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Monday, June 9, 2008

Rep. John Mica fires back at commuter rail critics; Lebowitz reveals all

Monday June 9th, 2008
1:45 p.m.


Received my Central Florida Political Pulse earlier this afternoon and finally noticed the interesting story below that should be of interest to all of you.


For both good and bad sometimes, the one thing that Rep. John Mica of Winter Park -and brother of former Rep. Dan Mica- has always been known for is his dogged persistence.


Based on my experience of seeing him in person at congressional hearings, as well as his comments and persona at Florida-oriented functions in D.C., my sense of things is that Mica won't be giving up the fight for a commuter rail in Central Florida ant time soon.


I also expect that he realizes that the most recent approach, whatever its intentions, simply failed to take into account that the popular sentiment of Central Florida residents alone would not guide elected officials behavior.


He also probably figures it's time for someone like him to use his influence while he has it to force some other third parties, with power, influence and smart upper-management, who've been sitting on the public policy sidelines of this fight, and to FINALLY get suited up and into the game.


To become more fully engaged supporting the common sense transit approach, before Central Florida becomes more paralyzed than South Florida.


You can't win with just diplomats, and it's always good to have someone on your team who's willing to push and cajole others and make crystal clear the reality of their situation.


Make clear that his memory's working fine, thank you, and that his future actions and behavior will be, in some fashion, directly related to their willingness to participate, work hard and share the financial burden of getting things done, rather than simply talking things to death.


That approach clearly has about as much efficacy up in Central Florida as it does down here.


John Mica's just sick-and-tired of Paralysis thru Analysis.


I wish that more local and state elected officials were taking that approach on transit down here, but...


In my opinion, in this particular case, Mica's unwillingness to simply give up on this issue is very helpful, since his spirited marshaling of the facts will, if nothing else, help prevent mis-information from being the coin of the realm down here in the future, where it might be recycled to fight commuter rail locally, along what should be a natural transit-oriented corridor along the FEC tracks.


You know, the place that the City of Hollywood is actively engaged in, however imperfectly, even to the point where Bernard Zyscovich specifically mentioned the positive tangible effect of a commuter rail line, with a station on Hollywood Blvd., on its downtown area last Thursday at the public forum I attended at Hollywood City Hall.


Meanwhile, as with so many things, the City of Hallandale Beach snoozes at their peril.


That point was underscored by the fact that last Monday, at the most recent public presentation by EDAW's Donald Shockey of the city's Master Plan, I was the only person to ask questions about the so-called transit corridor, and whether or not EDAW drew up any projections in their plan that contemplated the tangible effects on the city of a future commuter rail.


One that connected Hallandale Beach residents to their jobs and diversions in both downtown Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.


One that would encourage development away from the beach and Hallandale Beach Blvd. and get it focused on points west, maybe even to the Northwest!



As it happens, I was the last member of the public to ask questions that night.



While they used certain generic transit phrases in their presentation and the documents that were printed, for all practical purposes, from my p.o.v., the answer to my question was Nope!


In late February at the Hallandale Beach Cultural Center, when the much-anticipated and overdue Hallandale Beach Transportation Study was presented by Kenneth J. Kelgard of HDR Engineering, I was concerned by some of the thing I was hearing, like traffic measures conducted during the slowest part of the calendar year.


But I was more concerned by what I wasn't hearing.



Finally, when given a chance, I took the microphone and asked, among other things, why as a HB resident, I needed to go to Hollywood or Aventura in order to attend a SFECC public forum.



Why were none ever scheduled in Hallandale Beach to get the input and thoughts of HB's own residents, when that might've been possible?



Hallandale Beach City Manager Mike Good said that he would have his staff find out if there'd ever been a possibility of that happening, but I've yet to hear anyone at Hallandale Beach City Hall publicly speak about this matter at any meeting I've attended in the intervening three months.



Both locations were easy enough for me to get to, it's just that the folks at Hallandale Beach City Hall were asleep at the switch when it counted, and weren't pro-active about getting a formal presention scheduled at the Hallandale Beach Cultural Center when it might've benefited everyone concerned.


Frankly, to actually have some FEC commuter rail facts interjected into that debate locally would've only been an improvement, since I've met so many people over the past two years around here who have no tangible sense of what it's all about.


What they do recall is usually some hazy remembrance of something they heard in a two-minute local TV news report from early 2007, and is usually incorrect.


I checked the website of the group mentioned below which is sponsoring today's John Mica Regional Rally for Rail, he Central Florida Partnership, but didn't see many specifics.
http://www.centralfloridapartnership.org/index.php?src=events&submenu=about&srctype=detail&category=Meeting&refno=4


Hopefully, there'll be more specifics available by tomorrow morning, and I might even be able to catch some local Orlando TV 11 p.m. news segements from tonight, via my computer.


Closer to home, if you haven't already started reading Larry Lebowitz's insightful Miami Herald series on the broken promises and consequences of Miami-Dade's vote for the half-penny tax increase six years ago, get with the program and get on the bandwagon.


Sunday June 8, 2008
Dade transit watchdog finds its power limited
A special panel was meant to be a watchdog over the transit tax, but government attorneys and politicians took away most of its bite.

http://www.miamiherald.com/428/story/561866.html


Monday June 9, 2008
Some Metrobus routes motivated by politics not need
http://www.miamiherald.com/top_stories/story/563276.html


Congrats on the great series, Larry!!!


Your head must ache from all the negativity and incompetency you encountered and wrote about, knowing you couldn't possibly include everything you found out about.


I commiserate.

I know the feeling.
___________________________________
Central Florida Political Pulse

Mica fires back at commuter rail critics
posted by Mark Skoneki on Jun 9, 2008 11:10:57 AM


Jay Hamburg just filed this report


In an effort to rebuff critics of commuter rail, U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, released a national study today that shows the proposed liability agreement is in line with about 20 other similar freight-and-commuter arrangements around the nation. "It will debunk some of the myths relating to commuter rail liability," Mica said of the study done by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Highways and Transit and Railroads Subcommittees. Some opponents of the $1.2 billion Central Florida commuter rail project have attacked the proposed no-fault liability arrangement between the state and CSX.

Both sides were to carry $200 million liability insurance for the 61-mile system to run from DeLand to Orlando to Poinciana.


To read the rest of the story, go to: http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2008/06/mica-fires-back.html

For more information on the issue of liabilty agreements, see
CSX Safety Issues Cloud Liability Deal
http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/apr/22/na-csx-safety-issues-cloud-liability-deal/
and the Central Florida Political Pulse archive stories on commuter rail
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/commuter_rail/index.html

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