There has never been a single anti-streetcar event that has gathered more than 20 people, but earlier today it was estimated that close to 1,000 Cincinnati Streetcar proponents gathered with green balloons at Washington Park to show their support.
Event organizers from Cincinnatians for Progress and We Believe in Cincinnati lined up the hundreds of supports for blocks – stretching from in front of Music Hall on Elm Street to north of Findlay Market, where streetcar tracks are currently being installed.
The event also came on the same day that the new mayor and city council were sworn into their offices, marking the first time an organized protest of hundreds took place on the first day for newly elected leadership. With a defiant Mayor John Cranley (D) and five of the nine members of City Council poised to pass a bizarre collection of ordinances in order to bypass any further public protest of their actions, it appears that legal fights are about to begin.
Also earlier today, Mayor Cranley and Councilmember Chris Smitherman (I) outlined exactly how they intend to make it all work to their favor. At the same time, reports surfaced of a potential conflict of interest for Smitherman due to his brother’s involvement with the $133 million streetcar project through Jostin Construction.
A majority of city council and the mayor himself have stated that they support the right to referendum, but their proposed legislative action would run counter to that. Whether or not they will allow Cincinnatians to vote on the streetcar directly for a third time, or be forced by the courts to do so, is yet to be seen.
The next big event will take place on Monday, December 2 at 4pm inside City Hall. City Council will hold a special hearing on the streetcar project at that time, and it is expected to be heavily attended by both supporters and opponents. Those who would like to attend are encouraged to arrive early. Those unable to attend that would still like to get involved can do so by donating to the Alliance for Regional Transit and by signing up to volunteer.
“Does it make any sense to lose our reputation with the federal government simply because we want to prove a political point,” Rob Richardson asked the boisterous crowd. “I’ll tell you what does make sense…it makes sense that we have to fight for a comprehensive transportation system so we can compete with cities all across this country and all across the world. That is the goal.”
“We measure greatest not by what we cut, but by what we accomplish.”