Chronicle editors: give Metro whatever it wants
After yesterday's stellar editorial effort, the Chronicle editors follow up today with a light rail "bad guy" editorial. This one actually has two "bad guys," Rep. Tom DeLay (of course) and Rep. John Culberson. We dealt with the particulars of this manufactured controversy the other day and pointed out that Metro officials caused their own problems and should not be looking to elected officials to give them an out.
The last two paragraphs of the editorial are especially...strange:
If Metro's proposal would produce public benefits faster and less expensively, why would anyone object? Here is a chance to reduce the government waste that frugal taxpayers decry.
The voters have spoken. Houston needs mobility improvements that include an expanded rail transit component as well as one of the nation's better bus systems. The next time Metro and the majority of voters in its service area say "Jump," their representatives in Congress should ask, "How high?"
Professional journalists wrote that.
There is no MetroRail proposal that equals a less expensive public benefit. The first phase cost one third of a billion dollars and moves less than one percent of Houston's population. Plus it has snarled traffic all around the rail lines downtown. Plus it has a world-class accident rate. Plus bus routes have been cut to force people to ride the dang thing. Plus it's $93 million in debt.
"Why would anyone object?" It's a mystery.
Next the editors say (apparently with straight faces), "Here is a chance to reduce the government waste that frugal taxpayers decry." Oh my! Taxpayer-financed light rail practically defines government waste.
And then the editors want two elected representatives to bend over whenever a taxpayer-funded, unaccountable, special interest group -- that is run by unelected officials -- snaps its fingers. And why should two elected congressmen do that? Because Houston-area citizens gave (the unaccountable, special interest group known as) Metro a mandate, the editors say. So apparently when it comes to Metro, everything MUST be approved, federal laws and guidelines be damned.
Let that sink in for a minute. And remember it the next time the editors are whining about Republicans being the pawns of special interest groups.
(Wouldn't it be interesting to see Metro have to go back to voters for funding approval? Knowing what we know now -- about what Metro has built, how "well" light rail has worked, how Metro management has handled things like bus routes, etc -- do you think Metro could get voter approval for more rail lines?)
Once again, it's important to remember that Metro has not been denied funding. Metro's funding approval has been delayed because of Metro's own arrogance. We know the Chronicle is fond of light rail, but the folks over there need to take a deep breath and gather themselves.