Ohio rail plan subject to misinformation

One mode of transportation missing or not as well known in the US is rail travel. In Europe, where gas prices are large and distances relatively short, rail travel is common. Here in the US the oil and auto industries got all the local urban rail systems torn up in the mid 20th century to force people to buy cars and gas. Now the momentum is swinging back but in Ohio the same tired argument is being heard – “it will cost too much…”. However the facts say different.

One argument being used is that building a passenger train that would connect Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Cleveland (the 3C rail plan) would cost too much to build and maintain in a state where budget issues are a common problem.

To the first part – building it will be expensive because the infrastructure was all torn up back in the 1950’s

The second part about the cost of maintaining the system, there is this:

It’s unfortunate to see fiscal conservatives resort to a double standard in claiming to protect Ohio’s taxpayers from the imminent doom of the Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati (3C) passenger-rail project.

The hyperbolic Sen. Jon Husted, R-Kettering, even said he feared the 3C trains’ $17 million annual operating cost would grow into “the biggest money pit in state history.” Perhaps he forgot that the immensely larger, debt-ridden and justifiably celebrated Ohio canal system threatened to be just that to our state as a fledgling.

Or perhaps he mistook Ohio’s ballooning highway subsidy for the 3C trains’ operating bill. On behalf of Ohioans who seek 0.005 percent of the state’s transportation budget for First World travel options other than highways, I ask for fairer treatment.

The double standard is revealed in the $7 billion of highway projects due in the 3C corridor in the next few years: the innerbelt rebuild in Cleveland, the I-70/I-71 reconstruction in Columbus, the I-75 ramps project in Dayton and the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati. No one doubts that quality highways are needed. But no one has scrutinized how Ohio taxpayers can afford to sustain this massive infrastructure tomorrow.

In other words, at least $1 billion of ODOT’s operations and maintenance budget was from subsidies in 2010, and that will grow to $1.4 billion by 2017. Meanwhile, the State Highway Patrol’s $318 million annual budget is no longer funded by the gasoline tax. The patrol’s budget is now a general-fund subsidy to highways.

Trains are a better deal than highways

We need to start to move to alternative transportation modes and rail is one that is really needed.

CBC Windsor to be removed from Findlay Time-Warner lineup in January

While surfing the Internets tonight I came across a brief notice posted on the local news section of WFIN’s website:

Subscribers to Time Warner cable systems in northwest Ohio will be missing some familiar channels beginning in mid-January.

New regulations affecting the carriage of out-of-market over-the-air TV stations will result in the loss of Channel 10 from Columbus and CBC Channel 9 from Windsor, Ontario in Findlay. Time-Warner will add WLMB, a low-power religious channel from Toledo.

Fostoria customers will lose Channel 3, WKYC from Cleveland, and WPTA from Fort Wayne, Indiana will disappear from the Ottawa system. Three low-power Lima stations may be added in Ottawa and other Time-Warner systems.

Other changes affect cable channels being dropped and others being added, according to a letter from Time Warner’s Pat McCauley. 

Time-Warner changes will mean the loss of some familiar TV stations

I confirmed it on the Time-Warner website with the change to happen on or about January 14th.

This is very sad in a sentimental way.

In 1972, cable TV came to Findlay. Our family signed up and of the 14 or so channels available included Channel 9 out of Windsor and at the time WTVN Channel 6 from Columbus (which is now WSYX). Some years later WBNS Channel 10 replaced Channel 6.

I grew up on the CBC as it showed some interesting programs over the years. It was through the CBC that I learned about and became a fan of Curling as well as Hockey Night in Canada and the CFL. I also enjoyed The National with Peter Mansbridge and The Fifth Estate magazine show. Then there was the The Edison Twins and Degrassi Junior High.

I remember when Time-Warner first aquired the cable system in Findlay they tried to drop the CBC and protests ensued forcing them to continue to carry it. Now under the cover of “new regulations affecting the carriage of out-of-market over-the-air TV stations”, I doubt the change can be stopped. I am also upset because there are 50 billion shopping channels and religious channels on the system yet they plan to drop two good stations for a low power religious channel out of Toledo?

Columbus and Windsor are about 100 miles from Findlay, in these days of broadband digital broadcasting distance doesn’t mean anything. I can, and do, watch The National over the Internet for free. Too bad Time-Warner wants to give up getting subscriber money for quality programing. Do they still carry WKBD out of Detroit or WEWS from Cleveland?

My cable system in Columbus has over 500 channels. Is Time-Warner really unable to find a place for Channel 9 and 10 on the Findlay system?

Just sad.

*Update* It seems that Time-Warner and Viacom are having a spat so come Jan 1 all of Time-Warner could lose all the Viacom owned cable channels like Comedy Central. For more info see this link: http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/happy-new-year-time-warner-cable-to-yank-mtv-nickeodeon-comedy-central-off-the-air/

*Update 2* Time-Warner and Viacom reached an agreement early Thursday 1/1 so no one should lose any channels.

Tilted election coverage on WBNS in Columbus

WBNS is owned by the same company that owns the Columbus Dispatch, which endorsed John McCain for President on Sunday.

Here is a video from their late news about the day in the election. John McCain was in Westerville, a suburb of Columbus.

A big bag of candy to people who can tell what is wrong with the report:

In case you can’t or don’t want to see the video here are the things that are wrong in the news report:

1. Gave McCain a couple of minutes to express his talking points. They were not based on any truth – like saying Obama’s tax plan is a give away like his plan isn’t or that Obama’s “share the wealth” comment was meant to give away people’s money – it wasn’t. The news report didn’t challenge any of the talking points.

