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Culberson up to his old tricks

You almost have to admire the single minded focus on doing something only he and a few other people really want to do.

John Culberson is coming after you!

For the first time in his long-running dispute with Houston Metro, Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, has managed to insert language into a $51.6 billion spending package that could block federal funding to expand the light rail system along Richmond and Post Oak.

Culberson, vowing to win passage of committee-approved restrictions by the entire House and Senate, told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday the restrictions would “protect the quality of life” of constituents along Richmond Avenue and prevent Houston Metro from expanding beyond what it can afford.

Metro chief Gilbert Garcia ducked a public fight with Culberson, a member of powerful House Appropriations Committee. Garcia hailed the legislation’s inclusion of $200 million for Metro next year and said he hoped to work with Culberson to address the lawmaker’s ongoing concerns.

Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, said he didn’t expect the measure to survive the Democrat-controlled Senate, adding that some of the restrictions Culberson sought had been worked out in 2006 in bipartisan negotiations.

[...]

Culberson’s language in the $51.6 billion spending package for 2013 for the department of transportation and the department of housing and urban development also requires the transportation department’s watchdog Inspector General to conduct “a detailed financial audit and stress test” of Houston Metro.

Amusingly, this happened at almost the same time that Metro was given an award for its budget presentation. I wonder how much that audit would cost if it were to happen. Got to keep a rein on wasteful spending, you know. And I think we all know what Culberson would say if the result of the audit were anything other than what he wants it to be.

This is as good a place as any to note that Joshua Sanders of Houstonians for Responsible Growth left a comment on my recent post about the upcoming Metro referendum in which he clarified and gave more details about his group’s intent. Suffice it to say, the story left out a lot of detail, so go take a look – it’s also now posted on HRG’s website. The Culberson story from Thursday includes his usual blathering about the 2003 referendum and how it wasn’t worded to his liking because if it had been then obviously the voters would have rejected it. I wonder what his complaint about this referendum will be. Make your early predictions about the next anti-Metro obsession in the comments. Houston Tomorrow has more.

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5 Comments

  1. Temple Houston says:

    SOS from that scumbag. If METRO really can’t afford to build the University and Uptown lines, then let’s get back all that money METRO gave to Hunters Creek, Pine Point Village and all the other poverty pockets in Culberson’s congressional district so the two light rail lines can be built. Of course, that won’t work with Culberson: he wants us to believe he cares about the “quality of life” in Afton Oaks. He certainly doesn’t care about the quality of life (and the air) that’s affected by limiting transportation in the Houston area to automobiles on ultrawide freeways. This just looks like more racist attitudes from a Repugnant: old buses for people of color; commuter rail for white folks in The Woodlands.

  2. sam says:

    Hi Charles, saw this comment on burkablog and was wondering if the statement about “everyone” riding metro for free was true?

    comment 1:
    Thats a perfect example JJ. The city of Houston voters voted no to a rail line in the 70′s. Democrats have brought it up for vote over and over, the voters don’t want it and won’t ride it.

    Comment 2:
    “METRO said the line reached 75 million boardings in December 2011, four years ahead of anticipation”

    Comment 3:
    if only they could get them to pay.
    boardings are up because Metro cancelled many bus routes forcing riders onto the toy train. The boondoggle continues as Metro is recommending everyone ride for free and all the taxpayers pick up the tab sharing the wealth.

  3. Sam:

    1. Before my time. I don’t know enough about past rail referenda to say. Having said that, the 2003 referendum passed, and when Metro proposed doing bus rapid transit instead of light rail for some of these lines, the people in the neighborhoods who had supported the referendum were pissed.

    2. It’s true, Metro is well ahead of its ridership projections on the Main Street Line. My understanding is that it’s one of the most heavily used light rail lines in America.

    3. Of course some bus routes were consolidated. That was to be expected. The rail line runs way more frequently – every 6 minutes – and has a more predictable schedule thanks to having its own right of way and some traffic light control. It’s also a much smoother ride. To say people were “forced” onto the rail line is highly disingenuous. The rest of that comment is too ignorant to be worth a response.

  4. Greg Wythe says:

    The history of voter support for rail is a bit off. In 1988, the voters supported a METRO bond proposition that had a rail system as a component of it (http://www.houstonpress.com/1995-06-08/news/the-rule-of-men-not-law/). For better or worse, Bob Lanier would go on to become Mayor and neglect that aspect of the vote. I’m not sure what votes there were in the 70s that pertained to rail, but given the vocal opposition to rail in the late 80s, passage of a pro-rail METRO bond stands in contrast to the history that others seem to wish had happened.

  5. Mainstream says:

    I think there would be greater support for rail if it was designed to go all the way to the two airports. I don’t know the cost/benefit analysis, but I have to think that the economic boost to our citizens and businesses of being able to go inexpensively to the airports would be substantial, and that more visitors might consider Houston as a weekend/tourist destination if access were easier.

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