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Friday, March 5, 2010

Political kickbacks land Cleveland major transit dollars

Vice President Joe Biden announced over $600 million in new awards for transit projects across the United States. The funding went to 191 different transit projects in 42 different states and Puerto Rico.


Ohio walked away with more than $24.5 million worth of transit funding, of which the overwhelming majority went to northeast Ohio, where the state's two Senators are from, with $6 of transit funding going to each of the 2,088,291 people in the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Cincinnati meanwhile ranks as Ohio's most populous MSA with 2,155,137 people who received $0.13 each for transit funding (view full list of recipients).


The $6 per person transit funding for Cleveland equates to roughly half of Ohio's total funding received and more than $12.5 million. The Cincinnati MSA barely made the list at all as Middletown, on the far northern reaches of Cincinnati's metropolitan area, received the MSA's only funding of just under $281,000.

Cleveland MSA received $6/person while Ohio's most populous metropolitan area received just $0.13/person. Click chart to open large version in new window.

In a press release received from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Vice President Biden stated that, "Investing in these transit upgrades not only puts construction workers on the job at project sites, but supports American manufacturing jobs all the way down the supply chain. At a time when jobs are priority number one, that means twice the employment bang for the Recovery Act buck.”


One could make the argument that the Cleveland metropolitan area received the most money to help create and retain jobs in arguably Ohio's most devastated market in terms of jobs and foreclosures. The evidence further supports this when you see that Columbus and Cincinnati, the state's two strongest job markets, received the smallest per-capita funding. That is where the connections stop though, as Dayton, ranking close to Cleveland as one of Ohio's worst economic performers, received a measly $0.84 per person for transit funding.


“Investing in modern, efficient transit systems will mean safe, reliable travel and clean air in our communities” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “These projects are putting thousands of Americans to work right now while improving the lives of millions of Americans for years to come"


Unfortunately while this is true, it seems that at least in Ohio that these funds were distributed based on political ties than anything else. Both Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator George Voinovich hail from northeast Ohio Maybe not shocking, but certainly disappointing especially if you are one of the hundreds of thousands living in Hamilton County that voted for Senator Brown in 2006 and in turn saw $0 of this transit funding.

7 comments:

Ron Tunning said...

Randy, I hate to challenge your data but in the 2006 U.S. Senate race Sherrod Brown was defeated by Mike Dewine in Hamilton County, with Dewine collecting 144,167 votes to Brown's 142,134.

Where you came up with a figure of 422,000 votes for Brown is rather mystifying.

One might also consider that two of the most reactionary GOP congresspersons hail from Southwest Ohio, with John Boehner representing a district that encompasses a significant portion of suburban Cincinnati and Dayton, while Jean Schmidt takes care of the eastern Cincinnati suburbs.

Yes, politics play a role and they should. Those areas that support an administrations policies should indeed be supported by the administration.

nate said...

What an unpleasantly bitter post.

Maybe you could be a little happy for Cleveland? Cincinnati isn't the only place on the planet you know.

Quim said...

hm, kinda sounds like the lopsided disbursements under the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit plan.
Building Cincinnati
SW Ohio legislators seem to be pretty weak at getting their tax dollars back on both state & federal levels.

Marshal said...

Sorry Clevelanders, this site is called "UrbanCincy" for a reason. He's not trashing Cleveland, he's just pointing out the large gap compared to, well, every other metro in the state.

Randy Simes said...

Ron you're right...I goofed up my calculations and calculated the raw number based on the percentage that Brown received in Hamilton County without factoring in the voting population compared to the overall population.

Nate:

It's not about being happy or unhappy for a particular area. The point is to highlight the massive descrepency between how much money the Cleveland area received compared to the rest of the state. The whole situation is even worse when you specifically compare the Cincinnati area with the Cleveland area in terms of this and you see the huge difference. This is far beyond qualified projects or any rational measure. This seems to come back to politics and it's unfortunate that comparable population centers got treated so differently. Cleveland won and the rest of the state lost as a result.

Dustin said...

I'm not bashing this post, because I do understand and agree with the heart of the argument: there is a huge discrepancy with the dollar amount per person the rest of the state and Cincinnati has received. I think it is atrocious that politics work this way--but they do.

That said, the Cincinnati MSA is split between 16 counties AND 3 states. Indiana counties account for 79,101 people, and Kentucky counties account for 417,079 of the Cincinnati-MSA population. Therefore, 496,180 people of the Cinci-MSA do not live in the state; or 23% of the MSA population.

All of the other MSAs compared within the graph are contain completely within the state of Ohio's borders. Also, the Cincinnati MSA has the lowest population density, and is spread over the most counties of the comparison.

While I do advocate for a Regional Planning, for obvious reasons that would be redundant to readers of this blog, it is only one of the issues with political borders and the dispersion methods.

Randy Simes said...

Dustin:

You're correct that Cincinnati's MSA lies in three states. In total the only money the Cincinnati MSA received from this distribution of transit funding was the money that went to Middletown.

We could talk population density and MSA size all day long. The reality is that MSA are determined by community patterns, and while Cincinnati's MSA is larger, and thus less dense over its entirety, does not mean it is a less dense or less urban MSA than say Cleveland. Virtually all of the Indiana counties in the MSA are agricultural in nature, as is about 1/4 of western Hamilton County. The same is true for much of the southern and eastern portions of the Kentucky counties included in Cincinnati's MSA. Heck most of the counties to the east of Cincinnati in Ohio are rural and agricultural in their nature too.

When examining true population densities of the core cities and developed areas one can identify that Cleveland is in fact more densely populated than Cincinnati, but not by much. Cleveland's MSA would be similarly large if it were not surrounded by a group of medium-sized cities that do not share all that common of an economic influence or commuting patterns with Cleveland. Hence the separation.

The point is that Cleveland takes home the money when it comes to federal funding, and Columbus gets the state funding. In the end this leaves Cincinnati out altogether and then the rest of the state wonders why Cincinnatians feel disconnected with the rest of Ohio.

Given the fact that Cincinnati is Ohio's second strongest population and economic market in terms of growth, it would seem to be in the state's best interests to facilitate the positive things that are happening in Cincinnati.

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