February 23, 2007
Rowdy rail gathering

So sorry I was unable to make it to the Culberson town hall meeting last night. Sure looks like it was fun.

[The Universities] line was at the center of a raucous gathering Thursday night at Rice University, where supporters and opponents of a proposed segment on Richmond argued about the plan.

Some supporters engaged in a shouting match with U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, who opposes rail on Richmond and hosted a town hall meeting on it.

When Culberson said that "97 percent of residents on or near Richmond oppose" a light rail line there, the audience of about 200 erupted in "boos" and catcalls.

RichmondRail.org, a group of civic associations, neighborhood groups and business owners, which supports light rail on Richmond, met in the same auditorium just prior to Culberson's meeting.

Culberson repeatedly had to ask the crowd to settle down and speak politely.

"One at a time!" Culberson cautioned. "I am not going to recognize anyone who does not speak politely."

Culberson was red-faced when the crowd gave a standing ovation to Robin Holzer, chairwoman of the Citizens' Transportation Coalition, who told Culberson that he was "misleading" the audience.

"I feel pandered to, I feel marketed to, I feel misled," Holzer said. "You never told us you oppose rail. And, I'm a bit suspicious about hearing you say local government makes the best decisions, then you come here and tell them how to do it."

Culberson responded, "I'm sorry you don't recognize reality."

Oooh, snap. Tell you what, when Culberson stops repeating that stupid 97% statistic, which can be more accurately characterized as "Of the people who contacted my office to say that they opposed rail on Richmond, 97% oppose rail on Richmond", then I'll take his judgment about reality recognition more seriously. Till then, I don't think so.

So. Anybody here attend that meeting last night? If so, please do tell in the comments.

UPDATE: Forgot to link to today's Chron editorial, which recapitulates the Neartown statement. Check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 23, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles