April 12, 2007
Lawsuit filed against Metro, sort of

I've been wondering for a long time if something like this was going to happen.

A lawsuit now threatens to derail Metro's plans for light rail expansion in Houston. If it is successful, the entire process may have to start from scratch.

Getting the light rail cars on the track has been a battle from the start.

The 2003 referendum allows Metro to fund its share of the expanded transit plan known as Metro Solutions passed by a razor thin 51 to 49 percent.

Now it is the ballot measure itself and how Metro has put it to use that is coming under fire.

Daphne Scarbrough says she been asking Metro questions about the rail plans for two and a half years.

"I have no answers. I am tired of asking the questions. And now Andy will get to ask the questions," said Scarbrough.

"Andy" is attorney Andy Taylor who representing Scarbrough.

Ah, Andy Taylor. He's as inevitable as snails on the sidewalk after a heavy rain. Maybe he can call Talmadge Heflin as a character witness.

Ideally, they would like to use a lawsuit to shut the plan down completely. The filing seeks to force Metro officials to testify under oath, look at finances and the technology and routes claimed in the ballot measure.


For its part, Metro said it has been anticipating legal action; the only real surprise is that it is coming so late in the process.

"It is a fishing expedition. They've said we want to come in and see if you have done anything wrong," said Metro Chairman David Wolfe.

Note the language in the first paragraph above. What was filed wasn't actually a lawsuit - according to RichmondRail.org, it's a "section 202 motion" with the intent to eventually file a lawsuit against METRO regarding the University Line. RR calls it a "fishing expedition", as does Metro in its own press release, which I've placed beneath the fold. I don't know what "section 202 motion" means, but this all sounds a little weird to me. And yes, very late in the process, though I suppose waiting till Metro announces its intended route before firing the big gun is a decent strategy. At this point, the KHOU story is all I can find, so I'm not sure what to make of this. I'll have more as I learn more.

METRO Responds to Legal Petition filed April 11, 2007

Today, METRO learned that legal action was taken against the Agency concerning METRO Solutions and the 2003 Referendum.

What follows is METRO's statement regarding the legal action:

The petition is a fishing expedition filed by one individual opposed to light rail on Richmond.

The fact is, METRO is in complete compliance with the letter of the law and the spirit of the 2003 Referendum.

By including other mobility improvements in the petition in search of "possible" compliance issues, it becomes clear that this is but the latest instance of a vocal few opposing public transit and blocking progress toward improved mobility and quality of life in Houston.

METRO has come to expect legal challenges whenever significant progress is being made on its METRO Solutions program. And, in fact, substantial progress has been made in recent months, including:

* Inclusion of the North and Southeast corridors in the Bush Administration's proposed funding for projects for FY 2008.
* Completion of the federal environmental clearance process on the North and Southeast corridors.
* METRO Board decisions on the alignment, or routes, for the North, Southeast and East End transit corridors.
* Selection of a design-build team to negotiate a contract for the development of the transit corridors.

METRO is confident it will prevail in any judicial proceedings.

METRO will not be distracted from fulfilling the wishes of the voters and building METRO Solutions.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 12, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I suspect the "section 202 motion" referred to is a petition under Rule 202 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 202 allows a person to file a petition when the person wants to investigate a potential claim or suit. Tex. R. Civ. P. 202.1(a)(2). Essentially, the person files a petition explaining what the potential claim or suit is and listing witnesses. The person can then conduct limited discovery by questioning the witnesses orally or in writing and by subpoenaing documents.

This is nothing more than a fishing expedition.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on April 13, 2007 12:36 AM

If there's nothing to hide, there's nothing to fear.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on April 13, 2007 12:16 PM