Last Month’s Headlines
While I was on paternity leave there were a lot of stories that I would have covered if I had been writing. I didn't want to let them pass without any commentary or coverage beyond a sentence in Today's Headlines. H
After half a year of debate, numerous reports from Metro's new CEO staff begging them not to continue the contract and one of the most ethically challenged public relations campaigns I've ever seen; the Metro Board of Directors decided to extend their exclusive contract with Italian Rail Car manufacturer AnsaldoBreda. You may remember that the company "promised" to build a rail car manufacturing plant in Greater Los Angeles if they got the contract, a fact that couldn't legally be considered by the Metro Board.
However, every month that went by since the debate erupted last March brought more reasons to not trust the rail car company. Board Members Zev Yaroslavsky, the Westside's representative to the County Board of Supervisors, and Santa Monica Council Member Pam O'Connor were among the rail car manufacturer's harshest critics, but that wasn't enough to stop Mayor Villaraigosa and his allies from pushing the contract extension through.
At least Villaraigosa, who bent over backwards to keep his union supporters happy, didn't insult our intelligence by pretending the decision was made in the best interest of Metro or its riders. One day after they extended the contract, Villaraigosa held a press conference announcing all the new jobs coming to L.A. with the new factory.
For our full coverage of the AnsaldoBreda controversy, click here. Note that the coverage started neutral and became more negative as time went on.
Alarcón, City Council Offer Reward for Information on Deadly Hit and Run.
Earlier this week, Councilman Richard Alarcón succeeded in getting the City Council to allocate $50,000 dollars for any information on the deadly Hit-and-Run that killed Judy Ramos on July 28. In a city where too often there seems to be a lack of energy on finding Hit-and-Run drivers, this is an encouraging sign of elected officials and the LAPD taking this instance seriously. What would be more encouraging would be harsher fines for Hit-and-Run Drivers. Under current law, there are harsher fines for drunk driving than hit-and-run driving. This encourages murderous drivers to flee the scene of the crime.
For more information on the crash and how to inform the LAPD, visit this article in the Daily News.
OCTA Wants Ideas on How to Improve Transportation
h/t to Spokker and Transit Rider OC
The Orange County Transportation Authority has an online survey to solicit feedback from residents on how to improve transportation behind the Orange Curtain. Naturally, the majority of the questions are about freeways and capacity enhancement, but at least this time they mention buses several times. You can take the survey here.
Mel Gibson Gets DUI Expunged
I was shocked to find out that Mel Gibson was able to get his 2006 DUI Conviction expunged from his record; but I was even more outraged to read that such an act is routine in California. The Times reports:
As a first-time drunk-driving offender, Gibson was eligible to have the conviction removed from his record after completing the terms of his probation. The expunging request and procedure is routine and took place before Judge Lawrence J. Mira during a 90-second hearing.
I guess it's a good thing that you have to drunkenly hit people with your car twice before hurting them or else this law would make no sense.
A New Bike License Controversy Brewing in Santa Monica?
We have yet to hear a report for someone getting ticketed, but our friends the Santa Monica Police Department are at it again. Blogger Gary Kavanaugh noted that the SMPD is flyering about the need to have your bike licensed before you can ride in Santa Monica. Long-time readers may remember that the LAPD was taken to task for abusing a state law that allows police departments to create licensing programs to help cyclists recover stolen bicycles. The LAPD had to back off after it came to light they were handing out illegally high fines and repeatedly running out of licenses when cyclists asked for them.
Is Santa Monica going to copy one of LAPD's less than inspiring attempts at law enforcement? The city has somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde reputation with cyclists. On one hand, the city has more and better bike facilities per capita than any city in the county save Long Beach. On the other, the SMPD are known to harass group rides to the point of comically over-policing Santa Monica Critical Mass and of course became national laughing stocks for taking a principled stand against people who exercise in public spaces.
Controversial Bike Lane Stays in Santa Clarita
Way back in August we discussed the angry reaction of some in Santa Clarita to new bike lanes on Decoro Avenue. The City Council eventually reached a compromise after lengthy debate. The bike lanes stayed and the road was re-striped to increase automobile capacity. Hooray?
More TAP Problems
On the Metro Rider discussion forums, writer J Marino writes about how he was falsely accused of trying to evade TAP fares because the TAP readers were broken:
Fare officers started checking tickets about 7 stops in. They check my TAP card and tell me that it hasn't been used since June, 2009! This is clearly not true, but I have no way to prove it. Officers march me through the train like a criminal and escort me off the train at Imperial station. This is in Compton. I will probably catch hell for this, but I should mention that I am a 5'1'', 100-pound girl. And I'm stranded, alone, in Compton. Awesome. I also hold in my hand a citation that will cost me several hundred dollars to correct.
I bought another day pass (paper this time, no way will I trust the TAP card again), and headed right back home. As soon as I could, I called the number on the TAP card and spoke to a wonderful customer service agent, Rita, who verified that I had indeed bought and used a day pass through TAP that morning. She had me send copies of my citation, bank statement showing the $5 deducted for the fare, and ID to TAP customer service, stating that she would have the citation voided. Super!
When reader Erik Griswold wrote to Cubic and Metro about the issue he was told that monthly pass holders can avoid these kinds of problems by carrying their receipt with them. Uhm, wasn't the point of TAP cards that Metro would move to paperless ticketing? Now we're supposed to carry around a paper receipt? I think I'll stick to day passes, thanks all the same.
It's no wonder that Foothill Transit announced they were opting out of the TAP system.