What Was the Point of Yesterday’s Half Hour Filibuster from Gloria Molina?

10_23_09_eastside_grondbreaking.jpgBetter days: Molina, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Villaraigosa, Former Metro CEO Roger Snoble, and Board Member Pam O’Connor at the Eastside Extension Groundbreaking.  Photo: Metro Library

(Editor’s note: Originally, this was going to be a post written by Dana Gabbard about Metro placing their public Gold Line Eastside Extension documents online.  As I was writing the introduction, the story got away from me.  A deep hat tip to Dana for his help with this article and you can see the Metro presentation on the extension at the Transit Coalition Website.)

As was noted in Streetsblog’s coverage of the Metro Board Meeting, and more with its own article at The Source, yesterday County Supervisor Gloria Molina held the floor for roughly a half hour, delivering a powerful rant against Metro staff concerning the soon-to-be-opened Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension.  Molina accused staff of pushing for the opening of an unsafe line for political reasons, and only doing work for certain favored members of the Board.  Meanwhile her fellow Board members, and L.A. County voters, received a lesser tongue lashing for intentionally short-changing the Eastside.

While I admit that I find Molina’s monthly displays of self-pitying on behalf of the San Gabriel Valley, where admittedly I don’t live so I’m hardly an expert on the area, to be an exercise in self-promotion; this time she came armed with reports and concerned locals to raise the question:  Is the Gold Line Eastside ready to be opened as a safe line?  The evidence seems to say that it is not.

Yesterday’s rant was hardly the first time people have raised questions about the Extension.  Safety concerns have been raised by residents from Little Tokyo through the Eastside and into L.A. County.  This summer, Metro began to go into communities to explain why and how the Eastside Extension would be safe.  A good example of their public presentations can be found at Little Tokyo Unblogged

Many in the group were equally dismayed at the lack of barriers or
gates to prevent an accident. MTA staff assured us, however, that gates
are being evaluated, and that a study on the issue will be released in
July or August…and there will be an opportunity for public comments.

The
other questions that came up time and again were the lack of
language-appropriate signage (some of the signs that were up did have
Spanish translations). Many in the group expressed concerns over how
local Japanese and Korean residents, most especially seniors, would be
able to read the warnings. The MTA is also going to take into account
the timing of pedestrian lights to enable seniors sufficient time to
cross sidewalks.

The safety issued remained a simmering local issue as rumored opening dates came and went, but the arguments became more heated after Dakota Smith, the editor of the pro-development blog Curbed, which referred to the above quote from Little Tokyo Unblogged as "fear mongering," almost got hit by a train that was testing the tracks while she touring the future Eastside train stations.  Dakota seemed even more annoyed by the somewhat bemused attitude of Metro staff even as they tried to explain how the incident was her fault and the crossings are completely safe.

While Curbed was annoyed, local concerns were still being raised causing Metro to bring in a group of rail safety experts from San Diego, San Francisco and Arlington, V.A., to review the preparations being made for the opening, currently rumored to be November 15.  Their somewhat confusing findings could be summarized as: this line is safe, but here’s what needs to be done to make it safer.  For example, the safety experts noted that ""no trespassing" signs were placed in appropriate places but advised that the wording on the signs be larger.  Yesterday, Molina admitted that she had no idea the status of these proposed changes, which undercuts her overall message that the staff isn’t addressing safety concerns; especially since staff claims that they’re working on it and the Board passed $4.5 million in funds to complete the improved safety standards earlier in the meeting.  The major fix will be miles of fencing separating the tracks from the community.  How they were planning on opening that line without fencing is beyond me.

Molina ended her rant by making the somewhat bi-polar claim that she would be at the opening of the line, whenever that will be, to share that moment with her community and assure them the line is safe.  However, she isn’t sure the line is safe and called the line "sub-standard" several times.  If Molina had kept her comments focused her comments on just the Gold Line and the safety issues, and stayed away from re-airing her grievances for perceived slights going back over a decade; she could have pushed her message without the monthly beating of a dead horse and perhaps scored more points with Board Members, and advocates beyond her San Gabriel Valley Base.

In truth, Molina is still angry that back in the 1990’s voters approved a transit funding plan which excluded an Eastside Subway, yet the same pols fought against an Eastside Subway are enthusiastically supporting the Westside Subway.  Her attacks on the Gold Line and staff are a fill in for calling out Zev Yaroslavsky or ranting against voters across the county for not following her sage advice to vote against transit funding plans, such as Measure R.  While transit advocacy groups and blog writers can decry her obstructionism tactics, the reality is; they have been somewhat effective. 

While she has been unable to move voters outside her base to vote against transit taxes, she was successful in getting what are now called "FAST Lanes" and the hundreds of millions of dollars of transit improvements off the I-210 in her district and on the I-110.  Hooray?  The problem is, that in cases such as this, her sense of victim hood, combined with other substance-free grandstanding from the state and congressional delegations, and outrage actually cost her constituents hundreds of millions of dollars in transit improvements for a "congestion pricing" plan that won’t actually change traffic patterns at rush hour and actually increase capacity at other times of the day.  Is that really the sort of advocacy that the San Gabriel Valley needs on the Metro Board?

