With tax day upon us I got to thinking about all of the tea partiers making the pilgrimage to Boston to celebrate their namesakes' stand against a British tax on tea, and the Brits' bailout of a tea importer too big to fail. While tea drinkers seem to think smaller is better and less is more when it comes to government and taxes, they don't seem to get the irony in their taking convenient, publicly-funded mass transit from Logan Airport into downtown Boston. Nor do the party animals driving their GMCs, built by a Detroit company bailed out by the taxpayer, up or down I95, an interstate built by big government for the taxpayer, acknowledge the contradictions inherent in the trip back to their ancestral home.
But enough about that. Onward. And I'm moving beyond the ongoing hostility between the LA Mayor and the City Council over control of the DWP and former Mayor Dick Riordan's recommendation that the city declare bankruptcy sooner rather than later. Instead I'm very upbeat about 30/10's chance to give Angelenos a first class mass transit future. The cause for my enthusiasm is two-fold, really. Part one comes in the form of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce's full-throated endorsement of 30/10.
Bravo to the Chamber for speaking out so clearly in support of the plan and for encouraging its membership to urge the MTA to back 30/10. The second cause for my enthusiasm is Metro's new PowerPoint on the Westside Subway Extension. If you want to make a mass transit nut like me salivate just show him the deck Metro prepared for its Community Update Meetings.
To save paper though, read the forest-buster on line. I nearly lost a good friend tying up the printer as her deadline loomed and the printer spit out all 47 pages so I could savor every word. And what sweet words they are - Wilshire/La Brea Station, Wilshire/Fairfax, Century City (preferably centrally located at Constellation), Westwood/VA Hospital, Wilshire/Bundy, Wilshire/26th Street, Wilshire/16th, and Wilshire/4th Street. Reading these pages I felt like I'd found a previously undiscovered tome by Steinbeck or Fante.
The Metro community meetings, which began April 12th at LACMA West and run through the 21st, promise to be lively affairs that give the community an opportunity to see what is possible within our lifetime if we can make 30/10 a reality.
Which is why it is so important that we not let the car-addicted turn 30/10 into a barrel of pork to be raided for more lanes on the freeways. Voters approved Measure R for mass transit -- which is spelled S-U-B-W-A-Y, L-I-G-H-T R-A-I-L and B-U-S not 405, 10, 710, and 605. Regrettably that's just what two Metro Board members, Lakewood City Councilwoman Diane DuBois and Santa Monica City Councilwoman Pam O'Connor, have proposed. Though I don't know DuBois and O'Connor, I'm sure they're nice people who understand the importance of mass transit. So what gives? Don't they see that Angelenos have been waiting long enough to go into the promised land of mass transit not to have it pulled out from under them? Let's not let it happen. Hands off the public's mass transit dollars!
Sure, the political process is sausage making at its finest, but can't we just once use voter-approved dollars for the purpose they were intended for? A purpose, as has been demonstrated again and again, that is for the greater public good. If I were MOVE LA or METRO I'd go with a campaign like that irritating but unforgettable ad for the antacid, "How do you spell relief?" I spell it M-E-T-R-O, and you should too.
One last observation before signing off. Kudos to the smart City of Pasadena for its decision to exercise its right of eminent domain to save a derelict Julia Morgan-designed YWCA in downtown Pasadena. It seems the building's owner was seeking to sell the property for twice its market value before the city stepped in and said no. Which begs the question, why the Trust for Public Land felt the need to suck so much money out of donors to unduly enrich the Chicago-based real estate firm threatening to sell new home lots next to the Hollywood sign. It seems that a cash-strapped Los Angeles would be similarly justified in using the eminent domain card to secure at market value a far better-known landmark than the old Pasadena Y. After buying the Hollywood land for its rightful price LA could turn around and resell it at cost to the Trust for Public Land or the non-profit charged with preserving the internationally recognized landmark that defines our city. Maybe it isn't too late!
30/10 is worthy of the widespread support it is receiving and Angelenos deserve the relief the dozen new transit lines it will build will bring. So it's time the City Council, the Mayor, the DWP and car lovers all sat down together to tea. Maybe then they would all agree to get along and focus on the prize. Uniting behind 30/10 will bring much-needed peace to City Hall. Next stop, Metro.
Follow Joel Epstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thejoelepstein