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Streetcar meeting produces debate, not much else

Jay Hanselman

A Cincinnati Council Committee discussion about the streetcar Tuesday did not yield much in the way of decisions.

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) says it has received proposals for operating the streetcar, but would not disclose how many or who bid, saying it can't do so under Federal Transit Administration protocols.

Rail Manager Paul Grether did explain how SORTA plans to present the best bids to Council using a "blind process."

"We won't be able to disclose the name of the firm at that point but Council will know that it's the top, highest scoring firm," he says.

Vice Mayor David Mann doesn't like the "blind process," calling it a "cloak of secrecy."

"This is bizarre," he says. "We're talking about the award of a multi-million dollar contract that will have implications for this community for a long, long time."

The committee ended up holding several streetcar-related motions for another two weeks.

One would block SORTA from considering operating proposals that include non-union employees. Council member Amy Murray opposes that motion saying, "We're not experts and it is a multi-million {dollar} contract, so I don't understand why we wouldn't look at all proposals."

Another motion put on hold would request funding proposals for extending the streetcar Uptown.

SORTA says it has already begun reviewing the proposals and plans to make an operator recommendation by June.