Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Can You Spell 'Wasted Money'?

I meant to post this already, but forgot. A couple of weekends ago, City Councillor Carol Chumney *cough*dullard*cough* mentioned on the Andrew Clark weekend radio show that one of the items passed in the next City budget was $70 million for the trolley extension to the Airport. Note that this is $70 million of City money; the State and Federal contributions are $210 million.

Why, in this time when the City can't even keep the grass mowed, are we still going forward with this? Two main reasons: If we don't spend the Federal money, we lose it. The public transportation expansion is good PR. Simple as that. And it matters less that we need the trolley extension than that our local economy needs $70 million pumped into the construction and road industry. Don't forget: 7.4% unemployment! Second only to DEE-TROIT.

So even though there's no need for it, the Overton Square district (where the trolley will pass through) is going under, the Cooper-Young Association looks set to fight the trolley (meaning legal fees and expensive court delays), and it makes no fiscal sense at all, we'll get it anyway. With your property tax money.

Aren't you glad to do your part for the local economy?

[Digression: Why is it called the Main Street Trolley but when the same cars veer off Main onto the Madison Avenue line, suddenly it becomes "light rail?" And the extension from Madison to the airport is also "light rail" even though that, too, will use the same trolley cars. All the promo, tourism and PR garbage the City prints and sponsors calls them trolley cars; so does the free PR from the credulous local media.

Why? Because the Federal grant that got us the money for this boondoggle was part of a "light rail" subsidy from the Department of Transportation, that's why.

The trolley line to the airport will also cut into business (ha-ha-ha, I know; bear with me) with car rentals there. This will adversely impact the extra taxes levied to pay down the FedUp Forum debt.

Ride the Madison Avenue trolley some time. Then imagine riding it all the way out to the airport. With luggage, on a rainy or muggy or freezing day. Picture being dumped out in one of those trolley islands in the middle of the street and having schlep everything across traffic to your destination. Or having to schlep it from the Madison line to the Main Street line (or a MATA bus!) and then from there across the plaza to your hotel.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

So why does no one stand up and say, "The emperor has no clothes!" Beats me.

Welcome to Memphis.

[/End digression]

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