Now I'm a nominal democrat, but believe me, one-party rule is not necessarily always a blessing. I am reminded of this fact quite often, in the personage of our sleazy, damn-near worthless shill of a governor - Rod Blagojevich.
Blagojevich says he’ll sign transit funding, but add rides for seniorsFor those not familiar with this issue, the Chicago-area mass transit system has been facing a serious funding disaster that has been more or less on-going for a least five years. Over this time train and bus riders have endured several significant fare increases, and the loss or reduction of several train and bus routes.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Gov. Rod Blagojevich will hold his nose and sign a tax increase to bail out Chicago-area mass transit. But the governor said today he’ll change the bill to allow seniors statewide to ride buses and trains for free, which will require lawmakers’ approval.
Reluctant lawmakers abandoned demands that a transportation bailout be tied to a statewide construction program. Approval of the measure would avert extensive service cuts and fare hikes slated for the Chicago Transit Authority and its suburban counterpart Jan. 20.
Meanwhile, every six months to a year, as the Regional Transit Authority starts to run out of money, they launch an enormous "doomsday scenario" ad campaign, telling riders that (despite their billion dollar budget) it's our job to contact Springfield, or else they will have to again increase fares, and/or cut routes. Our current doomsday scenario - the second one in the last five months - is supposed to reach it's Apocalypse on January 20th. So for the last couple of weeks, on every train and bus in the city, riders are treated to a list of 81 bus routes that will be eliminated if the Regional Transit Authority doesn't get adequate funding. Imagine finding out that your ride to work may very well be extinct in two weeks!
The fact is, mass transit is good for the environment, and great for traffic and for a lot of relatively poor people who want to get to and from work. (I haven't owned a car for five years.) But it's expensive to operate, and it is NOT a money-making enterprise. Our mass transit system is among the most poorly funded in America - garnering less state funding (by % of operating funds) than New York, Washington DC, and even smaller systems like LA and Philadelphia. Waaaaay less.
The Governor has been in office for about five years - and even though he's from the Chicago-area he has offered NO LEADERSHIP WHATSOEVER on this important issue. Now, when the Senate and House have FINALLY dropped the ridiculous tradition of tying the Chicago-area's mass transit funding to road construction for a small-but-vocal downstate minority, Blagojevich wants to send the bill BACK TO THE LEGISLATURE to in an incredibly sleazy and pathetically transparent pander to the Senior Citizens.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Senior Citizens, and I hope to be one myself some day. But right now, - when we've FINALLY achieved some movement on a more permanent funding solution for our transit problems; this is decidedly NOT the time to be nitpicking around the edges of a solution, and sending a passed bill back to the legislature - especially in a cheap pander to a section of the voting population that reliably turns out on election day.
This is just the beginning. Really. Blagojevich and his top aides have been under federal investigation for most of his tenure. Enough already.
Illinois can do better. One can only hope that we get a solid primary challenger for the G-Rod in 2010, cuz I'm not sure I can handle 6 more years of Blagojevich's dismal "leadership."