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Thousands Join Tele-Town Hall with Worker and Community Leaders Urging County to “Release the Funds” for Metropolitan Sewer Project

Town Hall Survey Shows Overwhelming Support for Training Local Workers for Local Jobs

Cincinnati, OH (February 4, 2014) – 7,212 people joined a Telephone Town Hall last night to learn about the urgent need for the Hamilton County Commission to let the work begin replacing the city’s failing water systems, under the City's recently upheld Responsible Bidder Ordinance, which holds all contractors accountable for apprenticeship training that helps build a skilled, safe workforce. Build 513 Coalition Founder Robert Richardson hosted the call with speakers that included Cincinnati Councilman Wendell Young, Ohio State Representative Denise Driehaus and other worker and environmental advocates.

"The County is holding up Metropolitan Sewer District projects, which are critical to keeping our rivers clean and our community safe," Richardson said on the call. "Those trying to undo the ordinance are just doing the bidding of unscrupulous contractors, such as those in the Associate Builders and Contractors, whose mission is to drive down wages and training standards in order to increase their profits – even if it burdens ratepayers with costly fines and rate hikes and threatens our water."

During the town hall, Cincinnati area residents had the chance to ask questions and take part in several survey questions. When asked whether or not "all contractors should be held accountable for training workers for local jobs," a huge majority of those who responded, 93%, voted in favor. In addition, 91% of survey participants said they would be willing to add their signature to an open letter urging County Commissioners to release the funds, already signed by Councilman Chris Seelbach and Councilman Wendell Young.

Young, who was on the call, highlighted the value of having proven pre-apprenticeship training programs in place. "Releasing the funding for these projects will allow clean water and good jobs to flow into our community," he continued. "These projects also have a huge potential to help people get the skills they need to maintain a career with an actual certificate that they can take with them, much like a college degree after the job ends to offer future employers."

Council members Young and Yvette Simpson are expected to be on-hand, along with Richardson, several church ministers and environmental advocates, for a rally Wednesday morning outside the Hamilton County Commission meeting to show Commissioners their support for letting the work begin. As of this month, taxpayers could now be in jeopardy of paying costly fines for the County's failure to meet EPA deadlines. City Councilman Charlie Winburn recently warned that the federal government could impose a $1,500 fine every day the County fails to release the funds.

Richardson is now turning to the voters to make his case, adding "we urge you to add your name to our petition urging the County Commission to put aside threats of frivolous litigation, release the funds now and let the work begin."

Voters can sign the letter by visiting the online petition at bit.ly/lettheworkbegin.

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