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Measure J

Five Things I’m Thinking About Transportation

When I last took a paternity leave, I returned with a brief column on some stories I would never get to flesh out that occured during my time off. Sometime after that, Steve Hymon started running an occasional "5 Things I'm Thinking About Transportation" series. I've rarely done it, but if it's good enough for a Pulitzer Prize Winner...

1) With the election just eight days away, Streetsblog will be focusing on Measure J this week to try and provide as much information and opinion about the proposed sales tax extension. Over the next four days, Streetsblog will publish four op/eds, two in favor and two opposed to the sales tax extension. Today's op/ed will be by Move L.A. Tomorrow's by the Bus Riders Union.

Today also sees a major update to the Measure J Page, including many of the major news pieces on the ballot proposition from the last three weeks. Tomorrow, we'll have a story by myself and Sahra Sulaiman going into greater detail on both the "yes" and "no" campaigns. And on Friday we'll have the L.A. Streetsblog election ballot including Romney v Obama, Measure J, and Proposition 37.

2) How awesome is it that "getting Jerry Browned," the year-old term for getting buzzed by a closely passing car, has mainstreamed enough to be featured in a Los Angeles Times cartoon? Click on the image to see the punchlines.,0,2854852.story

3) The L.A. Streetsblog editorial board took an informal vote not to endorse or oppose Measure J. However, the lack of endorsement should not be construed as opposition as say the Beverly Hills City Council's lack of endorsement is. It's been our tradition to not endorse, despite our legal ability to do so and the board decided to maintain that tradition. This got me to wondering...would anyone care if we endorsed or opposed Measure J? I know a lot of you trust as as a news source, and thanks for that, but I also know Streetsblog readers are very informed and very opinionated. Would an official endorsement give anyone pause in their voting decisions?

4) In one of their first editions of the year, the Beverly Hills High School Highlights, the student newspaper, took a stand against the ongoing campaign of the Beverly Hills Unified School District against the Westside Subway (page 4). It concludes, "Pouring money opposing a project that will likely benefit the city is futile, even if the board is correct in our abilities to regain the money after the case is solved."

At a later meeting of the Board of Education, a handful of School Board Members (page 3) railed against the editorial calling it "borderline inane" and made sarcastic comments about the quality of the journalism at the paper. While I don't expect people in power to agree with every editorial written against them, there's something ugly about someone who's an adult in age sneering at a student newspaper from the seat of the Board of Education. Student journalists should be taught the importance of speaking "truth to power," by adults. Even if the journalists have come to a bad decision, the published comments by School Board Members Lisa Korbatov and to a lesser degree Lewis Hall are shameful.

Parents wrote to the Beverly Hills Weekly paper  defending the students (pages 2 and 10), but I wanted to add my two cents. Editorials are opinion pieces. There was nothing wrong with the editorial. The quality of journalism at Highlights is actually superb. Just look at all the awards the staff has won over the last couple of years.

5) If I have to hear another anti-Measure J person complain that it doesn't fund any transit projects in their region, I'll scream. The reality is that both Measure R and Measure J spend money across regions proportionally, it's just that some regions get more highway dollars than transit dollars. So if Supervisor Mike Antonovich, a chief opponent of Measure J, wants to see more money for transit projects, all he has to do is lobby for the High Desert Corridor, a freeway project funded by Measure R, to be a light rail project instead.

To sweeten the pot, I'll go all Donald Trump for a minute. If he pushed for a transit option instead of  the High Desert Corridor or the I-710 Big Dig, not only will I write a week of stories just about issues in his district, I'll feature him positively in all of them.

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