Editorial: Welcome, Los Angeles, to right side of Gold Line fight – Pasadena Star-News & San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The following Editorial appeared in the Pasadena Star-News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune on July 16, 2014.

Editorial: Welcome, Los Angeles, to right side of Gold Line fight – Pasadena Star-News & San Gabriel Valley Tribune

July 16, 2014

Crusades for all that is right and good in this world sometimes need a powerful enemy figure as much as they need crusaders.

Supporters are all well and good. But a nemesis can be just the kind of galvanizing force a movement needs to rally troops and ultimately achieve victory.

Some buffoon to make fun of. A tinhorn dictator to belittle. A paper tiger to set a match to.

In the grand crusade to do what the citizens of Los Angeles County voted to do when they first approved the Measure R half-cent sales tax for mass transit — that is, to extend the Gold Line light rail line from Pasadena east to Claremont, at the very least — the powerful enemy has always been the mayor of Los Angeles.

That mustache-twisting Simon Legree has sought to thwart the voters’ aims through various evil subterfuges in which funds for transportation always are funneled back to the city of Los Angeles and the city of Los Angeles only. It’s the metropolis in the region, right? It’s the place that in order to take its rightful place among the world’s grand burgs needs only a rail system to complete it, same as a New York, a London, a Paris, a Moscow. Why give away rail monies, according to this mayoral logic, to the suburbs, the hinterlands, not to mention the gateway to the far Inland Empire, which no one in your Londons, Parises and Moscows have ever heard of, anyway.

When he chaired the Metro board, and when he appointed others as its members, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa happily played the Legree role. Boo! Hiss! He did everything in his power to rob the Gold Line of the funds that had been approved for it, including simply rewriting the Measure R language when it was up for reapproval and a hike to the tax.

Those of us to the east of the big city didn’t cotton to that, and played a key role in rejecting the new, larger version of the sales tax. And since then we’ve simply continued to push for what was rightfully ours, a job made all the easier with a heartless villain leading the other side. And not just heartless — headless. The fact of that matter is that Southern Californians are all in this transit game together. Many who live in east Los Angeles County and in the western portions of San Bernardino County work in the city of Los Angeles and need and deserve commuting options the same as Angelenos do. The city and county lines often mean very little in Southern California. We’re a people who get around — or who used to, before freeway gridlock shut us down. We’ll fight for what’s right on that score. And, as anyone who has seen the 210 and 10 freeways heading west in the morning and east at night knows, those of us who live in Upland and Ontario, Claremont and San Dimas, Glendora and Chino need transit options.

So what do we do now, with the still-newish Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti becoming Metro chair and suddenly announcing he supports the Gold Line extension from Azusa to Montclair, and that he would work to find funding for the project? How to react to rationality like this: “I can’t do well for my city if I don’t have support all the way to the eastern border (of the county) and vice versa.”

How to deal with an L.A. mayor getting all rational and collaborative with us? OK, we give: With open arms we welcome the transformation of an antagonist into a friend. With the support of the mayor of Los Angeles, the region can finally work together on clearing up one of its most congested traffic corridors for the good of us all.

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