February 08, 2008
Refighting Richmond rail in the County Judge race

Having read this, we are not surprised by this.

The Republican contenders for Harris County judge disagreed Thursday over Metro's plan to put a light rail line along Richmond Avenue near southwest Houston.

"Unless the courts overturn it, I think the logical place to put it is down Richmond," said incumbent Ed Emmett, a transportation consultant. "That's where the people are, that's where the businesses are."

Challenger Charles Bacarisse, the former district clerk, took the opposite side.

"The county judge should listen to the people of Harris County," he said. "There has been a loud and long call for no rail on Richmond, and not only because it would destroy the neighborhoods it would run through."

Agreeing with opponents of the transit project, Bacarisse said the route plan does not conform to Metro's 2003 ballot referendum, which mentioned the nearby Westpark corridor.

"The word 'Richmond' is never mentioned in the ballot language," Bacarisse added, "and if they want to change it they should just go back to the voters and ask for permission."

Emmett countered that the voice of the public has been expressed by neighborhood associations along the transit route, which he said support the light rail line as a bloc.

"If these people don't speak for the people, then I don't know who does," the county government chief said.

You all know where I stand on this, so I won't belabor that. But I will note again that the only people I see who are pushing this Westpark-centric argument are precisely those who fought against the 2003 referendum in the first place. This isn't about where Metro chooses to build a particular line, it's about stopping Metro from building any more lines by whatever means necessary. I firmly believe that if Metro gave in to their demands, or is forced to by the judge in the aforementioned lawsuit, and wins yet another vote, they'll just come up with another trumped-up rationale for why that vote didn't really represent the will of the people and needs to be done again. They don't want rail, and that's all there is to it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 08, 2008 to Election 2008

and that's all there is to it.

Not really.

Some of us want METRO to follow through on its promises in the 2003 referendum (which didn't mention Richmond, but which did mention a 50% increase in bus service), and it really is as simple as that.

Now, people who wanted Richmond all along, architects and urban planners who hope to capitalize on the development, and pro-Richmond bloggers can all insist how much "better" Richmond is than Westpark, but at the end of the day, some of us really do want government to do what it says it's going to do rather than constructing rationales (and pretty graphics!) that it can do something other than what it said it was going to do.

You can certainly continue to characterize any and all people who disagree with your preferred route as "anti-rail," but it's an overly broad assertion that isn't really accurate.

Posted by: Kevin Whited on February 8, 2008 6:12 PM

Think Kev has a search engine permanently running to troll the internet for any blog posts dealing with the Richmond Rail so he can immediately post his oft-made, half-fact 'argument'.

As has been mentioned on this weblog, on the Intermodality weblog, and elsewhere, the fact the ballot initiative had the word "Westpark" on it is relevant only in that is where its terminus was. We have a representative democracy, not a direct democracy on every, single issue.

Posted by: Nemesis on February 8, 2008 6:32 PM

I think this and any other issue may be raised by Kuff and Kevin and anyone else at any point in time and from any step in the process.

Issues such as this are easy for me to decide without knowing all the facts: The side that ratchets up the argument with insults doesn't deserve my support.

The County Judge has many responsibilities and METRO is a minor one. If most of the campaign revolves around one segment of a METRO line, we will not be wise in our selection of a County Judge.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on February 8, 2008 8:59 PM

Hey Kuff,

A hearty congrats on your mention in this month's "Texas Monthly". I'm proud of you and glad that I'm finally able to put a face with the blog.

Continued success,
Laurie Kendrick

Posted by: Laurie Kendrick on February 9, 2008 1:16 AM

You do realize you're one of the people I'm talking about in this post, Kevin, right? I'm sorry, but you have no credibility on this, precisely for that reason.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on February 9, 2008 11:05 AM

When Bacarisse states:

"The word 'Richmond' is never mentioned in the ballot language ..."

I'm curious: Was 'Fannin'?

Maybe if we're to follow Kevin's directive to not claim 'anti-Richmond-rail' people as 'anti-rail' it might be a better example if the supposed 'anti-Richmond-rail' bloggers had ever said anything good about the Main rail line. Unfortunately for me, I've got a memory. And that memory recalls that the hateHouston crew hasn't been supportive of the Main rail line at any point in the past. Furthermore, given the Spring half of his blog's personal screeds aimed at CTC, it really assumes a great deal of ignorance to ask to be labeled as something kinder than what they really are.

Needless to say, the burden of proof is on Kevin & Co to prove that the 'anti-Richmond-rail' label fits. If he can point out where that case has been made by himself or anyone he's defending here, the premise could be taken. But once again, all we get is a tired request to accept his point of view without questioning.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on February 9, 2008 11:32 AM

When I saw this post in my RSS reader, I thought, "The first comment will be from Whited."

It's like watching a well trained dog, except for the part about it being enjoyable.

Posted by: John on February 9, 2008 3:39 PM

Oh, and be sure catch blahHouston's latest Metro post, in which they conclude that a cyclist wearing an iPod getting hit by a train proves that TRAINS are dangerous (as opposed to riding on a city street with headphones on).

I'm sure they are going to get to talking about the actual accident stats, which show a dramatic decrease in incidents once people got used to the trains and having to actually obey signs and signals any day now, because they are all about honest discussion! They got the cred, baby!

Posted by: John on February 9, 2008 4:48 PM

I'm still waiting for the "but the ballot said WESTPARK!!11!" folks to explain to us where the line ought to go between Kirby and Main, especially considering that "Westpark" does not exist between those two streets.

And anybody who bicycles while wearing headphones is just stupid. I mean, *really* stupid. If you want to blame the train for that accident, you're simply not being rational.

Posted by: Thomas on February 9, 2008 11:23 PM