and the failed leadership from Cincinnati’s “decades of decline.”

    Ha! Stop making mountains out of mole hills.

  • It seems to me Cincinnati is rounding a corner, we’ve voted most of the dead wood out of council and except for two people using city projects to run for county commissioner I think things have been going in the right direction. Things are moving faster now than when I moved here in 2004.

  • John Schneider

    Hey, look at the bright side — at least Bronson is no longer boring us to death with those pointless Enquirer editorials about the supposedly surreal nature of his Lake Michigan beach vacations.

  • I don’t think there was that much in this post, but I will never understand the “old money hate”. I certainly was disappointed that “old money” wanted the ballpark on the river instead of on the Broadway Commons, but give them their due. You need look no further than the Cincinnati Tennis Tournament in Mason to see the positive “old money” has brought to our area.

    I, for one, hope they don’t go away. The strength of our region, imho, will result from the diversity of development, not hooking our wagon to one flavor.

  • You’re right Bryan, Cincinnati’s old money has done a lot of good for the city that even goes far beyond any development projects. But, the thing that is troubling is that this Cincy Magazine story promoted this old guard at the expense of the new generation of leaders.

    This goes further when these old money interests aggressively fight any new ideas with their extensive clout. Look no further than the ballpark location, reconstruction of Fort Washington Way, the Cincinnati Streetcar, The Banks, or even the redevelopment of Over-the-Rhine. It’s one thing to go about doing your business, it’s quite another to go about knocking down the ideas of everyone else.

    Cincinnati does need a diversity of development and ideas to be successful, but I think the old money has done more harm to that prospect than anything else…and that might very well be by design. Because why would you want things to change when you’re so well set up to make big-time money off of the way things currently operate?

  • John Schneider

    It’s probably worth writing an article about, but it wasn’t only “old money” that wanted the ball park on the river as the keystone of a plan to make the waterfront habitable.

    Since 1788, the problem with Cincinnati’s Central Riverfront has been that it floods fairly regularly. Cincinnati never had the means to build a flood-proof riverfront until the massive infrastructure budget that accompanied the two sports facilities was on the table. It’s only because of the teams’ demand for game-day parking revenues that money was set aside to build 4,500 structured parking spaces between the two stadiums; otherwise that area would still be stuck in the mud today, used for ten Sundays a year for Bengals’ parking and marginal parking for downtown office workers.

    So by putting both teams down there, we were able to lift the riverfront out of the flood plain, flood-proof a billion dollars worth of new development and create a parking bank that has cured downtown’s chronic parking deficiency (which, incidentally, serves to preserve olders buildings that might have otherwise become parking lots). Historians will reqard the city’s riverfront investment decisions of 1995-2000 as some of the most significant ever.

    On a net basis, we’re better off with the Reds on the river. And beside, the Broadway Commons site was too small for a major league ball park, something that Channel 9 established beyond any doubt in the closing week of the 1998 campaign. It would have made for a good AAA ball park. Jim Tarbell would probalby tell you the same thing today.

  • John, you’ll never convince me that the Riverfront was a better spot for the Reds Stadium than Broadway Commons. Rivefront development and Ft. washington Way (Portland had their version of Ft. Washington Way and ripped it up to reconnect the city with the Willamette sp?). What we have is a ribbon of unfriendly concrete separated from the core of the city. When Cleveland plopped Jacob’s Field (now Progressive)down in a rundown area of the city center, restaurants and nighclubs started showing up before the stadium was finished. Where’s the private development spawned by Great American? It doesn’t exist. So, public dollars for food and entertainment have to follow public dollars for the stadium.

    And as far as the obstructionist, reactionary old money. I’ve always felt that civic leaders here preferred to be big fish in a small pond. Better to have a big slice of a small pie than make a bigger pie and risk losing prominence and influence.

  • argylist

    Don’t equate “old money” with Bronson’s rant. As much as we like to think of downtown development as a “next generation” event, it’s being spurred substantially by “old money.” Who’s buying the condos downtown? Who’s patroning new restaurants and shops downtown? Who’s protecting Cincinnati’s cultural establishments (Music Hall, etc.)? Hint: it’s not all a lot of 29 year-olds with $100K in student loans. A substantial part of Cincinnati’s downtown resurgence is due to older wealthy individuals.