  • Here was Dana’s original submission…

    If you spend enough time exploring the world of transit advocacy you start to make all sorts of connections. This includes getting on the e-mail lists of some fairly obscure entities. In my case this includes Metro’s Local Transit Systems Subcommittee, which is officially described as “Provides technical input on issues affecting local transportation systems including fixed route circulation, commuter services, paratransit, transportation demand management and rail feeder services.”

    http://www.metro.net/about_us/committees/committees_groups.htm

    The most recent mailing from them included as an attachment a fascinating power point presentation to be made at the next LTSS meeting on the soon to open Eastside extension of the Gold Line. In that form it is a fairly massive file plus not everyone has access to power point. Thanks to the efforts of Bart Reed and Numan Parada of the Transit Coalition it has been converted to a PDF and posted online.

    I think this is a presentation that deserves a wider audience. It as a neat summary of the key attributes of the extension, including station locations, fleet assignment, headways, span of service and projected ridership.

    http://www.thetransitcoalition.us/largepdffiles/TC-GoldLine-14-2009-10-15.pdf

    Now if Metro would only finally announce an opening date! According to Kymberleigh Richards it was a preliminary version of a staff report that had Nov. 14th as the date “and [the report] was revised before being given at the meeting to remove the opening date.”

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2009/10/08/testing-ongoing-for-gold-line-eastside-extension-opening-set-for-november/#comment-40081

  • The Gold Line isn’t safe, they need to wait until January or maybe February or whenever it is safe to open that line. It’s not safe. If they open it in November it will be only to save face, which is stupid, because when someone gets run over they will lose it again.

    You can moving violations an at grade rail to safety.
    Browne

  • Harry Morant

    People who get hit by commuter trains need to be thinned from the herd. It’s Darwinism at it’s finest. “Rail Safety” is just another NIMBY attack, ala “enviornmental racism”.

    Finish the Gold Line, Finish the Expo Line, and build the Subway to the Sea. NIMBY’S be damned.

  • “People who get hit by commuter trains need to be thinned from the herd.”

    I hear this so much from alt transit advocates it makes me think the majority of people who are pro this are Sierra Club KKK freaks. It’s just so flippant and the fact that the VAST majority of people are silent and don’t challenge these kinds of statements says to me that this is a common mindset. Just disgraceful, I’m glad I’m not part of any movement and I’m just an observer. I would be embarrassed to be part of a movement this ignorant.

    The following is a clip of a vivid demonstration of enviormental racism. Watch a visual impaired man get fun over by a train and an agency just not give a damn.

    http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=7079024

    Browne

  • DJB

    A known quantity always feels safer. Most of us have grown up with ubiquitous roads. We’re familiar with them. Most of us use them all the time. Very few people in greater LA have grown up with ubiquitous light rail (unless you live in Watts or something). Trains feel less safe to people because they are new (actually, old, but new to those of us born here after 1960).

    The concerns about rail safety are a positive thing. I just hope we keep things in perspective and apply those concerns to ALL CORRIDORS WHERE VEHICLES TRAVEL. Motor vehicle crashes killed over 45,000 people in the U.S. in 2006 according to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr57/nvsr57_14.pdf, p. 35). Where’s the outrage about that, Ms. Molina?

  • It sounds like there were some really important Gold Line Safety points underlying that “rant” no?

  • Joe, per your suggestion, I took the word rant out of the title. The main point of the article is that Molina had a strong point yesterday, but distracted from it with what is basically the same woe-are-us speech she gives every month. A secondary point is that sometimes that victimization gets in the way of good policy as it did in the congestion pricing.

  • The whole “we were robbed of a subway” thing is a personal grudge by Molina. She is very thin skinned. And not all that much as a politician — she used to be my City Council person and is now my County Supervisor, and in neither role has she impressed me.

    For instance, she is raising a fuss now about safety but this is a project that has been in the pipeline for decades. The Community Advisory Committee for it was formed in 1995! Were any of its members at the meeting yesterday voicing concerns?
    http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/eastside/rac.htm

    Did Ms. Champion of the People Molina indicate what she has done on the issue and if it is sub-standard why doesn’t she share some of the blame for that? And her comments on Zev’s Prop A of 1998 are insulting given when many of us were trying to fight the measure Molina got cold feet and after initially aiding the creation of a coalition against it the organizing meetings ground to a halt and things were left in utter discord. The results of her failed leadership she now has the stones to sheds crocodile tears about? Please!

    http://zev.lacounty.gov/scripts/mtainittext.htm

    I have been curious about the extent of street running this extension includes. And when I rode the 632 the bus operator noted qualms about where the line swings off 1st at Indiana. That said, do we think are residents are mostly stupid and will carelessly walk in front of a moving train? Street trams are common in Europe and those don’t have the elaborate barriers we have for the light rail trains we have run along streets. What is the reasonable level of precaution? Molina seemed to be saying only having a train in a tunnel is safe, which I do believe at times is the refrain of Mr. Damien Goodmon.

