For Stronger Neighborhoods, Vote No on Issue 9

Cincinnatians For Progress is reporting that the Anti-Passenger Rail Amendment has been assigned #9 for its issue number for this November’s election.

Rail transit is a critical part to the transportation network of any metropolitan region. In terms of both freight and passenger, rail can move more for less. And it is not just more efficient, rail transit is also more economically advantageous than similarly built road systems that require heavy taxpayer funding.

Passenger rail in Cincinnati will make not only our urban core even better, but it will make our whole region better as we move forward with creating more transportation options that help relieve congestion, reduce emissions, and promote connectivity and commerce.

For Stronger Neighborhoods, Vote No on Issue 9

This Week In Soapbox 8/4

This Week in Soapbox (TWIS) you can read about how stimulus money is helping Metro through tough economic times, Monmouth Street’s continued success, Price Hill Will’s new involvement in the St. Lawrence Corner business district, the continued merging of the Cincinnati and Dayton regions, a pending facelift for the trendy Mt. Lookout Square, and CPA efforts to find a qualified buyer for the historic Hauck House in the West End.

If you’re interested in staying in touch with some of the latest development news in Cincinnati please check out this week’s stories and sign up for the weekly E-Zine sent out by Soapbox Cincinnati. Also be sure to become a fan of Soapbox on Facebook!

TWIS 8/4:

  • Stimulus money helping out cash-strapped Metrofull article
  • Newport’s Monmouth Street continues to make progressfull article
  • Price Hill Will attempting to rally neighborhood around historic St. Lawrence Cornerfull article
  • Cincinnati and Dayton to continue their merger with pending I-75 growthfull article
  • Trendy Mt. Lookout Square may soon get faceliftfull article
  • CPA accepting proposals for purchase and utilization of historic Hauck Housefull article

The ILOVECINCINNATI Conundrum

Suddenly a lot of cars around town drive by with stickers that say ILOVECINCINNATI on them and I wondered where they came from. Today, I found the answer out by asking someone who had one. So, I’m not going to share the answer here (it’s easily found out by asking a few questions) but the conversation that followed sparked some thoughts that are definitely appropriate in this forum.

If you are reading this, you likely care deeply about Cincinnati, and also genuinely believe that with some hard work, dedication, and an updated way of thinking it can be a much better place to live. I, too, am of that thinking, but sadly I would think that we are in the minority, especially when you start to read the comments on other media outlets around town.

So, my question is why? Why is it that many other cities around this country, some of which we aspire to be like and even others, that we don’t have a much greater sense of civic pride than we do? When I stopped and thought about it, it made even less sense. Isn’t Cincinnati mostly made up of people that grew up in the area, and if so shouldn’t it hold true that our civic pride should at least match that exhibited in other cities mentioned on this blog and elsewhere?

I’ve noodled this around all night and have come up with three ideas:

  1. Our Region Breeds Separation – Between different suburbs, counties, cities, and even states that make up the region we actually only identify ourselves as Cincinnatians by our mailing addresses envelopes and when we are out of town.
  2. A Unified Stance – While we’re never going to reach a point where every citizen agrees on priorities, we are set up in such a way that our “leaders” fight amongst each other more than they work together. One could argue that competition is good, but to me, a unified stance is better.
  3. Lack of That Signature “Thing” – Be it an industry that our city was founded on, a specific food that is actually eaten outside our region, or something similar. We don’t all have that one positive thing we can each identify with, and just as importantly, the nation identifies us with.

I put this out there less for my voice to be heard but more to spark conversation. So what have I missed and why is it that you have the pride you do in Cincinnati?

UPDATE: White House meeting on the state of urban America

As was posted earlier today, President Obama addressed a meeting at the White House today that discussed the problems and opportunities of urban America. There has been a good amount of press coverage on the national scene, but unfortunately our local newspaper came up short. The Enquirer did, however dedicate staff time to developing a Harry Potter quiz for readers to take. I wish I were kidding…

See here for a comment from the White House, including some of the President’s remarks.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

White House Office of Urban Affairs holds conference today

According to this article in the Washington Post, the White House is hosting a day long conference today about the future of American urban policy. Heads of relevant departments and agencies will attend, and the President is expected to give remarks as well.