    Bronson is not “old money,” and doesn’t represent the views of “old money.” He’s just a blowhard. Your implication that Bronson’s article means that rich conservatives want to discredit the streetcar is unfounded. Many “old money” conservatives want the City to thrive. Was Bronson wrong in using the QSC’s success to discredit the other projects? Yes. But leave “old money” out of it.

    BTW: How is Linder old money? He pretty much built his entire empire himself. He may be old, and he may have money, but he is self-made. One of the “powers that be”, maybe. But “old money,” no.

  • The tone I don’t like is that the “powers that be” are somehow anti-Cincinnati. I do not think that is a constructive mentality. I think it is important to realize that *most* folks are looking to make our city a better place. The important thing to do, imho, is to effectively communicate how new ideas will make our city better, rather than rage against the “powers that be” blocking new ideas. It’s the same destructive mentality in politics. The other guy is “evil”.

    Again, I don’t think this site, or Randy in particular, are necessarily guilty of that, but it is an easy trap to fall in.

  • John Schneider

    I’ll hazard a considered guess that if the Great American Ball Park wasn’t exactly where it is today, then the State of Ohio would have never found the money to narrow Fort Washington Way from 750 feet to 375 feet and that the “unfriendly ribbon of concrete” would have been left the way it was, putting our riverfront on ice for another thirty or forty years.

  • Bryan:

    I certainly did not mean to convey a message that says the powers that be are anti-Cincinnati. I fully realize that they are doing what they think is best for not only themselves, but also this city. The problem is not what they’re doing, but what they’re fighting against. They seem to be waging a war against new ideas coming from a new generation. This is problematic, and I feel this generation should be aware of such efforts.

    Queen City Square is a tremendous development project, and many of the things Cincinnati’s old money are responsible for are what help make this a great place. But, I don’t think I’m alone in the belief that these same people are often adverse to new and different ideas that come from people outside of their inner circle. That should be changed…that’s the real purpose of this op-ed.

  • ParatrooperJJ

    The fact of the matter is that Cincinnati can’t afford a streetcar. Every city that has built one in the last 20 years lost and continues to loose money on it. It works out cheaper to buy a car for every rider! With a one hundred million dollar pension payment coming up very soon, can we really afford this boondoggle that very few people will ever use???

  • Urge Overkill

    Bronson has been lead editor of that rag for a few months now. It became apparent in their June issue when a piece by “The Editors” praised the Cincinnati tea party.

    And by the way, I’m sure that Cincy loves it when people confuse them with Cincinnati Magazine, as “Cincy” routinely cribs story ideas from them. With the name change from Cincy Business to Cincy Magazine a couple of years ago, it seems to have been the intention all along.

  • ParatrooperJJ:

    Let’s say we used that money to buy everyone a car. Who would pay to build the new Brent Spense Bridge and widen all of our highways? Who would pay for all of the gas, maintenance and parking for those new cars?

    It’s easy to say mass transit is “subsidized”, but if you look at the numbers, we subsidize automobiles significantly more.

  • ParatrooperJJ
    The car vs streetcar debate was looked at on the streetcar blog. How long does a car last? 5-7 years, and then it needs replaced. A streetcar last 30yrs, so you would have to buy every person 5 – 7 cars. And were are they going to park? That’s another 15- 20k a person. Not so cheap after all is it?
    Besides the Enquirer took a poll and proved the streetcar could make as much as 22 million a year in profits.
    We need to build infrastructure that will generate income vs things like the casino that is going to cost $3 for every dollar in taxes generated.

  • The real cost of a gallon of gasoline is about $15 whereas we pay $2 to $3. Transportation is a public good like defense that must be subsidized, the only question is which form to subsidize.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Is Bronson getting an office in the tower? With the $300 he was paid for this piece and his $600 annual royalty payment from his Riot book?

  • charles ross

    Indianapolis: county area = city area
    Columbus: county = city
    The 5 boroughs of NYC? All are counties and cities with the same footprint.

    Hamilton County and Cincinnati are more like a quarreling couple. It seems that cities that expand their limits to inhabit an entire county have a major advantage.

    Hey – does Bronson live IN Cincinnati?

