Chicago Sun-Times

Tuesday's transit rally

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Limited space in today's paper kept me from providing more details about Tuesday's transit rally at the Thompson Center, where Mayor Daley, House Speaker Mike Madigan and several others tried to put pressure on Governor Blagojevich and the General Assembly to pass a funding package for mass transit.

If you've been reading or watching the news at all lately, you know that Mayor Daley and officials from the RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace have made almost daily pleas to the legislature to beef up transit funding in order to avoid fare increases and service cuts. You also know that the RTA wants the General Assembly to raise money for transit by passing a bill that would increase the RTA sales tax in Cook and the collar counties by one-quarter of 1 percent and an additional one-quarter percent in the collar counties.

What set Tuesday's rally apart was Madigan standing at the podium, making his first public show of support for the transit funding bill sponsored by State Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston).

"This is a good, sound piece of legislation that should be enacted," Madigan told the crowd at the rally.

In typical fashion, Madigan also blamed Blagojevich for the bill's slow progress in the General Assembly, since the governor has said he won't support a sales tax increase.

But Blagojevich's camp fired back, calling Madigan a hypocrite for being at the rally when he refused to attend special sessions called by Blagojevich to hammer out a funding plan for transit. Madigan also sabatoged the governor's multi-billion capital plan to raise money for transit and other infrastructure needs, Blagojevich's people say.

"The governor has been calling on the legislature for quite some time to work on these issues," Blagojevich spokesman Gerardo Cardenas said. "It’s ironic that the speaker who opposed the capital plan and special sessions shows up at a rally for the CTA."

Instead of increasing the RTA sales tax, Blagojevich wants to raise money for transit by closing corporate tax loopholes for certain businesses.

Hamos said she thinks she has enough bipartisan support to pass her bill on Sept. 4 and override the governor's veto. RTA Chair Jim Reilly thinks so, too.

What do you think? Will legislators be able to put aside their differences and get a funding bill passed before Doomsday hits on Sept. 16?

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As a retired CPC teacher I have riden trains and buses that aren't fit anywhere. But my question will always be, you have a bunch of leaders making huge amounts of money, have cars and drivers who would not know a CTA bus from anything, yet as they take away all these monys, do you think for 1 moment they suffer anything? Ron Hubberman can rot in hell till he and the rest of those bozos take a pay cut

I don't think these politicians realize that with all their antics they will all be voted out very soon. There ae very strong feelings on this and people are tired of all the game playing. We already lost millions in Federal matching funds because of these spoiled babies in Springfield and mainly because of the governor. We nver had these problems until he got in. Judy Topinka will have my vote next time.

I agree with all the above, if Blagojevich vetos the bill he should be ashamed of himself.

I use the trains and buses every day to get to and from work as do many of my coworkers. That is 30 or more cars off the road. How can Blagoyevich look at himself in the mirror every day after voting outrageous raises for he and other politicians? All I can say is I didn't vote for the snake.

I want to know how is it okay for the governor to vote raises for his cronies and himself but find it hard to help the little that depend on public transportation as a way of life. The CTA and the state and city government have benefitted tremendously from overrated bonus, raises and so forth and want to continue to pass it on to the people that are barely making ends meets, below or at poverty level while they continue to milk to cow more for themselves.

I am riding CTA since 1976 but i have never seen worst CTA services then this, every day they make all excuses in world for delays, I understand when there is a real problem,thing make more worst when passengers has no place to seat on platform and waiting for train 20-30 minutes and passengers legs get hurt for long waiting for train or no place to move in compartment, I invite Mayor Mr.Daley and Mr.Hoberman at my cost to travel during rush hours with me, how great city is!

Ditto, Jackie. Transit is the primary reason I moved to Chicago five years ago. It's what makes this city special, what differentiates it and makes it stand out above all of the other midwestern cities. Detroit and St. Louis used to compete with us, but destroyed their transit long ago and slipped into decline. But we kept our transit, which allowed us to retain our density and live more efficiently, and we're now enjoying a renaissance.

I moved here because I wanted to live in a walkable neighborhood without a car. This lifestyle will not be possible if we allow our transit to disintegrate.

This is not about "bailing out" transit. It's about choosing responsible investments and setting priorities. Our state seems to think transportation is about moving cars rather than moving *people*. Nobody questions road, highway and gas subsidies, despite the fact that they have been getting us nowhere -- only clogging our roads with more traffic and polluting our region. User fees should be applied to the least efficient, least beneficial form of transportation -- driving. Transit should be the priority in our state's transportation funding.

Illinois legislators and the Governor need to check their egos at the door and pass a bill that will bring about reform in mass transit funding...not just a temporary fix. Otherwise, we will go through this every year. I rely heavily on public transportation for grocery shopping, doctor appointments, and other errands I run every day. I'm sure other riders would say 'ditto' to that. And if this mass transit mess isn't resolved, Mayor Daley can just kiss his beloved Olympics goodbye.

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This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on August 29, 2007 7:00 AM.

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