Review of Where We Stand Today

Review of Where We Stand Today

Here are three videos regarding SWLRT that were posted on the Issues List on June 22, 2015 by Bob Carney and posted here with his permission.

From: bobcarneyjr@msn.com
Subject: [Mpls] Three video interviews on SWLRT – review of where we stand today
To: mpls@forums.e-democracy.org
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2015 08:55:34 +1200

 

The first is from the August 27th Minneapolis City Council Transportation Committee, when they approved recommending to the full Council approval of Municipal Consent for SWLRT. I talked with the Chair, Kevin Reich – subsequently a Citizen’s organization has hired top (and very expensive) lawyers to challenge this in Court. The section with Reich starts at 2:30 – I got to him a little ahead of another journalist, Eric Roper, who had to wait, there seems to be some amusement that Reich would talk to me first, but he did.

 

> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpgCdKIFRGM
 

The second is with Jeff Johnson, Republican nominee for Governor, about a month before the November 2014 general election.>

>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUv1V5GSYAs

The third
is from last Wednesday, with Met Council Chair Adam Duininck, that brief 2 minute dialogue starts at 1:00 (one minute) on the time line. By the way, my testimony at that hearing starts at 6:10 on the timeline.>

>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D13H_wsBSBM

The one, overwhelming conclusion I draw from these three videos (and all of my work more generally) is that the Met Council’s plan is simply to keep spending money, and not seriously consider any alternative (lip service only), until, finally, everyone gives up, and the project goes forward.

I’m not sure how much has been spent between my interview with Kevin Reich and now, but it has to be at least in the tens of millions. The conventional reporting shows $59 million has been spent so far, my numbers show it’s about $90 million – including $34 by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (the Met Council says that number is $10.9 million).

Metro Transit’s New Starts project direct Mark Fuhrmann told me (for attribution) the current rate of spending is $3 to $4 million a month, including he cost of in-house staff, and that rate is expected to continue for the next 2-3 months (no information about the rate of spending is provided beyond 2-3 months).

Of course, Jeff Johnson noted the key to this situation is to convince the DFL Senate, and the Legislature, to stop SWLRT, and that is in fact what has happened. The Senate voted unanimously for the “Lights On” bill that took back $30 million that had been appropriated for SWLRT, and Governor Dayton signed the bill.

Johnson said in his interview that if the Legislature didn’t provide its 10% share, it would be very difficult to come up with the money anywhere else. Of course, that was before the latest budget blow-up, to $2 billion, and before the Legislature took back $30 million that had been appropriated, but was unspent.

I’m sorry to say at this point, that it seems (with the exception of Finance and Commerce, with an article 6/15 about the Legislature’s $30 million takeback) I am the only journalist in Minnesota who is reporting on, and explaining, crucial facts about this project that strongly indicate it is simply doomed.

How much more money are we going to spend? Can the Metro Council really push this through by just continuing to spend more and more money. Frankly, I don’t think so – the Republicans in the Legislature simply will not allow the project to continue.

I will continue to report on this. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to visit bobagain.com for more details, and to contact both elected officials and other journalists to get the “Minnesota Media Establishment” to, however belatedly, start doing its job covering this story.Bob Carney Jr.

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