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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Environmental Justice In Cincinnati?

Supporters of Vice Mayor David Crowley's Environmental Justice ordinance spoke for more than an hour Tuesday at his health, education and environment committee, where he introduced the idea and brought it up for discussion. Among the supporters: the local Sierra Club; local and state chapters of the NAACP; Communities United for Action; former mayor Dwight Tillery, now director of the Center for Closing the Health Gap.

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, however, raised "significant concerns" in letters to each council member and asked that they "work to prevent ratification" of the ordinance as currently drafted. The letter came from former city solicitor Rita McNeil, who's now the Chamber's vice president for government affairs. It cites a hindrance of business retention and job attraction as among the ordinance's possible side effects.

The ordinance, which wasn't put for a vote yet, would stop any new commercial business or expansion if an environmental review of the proposed project found that the business could have a significant, cumulative effect on pollution in an area and/or on the health of people living there. The premise is that Cincinnati's lower-income and heavily minority neighborhoods bear more of the brunt of toxins than do other neighborhoods.

The discussion got a little testy between committee member Jeff Berding and lawyer David Altman, who worked with Crowley on the idea almost three years and presented the ordinance to the committee. The ordinance, based on national poverty levels, includes virtually the entire city as a potentially affected "environmental justice community" once the poor neighborhoods are designated and the mile radius around each is drawn. Excepted are parts of College Hill, Mount Washington, Oakley and Hyde Park.

Berding wanted to know if a business that wanted to avoid an EJ review could ask where Cincinnati zoning would allow it to locate. Altman, at one point, suggested maybe Berding should actually read the ordinance. Berding said he had read the ordinance.

Altman also said "certain members" of city council are very aware of areas in the city where kids suffer more from asthma - Cecil Thomas, for example. Berding and Chris Bortz took exception, saying of course all city council members are concerned about kids with asthma. Altman said he never meant to suggest otherwise.

The city administration hasn't yet weighed in, but the ordinance already has five votes in favor.


19 Comments:

at 5:38 PM, April 29, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Altman! No surprise about Berding though. It looks like that after a few months, he's back to his old, self-serving, Republican self.

 
at 7:11 PM, April 29, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please turn out the lights and shut the door on your way out. Sounds like what we are telling businesses who have operated for a century or more along the Mill Creek - take your business elsewhere. So much for econonomic growth in the City. All the better for surrounding Counties and States who will welcome new businesses and JOBS with open arms. And the poor get poorer with further job losses....

 
at 7:42 AM, April 30, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The smells of stench and chemicals comes from the lower Price Hill area (some caused by City and County) and let's start there. How about that John Cranley?

 
at 8:47 AM, April 30, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

This ordinance will do more to harm to those it aims to protect. This is liberalism at its worst. This is why we have zoning codes.

 
at 10:31 AM, April 30, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Berding is a jerk....

Zoning doesn't matter in this town if you are a Mallory. Just look at the CityLink fiasco.

 
at 10:43 AM, April 30, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but do you think that the suburbs will welcome polluting businesses with open arms? No, they would prefer that those businesses stay in the city (which they never venture into) and welcome the clean businesses that don't stink up/pollute their neighborhoods.

Why should Cincinnati be the dumping ground (literally) for businesses that are hazardous to those who live around them? Are our residents more disposible than the suburbanites?

Or are all these posts above made by non-city residents, who as usual know SO MUCH MORE about how the city should be run than those who actually live here?

 
at 11:06 AM, April 30, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suburbs have strong zoning codes that are enforced. They don't have environmental nonsense like this.

 
at 11:11 AM, April 30, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Berding's a jerk for asking questions.......that Altman NEVER answered?!! Ha. Watch CityCable "jerks"

 
at 11:57 AM, April 30, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

This environmental justice nonsense is just that.

If you don't like where you live, or where the taxpayers subsidize you to live, then move!

David Altman is a limousine liberal hack, and anytime Dwight Tillery shows up you know it's because there's a drop to be made. The end of Crowley's term can't come soon enough.

 
at 12:52 PM, April 30, 2008 Blogger Quim said...