  • Dustin Clark

    to ‘Mick’s’ first post, and similar ideas:

    Having been born in Cinci area and lived in Cleveland and worked in Mid-town for a portion of this year, I feel I have some insight on your Jacob’s [Progressive] Field pitch…

    1–I am a preservationist at heart, and hate to see old fabric ripped apart from the city. That said, the new ‘Jake’ did help remove some blight (mostly surface lots) that was headed in no direction and trapped by the Interstate ramps. It did help bring SOME reinvestment to the area, but go 2 blocks South, West, or East and youll find no life, no fabric. Just next to the ball park you will find a small new development and a hotel on Carnegie. THATS IT. To the North, the “restaurants and nightclubs” you speak of are few and far between, and only start to cluster around Quicken Loans Arena and the south end of downtown–and these are pale in comparison to the Warehouse district of West 6th.

    2–If we break down the logistics of the Jake we see that its location near enough to The Q and the more lively part of downtown help propel such development, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and such [Nodes & Paths ideal by Kevin Lynch and others]. Imagine in a few years–the Banks, PBS, GA Ballpark, straddling further to NKY and Fountain Square, and pepper in the downtown office atmosphere. ‘John Schneider’ is correct in stating this is a significant infrastructure improvements that, for the first time EVER “Since 1788, the problem…that it floods fairly regularly” to paraphrase. It has gone from muck and mud, to 19th CE industrial wasteland (which has since consolidated and/or left), to a beach–I still am among the few of my Nati that I know who has and will swim in the river w/the pollution that I will unfairly AND JOKINGLY blame on Pittsburgh, to surface parking lots.

    3–The immense cost of this grand endeavor could only commence with the tax levy (say what you will about it and the bonds and such–not the argument here). This infrastructure is a key piece to ACTUALLY getting back-hoes in the ground–rather than gold plated shovels–for the Freedom Center, the Banks, & for Riverfront Park. These will likely lead to the re-stitching of Ft. Wash Way AND connection to Covington & eventually Newport (read up on Minne-St. Paul for the economic and cultural benefits of playing nice with the neighboring city and not seeing them as JUST competition). And many will note the strong placement of the objects when looked at as a ‘grounding’ feature for the skyline, along with PBS and Riverfront Park, in 5 years. It will make the “restaurants and nightclubs” that Mick speaks of a viable PRIVATE business endeavor at the ground level of the Banks and at Moerlein Brewery *salivating just typing that phrase*

    I will never challenge the idea that Broadway Commons would have worked for GA Ballpark (that is, if it would even be sponsored by GA being placed off of the Queen’s skyline), the issues with the tax levies, nor the potential for service jobs to the surrounding neighborhoods. For the 3 major reasons above, AND the facts that IT IS ALREADY THERE, and the Casino (also an issue of topic outside of this–it was voted on and will be placed regardless) seem to form an argument that the placement worked out, perhaps, better on the riverfront. The remaining issues can and should be worked out retro-actively.

  • This is an amazing article; lots of research went into this. I thought Peter Bronson was done talking out of his ass. Obviously not.

  • Justin

    Peter Bronson is a man with a political agenda. Nothing he writes should be taken as reliable journalism.

  • Peter Bronson

    What would liberals like Randy Simes and his fans do without conservatives like me to shadowbox? I mean, c’mon. Blaming President Bush is getting so tiresome, even for Obama. But there it is again in this piece about the Great American Tower(?!).

    To set the record straight: Someone who sets out to correct another writer should be more careful. Anyone who truly knows anything about Cincinnati knows that the Lindners are the antithesis of “old money.” So the entire premise is flawed. My column was not incorrect about the price of the tower — that came directly from the developer, Western & Southern. Simes cited no source and no price, so I can only guess what he is thinking. And yes, I was correct that it is the largest “building project” since Carew tower. Notice I did not say “contstruction project,” a more inexact term that could include the stadiums, etc. Anyone can tell from context, headliens and pictures that my story was about a BUILDING. Words mean something. That’s why I use them carefully. Finally, he defends the government projects by telling us they took six years (an optimistic estimate for “trolleys,” my favorite name for an obsolete idea), and 14 years (also optimistice for The Banks). With a defense like that, who needs critics? But he also includes the stadiums in The Banks, which is inaccurate. I was here for the stadium vote. The Banks, not even named yet, was promised as a payoff for building the stadiums. Remodeling Fort Washington Way had nothing at all to do with The Banks project.

    I don’t know what political contributions have to do with any of this, except perhaps as some lefty shorthand to identify people you don’t like. (“Ohhh, they gave money to Republicans. That’s so sinister!”) And as for staying relevant in Cincinnati: How’s the city’s tallest new skyscraper for relevant?

