Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mass Transit Boondoggle Legislation Headed For Final Vote

The Republican-controlled legislature is readying a final vote today on SB 176, the legislation that would create an entirely new unelected regional authority with taxing and borrowing authority reaching into the billions of dollars. We're supposed to be content with the fact that for now the legislation doesn't allow the regional authority to build a costly light rail system, but we know that it will come soon enough if this authority is created. And our concerns are supposed to be eased because it must be put up for vote at a referendum before it becomes law, but since the powers that be have too much vested in making sure this happens, you can rest assured that the Republican and Democratic election officials will fix the electronic voting machines by agreement to ensure that the referendum in the various counties (i.e., Marion, Madison, Johnson, Hancock, Hamilton, and Delaware) is approved because they just know that most people want to see their income taxes raised to finance an expanded bus system to haul low-paid workers from the inner city of Indianapolis to low-paid jobs in places like Carmel where they don't want those low-paid workers living. This is a raw deal for Marion County residents, in particular, who already pay property taxes to support IndyGo. Yet control of both our income and property tax dollars will be turned over to an unaccountable regional authority hand-picked by the corrupt political insiders who make their living conjuring up schemes to enrich themselves with our tax dollars. Business groups clamoring for publicly-subsidized transportation for their low-paid employees, particularly undocumented aliens who cannot legally get a driver's license in this state, made sure that the authority's taxing authority won't include taxes on businesses. There is a reason our legislature is known as the best legislature money can buy.

UPDATE: Both the Senate and the House easily passed the conference committee reports on this bum legislation. It just goes to prove that the Republican-controlled legislature is made up of a bunch of phony conservatives who are more interested in taking bribes from the pay-to-play crowd to whom they answer. They could give a shit less about taxpayers and good government. Gee, I wonder which so-called conservative state senator who led the charge on this bill was blackmailed with compromising photos of him that would force him out of office if they were made public?


Anonymous said...

Gary, I know this bill bans light rail, but does that mean Streecars and heavy rail are also banned? I know our free spending politicians will find any loophole they can to spend more money.

MikeC said...

Indianapolis needs to significantly upgrade its practically non-existent public transit system. You don't want light rail? It's not in there. Any rapid transit will be BRT which is very flexible.

Will it cost money to do so? Absolutely. It's money well spent. Indianapolis lags behind the nation in public transit. It is costing the city economic growth. Improving transit will provide the basic infrastructure for economic growth.

It's a win win. And it's about time.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Hamilton County will enjoy The Meadows Express Line, bringing The Meadows to its Paladium and Hamilton Town Center?

Will they enjoy traveling on The Brightwood Line from Brightwood to Conner Prairie and the Indiana Transportation Museum?

Fun days ahead in Hamilton County!

I'm sure Hendricks County will enjoy the Haughville Express from Haughville with a stop at Lafayette Square, where there is ample parking, to The Metropolis, as well.

Gary R. Welsh said...

IndyGo has been in existence for decades now. Various mayors and elected city councils have chosen to spend billions on new sports facilities, a larger convention center and handouts to private developers to redevelop downtown and to build new parking garages instead of a better transit system. Creating an entirely new, unelected regional authority with taxing and borrowing authority is not the proper way to fix what's wrong with Indianapolis' mass transit system. It should be done within its existing framework. If the suburban counties want to buy into, let them levy taxes to expand Indy's system to areas within their counties that they want served by the mass transit system. Too much money has been invested in the expanded highway system to make it practical to build rail in already over-developed areas that are not densely populated like other urban core areas where rail is a practical means of transportation.

MikeC said...

Streetcars within the downtown area to spoke neighborhoods are a great idea. You could run them down Washington st like in the old days and to Fountain Square and places like that. If I am not mistaken, much of rail still exists under the roadbed. I dont know if it would be usable. Streetcars are popular in Portland and of course SF. As Indpls grows, it will become denser which would continue to feed the need for a real public transit system. We can only hope that streetcars are part of that.

