Friday, May 28, 2010

Cliff Hayes: Ducking, Not Leading

I've liked Chesapeake City Councilman Cliff Hayes. He's shown a keen interest in issues that impact us po' folks: workforce housing, mass transit, etc. Given that mindest, he serves as one of Chesapeake's two TDCHR Commissioners. (Rick West is the other one.) He's to be commended for fighting the uphill battle in transitphobic Chesapeake.

However, at Thursday afternoon's TDCHR meeting, he had me disgusted. There was a measure from the TDCHR's Operations & Oversight Committee to schedule the Public Hearings and public meetings on a possible fare increase. Keep in mind that an actual vote to raise fares was four months off. Hayes? He brought up legislation pending in Congress to increase Federal transit funding, and wanted to delay the process at Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) in hopes that the Feds would give us money that could be used in lieu of a fare hike. It brings to mind what common farm poultry leave behind.

First, leaders don't wait for Washington to do something, they do something themselves. You don't hide behind Congress' skirt hoping you won't have to make a hard decision.

Second, as Commissioner Hayes should know, Federal law caps the amount of Federal money that can be used for Operations & Maintenance. With HRT virtually against the Federal cap, the only new money that would help would be Capital funds.

Third, even if Congress passes such and relaxes the O & M cap, HRT could simply use it for a second booster round.

Fourth, TDCHR policy allows a fare review once every two years. Were HRT to now pass, per policy fares shouldn't be reconsidered until 2012. Huge cuts would have to be made in the interim.

Instead of leading, Cliff Hayes tried to run and hide.

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