    I’d also say there are some mental gymnastics going on in comment #4: “I’m glad I’m not part of any movement and I’m just an observer.” Browne you just come off as someone who wants it both ways. Either fish or cut bait. And please don’t paint all advocates with a broadbrush just because someone posts a stupid blog comment.

    Is anyone who matters (a la Metro Board members) asking hard question about the delay? And why safety improvements (to the tune of $4.5 million) are necessary this late in the building of the line. Measure R is funding near continual light rail construction all over the region for the next decade or two. Are we finding out what went wrong with this project to ensure any mistakes are not repeated, projects are designed to a reasonable level of safety from the get-go, etc? That is what worries me – Gloria’s rants are a distraction from the hard questions that seeming are not being asked. we could use some leadership on this from someone on the Board–please?

  • The thin veneer of civility that train advocates use to mask their desires has definitely worn off – especially after passing by the Eastside extension the past few month as it has taken shape. The thing just looks like a death trap – another meat grinder installed at street level.

    Transportation engineers, and the despotism of LOS, ADT, and VMT are bad enough. Rail junkies seem to care even less than the traffic engineers about the effects of their beloved projects on the people who will live around them, use them daily, and have their lives and health put at risk by them. You guys need to look deep into the mirror and image listening to the hateful crap about “thinning the herd” from someone else’s perspective.

    It is disgusting, and because of this type of rhetoric I have definitely had my enthusiasm about rail in the city downgraded severely. I can only imagine that others will come to feel the same way.

  • DJB

    I think we should put caution tape up around the entrance to every street in LA until we can be sure that they will no longer kill people.

    Sounds ridiculous right? Well, why do we treat rail like that and not streets? This thing’s built, it’s mostly at grade, and that’s okay (not ideal, but okay). If people take the same precautions they should take crossing any street, they won’t be hit by a train. I think the environmental justice argument is a bit far fetched in this case. The line runs at grade in South Pasadena too, and some of the grade-separated parts of the rail system are in poor neighborhoods (like Westlake and South LA)

    People need clean alternatives to solo driving to have a high quality of life. This is an important part of that effort. I think the people of East LA have enough common sense to turn this train into a great asset.

  • Dana Gabbard: Your comments are illuminating as always.

    ubrayj02: While I agree that comments like “thinning the herd” cross the line of civility, you should take Dana’s advice and not paint all rail advocates with the same broad brush. The truth is many of us don’t need to be morally browbeaten by you, Molina, Goodmon, or the BRU and we are rightfully insulted that simply because we aren’t paralyzed by accusations of trying to kill brown babies that that somehow makes us racist. And most of us view Metro and other government entities with the same level of skepticism that we do activists who try to shame us into supporting their agendas.

  • Great, that still doesn’t make legitimate objections to at-grade light rail less legitimate.

    Regarding the safety of streets, DJB, I don’t know about the caution tape but an annual, or quarterly, death and injury report for LA County with the most dangerous intersections, modes, etc. does not exist – making all the traffic deaths invisible.

    The truth is a tough bitch, and while rail is great and rail is cool it also has its downsides if it is done improperly. The Blue Line is a sad example of how to design a light rail line in a way that many people are hurt or killed by it every year. The Gold Line extension, in places, looks strikingly similar despite what the experts say. I’m not trying to guilt anyone into changing their perspectives on how great rail is, but a shitty rail project does not engender support for the next project, que no?

  • “It’s just so flippant and the fact that the VAST majority of people are silent and don’t challenge these kinds of statements says to me that this is a common mindset.”

    —————-

    Whoosh!!! Wow. That was pretty. Boy that’s yet another blazing straw dog you lit there. Will there be fireworks to go along with that?

  • Gloria Molina is a very demanding person, and so is her staff. They set a very high standard – both internally (I’m reminded when she did one of her periodic staff massacres a few years ago, gutting the local field offices) and with external agencies. The problem is that MTA staff have to work for all of the 12 other members too, and County staffers have to choose which boss they will please today – the CEO, SD 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5? Not to mention if the public actually wants to get a plan reviewed or negotiate a hospital bill – nope, sorry, we’re all working on Board-mandated projects, you’ll have to wait your turn (unless you decide to complain to the Board and jump the queue yourself). Plus with all of her talk about “you have to be more careful”, but demanding reports immediately, that doesn’t happen. By doing that, you automatically require executive review of every single statement made in the document, no matter whether or not it is material or germane to the point. The Molina style gives you MTA staff reports that say nothing but gobbledygook, with no context whatsoever.

    Now, one of her gripes was that Carol Inge didn’t put in the “other” branch of the Eastside Gold Line in the strategic plan. In other words, one of the two branches (SR-60 to Industry or Washington Boulevard to Whittier) would be picked to be built and funded with Measure R, while the other branch would be considered “strategic”. (That was what the huddle with Brad McAllister, Carol Inge, Leahy, and Molina was about during the start of the LRTP Board disucssion.) Is it wise to be doing such a thing at the last minute? (It’s equally as unwise to put on the books a carpool lane to nowhere, like Mark Ridley-Thomas did, as well.)

