Three questions for COAST on NO to streetcar

We caught-up with Tom Brinkman, a spokesman for the group C.O.A.S.T. or Coalition Opposed To Additional Spending and Taxes and the streetcar.

We asked him these three questions:

"What would you suggest we do with all the millions in federal funding that were designated for streetcar if we don't build the streetcar?"

"What about the jobs, including 310 construction jobs that were expected to be created by the streetcar, don't we need those?"

"If we don't do the streetcar, what's the alternative?"

"What would you suggest we do with the money, if we don't put it toward the streetcar?," we asked.

"Give it back to the federal government," Brinkman said. "We don't need their strings attached, it's our money."

Brinkman said that money would be better spent paying down the federal deficit.

"Can't we just hang onto that for a little while?," we asked.

"Well, it'd be nice if it was actually something that was going to work," Brinkman said. "The streetcar will not do anything to revitalize the downtown structure."

With gas prices through the roof, a cheaper way to get around looks pretty good to most people.

"Wouldn't that be a cheap alternative to what we've got going on right now?," we asked.

"It had to be real big or it wouldn't be successful," Brinkman said. "Now they're scaling it back and saying well, we can make it real small and be successful, what is it Mayor, now c'mon here, here's the bottom line, the public doesn't want it, we're going to have a ballot initiative on it in November, let's wait before we turn over one shovel-full of dirt."

The Governor has said the streetcar would not be a jobs creator.

"And the TRAC board agreed with him," Brinkman said. "So it's not just our group over here, it's other people saying, does this really make sense for the city and is it really going to mean economic growth?

"I believe the Mayor's argument with the TRAC board was, is they followed all the steps, they got the highest rating out of any other project happening in the State of Ohio right now, yet, the TRAC board still denied them, do you think that was right?," we asked.

"Well, it's all politics," Brinkman said. "It was all politics on why they got the highest rating and it was all politics on why they got it turned down."

"What about the jobs, including 310 construction jobs that were expected to be created by the streetcar, don't we need those?," we asked.

'Well, we certainly need jobs but not those created by the government," Brinkman said. "We need them created by private individuals."

Brinkman points to the casino as one example of creating more private enterprise jobs.

"I thought the streetcar was going to be funded partially by some of that casino revenue, so wouldn't be a sort of great in-tandem project?," we asked.

"Well, you, you're right, he did say that," Brinkman said. "But we don't even know what that casino revenue's going to be and it's kind of hard to peg the funding costs to something that might be, will be."

"If we don't do the streetcar, what's the alternative?," we asked.

"Now, there is a project that's down here on the river, that would be that inland port facility that the City is fighting and that is more jobs than would be created by the streetcar, that would create an inland, interior port, where people could bring in barges, get trains to go up to Wilmington, back and forth," Brinkman said. "That thing makes a whole lot of sense in a rail yard that's already there, yet the City is fighting that so some people can have some pretty views off West Price Hill."

"Doesn't it make sense to you on any level at all?," we asked.

"It really doesn't," Brinkman said. "It is a toy."

"Mark Mallory has set this as his legacy," Brinkman said. "And in the meantime, financially, the City is in terrible shape. He's just blinded by this legacy idea and he really needs to do his job the last two years of office."

Brinkman founded C.O.A.S.T. back in the late 90's because he said every time there's a tax levy here in the City, 40 to 45-percent of the people would vote against it.

He said they're way more organized now and have been successful with their lobbies against new taxes. They will continue to fight any notions of having a streetcar.

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