Saturday, August 7, 2010

Keep The Tent Up

Yesterday's Virginian-Pravda brought us an article on Light Rail Now (LRN), the advocacy group that has been launched in Virginia Beach. It's been awhile since I've used this blog to comment at length based on one of their stories, but I will this morning. A flawed assumption in the formation of LRN is that the group will only have to stand a couple years and can then fold, once the threat of the issue getting punted to refernedum has passed. I adamantly disagree on a couple levels.

First is quite specific to light rail. Two years would probably get LRN to the decision to begin preliminary engineering on a Virginia Beach line, but a Final Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) won't probably be until late 2014 or 2015. LRN needs to remain in tact until the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has signed our FFGA! The Virginia Beach proposal could still potentially fall apart in that two-three year window if we're not vigilante.

The second is more generally political. Not in my memory has Virginia Beach seen a political coalition as broad as this one put together. The personalities now brought together by LRN could be the basis of a political coalition to move Virginia Beach forward on many other issues, too. Given such, you want to keep them in the same room together as long as possible.

In the Summer of 1914, the Royal Navy had been on maneuvers in the North Sea. When Winston Churchill received the news at the Admiralty that Archduke Franz Ferdinand (heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary) had been assassinated in Sarajevo, he gave the order for the fleet to not disperse. They held at Scapa Flow and were ready for combat when war broke out days later.

In the same vein, LRN should not be dispersed. While the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) is clinically dead and royally botched it's dance card for November's election, another regressive force could always come along in the wake of the VBTA. You want to have the forward-looking factions in Virginia Beach politics used to working together so they can do so well into the future.

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