We spend too much money on highways, especially within the beltway. Did anyone really notice the closing of I65 downtown last fall? No? They why do we even need it? There is plenty of traffic on I465 but not a whole lot on I65 the times I've been on it.... at least not much that can't be handled by the main surface streets. The interstate system was not intended to extend into downtown areas in any city. Big highway contractors of course got their way and the result was the destruction of vibrant and viable city neighborhoods all across the country. Here, Fountain Square was destroyed as as the AA area around Indiana Avenue. I say tear up I65, rebuild and redevelop those neighborhoods and get em back on the tax rolls. Streetcars and transit would then help those areas and the rest of the urban core to dense up and grow.

And anon 11:34... you need to see someone about your blatant racism. Maybe you just want to build a wall around the areas you don't like? I'd rather create a vibrant urban setting in which all socio-economic areas can change and move about.

Anonymous said...

MikeC, Indianapolis does not need to spend money on a Regional Transportation Authority. The current public transit system is getting people from Castleton to Greenwood Park. What's your beef?

I'm seeing this as a tax and spend proposal that is going to line the pockets of the developers who would build such a system...

Have you thought about practical necessity? You haven't? -Who would actually use such a system? Would users pay for the operation? I believe that the need for such a system does not exist. People will not utilize it and then the daily operations fall back on us in the form of higher taxes to subsidize this unnecessary waste.

Pete Boggs said...

Republicans are growing government in this state with these lifestyle projects & tax increases related thereto; wrong way misleadership- not infrastructure!

From Commie Core to All Day Kindergarten to Blight Rail; where is government being downsized or Constitutionally reconciled, during a period of Republican majorities?

The establishment disconnect is apparent in these departures from principle; an ongoing failure to know how difficult the consumptive / public sector increasingly weighs on the backs of productive citizens...

The Republican's 2012 enthusiasm gap, seen here in Indy (Governor's race) as well as nationally (8M registered nonparticipants), is exactly a metric of establishment inattention & dismissal of their advertised "principles;" pandering instead to fauxgressives / liberals.

How do "Republicans" propose to help the "disadvantaged" by disadvantaging taxpayers; required to pay more on less income? All day kindergarten makes people "feel good" but is terrible, wrong headed policy; decimal point trending or reaching toward the delivery room (doesn't take great vision to see that).

Tax cuts for business (business personal property) seems like a good idea that's totally mooted by same party proposals for illogic in the form of tax increases on businesses to pay for mass transit.

Note to legislature: people pay taxes. To clear sustaining margins, businesses must pass taxes along to consumers- you (legislature) knew that, right?

Republican tax increases & government expansion- leadership?

Guest said...

The transportation public bus system is not non-existent. There is a bus stop practically every two blocks -in fact some of it is with limited stops because there are no riders. If they can't use logic and fix what they have to be viable then why give them more monies. They have had zero ideas to make the current system worthwhile. Even an inquiry as to why they are driving huge buses around mid day for few passengers does not occur to them. These are the same people that are now planning this??? More of the same great squandering that we are getting from D.C. If they put out a lie in the referendum the taxpayer is sunk. By the way, has anyone done any accounting of the money they bonded for IPS school rebuilding.
That should be done. Wish Moldthan was still here to do that.

MikeC said...