    Ultimately, though, Molina will continue to charge forward. She wants it her way or the highway, other board members be damned. She does bring up good points – the County’s insane sexual harrassment problem and how departments sweep it under the rug with settlements quietly approved; the incompetence of the Department of Health Services in operating the County health system; and her commitment in keeping East Los Angeles and Whittier Boulevard vibrant without an invasion of corporate shops. On the Gold Line safety issue, Molina’s concerns were legitimate, but unfortunately, to call it “substandard” is unfair. Value engineering was done, and certain things were cut out. Now, apparently, those things are needed and will be installed again. She failed to note that even if the Eastside subway was approved, the further it would go would have been Soto and Chavez – at least a couple of miles away from SD 1 unincorporated territory. The 57 page punchlist that she waved at the meeting is a nice prop but I question how many of those items were safety related, and how many were “fix this hole” or “re-screw this fixture”. The PUC, the City of Los Angeles, and the County of Los Angeles all signed off on the construction, and I tend to believe that they are rigorous enough.

  • Erik G.

    Doesn’t LA Metro lose out on a bunch of $$$$ if the line is not in revenue service by December 31?

  • Erik, the Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Federal Transit Administration has a deadline for opening of Dec. 31st. Although we have gotten just about all the funds it specifies–would the feds try to demand money back IF the delay was safety related? Doubtful.

    So BTW, what have brayj or Browne actually done if they have the concerns about safety they claim here? Makes some posts on their blog? So you sit on the sidelines, attack advocates and make claims without anything to back them up or a willingness to get your hands dirty? How vastly unimpressive and unpersuasive.

    And we do have serious questions that should be addressed per #8. I have for years tried to air them and use various means to press for answers. I am sorry my efforts haven’t been as effective as I wish, but at least I am not taking the dodge of mouthing off but claim to be “just an observer”.

  • Matt

    Keep in mind that the Eastside Gold Line is already running normal trains even though it is not open to passengers yet. All trains continue on past Union Station although passengers are required to disembark at Union Station. This has been the case since Oct. 4.

    This needs to be a safe line and hopefully the $4.5M allocated yesterday will be good safety improvements that will help this be the case. A lot of people said the current Gold Line would be unsafe, but its safety record is excellent. Lets hope this extension is just like the rest of the line in that regard. Having another Blue Line would be a blow to rail transit in LA, but I think we have come a ways since 1990 in that regard.

  • You know what Dana, don’t worry about what I’m doing. I do plenty. I do more before 6am than you do all freakin day.

    I do plenty at my day job, what’s your day job? Yeah I know surfing the internet.

    What have you done?

    Your SOCATA never challenged METRO one time about anything until my blog came on the scene, so you should be thanking me for learning how to think critically.

    You are welcome Dana.

    Browne

  • I was riding on Metrolink today looking through the back window in the cab car today. As the train passed crossings teenagers walking home from school would cross the tracks as soon as the train had passed *while the crossing arms were still down*. There wasn’t a spark of intelligence in these high schoolers that maybe it would be smart to wait until the arms went up just in case another train was coming in the opposite direction (a Surfliner and another Metrolink passed in the opposite direction during my trip). All it takes is the right timing, and bam, a sob story on LA Daily News or the OC Register about how Metrolink killed another “innocent” student. It has happened before and it will happen again.

    It would be great if we could idiot-proof the entire rail system, both Metro and Metrolink, to prevent these kind of accidents. Idiot-proofing is often expensive and it would mean a choice between a lot of useful, relatively safe at-grade rail lines and much fewer but safer rail lines. Then you would have to ride the bus more often, which do not operate on dedicated rights of way and also have the ability to kill people (http://www.thebusbench.com/2009/01/despite-death-and-destruction-by-ladot-and-metro-busses-lasd-let-busses-run-red-lights.html).

    There is some risk inherent in travel. How much risk you are willing to tolerate often correlates to how much dough you are willing to spend. At the end of the day, society comes to a consensus through the decision each individual made that day. In a world full of freeways, each rail line is a net gain to society.

  • Dana,

    Since you posed the question regarding who done what, what have you done? No, really, other than sit around stewing in a great girth of red-faced bluster at an old-folks’ home on a Saturday morning or on-line with those pudgy digits pounding out puerile insults aimed primarily at women of colour, what do you do to help Metro NOT be the ShameTrain? If you could heft that hulk onto an airplane and go to a real city, you might see how public transit should work.

    And while we are being puerile, why would you think Molina is “thin-skinned”? Might it because because your friend, Bart Reed, called her “a shrill, shrieking shrew” in the LA Weekly? (http://www.laweekly.com/2008-07-24/news/the-quot-temporary-quot-sales-tax-would-last-30-years-it-39-s-already-set-eastside-against-westside/) This is the same person who called your other friend—the secretary of socata—a “bitch.” (I have it on video, and I know a few of your colleagues taped it that day as well.) So yes, perhaps Molina is as thin-skinned as some people are morbidly obese and others are clearly misogynist.

    Regarding your draft, it is a damn good thing that was pulled. The opening date—which the Bus Bench announced before everyone else, thanks to a tip from someone regarding the internal memo—is not merely a stroke of the pen and—voila!—instant opening date. The logistics and resources required to undertake such an event cannot be called up in a moment’s notice. The utilities, the LASD, the county and city of L.A. all need to know well before the opening date WHAT the opening date is, and they know it. If only that fat head of yours could think for a moment, you would understand: it takes far more effort to get the Gold Line up and running than it does you to take a step or to onto a bus. And there are far more resources than even you could eat, to do so—all of which requires quite a bit of far-range planning.

    But back to the big question, big guy: What have you done, that you can delude yourself into thinking you can call the kettle black?

  • I also think it’s funny that some posters hold the belief that when a driver makes a mistake and kills or injures someone with their vehicle, they should go to jail. But when a driver makes a mistake and gets hit by a train, it’s Metro’s fault. Some consistency would be helpful.

  • Can we ease off the personal attacks? “Your ideas are dumb” is fine. “Why do you beat your wife,” is not.

  • Dana Gabbard is a fat pig but he’s mostly right about the Gold Line Eastside extension. His weight has nothing to do with his views on the safety of the line. Thank you and God bless.

    It’s funny how Damien Newton gets caught between the two factions in Los Angeles transit advocacy. He tries to present all views but gets shit on by all of us in the end. It’s fun and funny and I love the Internet.

  • No railroad safety agency/expert in the world disputes that when you lay tracks across an intersection it becomes exponentially more dangerous. I believe the official term for this is “common fricking sense.” Expecting the number of deaths from 250 trains runs a day to equate to 1 million car trips a day is an interesting mental exercise that is typically only used by those attempting to diminish what is well-established statistically and logically. It’s just as claiming that advocacy/concern for light rail safety requires an indifference to motor vehicle safety. The bottom line is that if we had as many rail crossings as we do motor vehicle crossings we all would be dead!

    Respectfully Damien and not so respectfully to some others who have commented, implying that the sentiments of those who hear the “rants” is more significant than the injustice/issue being stated is horseshit. Indeed labeling Molina’s statements “rants,” and characterizing her rhetoric as channeling the BRU (which is totally inaccurate) is supposed to do what exactly?

    It reminds me of a post that was written about the Fix Expo efforts on another blog, where 80% of the respondents agreed in the necessity of grade separation and stupidity of MTA’s plans for Expo, but complained about the so-called “tactics” of our organization (as if our “tactics” aren’t habitually misrepresented). Someone finally chimed in and said something to the effect of, “So in short, you all are saying Goodmon’s right, but because he’s black and angry about it he shouldn’t be listened to.”

    Yea, something like that.

    Here’s my point with respect to this blog post Damien: could not a quality article have been written on this important subject without demonizing Molina and questioning of her leadership? Isn’t that a bigger distraction? It’s a serious question.

    Substitute “Molina” for another organization and “leadership” for “motive” and ask that question regarding every controversial transit figure/organization in this region to understand that there’s a much bigger issue at play in this transit circle. I make the analogies to a jr. high school cafeteria for a reason.

    And who are any of us to question Molina “tactics,” when it is she who will have to bear the brunt of every accident and fatality that occurs on this line in HER backyard, which will inevitably occur hundreds of times over the remainder of her life. Put yourself in her shoes and one might begin to understand why she might now be a little less reserved. Then again, if most (not you Damien) who lob the attacks were in her shoes they really wouldn’t give a damn (see the “thinning the herd”/”must be retarded” type crap). It’s a bit more difficult to do that when the people you know/involved in the accident are a bit closer to home.

  • I’m not above going below the belt if someone says something about me and no moderator gets there I’m going to say something back. I don’t have anything to sell. I don’t care. No disrespect Newton but little smart jerks are not going to get a pass from me.

    People always say little smart crap to me and nothing gets said until I say something back. When I say something back then all of a sudden it is wrong, then it’s childish and you know it’s not childish just because I say something back it’s childish that some people are allowed to think they can make personal comments and get away with it, because they know darn well that the only person who gets reprimanded is me (or someone backing me up) or Goodmon. I’m getting sick of it.

    Browne

  • Oh Jesus, calm down. I’ve had my posts deleted before for attacking you on Streetsblog. We’re all slinging shit here.

  • “Your ideas are dumb” is fine. “Why do you beat your wife,” is not.

    What about “Why did you hit Colleen?” ;-)

    Sorry couldn’t resist. Still pissed about it, and the fact that so many people who have issues with indecency have no problem with grown men hitting women at Expo meetings who simply refuse to respond to their email.

  • Hey Damien N. I have a feeling this thread is going to set a record for least number of posts before a thread is closed :)

  • Spokker’s just upset that I invited him to a picnic ON the Blue Line.

  • Damien Newton, you’re my hero. You deserve the Nobel Peace prize of blogging.

  • I say confidently I have no problem being as snarky and as much of an asshole as anyone else. To steal a line from Van Jones, “they’re assholes, but that’s okay I can be an asshole too.”

    Furthermore, I’m blunt. Couple that with the fact that many are far more angry at me than I could ever be at them (my fight will always be with the 13 board members of the MTA) and the fact that I’m a black man raising issues of institutional discrimination and well you have a cocktail of discontent.

    I try to keep a good sense of humor about it. Typically they’re not worthy of my anger.

  • Hey BusTard, if you’ve got the gas money I will drive around the Eastside Extension all day on opening day and we’ll bet on whether or not I get myself killed. If I win you have to publicly rescind your no vote on Measure R and if you win I’ll be dead and never have to read your blog again.

    Also, I’ve been on the Blue Line a few times. It’s the greatest show in Los Angeles.

  • Spokker I think your comments are funny privately, but you’ve said way more inappropriate things than me on blogs and no one has ever come on after your insane comments with a, “lets be respectful” post.

    Anyways

    “And who are any of us to question Molina “tactics,” when it is she who will have to bear the brunt of every accident and fatality that occurs on this line in HER backyard, which will inevitably occur hundreds of times over the remainder of her life. Put yourself in her shoes and one might begin to understand why she might now be a little less reserved. Then again, if most (not you Damien) who lob the attacks were in her shoes they really wouldn’t give a damn (see the “thinning the herd”/”must be retarded” type crap). It’s a bit more difficult to do that when the people you know/involved in the accident are a bit closer to home.” Goodmon

    Exactly. She wanted this rail built underground. Molina is an awesome politician (I get she’s still a politician) and fights for her community it bothers me that she gets painted in this “crazy radical” brush, because she wants decent services for her community.

    Browne

  • Yo Fred, I’m really happy for you and I’ll let you finish, but Damien Newton has one of the best blogs of all time.

  • Browne, I don’t think anyone should tell either of us to behave ourselves, haha. But it’s true that we’ve both been reprimanded by Damien N. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Damien, G, you are kind of the Kanye of L.A. transit blogs, and I’m definitely the Taylor Swift. And Damien N makes a beautiful Beyonce. Spokker is Eminem. Hymon is Lil Wayne. Browne is so obviously P!nk.

  • The PUC, the City of Los Angeles, and the County of Los Angeles all signed off on the construction, and I tend to believe that they are rigorous enough.

    Please don’t pretend that these are safety agencies that are transparent, independently funded and operated, and free from political interference. Simply, they ain’t the NTSB. And indeed the policies themselves may be what is at issue. The entire problem with the current discussion is that safe has become a completely relative term.

    PUC calls the Blue Line that has an accident rate 275% higher than the national average for light rail “safe.” They also have never even once threatened to yank Metrolink’s right to operate.

    Too frequently at-grade advocates attempt to hang their hats on sham processes, and hide behind such as justification of doing nothing/maintaining the course. The irony of course is the same people will in the next breadth freely admit o the political nature of rail planning – as though the safety aspect would be free from it.

  • Damien G., what’s different about the Blue Line’s design that gives it a 275% higher than the national average accident? There are plenty of light rail systems around the country that operate at-grade, without barriers in some places, in the street, etc. Of course, there are accidents, but not as many as the Blue Line. What is different about the Blue Line’s route?

    Don’t take my question as hostile. I’m really trying to understand here.

  • DJB

    “Can we ease off the personal attacks? ‘Your ideas are dumb’ is fine. ‘Why do you beat your wife,’ is not.”
    ——-

    I think these are both examples of a personal attack. Ideas can’t be dumb, only people. So calling an idea dumb is calling the person dumb. ‘Why do you beat your wife’ is only okay if there’s evidence that the person beats his wife . . .

    It’s enough to say “I disagree with that idea because . . .”

    So, if you disagree with this, say “I disagree with that idea because . . .”, not “DJB, I disagree with your dumb/retarded/lame/asinine etc. idea because you kick puppies for fun when you’re not attending Klan meetings” :)

  • The conditions in which it operates. It really is that simple and that complex. There isn’t a cookie-cutter solution to a problem that involves people. That’s how buraucrat think and it’s obvious why.

    This post is over two years old:

    http://fixexpo.blogspot.com/2007/09/booz-allen-hamilton-study.html

    This one is nearly a year old:

    http://fixexpo.blogspot.com/2008/11/prof-meshkati-explains-why-expo-is-like.html

  • I guess I just don’t understand then. If literacy was a problem I’d expect you to also run FixLAUSD.com. And I’d never use driver frustration to justify making dangerous maneuvers in a vehicle. Hell, in the Mandeville Canyon thread some guy was blasting cyclists for peddling too slowly, which *made* another driver put his life in danger as he tried to pass dangerously. That’s some kind of logic I don’t get.

    There’s frustratingly slow speeds on streets all over Los Angeles County. That’s not an excuse to break traffic laws.

  • DJB

    BTW, it’s fair to use passenger mile stats to compare train and car fatalities. It doesn’t make sense to say that a train with 150 people on it traveling for one mile represents the same amount of travel as a car with 1 person in it traveling for one mile. But when you compare “train miles traveled” to “car miles traveled”, that’s what you’re doing.

