Cincinnati Learns Pros and Cons of the Streetcar Charlie Hales Sold It

Wednesday's edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer included a rather striking guest editorial: a city official recounting Portland Mayor Charlie Hales' advice about installing a streetcar system.

The editorial, written by Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Mann, explains how he visited Portland last weekend to examine the Portland Streetcar.

It's a rare look at how Hales, who sold streetcars for a decade before running for mayor, continues to promote the system.

"We looked for ways to make sure that the Cincinnati system comes in on time and under budget," Mann writes. "We had a very busy agenda of meetings with public and private sector leaders. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and local U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer were very generous with their time, sharing a meal with us at one of Portland's fine new restaurants."

Cincinnati's 3.6-mile streetcar system is currently under construction. It's a project Hales sold Cincinnati officials while working as a senior vice president at consulting firm HDR Engineering.

Mann's editorial talks chiefly about the importance of tax-increment financing—in this case, that means getting property owners along the streetcar line to pay for its construction.

But Mann concludes by describing the drawbacks that Portland officials conceded during his visit: