Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Transparency And The Final Deal

Since 2004, Representative Julie Hamos has been good about keeping the public informed about the status of her transit reform effort. Her website has a transit page that contains copies of presentations and testimony submitted by various parties during various hearings before the House Mass Transit Committee, cites to her transit-related legislative initiatives (e.g., S.B. 572), and links to relevant news articles. Earlier this year she convened transit working group meetings open to all interested parties.

Things have changed. Representative Hamos' transit web page hasn't been updated for weeks. Her emails to transit aficionados and other interested parties about upcoming working group meetings have ceased.

We know that there is a lot going on. WBBM reported that Representative Hamos has continued to convene working group meetings. She has put together a 200 page plus proposed bill that covers much more than what is covered by amendments No. 1 and No.2 to SB 572. We know from these articles (here, here and here) and others that these issues include a 10 year waiver of the 50% recovery ratio requirement for the RTA, more money for downstate transit agencies, imposing a "similar" recovery ratio requirement on downstate transit agencies (good luck!), and a bond program to help address the CTA's pension problem.

A month ago, Representative Hamos circulated for general comment a highly controversial legislative proposal to change the governance of the RTA and Metra. This time, however, she has refrained from circulating the current proposal(s) for public review and comment.

It is common practice for legislators to clamp down on the flow of information during the final stages of putting together a piece of highly contentious legislation. Nevertheless, it is disappointing the Representative Hamos, who seemed to be making a concerted effort to keep all interested informed, has restricted the flow of information during the hopefully final few weeks of this legislative session.

If someone has access to materials that may be of interest to readers of this blog, please send them to me at moderator1stc@yahoo.com. Your anonymity will be respected and protected. I'll try to do a quick turnaround to summarize the materials and post them here even if it means losing some sleep.


Anonymous said...

Maybe she finally tired of the Mother Teresa schtick.

Anonymous said...

Waiving the farebox recovery ratio would be an absolute disaster for the transit system and the taxpayer. Like it or not, the farebox recovery ratio imposed a measure of discipline on the size and scope of the system and prevented the worst excesses of ill advised expansions and politically driven services. Does anyone remember the state of the RTA system pre-1984?

Without the farebox recovery ratio the transit system will enter a downward spiral of ever increasing dependency on public money.

jackonthebus said...

The problem also is that the news reports can't be trusted either. For instance, the WBBM report says that the "only paratransit service that would continue to operate in the region would be in the city of Chicago." That isn't the Pace contingency plan; it was that the only paratransit that would operate would be within 3/4 mile of a fixed route, per the federal mandate. Of course, if your fixed route got cut, paratransit would be too, but not otherwise. As far as the recovery ratio is concerned, I noted yesterday that at least in the posted Amendment 2, that there was a decreasing exemption to the recovery ratio, because otherwise, with subsidies going up the fares would have to, too, just for that reason. And, as for the process not being transparent, I mentioned that 5 days ago.

pjs said...

J o B:
what, you want cudos or something?

jackonthebus said...

Just acknowledgment of having previously proposed the thought.

Anonymous said...

Jack, By now we're all sick and tired of your attitude through this whole thing, both your comments on Carole's blog and here.

Moderator said...

Simmer down folks.

Jack has been a consistent and generally thoughtful poster who has contributed some nice links. We can all get on each other's nerves after months and months of this stuff. Maybe Jack can lighten up a bit too.

Let's focus on the substantive issues at hand.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:58:00

"Sick and tired of Jack" Aw wads da madda? Jacky say some hurtful truths?

Wanna make bad little Jacky an unperson?

Hurting "since" 1984 or hurting "for" 1984?