New Mayor Moves to “Pause” Construction of Cincinnati Streetcar

Yesterday was day one for the mayoral administration of John Cranley in Cincinnati, as well as a new roster of City Council members — and it was pretty chaotic.

The swearing in of the new officials was met with a massive protest last weekend. Urban Cincy reports that nearly 1,000 Cincinnatians rallied to complete the Cincinnati streetcar, which is already under construction. Cranley campaigned on halt the project even though the cost of stopping it could come close to the cost of finishing it.

Streetcar supporters marched the length of the route this weekend, rallying for the continuation of the project. Image: ##http://www.urbancincy.com/2013/12/hundreds-of-streetcar-supporters-rally-in-over-the-rhine-as-new-mayor-council-are-sworn-in/## Urban Cincy##

Streetcar supporters marched the length of the route this weekend, rallying for the completion of the project. Image: Urban Cincy

On their first day in office, Cranley and his backers in the City Council spent a long, heated committee hearing debating the project’s fate. Randy Simes at Urban Cincy reported on roller coaster proceedings:

Mayor Cranley presided over the committee hearing, which does not normally take place as it is not the mayor’s role. Cranley then encouraged the committee to move forward with its proceedings before adopting any rules to govern the committee. Finally, Cranley then introduced 11 separate ordinances that had not been provided to the public or to the members of the committee, and instructed votes on each of them anyway.

Each of the 11 ordinances is slightly different, but each includes appropriations so that they cannot be challenged by referendum under state law. This goes against a campaign promise of Cranley and all incoming members of city council who stated over and over again that they respect the citizen’s right to referendum. In the past, John Cranley, Amy Murray, Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn have all talked about a “sacred” right to referendum, but appear to be opposed to one in this instance.

Each of the 11 ordinances squeaked by with a 5-4 majority – including Councilman Christopher Smitherman (I), who is currently being accused of having a conflict of interest that should prevent him from either voting or engaging in official discussion on the project.

The effect of the ordinances, if they are approved by City Council on Wednesday, would be to pause the construction until the costs of shutting down the project can be studied more fully.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Systemic Failure reports that San Diego has erected a monument to parking in its Little Italy neighborhood. Architect’s Newspaper shares the news that Boston’s parklets haven’t debuted with the same popularity seen in other cities. And Bike Portland shows off some new buffered bike lanes on a local highway.