Is there anything more uncool than a 50-something politician in a suit talking about wanting his state to be “cool”? Nah. Probably not.
Witness Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a newly elected Republican whose union-busting policies have made him pretty unpopular, as he delivers one of the more delicious soundbites in recent memory. The video moment was captured by Mark Kovac of the indispensable Capital Blog (via @rustwire):
We’ve got to make Ohio cool. You know, I was down at Lexis-Nexis down in Dayton, I’m meeting with the CEO of the company, and he says, you know, a lot of these, these young people, you know, they want to head for the coast. Why do they want to go to the coast? It’s cool. Why do they want to go to Austin? You ever been to Austin? It’s very cool. You want to go to the Triangle of North Carolina, go down there and check it out, it’s cool. We need to make Ohio cool.
Here’s a tip on one of the things that makes those places “cool,” Gov. Kasich. They tend to have a lot of walkable communities and public transportation, something that your administration has not done much to support so far.
On the contrary. Take that streetcar in Cincinnati, the one that you pushed to gut state funding from, even though Ohio’s own transportation advisory committee rated it the highest-ranking project in the state just last December.
What did you say about that project? Oh, yeah:
What they do in Portland — we’re not living in Portland. And by the way, I don’t want to live in Portland.
News flash, Gov. Kasich? Portland is “cool.” It is such a cliché of cool that they’ve made an awesome TV show about how cool it is. You should check it out, dude!
Yanking the $51.8 million that would have gone into the streetcar is part of “fiscal balancing,” according to the Ohio Department of Transportation. But as Randy Simes of the blog UrbanCincy pointed out to me in an email, the decision means that 100 percent of the funding for the state’s highest-ranking project got cut — 52 percent of the overall “fiscal balancing.”
The streetcar will go ahead — there are several other funding sources — but it remains to be seen how officials are going to cover the gap left by the state’s decision. It could mean a slower timetable, or fewer stops, or fewer miles of service.
Is that cool? Well, the 85 percent of University of Cincinnati students who supported the streetcar probably don’t think so. You never know, these might be the kind of kids who end up wanting to live … gasp! … in Portland.
Here’s what Cincinnati Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan had to say about the situation, according to UrbanCincy:
We’re not building the streetcar for grumpy old men; we’re building it for young people who want it. This is an essential attraction tool for young professionals.
Attracting young professionals to Ohio’s cities — wouldn’t that be cool, Gov. Kasich?