    If at-grade light rail has lower fatalities than driving per passenger mile, we would SAVE LIVES by pulling trips away from vehicles and into light rail. The number of passenger miles doesn’t change, the death rate does.

    One mile of train travel displaces many more than one mile of private vehicle travel, and this MUST be a factor in evaluating the safety of rail versus driving.

  • Respectfully Damien and not so respectfully to some others who have commented, implying that the sentiments of those who hear the “rants” is more significant than the injustice/issue being stated is horseshit. Indeed labeling Molina’s statements “rants,” and characterizing her rhetoric as channeling the BRU (which is totally inaccurate) is supposed to do what exactly?

    It reminds me of a post that was written about the Fix Expo efforts on another blog, where 80% of the respondents agreed in the necessity of grade separation and stupidity of MTA’s plans for Expo, but complained about the so-called “tactics” of our organization (as if our “tactics” aren’t habitually misrepresented). Someone finally chimed in and said something to the effect of, “So in short, you all are saying Goodmon’s right, but because he’s black and angry about it he shouldn’t be listened to.”

    Yea, something like that.

    Here’s my point with respect to this blog post Damien: could not a quality article have been written on this important subject without demonizing Molina and questioning of her leadership? Isn’t that a bigger distraction? It’s a serious question.
    ——————————-
    And it gets a serious answer.

    First, the “channeling” stuff was a reference to that I only ever hear you or the BRU really go after Metro staff. The specific thing where I mentioned you was a wink that she trashed Rick Thorpe, someone you’ve taken shots at more than anyone else. And here’s the other thing, personally I LIKE both you and the BRU. Not saying I agree with everything either Fix Expo or the BRU does, but your important voices and I have no problem at all with in-your-face advocacy. Sometimes that’s what’s needed.

    I agree with Molina’s main point, but it’s not that she’s angry or Latina that bothers me; it’s that every month is the same sad song about victimization of the SGV and a walk down memory lane about every slight, real or perceived, the Metro Board has inflicted over the last couple years. I could say the same thing about John Walsh, but he’s a gadfly in the audience, not a member of the Board. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way.

    The second point is that this victimization leads to bad policy. She was one of the figures that fought the “Congestion Pricing” plans for the I-210 and she won! Hooray! Now we see how lame the plan was/is when it comes to effecting traffic patterns and her big victory is that she handed over $200 million in transit improvements to another part of the county.

    So yeah, there are some leadership questions here.

  • I feel that I can interact with the Blue Line on foot or in a car all day and not ever come close to being hit by a train. When I have toured the Blue Line and walked in and out of those island stations in the street I never felt unsafe. I was more worried about cars than I was the train.

    Shrug.

  • I guess the question is, are automobile accident rates (car vs. car and car vs. pedestrian) in South LA higher than the national average as well?

  • Browne,

    I have no problem with anything you’ve said in this comments section. As for Molina as a “great” politician, I actually think she’s very good at getting a lot of the things she wants. I also think that a lot of what she wants, at least as far as Metro goes, isn’t good for her community.

    I think I was pretty clear that I think she’s right on the Eastside issue. What I was objecting to was watering down her complaints with the same schtick that she uses for every issue. Maybe its all part of her cunning plan. Maybe its just her world view. But I think she’s doing a disservice to her constituents and the county by looking at every issue with a “how does this screw the San Gabriel Valley” lens.

    Spokker,

    While there’s several posts on here that I’m not comfortable with, none of which have to do with the critique of my post; there’s nothing here that I would shut a comments section down for. NYC (and SF?) Streetsblog would probably shut down or delete some of these sections; but they enforce a much stricter policy than I do. I just don’t have the time to edit like they do.

    DG re:Kanye,

    Thanks?

    Normally, I’m pretty careful about what I type and maybe this one got away from me because I wasn’t planning on writing it. It just sort of happened. I stand by everything I said, but even looking back I did a good job staying away from identity politics. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up regretting this one someday, it wouldn’t be the first time, but it won’t be because I treated her any differently than I have Villaraigosa, or Schwarzenegger or LaBonge or any other pol who is just wrong wrong wrong on style or substance.

  • Oh, my. Here come the bus bench crowd with more contemptable personal attacks on me and overheated/uninformed rhetoric. Yet Browne claims she is the only victim of comments on this site. And Randall rants about the Gold Line opening date logistics (BTW, breaking the story is of no use if no one reads your blog because it is 99% unreadable) when I merely noted it is long overdue for Metro to fess up officially when the date is. Which by the way it has still not done.

    Talk about not being able to buy a clue.

  • First, the “channeling” stuff was a reference to that I only ever hear you or the BRU really go after Metro staff. The specific thing where I mentioned you was a wink that she trashed Rick Thorpe, someone you’ve taken shots at more than anyone else. And here’s the other thing, personally I LIKE both you and the BRU.

    Much luv back at ya good Damien!