I am not thinking about castleton to greenwood. What the city needs to do is basically create a non-existent local transit system that is reliable, frequent, and binds together downtown with neighborhoods. I think BRT is a good way to try out rapid transit to move workers quickly between the urban core and outlying counties. The need for it is a no brainer. Workers need to get to work. Companies need them to get to work. Right now, the surroundings around the urban core are filled with people who do not have the means to get a car, and no way to quickly get to jobs anywhere in surrounding counties. The stops are infrequent, often an hour in between. It's ridiculous. AS for downtown, the city needs to offer amenities to the residents now starting to move in that would make the 1.65% tax rate worth it, or they will start going back to the suburbs. Transit is part of that package. Imagine a Fountain Square resident being able to walk a block or two or three to get on a streetcar on Prospect and Shelby or thereabouts an being able to head south to Claus Market or north to downtown.... maybe to a BRT stop and head to Keystone Crossing or Greenwood Mall or even Carmel. They would do so because they wouldnt have to pay for parking and can leave the car at home. You would see economic development explode along Prospect, which is full of cute homes waiting to be gentrified and storefronts ready to become bakeries, groceries, shops, etc etc as opposed to liquor stores and storefront churches. This kind of growth and development does happen all the time.

Its the job of local government to provide police and fire protection, courts, and transportation infrastructure. That includes road and transit. Other cities have it. Heck most cities our size have it. We don't.

I am fine with BRT bc at least it allows for changes on a dime as we figure out where and whether to put light rail lines. As for light rail, the best way to start would be from the airport to downtown. You have stop potentials from the airport to IMS all the way to Union Square (which should be used as a train station the way it was intended) and City Market. It would be used a lot by out of town travelers who know more than the locals how to use transit like that.

But BRT would be a good start with that.

I'm glad the GOP at least locally is finally understanding the role of governments in urban settings. Cities need transit and density. either leads to the other. Density is picking up, but needs to continue if Indpls wants to keep growing and avoid the fate of Detroit.

Anonymous said...

MikeC: Thousands of daily commuters were delayed by the closing of I65 last year. I65 is so busy every day at rush hour that it's bumper to bumper at the split. The south side significantly slows down starting at Southport RD and the east/west I70 slow from Emerson to 30th ST on the west. Obviously, MikeC is not from Indianapolis! -Most likely a communications firm staffer from out of state whose job it is to promote this waste.

Additionally it is a major thoroughfare for commerce.

Indianapolis planners will not allow the population to become denser, that would be counterproductive and, flat out, people don't want it. People in Indianapolis want spacious yards for their families, not row houses!

The interstate system is far more vital than a streetcar system that people will not use. The system was specifically designed to relieve traffic through the city to allow commuters to get to/from work in addition to having commerce flow through the country. Every big city has an interstate through it. As an example, the interstate system so relieved traffic on downtown streets, that lanes of one-way traffic that were formerly needed during rush hour have been converted to parking on Delaware ST, Pennsylvania ST, and Alabama ST! Indianapolis is not dense enough to support or need streetcars or rail.

-and you know he has no merit to this thread when MikeC throws the race card!!! That proves he has no understanding of the city and cannot provide any justification for the mass transit proposal!

Anonymous said...

MikeC says: "Right now, the surroundings around the urban core are filled with people who do not have the means to get a car" I say that is NOT true. What is the basis for that generalization? People get from Castleton to Greenwood, 42nd and Mitthoefer to the airport. That is transportation across the vast urban core. He also says "Imagine a Fountain Square resident being able to walk a block or two or three to get on a streetcar on Prospect and Shelby or thereabouts an being able to head south to Claus Market or north to downtown."-They can already get there conveniently. There is even a goofy, expensive, waste of a bike lane there...the barriers of which are always being struck by vehicles because they are too restrictive of the street.

Out-of-towner MikeC, telling Indianapolis how to live, also mentions "head to Keystone Crossing or Greenwood Mall". If he lived here he'd know those are all served by IndyGo! This is NOT Manhattan, MikeC. It's free parking in most every location around the city.

Anonymous said...

-Sorry, I can't take MikeC serious when his 10:36 post throws out the race card at a well-thought out post that has a differing viewpoint than his own.

Anonymous said...

I have to call out that media representative, MikeC. He says: "Heck most cities our size have it. We don't. That is NOT true!

Cincinnati, Louisville, Columbus, OH, Cleveland....none of them have urban rail like that proposed here.

