Judge denies attempt to block city's parking plan

Cincinnati's plan to privatize parking can go forward after a Hamilton County judge denied a request by COAST, a taxpayer group, to impose a temporary restraining order against the plan.

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, or COAST, has opposed the city's parking plan from the beginning. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Ralph Winkler ruled Wednesday that the group failed to make a convincing argument for a restraining order.

At issue is whether Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney has the authority to make changes to the parking deal approved by city council.

COAST's lawyer Curt Hartman says Dohoney has no such authority.

"This case does not concern itself with whether one is for or against the parking  deal. This case simply concerns whether or not the Cincinnati city manager is above the law," said Hartman.

Hartman says Dohoney made changes to the parking agreement without city council approval arguing, "He has become a law unto himself changing the terms and conditions of an agreement that city council authorized."

However, Judge Winkler didn't buy that argument stating in court, "The court doesn't find that these changes were either material or substantial changes to the agreement that city council accepted and voted on, so the request for the [temporary restraining order] is denied."

Scott Kane, an attorney for The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority applauded the judge's decision.

"Judge Winkler correctly ruled that politics belongs at City Hall and not in the courtroom. The judge correctly noted that this was an issue of the authority of the city manager. The city manager's authority is well established under the charter and applicable law to do exactly what he did," Kane argued.

Deputy City Solicitor Aaron Herzig says a temporary restraining order would have had a chilling effect on city business.

"A decision the other way would have been quite sweeping. The city does business this way," added Herzig.

COAST plans to make their case again during an injunction hearing scheduled for September 26.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday refused to accept an appeal filed by opponents of the city's parking plan.

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