  • It’s not really important how long they were thinking of moving buildings. What is relevant is that Great American didn’t buy a huge swath of expensive real estate in the heart of the city and leave it empty for a decade. Is it disputable that they are better run than the city?

    I’m not sure I follow your dichotomy where the Bortz family is new and the Lindner family old. I would just prefer that the local goverment not be used to line the pockets of special interests to the general disadvantage of the city. As a general rule, the areas of the country that are growing fastest are those that have limited goverment run for the general good, not for dispensing gifts to politicaly powerful groups.

  • Firstly, I did not blame anything on President George W. Bush, nor did I even attack the former president. I simply called out the fact that the Lindner family is a major contributor to the conservative movement, and that the conservative movement has long ruled Cincinnati dating back to Boss Cox. So maybe you read into what I wrote more than what I actually said.

    The second thing is that you can backpedal on the “largest building project” claim all you want. The fact is that it is not the largest “building” project in Cincinnati since the Carew Tower, but feel free to fight that battle of words with the dictionary: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/building

    Your bias is obvious in the story you wrote, and even more obvious in the response you have left here Mr. Bronson. You have tried to cherry pick a few arguments of mine to try to refute my overall claim. That’s fine, but in the end, you seemed to have intentionally left out certain key facts (project dating back to the 80’s, money from the Port Authority, land owned by Port Authority, and the fact that the two-phased Queen City Square project has largely been filled by businesses owned by the good ol’ boy network in Cincinnati).

    It’s great that there is this new investment in downtown Cincinnati, but a reasonable person should be able to acknowledge that one major development project is different from the next. You took your soapbox and used it as an opportunity to spit on other development projects happening in the city. The attacks were unneeded and unfounded based on the information you provided and the information you failed to provide to your readers.

    As for the citations for the Port Authority figures, you’re right, I did not provide them within the op-ed. For your reading convenience, I have dug up a few of them for you. It appears as though I actually undervalued the Port Authority’s contributions to the project.

    City of Cincinnati: $5.5 million (your number)
    Port Authority-issued bonds: $220 million (possibly more since project cost has increased)
    Tax Increment Financing: $54 million
    Western & Southern: $39.8 million (half of which is land value)

    Get the details here: http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2008/11/17/story2.html

  • SkepticalJoe:

    I made no mention of the Bortz family intentionally. While the Bortz family has been supportive of the Cincinnati Streetcar, that does not necessarily mean they are the representatives for the next generation of leaders in Cincinnati.

    In fact, the reason I did not mention them is because my opinion is that the next generation of leaders in Cincinnati is made up of those who have been populating the Mayor’s YPKC over the past several years. Many of these individuals have already gone on to start local non-profits, businesses, invested in historic properties, invested in the Cincinnati Streetcar, advocated for policy changes, and have organized/run a successful political campaign (see Issue 9 and Cincinnatians for Progress).

  • Mike Setzer

    Attention all grown-ups: The conflict between public and private investment in infrastructure is all in the minds of those who like fightin’ more than succeeding. Being mad at “old money” or Federal funds is like a feud whose roots are long forgotten but which still provides a simple but wrong explanation for everything: Hatfields look after Hatfields and shoot McCoys. In most of the rest of the civilized world old money’s good, new money’s good, Fed money’s good; it’s inadequate infrastructure that’s bad. The gulf between public and private capital is like some valley between tribes of rednecks; it’s only meaningful to the simple-minded. Creative combinations of private and public capital in myriad ways can get way more done than the “pure” business models favored by Bronson.

  • So, Pete, your word for streetcar is trolley, which it isn’t. I’d suggest that you check your facts but that has never been a strong point of yours, has it?

    My word for you is fossil “one that is outdated or antiquated”. Hmm, sounds about right.

    As for W. His 8 year reign of terror allows me 8 years of bitching about it, by my calculation.

  • I know Pete is going to split hairs here so I’ll beat him to the punch. Streetcar is a precise term that relates to the modern public transportation concept while a trolley is a general term that could refer to an electric bus. Trolley is an antiquated term that makes streetcars seem qauint and antiquainted (much like him). The reason he prefers trolley is because it fits with the propagandist agenda of defining the words to fit your agenda. If Pete is skilled at anything (and I’m not sure he is) it is propaganda.