I draw special interest in MikeC using terminology that would only be used by the communications company charged with promoting the idea: Note his use of "BRT".

Anonymous said...

This won't pass in the donut counties. People like their cars too much. And Gary, you're wrong on Carmel wanting this. Residents do not. It is the businesses who want it but don't want to pay for it. It's going to be a moot point anyway though, as it won't pass. Put the farm on it not passing hamilton and johnson counties as residents are not going to be willing to pay additional income tax to fund a system that they'll never use. And don't give me the bs about bus lines improving property values, that's not the case here. People move to the burbs to get away from that, and no one wants to all of a sudden have a bus stop outside of their neighborhood. If they wanted that, they would have stayed in Marion county. Torr and Brain(hard) are going to get embarrassed if this comes down to a vote as it'll lose worse than Jill Long Thompson did to my man Mitch...

Anonymous said...

MikeC said: "Its the job of local government to provide police. Well, just how's that working out for us under Ballard?

Police staffing lowest level in years. No new hires.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I'm not kidding when I tell you that the referendum vote will be rigged. There is nothing these self-serving bastards behind this proposal won't do to make sure it's funded. They can't afford not to ensure that it doesn't pass, at a minimum, in Marion and Hamilton Counties. An algorithm will be installed on the computer program running the voting machines in at least those two counties that will guarantee it will pass. The leadership of both political parties in both Hamilton and Marion Counties are behind this. They can make it happen, and they will make it happen. If you don't believe these people are capable of rigging the outcomes of elections, you don't know what you are up against in this corrupt political system we live under here in Indiana. It is easily one of the most corrupt systems in all of America. If you haven't figured that out yet, you are delusional. These are people who are all made multi-millionaires through criminal rackets they are permitted to operate under our state and local government systems with immunity from prosecution by our politically-elected federal and state prosecutors. This has been going on for decades, and it's bigger and stronger than ever.

Pete Boggs said...

Note to Mike C:

Indy had a rail system at one time (the Interurban), which connected neighborhoods & Indy to Louisville, Cincy, Chicago, etc.

Around the end of WWII, the Interurban lost ridership / market share to a liberating form of point to point transport known as the automobile.

Nostalgia can be fashionable if it's on your dime. However, when you insist others pay for lifestyle perks under the pretense of "infrastructure," you've got a public accounting problem... If we're going to be that fiscally foolish- some of us might prefer flat boats on the canal...

Anonymous said...

MikeC: You have a good example of a trip to Claus' Meat Market. I drive 30 minutes one-way to go there. I choose not to take the bus. I enjoy the convenience of going there at the time of my choosing and leaving at the time of my choosing. As a customer, I notice it seems all the other customers drive there as well.

The bottom line, with your proposal would people take the rapid transit? NO!!! They will choose not to. Can it be supported by users? NO! There will not be enough users.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I should point out that the referendum language the proponents of the new county hospital to replace Wishard drafted was false and misleading on its face. It passed with over 80% in favor of it. The mayor's office, Health & Hospital Corporation resources and other nonprofit organizations were used as conduits to finance the public campaign that was used. Millions of our tax dollars got spent promoting that referendum. Paul Ogden had an interesting take on the referendum vote when analyzed at the precinct level at the time:

"An interesting note is the number of precincts in the old city limits which had unanimous or near-unanmous votes in favor of the Wishard referendum. Some vote totals: 90-0, 193-1, 34-1, 89-1, 81-0, 69-1, 162-1, 17-0, 148-0, 81-0, 179-0, 22-0. I actually counted 11 total precincts in the old city limits which had unanimous "yes" Wishard votes. I haven't started analyzing township data yet."

They didn't even need to cheat to get that referendum passed but they bent the rules at every step throughout the process to make sure it got passed. These people are criminals who are behind this. They will do anything to get what they want.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Government Motors bought up a lot of those private rail providers in cities across the country, shut them down and then used their lobbying clout to get Congress to start providing federal funding for public transit authorities to stock newly-established local transit authorities with their buses in place of the inner-urban rail systems.

