Things have gotten even more interesting as today, Cincinnatians for Progress filed a complaint against COAST (Cincinnatians Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes) alleging that they “knowingly made false statements to affect the outcome of the Issue 48 election vote.” (The full press release is included below) These false statements include falsely accusing the city of re-appropriating from public safety to pay for the Streetcar as well as mischaracterizations of what the ballot language claims to do. Yesterday, CityBeat covered an incident where Chris Smitherman (endorser of Issue 48) lied about the content of the Issue 48 ballot language on Facebook, even after he was correct by a follower. As CfP explains “COAST has conducted a relentless campaign of deliberate misinformation about Issue 48 in the face of definitive evidence that their statements are wrong. Not only are the facts widely available in local media and city records, they have been provided directly to COAST officials by the city. Our goal in filing this action [is] to assure that city voters can cast their ballots based on accurate, authoritative information.”
Chris Finney of COAST responded to the Enquirer:
“These advocates of spending the City into bankruptcy object to certain Tweets of COAST. We stand firmly behind those tweets. The City is using monies it could otherwise spend on police and fire protection for the Streetcar project.
The advocates of Cincinnati’s Streetcar, who claim inexplicably that it will result in $1 billion of economic development for the City, have filed a complaint that essentially alleges that none of the $7 to $9 million spent on the streetcar to date by the City could have been used for police or fire protection.
We know this fiction the City is spinning is untrue. COAST stands firmly behind its Tweets on this topic. The City could effectively use some or all of these funds to bolster police and fire protection if they so chose.
Let us give you just one example, the City may not spend capital funds on assets that have a life less than five years. How did they pay for the temporary streetcar signage that they so proudly unveiled two months ago?”
Finney’s “one example” isn’t even a valid one. According to the suit and an article from Fox19 dated August 16, 2011, “The Mayor says the signs cost $2,000 and that no general fund revenue money was used to pay for them. It came out of the grant money that’s being used solely for the streetcar.” The money for the signs came from Federal funds and grants that would not exist if the streetcar project wan’t planned. Basically, if there was no streetcar project, there would be no Federal grants.
October 28, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In an action filed today with the Ohio Elections Commission, Cincinnatians for Progress formally charged COAST with knowingly making false statements to affect the outcome of the Issue 48 election vote.
The case cites twenty instances in the past two months in which COAST made false statements in violation of Ohio Revised Code Section 3517.22. Most claim the city has taken funds away from fire services to fund the streetcar project.
The Revised Code specifies those found guilty of violating Section 3517.22 “shall be imprisoned for not more than six months or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.”
Cincinnatians for Progress is leading the effort to defeat Issue 48, which would prohibit the city from investing in rail transit until 2021.
COAST has conducted a relentless campaign of deliberate misinformation about Issue 48 in the face of definitive evidence that their statements are wrong. Not only are the facts widely available in local media and city records, they have been provided directly to COAST officials by the city.
Our goal in filing this action to to assure that city voters can cast their ballots based on accurate, authoritative information.