From James Nash in The Dispatch:
Even before Ohio officials learned that they were landing a $400 million federal grant to restore rail service connecting major cities, they spent nearly $1 million on consultants to make environmental reviews, hold public workshops and pitch the train service to the public.
The state spent nearly $160,000 last year on a public-relations firm, Engage Communications, that was hired to promote the idea of linking Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati by passenger rail.
The Ohio Department of Transportation hired Engage Communications even though the department has an in-house public-relations staff and the Ohio Rail Development Commission has its own PR person. A private group, All Aboard Ohio, also is mounting a vigorous campaign on behalf of the rail plan.
Documents released by the state transportation agency show that even last year, the so-called 3C passenger-rail plan had become a $1 million bonanza for consultants, including a global infrastructure firm with 14,000 employees.
The firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff, announced Tuesday that it will complete a “variety of environmental documents for various components and design for the track and capacity improvements” necessary to convert freight rail lines to passenger use.
These are unbid contracts. Jolene Molitoris, the Ohio Department of Transposition Director who received degrees from Catholic University of America in engineering and economics SPEECH AND DRAMA, plans on asking the Controlling Board for $25 million for the final “environmental study.” Of course, you know that the likelihood of the report being bad news for Gov. Strickland’s proposal, right?
Thankfully, Senate President Bill Harris seems willing to fight. I received a number of PR emails via the USA Energy Advisors, which directed people to visit All Aboard Ohio, the Ohio Association of Railroad Passengers of Lakewood. That group is sponsored by Linking Ohio (and their corporate backers).
But money is also being thrown at Ohio Votes, which is really just a project of Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio which has a long history of working with ACORN. In fact, considering their funding sources and all the various organizations which seek the same objectives in this area, I don’t know what separates the two, other than names.
I have much more to say on this. These groups exist to try to pretend there is real grassroots support for this proposal. However, if these groups and paid “cheerleaders” are able to sell the people of Ohio a STUPID, SLOW TRAIN THAT GOES 39 MPH, then they are worth 10 times whatever they get.