Pete Boggs said...

Promoters of Mass Transit have no proven themselves to be thoroughly misleading; incoherently predicating their light rail public funding or tax increase scheme, on covering 23 miles (Noblesville to downtown Indy) with 12 stops or 13 segments in 21 minutes (!!!). Do the math, to include their estimate of 35 seconds per stop for transfers (7 minutes to cover 12 stops) subtracted from overall travel of 21 minutes leaving 14 minutes of movement- it requires Indy 500 qualifying speed to do that! We're talking Indy 500 qualifying speeds & travel @ ground level. This would be more of an amusement ride proposal; if it weren't so deceptively, taking taxpayers for a ride.

Messrs Welsh & Ogden were right in their referen-damnation of the Wishard scheme; from deceptive drafting to reimbursement.

The history of Indiana's recent referenda drafting process is one of deception & false advertising. Due to proponent or advocate drafting, there are significant legal issues related to disclosure, concerns which should be filed with the AG & SEC.

Indy Rob said...

Mass transit will never be as easy as a private car. A car goes door to door, with no waiting at a stop.

My son rides a IndyGo bus downtown every day. He normally waits about 5 minutes for the bus, then it takes 40 to get to his stop downtown. A drive takes 25 minutes. At the end of the day, he has another wait, then a ride home. He rides the bus only because he can't afford a car. 45 minutes verse 25 minutes. His trip is from the north edge of marion county to 16th street, about 80 blocks.

Unless the express line can be significantly quicker than a car, while retaining a low cost, mass transit will remain the refuge of the poor.

MikeC said...

So you curmudgeons are against modernizing an old hospital like Wishard, too?? wow.

Do your doctors still use leeches? vbg

Eskenazi is a great thing. I don't get why you are against any and all progress.

I am just glad that the GOP is finally trying to do things that help the working poor, improve government efficiencies, and redevelop east downtown to get property back on the tax rolls.

But some people (you guys) have to be the turds in the punchbowl I guess.

Gary R. Welsh said...

All of the development you describe is happening within the one-mile square thanks to the "investment" of several billion dollars of the public's money. How is the balance of the city faring? Not so well. The net out migration to the suburban counties continues despite the massive investment of public dollars within the mile square. We're investing at least $40 million in a high-rise luxury apartment building at the former MSA site that will be primarily rented to wealthy people who primarily live somewhere else (including other states) where they own a principal residence and pay income taxes. It will be well-suited for Pacers and Colts players and IndyCar drivers who, for the most part, choose other cities for their permanent homes and only spend as much time as their seasonable jobs require them to spend here.

The new Eskenazi Hospital made absolutely no sense when all of the other non-profit hospitals in the area, including the closest hospitals nearby, were building new hospitals and expanding their existing facilities. Why build a state-of-the-art hospital that is accessed by people who pay none of their own medical expenses. What happened right as it was being opened? Massive layoffs totaling in the thousands at all of the other hospitals in town.

Anonymous said...

MikeC: I've seen you so desperate as to come on here and insult those who disagree with your reckless spending and waste at our expense. In the past day you have insulted, called the readers/posters here "curmudgeons", "turds in the punchbowl" and "racist". You have a problem, MikeC. You have taken a position that is so bad per se that you stoop immediately to child-like taunts and wit. What's next? Will you tell us your daddy can beat up all our daddy's???

You need to take a deep breath and relax, because you cannot be taken seriously with your insults and whining.

Did you know the New Wishard made no sense? Yes, it's nice to have an ultramodern new facility, but Wishard Hospital was maintained and updated as needed. Had you asked any questions about why the updated Wishard needed to be thrown in the trash and a new hospital built? Was it to TAX AND SPEND and grease the construction companies that grease the politicians? Why build a state-of-the-art hospital that is accessed by people who pay none of their own medical expenses???