Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What are we going to do with that Stimulus?

I thought the topic of the stimulus would make a good post on this blog since Cincinnati seems to be host to a microcosm of the conversations that are happening nationwide. Everyone is talking about how those stimulus dollars are going to be spent.

The post that I saw this week that put me over the tipping point to go ahead and write this post up was actually not related to Cincinnati at all. It turns out there is a Google Maps mashup covering news stories about layoffs related to the big economic downturn. The screenshot that the Google Maps Mania blog chose to illustrate this mashup just so happens to show a story in Cincinnati about 7000 layoffs. That particular entry appears to be gone from the LayOffMaps site, but plenty more stories about local layoffs and other signs of the economic times can be found at Cincinnati BizJournals on a daily basis.

So what are Cincinnatians doing about it? Two prominent local politicians have written letters on the topic. Mayor Mark Mallory wrote a letter to senators George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown and House members Jean Schmidt and Steve Driehaus requesting that those federal funds be allocated to a wide variety of local "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects.

The proposed streetcar is amongst the projects listed as "shovel-ready" and streetcar opponent and Cincinnati NAACP President Chris Smitherman wrote a letter to President Obama specifically calling out the streetcar as a bad investment of federal dollars.

Meanwhile an exciting project at StimulusWatch.org is keeping tabs on how that stimulus money is being allocated and it has provided a platform for citizens to advocate for or against proposed projects. The site breaks down these published lists of "shovel-ready" projects geographically, allowing users to browse by state or city. Here is the page for Ohio and here is the page for Cincinnati.

UrbanCincy.com has more on the site and some of the exciting and controversial projects in our area.

Based on a quick glance through other transit projects, it looks like the Cincinnati streetcar as one of the more negative ratings as rated by the users of the site. It's also in the top five most actively edited projects which indicates a lot of debate. Check it out to see how our projects stack up against other projects nationwide!

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