Seems like a good idea as it would be proactive and prevent excessive costs fixing problems down the road.
Berding is right, that a review shouldn't take forever and a day but implemented through zoning ordinances, that shouldn't be the case.
"Environmentalist nonsense" - HA, good one.

 
at 1:23 PM, April 30, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

crowleys heart and mind are in the right place but given the regressive political environment that the neocons have created makes success unlikely.

 
at 8:09 PM, April 30, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Berding may be a jerk, but he is right- this idea will definitely do more harm than good. There is a reason no other City in the entire country has implemented such a measure. Maybe City Council should take that under advisement.

As for Altman, there isn't a more pompous egotistical arrogant jerk in this city. If you don't agree it just means you haven't met him.

 
at 10:34 AM, May 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's close the factories, export the jobs, and build more housing, ala Winton Terrace ..er Hills. Maybe we can even include Crowley's beloved Mt Adams. Call the place Mt Ida Spence, and build it within walking distance of Eden Park to maximize open-air "marketing opportunities".

 
at 1:12 PM, May 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:57 AM, the EJ issue exists in the first place because lower-income communities are the path of least resistance for polluting industries, and members of these communities are the same people who can least afford to move. This has all been empirically proven, and now it is up to the public to do something about it. It's pretty cut and dry.

10:34 AM, This isn't a black/white question between having jobs and not having jobs. What you are doing is hijacking the debate with red herrings.

 
at 6:36 AM, May 02, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:12: name two "polluting industries" that have moved into "lower-income communities," and two "members of these communities" who have "empirically proven" health issues as a result?

What nonsense! Have YOU ever seen what it takes for an industrial facility to get environmental permits? Air? Wastewater? Landfill? Obviously Crowley hasn't.

This is transparently an effort to throw more taxpayer money at Dwight Tillery, and I'm guessing Crowley is also working to line up his post-Council employment.

 
at 9:08 AM, May 02, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Styrene leak from a sidelined (and forgotten) rail car in Addyston?

Queen City Barrel in Lower Price Hill?

The concrete facility proposed for Sayler Park?

Spring Grove Village (Winton Hills) currently has over 50 polluting companies located in the neighborhood.

Put the waste transfer station in Hyde Park since it's such an unobjectionable employer. They won't even let a retirement home or a church build out in their community!

Why should certain neighborhoods in our city (or even our city at all) be the dumping ground for businesses with undesirable side effects?

Plain and simple: it shouldn't.

 
at 6:38 PM, May 02, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're an idiot!

The styrene car was on the East side - Addyston is west. AND a railcar is hardly a factory.

OCB had soil contamination issues but name two people it made sick.

Lone Star Cement would have been no more "polluting" than the cement plants in Queensgate and next to PBS.

"Spring Grove Village" used to be "Winton Place." Are you really qualified to be speaking on this issue?

"certain" neighborhoods" lend themselves to industrial investment: don't live there if you don't want to.

If you're the caliber of individual going to bat on this issue then right-thinking citizens obviously have nothing to worry about!

 
at 9:28 PM, May 05, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, don't call us idiots because you disagree with us. We aren't the ones using the ad hominem attacks.

Frankly, I can't name specifiec companies or individuals because this stuff doesn't make the papers, and it rarely involves businesses that anyone has heard of. I do know, however, that the Mill Creek Valley has dealt with more industrial polluters than you could shake a stick at. I also know that Winton (Place?) had to organize against a landfill that was leaching into nearby homes.

We have made lots of progress in combating industrial pollution precisely because of laws with teeth. And if businesses want to leave because of those laws, then screw 'em. We don't want 'em.

 
at 11:28 AM, May 06, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gray Road Landfill received C&D (construction & demolition) waste. Its closure had NOTHING to do with leachate. It was a quality of life issue with traffic, limiting expansion, etc.

And there's nothing "ad hominem" about characterizing one's failure to do one's homework as idiotic

 
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