In February, President Obama created the Office of Urban Affairs (OUA), and selected Adolfo Carrión Jr. (bio) to direct it. According to this article, the Director intends to “bring agencies together to change urban growth patterns and foster opportunity, reduce sprawl, and jump-start the economy.”

Adolfo Carrión Jr. – photo from Ezra Klein

The executive order that established the OUA states that the Office will “take a coordinated and comprehensive approach to developing and implementing an effective strategy concerning urban America”

The event today will serve as a semi-official start to the OUA, and will be the basis for a several-month long tour of urban America. Officials will visit cities across the nation in an effort to better understand the needs of our metropolitan areas.

OUA’s mission does not come without some opposition. Some worry that reexamining our current public policy creates a dangerous precedent of federal meddling in local affairs. Director Carrión seems to think just the opposite will occur. From yesterday’s Washington Post:

“For too long government has operated from the top down,” said Carrión. “We’ve always heard why does the national government send down these unfunded mandates, under funded mandates, mandates that are not necessarily universally applicable. The bottom-up approach speaks to the need for this to be flexible.”

Although no official site yet exists for the OUA, the articles, executive order, and this page on the White House website seems to indicate that the office wants to work with local municipalities to help provide the support they need to carry out what works best for them. In general, it appears that the President’s agenda will focus on bolstering the strength of cities as economic, social and cultural incubators, while also working to promote sensible growth and regional efficiency.

Brown states balance concerns for our environment, our jobs

A recent New York Times article coined the term “brown state-green state clash,” referring to the opposing viewpoints of politicians from the coasts and politicians from the Midwest and Plains States. “Green states” like California are pushing for higher fuel efficiency, more renewable energy, and other efforts to fight climate change, while “brown states” like Ohio are resisting in order to preserve our manufacturing jobs.

In particular, many brown state officials are opposed to a cap-and-trade system proposed by President Obama. This proposal sets a ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions, giving manufacturers a certain number of credits and allowing them to emit a certain amount of pollutants. If a company reduces its emissions, it can sell its excess credits to companies who pollute more.

After a failed U.S. Senate global warming bill in June 2008, ten senators from coal-dependent, manufacturing-heavy states created the “Gang of 10,” which has since grown to 15 members. Ohio’s Sherrod Brown was part of the original group. Brown claims, “There’s a bias in our Congress and government against manufacturing, or at least indifference to us, especially on the coasts.” He adds, “If we pass a climate bill the wrong way, it will hurt American jobs and the American economy, as more and more production jobs go to places like China, where it’s cheaper.”

This seems to contradict themes echoed in both national and local politics, pushing for more “green jobs.” Environmental blog Gristmill points out that Midwest and Plains States will likely come out ahead job-wise in the push to become green: Plains States have been nicknamed “the Saudi Arabia of wind,” and the Midwest will manufacture wind turbines that are too large to be shipped from overseas. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts says, “A lot of new jobs will be created if we craft a piece of global warming legislation correctly, and that is our intention.”

Clearly, what we have is a disconnect between politicians claiming a green future will create jobs and politicians claiming exactly the opposite.

In Washington state, Democratic Senate leaders plan to direct $180 million of stimulus money to their plan “Clean Energy, Green Jobs.” One aspect of the plan, retrofitting low-income residents’ homes to be more energy efficient, will create an estimated 7,500 jobs over five years. The plan would also create an agency to oversee greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce them to 1990 levels by the year 2017. Republicans oppose the plan, saying that the new restrictions would be an impediment to businesses.

A similar movement is starting to happen in the Ohio state House, where Democrats are pushing for higher energy efficiency standards in public buildings. They claim this will cause job creation in the fields of energy-efficient design and construction. Republican Senator Jimmy Stewart said he supports the plan as long as it doesn’t create additional delays in construction.

Are our politicians effectively balancing concerns for our environment with the need to preserve jobs in our region? Will the green movement cause a gain or loss of jobs? Sound off in the comments section.

Additional reading/Sources:

Photo from Flickr user Caveman 92223