  • John Schneider

    Peter Bronson wrote, curiously, that “Remodeling Fort Washington Way had nothing at all to do with The Banks project.”

    Peter Bronson is totally wrong on this. Narrowing Fort Washington Way gave back to Cincinnati 14 acres of land that was once wholly located within the Fort Washington Way (I-71)right-of-way. This land is precisely where The Banks is being built today. As the editorial page director of the Enquirer all through the period when FWW was planned and built, he should know better.

    Bronson should also understand that you don’t rebuild almost a third of a major city’s downtown in a few years. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a generation to complete The Banks. And it probably will if it’s done right.

  • Detonti

    The “old money hate” is misused on Lindner. He made his money and is from the wrong clubs, wrong prep schools and wrong college. Besides I know he is not in the A list heredity organizations. If his family was a Taft or traced its self and its money back to the founding of Cincinnati, that’s old.

  • Randy,

    Fair enough, I don’t know enough about that group of young professionals you want to run Cincy to comment (but as a YP, I’m okay with a dictatorships of the YPs)…. However, you’ve got a bit of a double-standard, when you seem to insinuate that opposition to the streetcar is banked by Carl Lindner (does he even oppose the streetcar?), whereas support comes from a bunch of civic minded people. I think the Bortz and Lindner families have a pretty similar view of politics – They donate to causes when they think they can get a good return on their investment. This is true whether it’s Lindner getting the city to build PBS on land he controls or the Bortz family getting a train to go past their buildings. Party loyalty isn’t that important, they both curry favor with the people in power (the Lindners gave huge to Bill Clinton and support Sherrod Brown). I see the streetcar as crucially backed by the few special interests that benefit, whereas opposition is almost purely civic minded (There isn’t any obvious interest group that would massively benefit from its defeat, just a lot of us who would benefit slightly from perceived better uses of the money).

    My solution to special interest capture is to try to keep city government out of as much business as practical, as corruption and waste are very likely. But even if you don’t accept that view, I think just being aware of this problem is quite important to decent government.

  • Peter Bronson

    Last word from me: I generally avoid these things anymore. I am always dismayed about how they bring out the worst in people. Why is that nasty, sneering tone so contagious on blogs? Why do even good people like my friend John Schneider feel compelled to make some insulting personal remark about the columns I wrote that he didn’t enjoy? I know you, John, and you’re better than that. In fact, my own reply could have been more polite. But it all starts with the insulting, rude tone of the original column, which then gets amplified by the peanut gallery. If 30 years in newspapers makes me a “fossil,” as one of the peanuts here says, it also makes me long for the days when people knew how to argue without turning everything into name-calling and rhetorical hair-pulling. I guess “blog” is an ugly word for a reason.

  • Mr. Bronson, I hate to say this at the risk of sounding childish, but if you prefer to avoid this kind of contentious banter, then I would suggest you avoid using it in your own columns. Your column for Cincy Magazine was littered with sensationalist quips. You went out of your way to attack other developments in order to more aptly boost the one of your liking.

    Your columns at the Enquirer were often no different as you would tend to go out of your way to insult or mock other people and their ideas. I actually contacted you about this once and you told me that as a columnist it is not your responsibility to be fair/balanced. Well, as a blogger, it’s not my responsibility either.

  • L. Q.

    “Why is that nasty, sneering tone so contagious on blogs?”

    Mr. Bronson,

    Your blog, http://www.peterbronson.com/, seems to fall victim to this “nasty and sneering tone” as well.

    On Shepard Fairey- “it made me think about comparing Fairey and his fans to the “useful idiots” described by Lenin: People too shallow, uninformed or fanatic to face the honest truth about the murdering, oppressive communist ideology they celebrate.”

    On hybrid vehicles- “Just imagine the pride it would bring to Prius owners everywhere, who have been the butt of jokes ever since gas fell below $3.”

    On Laketa Cole’s hiring to the PUCO- “Thank-you, Gov. Strickland and your top-notch team of hack Democrats. But as the ShamWow guy says, “Wait, there’s more.” ”

    On Larry Flynt- “The same Larry Flynt who has destroyed countless lives by exposing secrets; the same Larry Flynt who is a cancer on our culture, making himself a fortune by exposing the most intimate body parts of women. Yeah, that Larry Flynt. Now he’s whining about his privacy. With any luck, the sleazeoid Flynt brothers and their swamp of litigators will bleed each other dry.”