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Proviso Probe

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blagojevich needs a favor from "What was she thinking?" Judy

I watched Chicago Tonight last night, and I understood that Gov. Rod Blagojevich had offered the CTA $24 million to avoid the so-called doomsday scenario for the CTA.

But apparently, there's a wrinkle to the plan. The RTA board has to decide whether to accept the money. See Sun-Times (Monifa Thomas, Chris Fusco and Dave McKinney).

The argument against accepting the money is that it's money borrowed from the next fiscal year. If the legislature and governor don't pass a comprehensive solution the RTA and CTA will start the next fiscal year in a deeper hole which may lead to even more extreme cuts and fare increases.

Also, the quick fix doesn't commit the state to provide money for infrastructure fixes. And if you've taken the Blue Line to O'Hare Airport you know that the tracks include numerous "slow zones".

And who sits on the RTA board of directors? One of them is Judy Baar Topinka.
Blagojevich's former GOP gubernatorial opponent Judy Baar Topinka was more direct, saying the governor could expect "a flat-out no" from her and other RTA board members on Friday. "To not include [funding for] Pace and Metra or a capital plan, this is just a payday loan," Topinka said.

Should the governor's bailout plan fall through, making cuts on the CTA almost certain, Topinka said CTA riders should blame Blagojevich and the General Assembly, not the RTA.

Topinka has a difficult situation to play. She's raising valid issues. And she should use her leverage to extract concessions from Springfield-types. But cutting services and raising fares is pretty much "going nuclear". Topinka has the power to screw-up a bunch of people's lives. She should use it... wisely.

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