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Oh, That Chickenshit MTA

No one on the governing board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had the courage to tell it like it is to the warring factions that showed up Thursday to push their pet transit projects.

The message to the people who want to extend the Gold Line to mars, via Ontario airport, would have gone something like this:

“We’re afraid of you. Your backers in Congress have juice and are 1,000 percent behind you. They’ll leapfrog your lame-ass, low ridership project over the much more greatly needed Expo Line to Santa Monica. They might even steal money from the divine Subway to the Sea.”

No, you didn’t hear anything like that. It’s hard for me to listen to the Metro board talk up the need for a half-cent sales tax measure and piss on a very important constituency in the San Gabriel Valley. They’ll need them to win two-thirds support for the likely Nov. 4 ballot measure.

Earlier this week, I cornered Mayor V, who will take over as chairman of the Metro board in July, and mapped out a strategy for bringing together the divisive forces before they break apart and blow the region’s best-ever chance to make progress in the War on Gridlock.

Get the four key members of Congress in the same room – David Dreier and Adam Schiff from the San Gabriel Valley and Westsiders Diane Watson and Henry Waxman. Force a discussion on priorities and map out a plan to win money for all of the projects.

Nothing would boost the campaign for a sales tax measure like evidence that the feds, just like the poor in Pacoima and the middle-class in Monrovia. are stepping up to the plate, too.

So what about convening such a meeting, Mr. Mayor?

“I have been engaged in a series of meetings all across the region and will continue to do that in the coming weeks. I’m trying to get everybody to realize that we’ve got to grow the pot for public transit and that we’ve got to come together to get the public to do that.”

Not entirely on point, but I support the gist of the mayor’s message. We all need to talk more. But what will it take for Waxman to step up his fight for funding for the region?

“He’s been very supportive. Without Henry, we wouldn’t have been able to lift the prohibition on federal funds,” says the mayor. “I’ve got a great relationship with him.”

You may have a great bond with Henry, but Dreier and Schiff have no reason to take him seriously in any negotiations over transit money. Henry needs to make a big splash and show his commitment to the Subway to the Sea and Expo Line.

Here’s how you should do it, Mayor. Call a news conference on board the standing-room-only 720 line down Wilshire Blvd. Eighty-F-ing-thousand people ride buses down that street every day. You guys will be lucky to find a spot to stand without the front door’s metal bar jamming in your backs. I’ve got bruises to show you.

Get Henry on board the 720 and the transit lovers in Pasadena will know they must contend with a congressman serious about transportation.

You and I both know that if there’s a will, money will flow for all of L.A.’s transit needs. This ain’t an either-or.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Mayor V says. “I don’t think it’s either or. The fact of the matter is this region has not invested in public transit they way they we need to address the gridlock.”

OK, great, then call Henry and we’ll all meet at the Wilshire/Western station, where the Purple Line now dead-ends because of Henry’s dastardly deed two decades ago.

By the way, forget I wrote this and we can all say it was your idea.


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