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Should the RTA accept the offer? Tribune, Daily Herald say “No” *** Updated x2 - RTA votes to accept ***

Friday, Sep 14, 2007

* The RTA board has to formally accept the governor’s offer to help mass transit avert its “doomsday” scenario on Sunday. According to RTA Board Chairman Jim Reilly, today’s vote will be tight

“I think the vote will be close. There will be strong arguments on both sides, but I wouldn’t presume that the board will approve [the proposal],” Reilly said.

* The Daily Herald lays out the situation

Four “no” votes on the 12-member RTA board would be enough to reject the governor’s temporary relief offer. Norris, who represents the collar counties, and William Coulson, who represents suburban Cook County, are leaning toward opposing the plan. Judy Baar Topinka, the state’s former treasurer, says she will vote against it.

On the other side, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley supports the deal. He has three board appointees. CTA chairwoman Carole Brown is also expected to vote for it.

Pat Durante, the Addison Township GOP honcho, also sits on the RTA board. I tried calling him this morning but wasn’t able to get through.

* Both the Tribune and the Daily Herald editorialized against accepting the governor’s offer, which could influence the suburban RTA members.


So the governor’s offer is tempting. But the responsible answer for the RTA is to say no. Fronting next year’s money to the CTA now would be irresponsible. […]

The governor is asking the RTA to gamble that lawmakers can pass a transit bill before November. But don’t count on him to lift a finger to help. Remember, Blagojevich and the legislative leaders have known this moment was coming for 11 months but haven’t resolved it in all that time.

Daily Herald

There’s no pleasure in recommending, as we do here, that the RTA board vote “no” today on a bailout offer from Gov. Rod Blagojevich to avoid a Chicago-area transit crisis. […]

…the governor’s offer, well-meaning though it is, fails to solve fundamental transit problems and actually could make matters worse within a few months.

* We’ve had so many discussions about mass transit lately, so let’s make this topic the center of our discussion today if we can. What do you think the RTA Board should do?

* More stories, compiled by Paul…

* Chicago CarLess: Blago blinks, Madigan shrinks, but method stinks

* Daley: CTA bailout worth the gamble

* Sun-Times Editorial: Tiny sales tax increase could make the difference

* Lawmakers prefer lasting solution to transit crisis

* Chicago Public Radio: Why my bus?

* CTA cuts could hammer temp, low income workers

* MarySue Barrett: CTA woes affect all of us

* RTA vote will mean either relief or doomsday

* Change of Subject: Gov. Wimpy will gladly pay us Tuesday for a transit bailout today

* CTA Tattler: Blago bribes RTA with immediate funding

* Chicago Public Radio: Transit vote could delay fare hikes

* Chicago transit crisis raises tricky issues for state officials

* Thousands face longer commutes, higher fares, crowded buses

* Daley: Criticism in Blue Line crash a ‘disgrace’

* Daley calls 2006 CTA accident a ‘disgrace’

*** UPDATE *** They took the cash

During a morning meeting, the Regional Transportation Authority voted 10-2 to accept the state’s bailout plan of the mass transit system. That will postpone the Chicago Transit Authority’s plans to cut 39 bus routes and raise fares by up to $1.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The Sun-Times has the roll call

Judy Baar Topinka and Bill Coulson voted against it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - He makes Ryan Look like a Saint - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:17 am:

    They should vote NO. Given the Gov’s track record of promising money to various organizations only for them NOT to receive the money it would be too risky. Also with his inability to get the General Assembly to back his plans, it provides the typical Blago Instant Gratification only leaving a huge Hangover in the near future. As stated it does NOTHING to provide a long term fix.

  2. - Independent - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:18 am:

    Should the RTA accept the offer? Ideally, no. This is a feel-good PR stunt from the Gov. that does nothing to fix the problem. What guarantees are there that the Gov. and GA will find an acceptable long-term funding solution when they have not been able to for years?

    Practically speaking, they should accept the proposal. The RTA cannot risk having the Gov.’s PR team make them look like ingrates for not accepting it. Kudos, Rod, you painted them into a corner.

    I predict the RTA accepts 9-3.

  3. - Levois - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:20 am:

    Heh, I’m glad you pulled out the ChicagoCarless blog’s entry about the CTA. It was pretty good.

  4. - Skeeter - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:29 am:

    Mayor Daley’s comments were a real disgrace. He failed to take the blame that he deserved for the 2006 accident.

    This happened on his watch. He appointed the people who ran the CTA. They screwed up.

    The accident in 2006 was far too typical of the way things are still run in Chicago. There are too many rank and file workers who fail to do their jobs, with supervisors who either don’t supervise or who just don’t care.

    At some point, somebody has to care. So far though, it hasn’t been Daley.

  5. - Fan of the Game - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:33 am:


  6. - Ghost - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:37 am:

    Vote no, borrowing against future money without a plan in place is just asking for a disaster.

  7. - Cassandra - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:37 am:

    Of course they should accept it. State monies are fungible. There is no budget disaster to be brought about by advancing a little chump change for public transit. And the total of $75 mil for RTA/CTA is chmp change in a $50 billion plus budget. Blago’s budget people must be laughing at all the hysteria (pretend hysteria?) being propagated by the press, various pols, etc. Everybody in the know knows the money is there.

    Now it’s time to figure out a way to fund this system without plucking the six-county taxpayers yet again. Because the money is there to fix this system if they run it right.

  8. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:42 am:

    The Republican Chicago Tribune for killing off public transportation? I’m shocked! Shocked! What’s next coming out against Social Security? Against public education by favoring school vouchers?

    Let’s reduce the pay of the Trib and Herald editorial boards to $34,000 per year and require them to take public transportation to and from work and to their evening and weekend engagements.

    Then, after a year, let’s ask them if we should jack up fares and cut routes.

    Think using public transportation–exclusively using public transportation–might change their perspective?

  9. - Larry Mullholland - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:43 am:

    During a morning meeting, the Regional Transportation Authority voted 10-2 to accept the state’s bailout plan of the mass transit system. That will postpone the Chicago Transit Authority’s plans to cut 39 bus routes and raise fares by up to $1.

    Under the bailout, the state will advance the RTA its full $54 million 2008 grant for suburban paratransit service. That’s on top of the $24 million bailout advance for the CTA.

    RTA board members say the pressure is now on lawmakers to come up with a long-term solution.

    Legislators are expect to consider a plan as early as next week that would raise sales taxes in the Chicago area to shore up transit funding.

    Of course they should and have voted in favor. History has shown that they can get more money if they need it. All they have to do threaten to raise rates and cut a few routes and poof the magic money appears. Meanwhile, doctors are not getting paid leases are not getting paid but there’s always cash available when the press is watching

  10. - Larry Mullholland - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:44 am:

    Previous Post from the SJ-R

  11. - Ghost - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:48 am:

    according to the SJ-r they voted 10-2 to take the deal.

  12. - Carfree Chicago - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 9:59 am:

    So they voted for it, and I think it was a huge mistake.

    If the state doesn’t come up with a real solution now, we’re even further in the hole for next year, and the cuts will be much worse when they eventually come. We’ve heard this already.

    But even if the state does come up with a long-term solution, it will now need to include another $78 million for next year, since they likely won’t act until a day before the deadline, after all of this cash advance will have been spent. So now lawmakers may come up with a solution, and the RTA will be forced to reply, “But now that’s not enough. We need more money now.” And the state will then act all surprised as if they didn’t have anything to do with it. Which will look really bad and be difficult to explain to the public.

    All of the politics involved just seem designed to confuse people. Keep the public confused and they won’t know who to blame. Or better yet for the politicians, they’ll blame the wrong people.

  13. - jerry 101 - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    Which of the three “no” votes defected?

    They shouldn’t have taken it. Heartless of me, perhaps, but a few days of “Doomsday” and the pressure would have been ratcheted up substantially.

    Instead we get a temporary bandaid on the gaping wound.

  14. - plutocrat03 - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 10:27 am:

    When one finds onself at the bottom of a deep pit, the advice generally is to stop digging.

    Unless, of course you are in Illinois. Then what you do is to bring in the backhoe and start digging faster.

  15. - Leroy - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 10:40 am:

    Not accepting the money is gamesmanship.

    We need statesmanship.

    (Also, beggars can’t be choosers. And the CTA is quite the beggar)

  16. - CaseyJones - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 10:41 am:

    Now Jones can cancel session for next week

  17. - Anon - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 10:53 am:

    Arrrgh!! They’d better cash the check pronto…
    Who will step up and lead this State? Someone?ANYONE?

  18. - Carfree Chicago - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 10:53 am:

    Leroy — your comment might make sense if this were indeed additional money, or a “gift” as Rod tried to claim. but it’s not. it’s like a payday loan. it’s merely a sketchy game to fudge the budget that doesn’t create any new money, but does create new liabilities. i would tell beggars not to take payday loans, since it would only force them back to begging again, and ultimately make them even more poor.

  19. - VanillaMan - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 11:01 am:

    They made the right choice - listen folks, I know we need real solutions right now, but right now we have a government that can’t get anything done.

    They took the cash and got on with it - good move. They can come back when Blagojevich moves on.

    Let start acting like there is no leadership in Springfield and nothing gets done - because that is the situation right now. Until Blagojevich is gone, everyone needs to just grab what they can - look at Jones - that is how he operates, right?

    Don’t expect leadership, planning, strategies, or long-term vision - just get the cash and make due until an adult gets into the Executive Mansion.

    Thats the case right now, so lets just deal with it.

  20. - Carfree Chicago - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 11:04 am:

    VanillaMan — Did I miss something? Is Rod leaving before Nov. 4?

  21. - VanillaMan - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 11:19 am:


    I think we need to just recognize that we have to stop expecting Blagojevich to blossom into his job, and just start making due. The longer we sit around and cry about how he has let us down, the longer we just feel lousy. I’m tired of being ticked off - we will not have a governor for the next three years, so we need to work around this.

    The only reason we even have Illinois state workers showing up for work everyday is because the GA cut Blagojevich out of the process and got on with it. Blagojevich can just play catch with the neighborhood kids and blow dry his locks while the rest of the state moves on.

    Stop looking to this governor for anything other than disaster and delay, and find a work-around that keeps the trains running until he is gone.

    He is as mad as old King George III, so we need to do what the British did and keep plugging foward without him.

  22. - Super Mega - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 11:19 am:

    Having done extensive traveling, both domestically and abroad, I hate to say it, but Chicago has the worst mass transit system of any major city I’ve been to. The CTA is the worst offender.

    I’ve always said, if I could find a city better than Chicago, I would live there. This city is clean, friendly, and affordable, unlike other major cities around the world, but the transit system is like something you would find in Mogadishu.

    The majority of the lines are 100 years old, or older. The train cars are at least 25 years old. The buses have GPS, but it doesn’t matter because you can wait for a bus for 45 minutes, then four show up at the same time.

    There is no possible way that Chicago can have the Olympics in 2016, unless the CTA is re-built from the ground up, and that includes the management.

  23. - Carfree Chicago - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 11:34 am:

    VanillaMan — I agree, which is why I think we should have ignored his offer. It’s not even a short-term fix. All it does is confuse people more and trap the RTA into making irresponsible budget decisions. The RTA should have done what they had to do — cut back service until we get a real funding solution. And Daley should step up in the absence of a real governor and find creative funding solution that the city can carry out independently.

  24. - Garp - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 12:21 pm:

    I am torn on this issue.

    If the RTA would have voted to not accept the funding, I think it would have brought the state’s leadership deficiency to a head and the situation would have to be dealt with. The problem with that is regular folks who have to get to work would have suffered till the mess was sorted out.

    My fear is that, if a real doomsday situation rears its ugly head, the state will be unable to respond to the needs of those affected.

  25. - ivoted4judy - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 12:38 pm:

    Watson and Cross will NEVER get their capitol bill now!! This vote ties over the transit problem til January and then the D’s fix it with a simple 30/60 vote. The R’s were played again..

  26. - Budget Watcher - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 12:54 pm:


    The state should expect a quick cash flow surge in early October when Sen Schoenburg’s hospital assessment plan (last year’s spending) is completed. The deal, which requires $1.2 billion in short term borrowing, will provide significant cash liquidity for a while. Finding immediate cash for the RTA shouldn’t be a problem.

  27. - Independent - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 1:13 pm:

    Look at the bright side. Since the plan was approved over Topinka’s vote we’re spared another round of “What’s She Thinking” ads.

  28. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 1:59 pm:

    Well, we’ll have a much bigger train wreck at the end of the year if the Lege and Governor Goldilocks don’t come up with something. I’d have voted no simply because I don’t trust them to come up with something. But I hope, I hope without any good reason to hope at all, that the politicians take the trust they’ve been extended by the RTA and actually do something positive with it.

    The CTA and RTA need to be very up front and clear though about the consequeces of doing nothing. Figure out exactly where you stand, guys, and then detail exactly what will happen and when without additional funding and fare increases.

