The top speaker at this morning's Virginia Beach Republican Breakfast was James Toscano, Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications. Toscano was the last Legislative Aide for then-Delegate (now Attorney General) Bob McDonnell. James gave a Presentation on HRT's existing transit services, did a brief overview of Norfolk light rail, then took questions.
Two questions came from Deaniacs: Tidewater Libertarian Party Chairman and Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance board member Wally Erb, and Maximum Leader Robert Dean himself.
1. Erb - wondered why rail and transit aren't privitized. He then claimed New York City's system ran better prior to becoming a government service.
With Virginia Beach urbanizing, I've read a biography of Fiorello LaGuardia to see what I could learn from it. Uh...the reason the LaGuardia Administration took over transit services is that two of the private companies were in financial trouble, on the verge of defaulting on bond payments. Hardly such a rosy picture.
2. Dean - challenged Toscano on the financial numbers for Norfolk's light rail line, refering back to the 1999 Norfolk/Virginia Beach numbers. Toscano passed on it, repeating that entering light rail was a decision for the Virginia Beach City Council.
After the 1999 absurdity (which I campaigned and voted against), HRT goes back to the table and puts together a fiscally sound proposal...and Dean wants to complain about it? Oh, any claim that light rail can be done rationally must be some kind of conspiracy! What Dean doesn't get is that if this is to become a regional system, the earlier phases have to be done in a fiscally prudent manner or support will dry up both from the Federal Transit Administration and locally politically.
James Toscano had available for attendees a booklet, Twelve Anti-Transit Myths: A Conservative Critique by Paul Weyrich and William Lind. Weyrich was cofounder of the Heritage Foundation and the one who named the Moral Majority. It is available online and can be downloaded at http://www.apta.com/research/info/online/documents/weyrich3.pdf