Banks dispute solved. DeWine credits himself
The Freedom Center Friday changed its mind about seeking $1 million for the grassy lot next door. Read the Enquirer story here.
Banks Working Group Chairman Bob Castellini submitted this explanation of the whole ordeal.
The Freedom Center said the decision was made because it is in the best interest of the community.
But Commissioner Pat DeWine says it was all his doing.
"On Monday, as Council and the Commission were set to approve the payment, I vigorously objected and refused to go along," DeWine said in an e-mail to his supporters. As a result the deal was blocked and there was a huge public outcry against the payment demand."
He neglected to mention though, that unless he, himself was planning to vote for the deal and convince colleague Todd Portune to join him, it never would have gone through anyway. There are only three commissioners and one of them, David Pepper couldn't vote because his father's on the Freedom Center Board.
That leaves DeWine, who obviously was against the deal, and Portune, who said he also opposed giving the money. Both Portune and DeWine would have had to vote "yes" for the deal to go through. So even if the city had been on board, the buck, so to speak, would have stopped there.
Here's the whole e-mail from DeWine:
"Last week the County Commission and Cincinnati City Council were set to approve payment of $1 million in taxpayer funds to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The payment was to be in exchange for property rights that were given to the Freedom Center for free by the City and the County in 2000. Under the agreement the land was to be developed into a park. Eight years later, the land still sits undeveloped, but is now needed to complete the long-awaited Banks project. Unbelievably, Freedom Center officials demanded a payment of $1 million from the taxpayers for the land rights that had been given to them even though the Freedom Center will benefit greatly from the Banks development. I thought this was simply wrong. Taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay twice for the same piece of property, particularly to an entity that has already received millions of tax dollars. On Monday, as Council and the Commission were set to approve the payment, I vigorously objected and refused to go along. As a result the deal was blocked and there was a huge public outcry against the payment demand.
I am pleased to report to you that as a result of my refusal to go along, and the public outcry, officials from the Freedom Center announced today that they have rethought their position and will now give the development rights back free of charge. I'm pleased they have chosen to do the right thing.
If you have any thoughts on the matter please feel free to contact me. As always, I look forward to hearing from you."