April 17, 2007
A rail threefer

Catching up from yesterday, three related items of interest: First, the Chron speaks out about the anti-rail "lawsuit" from last week:

In what is shaping up as a repeat of an unsuccessful but expensive legal battle to stop the Main Street rail line, opponents of light rail on Richmond have gone to court. Perhaps preliminary to a full-blown lawsuit, a single business owner has asked a state district judge to compel Metro officials to answer questions about plans for the westward extension of the system.

The request raises a familiar issue often cited by rail opponents. In a 2003 referendum, Houston voters narrowly approved a plan authorizing Metro to expand the rail system with seven additional lines, including a route, labeled Westpark, running from Wheeler Station at Main to the Hillcroft Transit Center. Opponents of rail anywhere on Richmond argue that any route except one along Westpark requires fresh approval from the voters.

It's been suggested to me that Metro should go ahead and put up another referendum to clarify the intent of the 2003 vote, with sufficiently direct language about how they will determine the final route for each rail line so as to forever undercut any bogus "they said Westpark!!!" argument. I can understand that, but I can't condone it. We had the vote. The language was clear. If this motion gets tossed by a judge, what exactly do the anti-Richmond forces have left to lean on, other than Congressional meddling? And if the motion gets granted, then the antis have gotten their wish anyway. Let 'em pursue it, and may the best lawyers win. Given that their side has Andy Taylor, I know which way I'd bet.

Speaking of Andy, he's got his conspiracy theory hat on again.

Last week, Andy Taylor, a lawyer representing an opponent of light rail on Richmond Avenue who is suing the transit agency, blamed Metro for the possibility that the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation may have to move from city-owned property near River Oaks.

I'm not going to bother summarizing his argument, because it's too stupid to be repeated. Suffice it to say this is par for the course with ol' Andy.

Finally, interim County Judge Ed Emmett weighs in on the topic of Richmond rail:

Q: Everybody has an opinion about light rail on Richmond. What's yours?

A: If the entire Westpark corridor had been preserved as it was originally, maybe they should have put the rail there, but I think there are issues now that the Southwest Freeway has been rebuilt.

When I hear politicians say they are opposed to a transportation improvement because the people most directly affected don't want it, I have a problem. The reason has to be more transportation-related than that.

Sounds about right to me.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 17, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I'm amused that the Chron feels compelled to put "narrowly approved" or something like that with every mention of the referendum. Legally, it doesn't make a difference. A referendum that passes with 51% is every bit as approved as one that passes with 99%. But if that's going to be their style, shouldn't they call Bush and Perry "narrowly elected" and Bill White "overwhelmingly elected" with every mention?

Posted by: Christof Spieler on April 17, 2007 8:25 AM

I appreciate your comments about Andy Taylor. Seems to me it wasn't too long ago that Chronicle writer Kristen Mack was calling Taylor "the go-to guy". Wonder how hard the opponents had to search to find an attorney who would actually take the case?

Posted by: Dennis on April 17, 2007 12:11 PM