2. McCain said it was a dead heat even though Obama has a slight lead in Ohio it isn’t a dead heat in the rest of the country.

3. The video showing the women marching to Vets Memorial to vote failed to show the size of the crowd while there were many crowd shots of the McCain rally.

4. The part on Obama in NC failed to let him speak. *To me this is the HUGE diss to Obama* so much for equal time.

5. Later in the newscast (not on the video I have) the anchor told about Powell’s endorsement but didn’t once allow Powell to explain why – the piece only had Powell explaining why he still supported going to war in Iraq – which happens to be McCain’s position.

This isn’t the first time WBNS has been “in the tank” for McCain. During the primary season when McCain was heckled about the war at a rally, the talking heads never once mentioned what the protests were about. I sent an e-mail to the news director and he said I was right they should have mentioned why he was heckled.

They have not provided the same amount of coverage for Obama and most of the news stories I’ve seen, Obama never is allowed to speak – the talking heads paraphrase what he says.

Looks like he needs another e-mail about his stations coverage of the campaign. 

The news director’s is John Cardenas

The Great Columbus Windstorm of 2008

I guess it had to be Karma because of my sick attempt at humor at the expense of Hurricane Ike.

He found out where I lived and put the smack down on me and the entire Central Ohio area on Sunday. We had 75 mph sustained winds for several hours on Sunday afternoon from a combination of the remnants of Ike and his homie – a wicked strong cold front coming from the west.

By dark, thousands of trees were down in the area and half a million people were without power. I posted a picture of the tree that fell in my front yard. The car to the left was just missed by a foot or two. Click on the image to see the full size.

With the so many people being out of power our friendly electric monopoly – American Electric Power – gave us grim news. Some of us wouldn’t have power back for up to 7 days.

To see how random it was, my building was out but the building next door had power as did the apartments across the street. Kroger was closed but the Speedway on 5th avenue was open. Corned Beef Hash is not that good cold. But I did luck out Monday night as the Taco Bell on 5th was open.

I found out that a flickering candle is irritating and causes a headache when trying to read. Also I plan on getting real candles or if they are scented ones they will all be the same scent. It smelled like I was in a cat house with all the different perfumes mixing together.

The picture on the left is the inside of my apartment on Monday night about midnight. The audio portion of the movie “Batman Begins” is pretty good. My MP3 player has FM radio on it so I could listen to the audio from WSYX which is ABC here in town. The only news I could get was the audio from WSYX. Oh and guys at Channel 6, you could deliver more news without having to say “6 on your side” every other sentence. And to all the other news geeks in Columbus – how can I check your website for the complete list of school closings if I don’t have power?????

My emergency flashlight lasted a day and I had to go a nearby laundry to recharge my cell phone.

Other stories on the news had whole neighborhoods getting together. They cleaned up the downed trees, secured damaged houses, and some had huge cook outs as people tried to empty fridges and freezers before the food went bad. On a nearby street, a sign was posted that said “Looters will be shot…” Yes, togetherness was the rule of the day.

Lucky for me my power came back on Tuesday afternoon. It is so nice to see TV again and check my e-mail. Roughing it is fun but not all the time. And I will never make fun of Hurricanes again.

I want my NFL please

I am a long, long, long time fan of the Cleveland Browns football team. Since the days of Brian Sipe and the Kardiac Kids I have ridden that roller coaster and have come close to tasting the ultimate prize of getting to the Super Bowl. The lowest points have been “Red Right 88”, “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, and the move of the team to Baltimore at the end of the 1995 season.

When I was a kid I had no problem watching the Browns games on TV. The AFC was on NBC then and living close to Toledo, Cleveland games were the AFC default. The closest NFL team to our market was Detroit and they played in the NFC.

When I moved to Columbus the issue because troublesome. I am now in the middle of 2 team’s market area (Cleveland and Cincinnati) and also could be included in a 3rd (Pittsburgh) and all of them are in the AFC. Our local CBS station has the thankless job of deciding which team to show each week of the season especially if they are playing at the same time – which seems to be most of the time. The NFL and CBS doesn’t allow WBNS to move the other games to another channel like WWHO which is a broadcast channel or to a dedicated digital cable channel.

Each week one of us group of fans is going to lose out and be forced to listen to the game on radio. With the poor play Cleveland has had the past few years and the improvement of the Bungles, Cleveland fans in Central Ohio lose out most of the time.

Sure there are options if I want to pay a large amount of money to see games I don’t want to see just to see the games I want to see. I do enjoy football but I am less inclined to watch games I have no interest in.

This issue came up again for me with the start of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this week. WBNS is showing not only the regional games for our city since Ohio State is playing, but they are also showing games from the other regions on 3 digital channels on the local cable systems. They do this by splitting the feed from CBS. If the technology is there to do for basketball then CBS should be able to do for football.

I’m NOT talking about a Seattle fan living in Boston being able to watch the Seahawks, I am talking about allowing an affiliate that straddles more than one team market being allowed to show all the nearby teams each Sunday.

I don’t fault the NFL for being particular on the right to watch games as their TV rights money is basically what keeps them in business but they are missing the opportunity of giving some of us what we want and blowing the opportunity of getting us to buy more merchandise, going to a game in person, and breeding another generation of fans.


Cleveland Browns