    And hey man seriously what heterosexual male can’t find something to like about the BRU?

    Quiet as kept, I frequently chuckle at Spokker, who I’ve never met, and I can always laugh with or at Kymberleigh Richards. I’m sure she’d say the same.

    Heck I can even joke around with Rick Thorpe and Stephen Polechronis while ripping them a new one (hence “the mustache bet,” which he refused to make – said his wife would leave him and I’m not as good looking as her). Some people really do take this stuff way too seriously. And incidentally it’s typically the people who in comparison, have little on the line.

    If I didn’t laugh I would probably go postal. If they didn’t laugh or consider it just part of the job they’d probably quit.

    And yes John Walsh is first and foremost an actor. By the way boy oh boy did you miss a show with the devils. Lou Seafer. INSTANT CLASSIC!

    It was truly great. I had to give them a standing ovation. MTA board meeting veterans are calling it the best thing since John Walsh brought pee-cups to the podium and challenged the board members to take a urine test because in the words of Walsh “you’re all acting like you’re on drugs.”

    I mean if it were me on the other end I’d welcome John. The mayor even plays along with at him at times.

    I mean c’mon what the heck is there not to like about changing things up a bit in a rubber-stamp, mind-numbingly boring process. I stopped watching cable news and morning talk shows almost completely because it all became entirely predictable.

    Back to the point I guess given the context that both I/Fix Expo and BRU are demonized might be better to specify why you thought she was channeling us. It was me and a few other people in the audience who were standing up as she was saying she didn’t trust Metro. The fact that some of metro staff only work for some of the board members. On the money again. Do you have any idea how rare truly honest words are stated from other sides of podium, let alone ones that open a window to the inner workings of the agency’s incompetence?

    You’re the only person to even mention it – and how much do you want to bet NONE of the media outlets will follow-up on it?

    I feel that I can interact with the Blue Line on foot or in a car all day and not ever come close to being hit by a train. When I have toured the Blue Line and walked in and out of those island stations in the street I never felt unsafe. I was more worried about cars than I was the train.

    Well as long as you feel safe Spokker that’s all that matters.

    BTW, it’s fair to use passenger mile stats to compare train and car fatalities. It doesn’t make sense to say that a train with 150 people on it traveling for one mile represents the same amount of travel as a car with 1 person in it traveling for one mile.

    What does the number of people on a train or in a car have anything to do with the safety risk posed by the transportation mode to those who are outside of both and must interact with it at crossings?

    It’s a real simple question, care to answer?

    Care to explain why a light rail train crossing an intersection with 1 person poses a different hazard than a light rail train crossing the same intersection carrying 10 people?

    It’s a real simple question.

    And I have another one for you: why does the MTA omit passenger mile statistics from their quarterly Blue Line accident reports if the statistic is so useful?

    Passenger mile statistics are good for one thing and one thing only in transportation safety evaluations: assessing legal liability of claims FROM PASSENGERS.

    It seems the second is that it gives at-grade advocates something to attempt to hang their hat on (that’s when they don’t know the passenger mile accident and fatality rates). ;-)

  • Mark

    Speaking of political meddling, you did note that Gloria Molina had her staff call an engineer from County Public Works because she couldn’t trust the MTA staff. Well, it’s not like the engineer and/or the inspector didn’t have other jobs to do. Supposedly, the whole switch to the “strong CEO” County management style was supposed to prevent things like that, but with the First District, it’s drop what you’re doing and push this through NOW, or else I’ll dress you down at a board of supervisors meeting. Ask the poor folks who had to deal with her on County USC. Nicole Englund is most definitely the hardest board deputy to deal with, but most of it is based on her boss.

  • Back to the point I guess given the context that both I/Fix Expo and BRU are demonized might be better to specify why you thought she was channeling us. It was me and a few other people in the audience who were standing up as she was saying she didn’t trust Metro. The fact that some of metro staff only work for some of the board members. On the money again. Do you have any idea how rare truly honest words are stated from other sides of podium, let alone ones that open a window to the inner workings of the agency’s incompetence?

    You’re the only person to even mention it – and how much do you want to bet NONE of the media outlets will follow-up on it?
    —————–
    This will be my last of the night.

    Yeah, I didn’t mean that part as a slight on her or you, the channeling. I was more referring to the muscular and aggressive rhetorical style. I also don’t think of “rant” as a bad word on its own, I use it to describe some of my writings all the time. After Joe L. pointed out to me that it was a pretty in-your-face headline I changed it a little to something more benign.

    My hopes for this article were to both pat on the back and take a shot at the same time, to use Stephen Colbert’s terms “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger.” On one hand I wanted to say she was strong in pushing her message yesterday, and there’s reason for concern. I like Curbed and enjoy reading Dakota, but to see her taking shots at Metro on unsafe crossings was a surprise and should be an eye opener to staff at Metro.

    But on the other hand the “victim” card just gets old. If it’s a strategy, it’s one I think weakens her hand. If it’s just that she’s gotten so that she really sees everything as “how does this screw SGV” first, then she’s doing her constituents a disservice.

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