Editorials Collide as Metro Board Meeting Approaches

Several editorials made the rounds this morning on today’s big Metro Board meeting. Some of you might have received this already, but Foothill Extension Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian took the time this morning to give his thoughts and preview of the pieces. It’s pasted below.

Today has just begun and we already have a preview of the Metro Board Meeting later this morning. When you open the opinion pages of the Los Angeles Times and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune today, you will see the very different views which will likely play out live during the meeting.

In the Times alone, there are two very different views – the first, an opinion by the paper; and the second, an opinion by three Congressional representatives (Judy Chu, Adam Schiff, and David Dreier). While in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the opinions of the paper and of the guest views provide more consistent messages (the guest view is a portion of the letter sent earlier this week by the 14-member delegation to the Metro Board).

Here are some highlights from the Los Angeles Times:

The Los Angeles Times opposes the position set forth in the letter by the Congressional delegates to the Metro Board earlier this week.  The subtitle for the opinion states their view clearly: “Perochialism by members of the area’s congressional delegation could derail the Wilshire Boulevard subway.” The paper supports the unanimous decision made last month by the Metro Board to seek federal New Starts funding for the Westside Subway and Regional Connector. They believe it is a “logical” decision. They go on to say that the Foothill Extension, Eastside Extension and Crenshaw lines can be funded locally and do not need federal funding; but also admit that the limitation in local funds could result in these lines not getting completed fully or as quickly.

In a very different opinion in the Times, the Congress members Chu, Schiff and Dreier remind readers of the risk that the county is taking by limiting its pursuit of federal funds. Citing the potential 7-10 year wait for the Westside Subway and Regional Connector to be eligible to receive significant amounts of federal funding, they point out that transit projects like Phase 2B of the Foothill Extension (Azusa to Montclair) are in a much better position to receive federal money in the near-term (without hurting the chances of the Westside Subway or Regional Connector in their pursuit of a federal funding agreement).

They state: “At a time when unemployment is a record high in our region, we must maximize the dollars coming into the County for good-paying jobs and needed infrastructure by being united as a region here and in Washington. The only way that can work is if we do not close doors on some projects at the expense of others. Southern Californians need them all.”

Some highlights from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:

The Tribune’s view is to follow the advice of the delegation. The paper quotes the same Congressional letter (and includes the majority of the letter in the guest view), but highlights the tone of the letter, which is one of cooperation. They quote the end of the delegation’s letter, which says: “We would like to work together as a team as we pursue New Starts funding for Southern California’s priorities on the federal level.”

The paper then concludes with the following opinion: “That’s a heck of an offer of assistance from some very powerful people who seldom agree on anything. If the Metro board members turn it down, they’re nuts.”

Well, we don’t have to wait long to see what happens at the Metro Board meeting. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. this morning at Metro Headquarters.

For those who cannot make it, we will provide real-time updates from the meeting on our Twitter feed at iwillride.org, and you can always listen to the meeting by calling in – (213) 922-6045.

Of course nothing is as good as being in the room to watch first hand. Join the coalition of supporters attending the meeting to urge the board to commit to completing the Foothill Extension, including committing operational funds for Phase 2A (Pasadena to Azusa) in 2013.

The Journey Continues…

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