No surprise here: Mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner is critical of the stripped-down Metro proposal to add 22 miles of light rail over the next nine years, and calls out Bill White for supporting it.
Standing adjacent to a rail station on the 7.5-mile rail line under construction, Turner said the Metro board should reconsider its decision to take a $640 million expansion to voters Nov. 4.
Instead, Turner said, the board should offer a $980 million alternative that would provide 40 miles over 14 years rather than 22 miles over nine years.
Metro has three more weeks to consider the matter before setting the final ballot language, Turner said. At that time, Turner will decide whether he will support or oppose the referendum.
"I am now and have always been pro-rail," Turner said. "I will be pro-rail for years to come, but this plan is broken. To the Metro board, I say, 'Fix it.' "
Turner said the plan was designed to boost White's candidacy. White is supported by former Mayor Bob Lanier, who took part in negotiations that resulted in the 22-mile plan.
"In public, the Metro board was all too eager to do what it needed to placate the masses," Turner said. "Behind closed doors, Metro lost its backbone and caved in to rail opponents and special interests who did not bother to attend Metro's public meetings."
Schechter said White did not take part in negotiations. He noted that while White has supported the $640 million plan, the candidate also voiced prior support for as much as $980 million.
White warned that Turner was playing a dangerous political game if he ultimately opposes the referendum.
"Sylvester says he is for rail, but defeating the bond issue could set us back a decade," White said. "Nobody gets exactly everything they want. Leadership is building consensus and moving forward."
White pointed out that when Turner ran for mayor in 1991, eventually losing to Lanier in a runoff, he and Lanier both opposed a monorail plan proposed by then-Mayor Kathy Whitmire. During that campaign, Turner said that if elected, he would return with a different rail plan.
Speaking of Sanchez, he still appears to be on his own little planet:
Rail has been one of the most-discussed issues in the mayor's race because the next mayor must oversee implementation of the plan if one is approved.
Of the other major candidates, Michael Berry has said he opposes the plan and Orlando Sanchez continues to study it.