Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Last Call For A Streetcar Named Retired

Something funny happened on the way to Cincinnati Mayor-elect John Cranley's destiny to kill the city's streetcar project:  the painful reality of cold hard mathematics.

The total cost of cancelling Cincinnati's streetcar could run as high as $125 million, just $8 million less than the estimated cost to complete it, according to the project manager.

The $133 million project faces the threat of cancellation when mayor-elect John Cranley takes office next month; killing the streetcar was Cranley's top campaign promise.

Streetcar project manager John Deatrick outlined the cost of cancellation at a special session of City Council's Budget and Finance Committee this afternoon. The costs include:
  • $32.8 million spent so far which will not be returned
  • $30.6 million to $47.6 million to close down the project
  • $45 million in lost federal funds

Whoops.  As such, suddenly the support Cranley had on the incoming city council to nuke the project is a bit on the wanting side.

Cranley had six anti-streetcar votes on the new nine-member council. But one member said yesterday that he no longer supports stopping construction. 
It feels neither prudent nor fiscally responsible to scrap the whole thing,” Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said. 
Sittenfeld said the possibility that the city won’t have to pay an estimated $3.5 million to $4.5 million in annual operating costs helped influence his change of mind. He said fares and sponsorships will partly cover those costs.
Sittenfeld also supports creating a special improvement district to pay for the rest of the operating costs. That plan would require property owners along the route to pay higher taxes than other city-property owners. Sixty percent of the affected owners would have to agree to the plan in order for the district to be created.

That's an idea I actually agree with, and it seems like a very good compromise.  Indeed, it seems after backing Cranley for Mayor, the Cincinnati Enquirer is now warming up to the project.

It seems the reports of the streetcar project being dead are greatly exaggerated.

A Failure To Communicate

As with the "failed stimulus" and "failed recovery" and "failed foreign policy" of the Obama administration, none of which were actual failures (but that doesn't matter if you call them failures enough times) we now have "failed Obamacare" as the latest Republican tautology.

With Obamacare facing its deadline for website functionality, Republicans appear absolutely, irrevocably, 100 percent certain the law’s total collapse is at hand, or even already complete. However, they may be the only ones who are convinced of this.
A new CNN poll tests public opinion on the law in a way I haven’t seen before — and it shows Republicans are the only group who believe the law’s problems can’t be solved and that it should now be pronounced a failure. Independents and moderates believe it can still work.

To be sure, opposition is running high, at 58 percent, as in many other polls, and virtually no one believes the law is a success, which is as it should be. This means, again, that the rollout continues to put Democrats in serious political peril. But disapproval does not necessarily translate into giving up on the law, which matters, because it goes to whether people will enroll in the numbers necessary to make it work over time.

The poll finds 53 percent of Americans say it’s too soon to tell if the law will succeed or fail, versus 39 percent who pronounce it a failure. That latter sentiment is driven by Republicans: Independents say it’s too soon to tell by 55-41; moderates by 58-35. But Republicans overwhelmingly believe it’s a failure by 70-25.

The poll also finds 54 percent believe current problems facing the law will eventually be solved, versus 45 percent who don’t. Again, that latter sentiment is driven by Republicans: Independents think they will be solved by 50-48; moderates by 55-43. By contrast, Republicans overwhelmingly believe they won’t be solved by 72-27.

So the jury's still out for most of America except for the GOP  Surprise!  But there's two major bright spots:

Crucially, young Americans — who are important to the law’s success – overwhelmingly believe the problems will be solved (71 percent). Part of the campaign by Republicans to persuade Americans that the law’s doom is inevitable is about dissuading people from enrolling, to turn that into a self fulfilling prophesy. 
By the way: The CNN poll also finds that of those who oppose the law, 14 percent say it’s not liberal enough — meaning the total who support the law or want it to go further is 54 percent, versus 41 percent who say it’s too liberal.

I cannot overemphasize the second point enough there.  A majority of Americans want Obamacare to succeed.  The GOP rooting for failure, and in fact taking steps to make it fail, will not go unnoticed by voters.

A Trey-tor To The Cause

If you want to know why Florida Republicans are suddenly throwing rehab-bound GOP Rep. Trey Radel under the bus and demanding his resignation, it's because Connie Mack IV, son of former GOP Sen. Connie Mack III, wants his old House seat back.

Former Rep. Connie Mack has begun reaching out to supporters to run for Rep. Trey Radel’s House seat, several sources tell POLITICO. 
Mack (R-Fla.) gave the seat up in 2012 when he ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). But with Radel in rehabilitation following his arrest for possession of cocaine, Mack is trying to shore up support. One Republican lobbyist said that Mack has “made his intention known.” 
As he undergoes rehab in Naples, Fla., Radel is coming under increasing pressure to give up his House seat. On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said Radel should step down, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. On Monday night, Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, called on Radel to “step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family.” The two local party chairs in Radel’s southwest Florida district also called on the first-term Republican to step down, and said if he decides to run again, he will not have their support. 
Radel is on probation for one year. He was caught buying cocaine from a federal agent in Washington. 
Radel’s district is solidly Republican, so if he decides not to resign, he’ll certainly face a primary challenger on Aug. 26. A source close to Mack, who would not speak for attribution, said the former congressman has not decided whether he would primary Radel.

So yeah, if this is true, Radel is toast and Mack gets his old digs back in a safe red district that he already lives in.  Bonus points: Mack gets to dodge any heat for the government shutdown, which he was not in office for.  A real no-brainer for the no-brainers here, it seems.

Would love to see a Dem run here.


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