Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Victory" Proclaimed in Cincinnati! Issue 9 Defeated!

- Richardson and Lewis prepare to square off in a debate on Issue 9 at the University of Cincinnati on October 15, 2009.

Just a few weeks ago on October 15, 2009, a debate was held in the DAAP building at the University of Cincinnati. The subject: Issue 9. This was not the first time Issue 9 had been discussed in the city, it had been a hot topic for many months. The participants that night: Rob Richardson of "Cincinnatians For Progress" encouraging a "no" vote verses Stephan Lewis of "COAST" encouraging a "yes" vote.

The debate would end that night with a polling of the audience. Every audience member but one raised their hands for a "no" vote, while the sole "yes" vote was cast by a COAST member in the audience. Despite the overwhelming support for the "no" argument, many against Issue 9 wondered if the real election's results would yield a similar outcome just a few days down the road. Even I will admit, I left that debate skeptical of whether or not Issue 9 would be defeated.

Fast forward to a few weeks later, last Friday, October 30, 2009. The Famous Neon's Unplugged hosts a "No on 9" party. Despite the rain, many turn out to show their support for defeating the charter amendment.

As the rain steadily trickled down from the sky, it seemed as if there was a sense of "Queen City revitalization" in the air. Attendees sipped Hudepohl, Burger and Moerlin and spoke of all the new developments and progress Cincinnati was working towards. There was a positive attitude in the air towards the Tri-State's urban center.

"Mr. Cincinnati" himself, Jim Tarbell, even came out to support the "No on 9" cause:

The atmosphere and crowd at Neon's was great. That place will certainly be quite the downtown destination once it has it's official "grand opening" this coming spring. Despite the optimistic look towards Tuesday's election, many were still left wondering what the end result would be. Cincinnati had a reputation of being "behind the times," would the same reputation prove true once again?

Tuesday came. Like many, I went out and did my civic duty of voting, returning to my hometown of Fairfield, Ohio where I am registered. I am very proud to say I had the opportunity to vote against the COAST endorsed team of Arnold Engel, Erik Rivera and Tony Steer, all of whom lost. That evening, Arnold's on 8th St. was chosen to be the place for what would hopefully be a "victory" party for the Cincinnatians for Progress.

The band began to play and opened up with a song about streetcars in New Orleans as the absentee ballot results appeared on the projector screen...showing "No" two points ahead of "Yes."

"...When I get to New Orleans, I'm gonna ride the streetcar..."

Many from the various groups that had endorsed the "no" vote came out to the party, Tairy Greene of "CAAST" even made an appearance as he passed out stickers:

The results started to update and with only 30 precincts reporting, the crowd cheered to see that "no" was ahead of "yes."

Skepticism still ran rampant through the crowd as people made comments like "We still don't know which precincts are reporting, we could still lose." The doubt slowly dissipated though as the results continued to pour in, with the "no" vote's lead growing larger with each precinct report. Soon the crowd began to realize victory was on the horizon.

The "yes" vote never mounted it's comeback and never got within reach as the results were updated on the screen. Finally months of waiting and tireless campaigning came to a halt.

After finding that it was mathematically impossible for the opposition's "yes" vote to win, the leader's of Cincinnatians for Progress declared "victory" for the "no on 9" team as the large crowd throughout the rooms at Arnold's let out a loud cry.

The leaders of "Cincinnatians for Progress" took the stage.

- Photographers crowd the victorious campaign team.
- Bobby Mally of "Cincinnatians for Progress" delivers a victory speech and issues thank you's.

The campaign had been won. Whether you are or aren't a streetcar supporter, a passenger rail supporter, a democrat, a republican, an independent or whatever, it didn't matter. People from all different backgrounds, walks of life, political leanings and persuasions came out to defeat this bogus and ridiculous charter amendment and to stand up for proper democracy in Cincinnati. In terms of the willingness of all these different viewpoints to work together, Bobby Mally said it best: "This really says something about our community." With this victory and demonstration of comradery between citizens, Cincinnati is heading in a good direction.

While the good folks at Cincinnatians for Progress, The Famouns Neon's Unplugged, Arnold's, all the old and new friends who "high fived" and hugged each other in celebration and all the organizations and supporters of the "No on 9" campaign deserve a big pat on the back, one man stands out above the rest:

John Schneider of the Alliance for Regional Transit has worked tirelessly throughout the years to push for new transit options in the Tri-State area. With this recent victory, maybe we will finally start to see some of the plans for improved transit that John has worked so hard to promote. John, tonight's article and tonight's victory are dedicated to you.


I promise this is the last "political" post for awhile, stay tuned for another new update later in the week.

Updates | Oct. 7, 2017:
  • In the very first photo on this post are two men: Rob Richardson eventually ran for Mayor of Cincinnati, but didn't make it past the primary. He had my primary vote and I hope he continues to be active in Cincinnati politics. I met Lewis again a few years later, he was delivering a pizza to a party in Clifton.
  • The Cincinnati Streetcar opened in 2016


  1. Great write up. Thanks for all the great pics. I wish I could have been at the celebration party. Looks like it was a great time and an important moment in Cincinnati's history!

  2. Jason, thanks for stopping by to check them out. It certainly was a historical moment and hopefully we continue to keep up the momentum and move forward!

  3. Ding! Ding!....Here comes Mallory at the helm as the first Trolley Conductor...Wow...What a site to see....Ha!Ha!

  4. Gordon, your Issue 9 "story-telling" account and the great pictures from last night's Arnold's celebration have helped capture the real pulse of this campaign... hope -- and a unifying of many folks from many parties, demographics, and interests toward a single “positive-Cincinnati” purpose.

    I agree, yesterday's vote for a No-on-9, the many yes votes for some of the other levies and issues, and some of the elected official votes… combine for an historical day for Cincinnati. I feel that there is too much of a grassroots momentum, a directed purpose, and a united vision to not continue to move Cincinnati forward!

    Thanks for the excellent post.

  5. Wow Gordon great writeup. I also attended the Victory party at Arnold's but unfortunately did not get to meet Tairy Greene. I have heard so many great things about this man and have wanted to meet with him ever since he founded CAAST. but great write up well done.

  6. @Anonymous #1: Not sure where the "ding, ding" comes from as these streetcars are not at all comparable to the "trolley's" in San Fransisco. I'm sure Mallory will be cutting the ribbon or something when the first streetcar runs, maybe in the Reds opening day parade in 2012!?

    @Joanne: Thanks for coming by to check out the photos. I agree with you, yesterday was definitely a historical day in Cincinnati. I hope CFP sticks around to keep up the great grassroots movement that's been established.

    @Anonymous #2: Yeah, Tairy is a hell of a guy. He kind of skipped around to the other party's I hear, did you get one of his stickers?

  7. I'm glad it failed. The city is so much better off. Thanks for the post, I forgot to check the results this morning (difficult to find Cinci issues in Columbus).

  8. The modern streetcars do have bells but they need them because they are so quiet.

  9. Here comes the Trolley with Mallory at the controls...waving to all the homeless people...what a waste...shame on all of the Clifton "Elite" who will be the only ones to benefit.

  10. ^Oh, please. The streetcar will be able to be used by anyone and everyone in this city. It's benefits will be put towards all 52 neighborhoods. It's time Cincinnati progressed and it's happening now.