    The mayor has got to get more engaged in this too. London property tax payers are putting in a mint for their Olympics. It’s only reasonable to expect we’ll have to do the same. The North Main requires reconstruction. The buses require replacement. So do many of the rail cars. North Lake Shore Drive requires reconstruction and bus rapid transit. Something needs to be done about the disaster of the new 60 foot buses, which are a breakdown-prone, structurally unsound, rough-riding indictment of CTA procurement practices. The rest of the rail system requires refurbishment other than the Brown and Pink lines, which simply need maintaince from the start as opposed to being allowed to go to seed.

    As the rest of the city is to all intents and purposes ready (temporary track stadium excepted), this should be viewed as an opportunity to clear the CTA’s physical plant backlog.

    Just remember — the IOC almost disqualified London from the bidding over mass transit. And that was AFTER they had already approved and secured funding for most of their plans for fixing it.

  29. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 2:04 pm:

    ivoted4judy — you’re sure this gets the CTA to January? If so, I’ll bet that’s exactly what the governor and Sen. Jones have in mind. Unless of course Madigan has other ideas . . .

  30. - ivoted4judy - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 2:19 pm:

    Springfield can B-S the RTA til January, and then Madigan does not need Cross to pass the Hamos or Cullerton bill. MJM doesn’t want a capitol bill for numerous reasons, he won’t give Emil extra money for add ons, and he will NEVER give Rod a time to spend over and above the essentials.

  31. - CaseyJones - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 2:24 pm:

    Leave Cross on the sidelines — again
    What a great idea
    Has the Senate pulled the plug yet?

  32. - Anony - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 2:26 pm:

    ivotedforjudy: You’re wrong for two reasons. 1) This only lasts the RTA until November. 2) Blago is going to veto the sales tax increase, so even though the Dems can pass it, they can’t over-ride it.

    Try to get a little informed before you rant please.

  33. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 2:34 pm:

    Anony’s correct. And CaseyJones, they’re still coming to town. Whether they do anything is another story. Still checking.

  34. - CaseyJones - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 2:38 pm:

    Thanks for your diligence Capt Fax

  35. - Carfree Chicago - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 3:09 pm:

    I haven’t heard anything about Mondays senate session in a while. Anybody know anything? First they were going to try to get a vote on transit, then with Rod’s magical solution, they were saying there might not be a vote now, and they’ll drag things on longer? I wrote my state senator and asked him to please make sure this doesn’t drag on until Nov. 4.

  36. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 3:32 pm:

    Don’t count the Capital Bill out just yet. It’ll likely be a veto session item, as the transit bailout is correctly noted as a stopgap. BTW, the “pants” thread is beating this one about 5-to-3. This indicates we can tolerate slow, late, and cancelled transit service if need be, but once we get on the train, we *REALLY* don’t want to see the Plumber’s Crack of our fellow passengers.

  37. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 4:18 pm:

    Everything will be taken together, or somebody will blink and the CTA/RTA will go separately. Should be fun to watch.

  38. - IDOT'er - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 4:32 pm:

    Slightly Off Topic

    Milt Sees is nominated today to be new Secretary of Transportation, to be confirmed by State Senate.

  39. - Equal Protection - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 4:39 pm:

    Any sign of the Comptroller on the RTA/CTA bailout issue yet? Still seems to me that these funds can not be advanced; absent a voucher audit which determines the money is actually in the vault already.

    Given that the reimbursement formula for the CTA only allowed 23% of the appropriated revenue this calendar year, and 77% to be distributed in the first 6 months of 2008; it would seem that the revenue source would be weighted to 2008, rather than this year.

    Who’s money do they use to fund this; and who has to wait as a result?

    Sure would have been an interesting RTA vote had they not woken up and made him promise to cut loose with the paratransit monies in advance for PACE as well.

  40. - Super Mega - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 4:46 pm:

    That’s why CTA, Metra, and Pace are in the situation they’re in. Hold out, get things fixed.

  41. - VanillaMan - Friday, Sep 14, 07 @ 4:57 pm:

    With Blagojevich behind the wheel, everything is now hand-to-mouth. Grab it while you can before he has another moment of “clarity” that sets us all back another year.

  42. - jerry 101 - Sunday, Sep 16, 07 @ 10:58 am:

    six degrees - the pants topic is fun.
    Though it is extremely important, this is a subject which has been beaten to death.
    Don’t get me wrong, I want all the latest news on the CTA, but people run out of things to say after a while.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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