by Legate Damar
The Brent Spence Bridge Problem
The elites and big business special interests in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are executing a propaganda campaign to convince the residents of NKY for the need to utilize tolling to fund a new Brent Spence Bridge. In spite of the failure to pass the public-private partnership legislation in the 2014 legislative session, tolling proponents remain undeterred.
The 50-year-old, double-decked Brent Spence carries Interstates 71 and 75 traffic. It is categorized as functionally obsolete because of its narrow lanes, lack of emergency shoulders and limited visibility. The bridge also carries double the amount of traffic it was originally intended for, although it is structurally sound, officials say (Kasich: Ohio’s done its part on Brent Spence Bridge, 2014).
According to the Enquirer replacing the 51-year-old Brent Spence Bridge is considered critical to the region’s future. The structure is outdated, unsafe and frequently congested. But it’s also the heart of our region’s transportation system, carrying not only local commuters but billions in interstate commerce every year. If the bridge is not replaced, business leaders fear our region’s economy will suffer in lost jobs and missed opportunities for new ones (Bridge taking toll on NKY image, 2014).
by Legate Damar
How the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Ended Up in Kentucky
During the run-up to World War II, the federal government began building new airports across the nation. Cincinnati was on their radar screen, according to the 1997 book “Creating a World Class Airport” by former Cincinnati Post reporter Richard L. Rawe, but political leaders were short-sighted. Cincinnati politicians didn’t want to abandon the fog-prone Lunken Airfield, but they also couldn’t agree upon a location for a new airport north of the Ohio River. As a result, Hamilton County voters rejected a bond issue that would have financed the project.
A U.S. representative from Newport named Brent Spence spotted an opportunity. He wrote a headline-grabbing newspaper column, “Kentucky Could Get Cincinnati Airport,” and set into motion events that would reshape the face of Northern Kentucky for decades to come.
Business, political and newspaper leaders in Kenton County, then the political and financial epicenter of Northern Kentucky, rallied behind Spence’s idea. The effort was led by the Covington-Kenton County Industrial Association, the Chamber of Commerce of its day (Kenton County keeps tight grip on CVG, 2013).
Kenton County Finances the Construction of the Airport
Boone County didn’t have any money, so the Kenton County Fiscal Court purchased the land in Boone County because it was more suitable for an airport than any of the land in Kenton County. Land was flat and cheap, but Boone County was still largely rural, undeveloped and decidedly lacking in political muscle. County leaders agreed to the airport, but only if Kenton County paid for the 950-acre site and took on the legal and political risk.
The project moved forward, with the backing of Frankfort. The state legislature created the airport board, and in 1943 Kenton County appointed the first members: seven business leaders from the Covington-Kenton County Industrial Association. They oversaw construction and signed 20-year leases with CVG’s first carriers – Delta, American and TWA.
Today, Kenton County remains the political power behind CVG: its name is on the dotted line when it comes to dealings with the federal government, such as bonds and grants, and its judge-executive appoints 13 of the 18 board members. The county doesn’t receive a dime in revenue. Frankfort and Boone County benefit from the payroll taxes, and the airport keeps the profits from concessions, landing fees and parking (Kenton County keeps tight grip on CVG, 2013).
by Legate Damar
Kenton County Clerk Gabrielle Summe was responsible for failing to certify the petition which would have put the tax that funds the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC) on the ballot for a vote. If you signed this petition, you were denied this opportunity. The Libertarians are running candidate and former veteran Chris Robinson for Kenton County Clerk this fall.
Chris Robinson was born in Kenton County at St. Elizabeth North in 1972. He served in the Navy for 11 years, and is an Iraq War and Bosnia War veteran.
He has completed advanced public affairs training as part of his military career, and has a bachelor's degree in communications.
Chris works in Covington at the IRS, and is active in his neighborhood association.
He is committed to make Kenton County a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
His pledge to voters:
Customer Service - As your County Clerk I will answer to you, the public - not the bureaucracy.
Efficiency - I will audit current spending to see that not one dollar is wasted.
Integrity - I will ensure the office will be run without bias, and will put citizens of Kenton County first.
Most importantly he will certify the petition to put the tax that funds the NKAPC on the ballot!
Check out Chris's campaign website at: www.chris4clerk.com
by Legate Damar
SD1 Proposes a 5% Rate Increase
The board of directors for Sanitation District No. 1 (SD1) is proposing a 5% rate hike for sanitary sewer and stomwater service for the upcoming fiscal year. If approved Northern Kentucky residents would see rate hikes in their sanitary sewer and stormwater bills beginning August 2014. According to SD1, rate payers would see an average monthly increase of $1.98 on their SD1 bills for sanitary sewer service and a hike of 24 cents per bill for their stormwater service. The SD1 Board of Directors announced the rate-hike proposal, along with a public comment period, in a recent meeting (Higher sewer bills proposed for NKY, 2104).
The increase to the stormwater fee is more than the usual annual cost-of-living increase, about 2 percent. According to SD1 executive director David Rager the proposed rate hike is to pay for maintenance of stormwater infrastructure that cities have transferred to SD1.
“Rate changes are needed in order to fix and continuously maintain aging sewer pipes in the Northern Kentucky region,” Rager said.
The proposed SD1 budgets for the fiscal year – July 1 to June 30, 2015 – are $12.7 million for the stormwater utility (up from about $12.4 million); and $84 million for wastewater service (up from the current budget of $82 million), Rager said (Higher sewer bills proposed for NKY, 2104).
by Legate Damar
Matt Bevin Loses to Mitch McConnell
One of the biggest disappointments of the Republican primary was Matt Bevin’s loss to fifth term senator Mitch McConnell. Statewide, with almost all precincts reporting, McConnell had 60 percent of the vote to Bevin's 36 percent, with three other Republicans taking the rest. He even beat Bevin 48.7 percent to 47.8 percent in Boone County, a tea party stronghold that looked to be the most likely for Bevin to win (McConnell bests tea party, but now needs them, 2014). Not only did Bevin not win Boone County, he only won two counties statewide, Scott and Pendleton, and those he only won by a few votes. In Scott County, Bevin won 1,752 votes to 1,707 votes; in on Pendleton he won 359 to 348 (Top five surprises in Tuesday’s Senate primary, 2014).
Poor Voter Turnout may have been a Factor
Part of the reason Bevin did so poorly in Northern Kentucky may have been its historically low voter turnout, a fact often lamented by local politicians who cite it as a reason why the region gets ignored by leaders statewide. The NKY Tea Party strenuously attempted to energize their base and exhort Republicans to get out and vote to no avail (KY Republicans Must Participate in the Upcoming Primary, 2014). Boone County, where Bevin set up shop and visited almost every week of the campaign, had the second lowest turnout of Kentucky's 120 counties at 16.94 percent, according to the Secretary of State. Voters in Kenton and Campbell counties didn't come out in much greater numbers, with turnouts of 17.85 percent and 20.35 percent respectively (Top five surprises in Tuesday’s Senate primary, 2014).