Sunday, April 5, 2009

Death spiral

The legislative session is finally over.  I think the biggest issue the legislature had to deal with aside from the budget was passing a transportation funding bill, which they failed to do.  No real surprise there, but it is still disappointing.  Worse, though, is that they didn't pass a bill allowing MARTA to spend more than 50% of its revenue on operations:
MARTA officials, who looked like they were at a wake after they heard the news, said drastic cuts to bus and train service were on the way. Veteran lobbyists called the move “irresponsible.”
This bothers me so much.  How does forcing drastic service cuts help MARTA?  This isn't tough love.  There is no lesson here for MARTA to learn - the only real criticism I've heard was pay raises that happened more than a year ago.  Someone made the point - how is MARTA supposed to hire quality management to improve operations without paying them more?  If the legislature wants MARTA to improve its management practices, they need to let them try and improve things.  

This bill wasn't even asking for state money!  Fuck, man.  This is how a transit system goes into a death spiral - they cut services to the point that the system ceases to operate.  I'm not sure what more MARTA could have done to impress on the Legislature how dire the situation is. I suspect this bill failing is typical Jill Chambers bullshit.


  1. No kidding. I went out and drank heavily last night. I like living in Atlanta, but I really hate Georgia right now.

    The worst part is that it's only the tip of the iceberg. Business in general is down everywhere, affecting tax revenues for governments, further cutting public services, etc. And yet in such a climate, the Georgia legislature has done a spectacular job of shooting itself in the foot-- trying to ban stem cell research and thus chasing away a potential economic development boon, not giving MARTA basic operating freedom, and many other things. Way to go, Jill Chambers. When MARTA is tumbling toward extinction and 120,000 people in Atlanta can't get to work, you'll have made a great contribution toward sending Georgia back to a pre-industrial economy. Hope that works for your political ambitions.

  2. I would never have said I was pro-Jill Chambers exactly, but I never had the visceral reaction to her that a lot of my friends seemed to have.

    Dirty campaigning? Sure, but every politician does it to a point.

    Grandstanding? Sure, but ultimately it had never amounted to all that much.

    But now...

    Oh, but now...

    Jill Chambers has screwed the pooch, and bad, by either blocking this or by not getting in the way when someone else wanted to block it.

    She got more serious opposition in her district last year than she had in past elections. Here's hoping it's even tougher for her next time out. This is some bullshit.

  3. If there is any silver lining to this, it's that Jill Chambers's 'political hay' of MARTA's management, as you have put it before, may have backfired on her. MARTA service cuts will compromise the abilities of thousands of metro Atlantans to get to work. Many an unscrupulous employer will just as soon let these workers go and replace them with others who demonstrate that they can get to work no matter what. Think about it: in a struggling economy, she is partly (even if indirectly) responsible for thousands of potential job losses, and her self-promotion as MARTOC chair makes her a convenient public face for it. There is absolutely no way you can put a positive spin on that in your election campaign-- even in her suburban district, her constituents are worried about losing their jobs as well and are likely to have the basic decency to empathize with others being laid off due to a transit shutdown. Your opponent can smear you on that day and night. Good luck trying to win again with that baggage.


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