Saturday, December 04, 2004

GOVERNOR INTERRUPTS IGGLE WORK... essentially make the following statement regarding SEPTA:

"Yes, we have no solution."

Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa./Comcast SportsNet) issued this statement on Thursday regarding the status of temporary financial help for SEPTA and the other transit agencies across the commonwealth:

The cutback plan considered by the SEPTA Board is the inevitable result of the legislature's failure to act. Unfortunately, Republican legislative leaders chose to recess their session early rather than work toward a responsible solution, creating a fiscal crisis of catastrophic proportions.

Actually, Eddie, it's because you're more concerned with Terrell Owens' next touchdown celebration dance instead of finding a solution to the transit crisis and other problems that have essentially slowed Harrisburg down to a crawl...

Everyone familiar with the finances of our state's transit agencies knows that it is necessary to find new sources of stable, dedicated funding. This is no less true for the small systems serving places like Altoona than for the large ones serving Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

I have supported a plan to provide $111 million per year in new money for transit. While in a letter dated Nov. 20, 2004, Republican legislative leaders said, "you can be certain of our interest in addressing the short-term needs of public transportation in Pennsylvania," they inexplicably ended their session with 10 working days left in the session without voting on this or a viable alternative plan to close the funding gap. Now that any opportunity for legislative action has passed, I am exploring whether options exist that would postpone the severe service cuts, fare increases and employee layoffs that are coming. The technical and legal barriers to providing stopgap funding are significant, and my administration is working to see if they can be solved. There is no free lunch, and no guarantees that we can solve this problem.

Here's one thing we can guarantee. It's going to get ugly, and fast...

On KYW NewsRadio today, Tony Romeo interviewed Franklin and Marshall College political scientist Terry Madonna (one of the state's foremost experts on Harrisburg happenings) for his thoughts on the crisis (note that the report is not at the KYW web site as of the time of this posting). Madonna seems to think that Rendell is deliberately stalling any action on the transit issue to put more pressure on the legislature. Bailing out SEPTA, Mr. Madonna says, would in effect eliminate any emergency, thus the legislature won't take any immediate action.

While Rendell indicated that he is "committed to finding a solution" to the crisis, he did note that some options, including flexing highway funding temporarily until a stable funding solution can be reached, may not be legal under state and federal law.

Yeah, right, and the Miami Dolphins will win the AFC Championship...

Meanwhile, Emperor Street has finally been making noise on SEPTA's latest financial fiasco. The Emperor, who is rather busy running the city into the ground, threatened to take legal action to block the fare hikes or even have the City Transit Division split from the rest of SEPTA and taken over by City Hall. At the same time, the Michael Moore-on wanna-be took a few shots at legislative leaders in Harrisburg:

"I’ll bet the Pennsylvania general assembly has spent more time trying to figure out how to take over the Philadelphia airport than how to fix the problems of SEPTA. These people are really really good at paying attention to things that are local matters."

No, they're more concerned about how to get a piece of the slots action, but I digress. As far as the airport is concerned, I don't think the folks in Tinicum Township or Delaware County would mind having a say in how PHL is managed; after all, a chunk of the airport is in Delaware County...

That said, any legal action by the city is an uphill battle at best. More will come out by the time Decmeber 16 comes and goes...

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