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Sittenfeld's Vote Gives Streetcar Project Another 30 Days
CINCINNATI (Joe Webb) -- The outgoing pro-streetcar Cincinnati City Council made it a little harder Tuesday for the incoming council to kill the controversial $148-million project.
Tuesday morning, in their last meeting, council passed an ordinance directing the city to proceed with construction on the project. The ordinance passed by a vote of 6-2 (Council member Christopher Smitterman was absent).
The six votes passed the ordinance as an emergency which means it takes effect immediately.
Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld, who had not supported the streetcar, voted Tuesday with supporters. Before the meeting, Sittenfeld held a news conference to explain his stance.
He told reporters it was time to set down the hot sword of rhetoric and politics and speak with facts.
"If the new council cancels the project we immediately could incur expenses. The exact amount of these closeout costs can be disputed but we know minimally it would be in the tens of millions of dollars, Sittenfeld said." "So no matter what, no matter whose analysis you believe, cancelling the project would mean that well more than 50% of the local budget for the project would be spent and gone with nothing to show for it."
Sittenfeld's position not only gave the outgoing council the votes to pass the streetcar ordinance as an emergency, it also sets the balance on the new council as 5 against the project and 4 members for it.
The new council takes office on Sunday and incoming Mayor John Cranley has promised to kill the streetcar. If the new council votes 5-4 to undo what was done Tuesday, it wont take effect for 30 days because its not an emergency.
Incoming Vice-Mayor David Mann was not amused by the last act of this council.
"I'm not happy that an outgoing council-after an election where the streetcar was a principal issue-taking a vote and taking positions that are exactly contrary, in my view, to what the voters said on election day," Mann told Local 12 Tuesday morning.
Tuesday afternoon, crews were hard at work welding new rails along Elm Street near Findlay Market.