Friday, February 18, 2005

Stephen D and Jonathan R ponder the future in email with Mark's reply

Stephen Donahue was rummored to have written:

1. I think it is important to briefly touch on the issue of Save Our Transit taking on this “band aid” issue.

There is some concern about this especially since it is something that we hoped we would not have to support ever again – another band aid.

The fact is that the only reason why we have not had any more service cuts and fare hikes since the fare hike and service cuts of September 2002 is because of band aid funding, a.k.a. stop gap measures. Most of us remember the $10 million band aid of September 2003. Since then there have been other stop gap funding measures the most recent being approved by the Southwest PA Commission in January of 05. That one delayed the fare hikes for a month.

For many of us the idea of writing a letter to SPC members begging for one more flex seems like a total waste. We can not keep running on band aids but since the heartless legislators have quit till March 14 what other choice do we have.

A short lived letter writing campaign, to be followed with the legislative stuff we have become way too familiar with. If we get lucky perhaps the March service cuts and fare hikes can be avoided.

You should know that up to this point Rendell has yet to send a request to the SPC proposing a flex. This is new turf for us and it is complicated. These highway money flexes have always happened very quietly.

If you decide to write letters (and I hope that you will) to the SPC members (see yesterdays post from Amanda) then please make sure that they know that we know that they have already sacrificed a lot to help public transit not only in Allegheny County but throughout the whole region. Thank them for this and then tell them that we promise to keep fighting for legislation that will forever make this highway dollar flexing a thing of the past.

2. Demonstration on March 7, 2005?

One more thing: We got to figure on what, if anything we will do if the fare hikes and cuts be implemented on March 1 and March 6.

Amanda and I are thinking now that the best day to react -- and that is what it would be, an angry reaction – to any of this would be on Monday, March 7, 2005. This will be the first work day for both the fare hikes and the service cuts. How do we express our outrage?

Doing this action on March 7 also gives us a Save Our Transit meeting on March 2 to help finalize plans. It is hard to plan an event based on an event that might or most likely will happen but we don’t know for sure will happen.

We want to avoid arrests and the possibility of angry car drivers hurting anybody so we are leaning away from any sustained attempts to block intersections. This would not preclude others from opting for such an action but bail is not cheap and SOT has no reserves to bail folks out.

We want to give folks a chance to express their outrage and one idea presented to us from some seasoned direct action folks is to do a big noisy march. We would keep to the side walks and even obey the traffic lights. If we have enough people, even crossing certain intersections repeatedly with the light can cause some traffic issues.

We would ask everybody to bring a noise maker like bucket drums, pots and pans and other musical instruments. We would also bring large angry signs and Stu’s sheet banners. We need to find a place to paint messages on them.

Our message on that day won’t be about the need for dedicated funding, no our message will be very simple and straight forward – disgust!

We could meet at the State Bldg. in the late afternoon and march till dark. The march would meander all over downtown, a demo of our anger for the evening rush hour.

I know that Jon wants to do a bake sale, that could be worked into the day if folks want to do a bake sale for public transit – don’t be surprised if right wing law makers think that this is a good idea.

Can we please get some feed back? If nobody responds we just won’t do anything...

Jonathan B Robison
Subject: Re: What to do when the cuts come?

Dear Steve and Sisters and Brothers,

I'm ready to get busted. It's been too long since I was arrested - over thirty years. How else can we show that we're really pissed off?

I still like the bake sale, too. It'll get good pr - but we're been getting good pr (thanks to you and Amanda) and the 5 or 6 mothers (in the hyphenated sense) don't seem to care.

The Republican leadership is treating us like garbage, and Rendell isn't much better. If he really gives a damn about transit riders, he should do the flex funds IMMEDIATELY - at least the $75 million, and stop horsing around. How on earth can PAT plan? How can people who rely on transit to get to their jobs plan?

If Rendell ACTS and takes the sacred highway money, maybe that will get the legislature to act.

I'll march, or scoot, around downtown if that's what we decide.. But the police are likely to bust us if we seriously delay traffic. If we follow police directions, it will be just another NICE little rally. And buses will be delayed at least as much as cars, I think we should block the entrance to a large parking lot, and not select which one until the last minute.

Love and Peace (but no justice, no peace)
Atty. Jonathan Robison

A reply from Mark Rauterkus

1. Go after the capital budget. Go after the glass-enclosed subway stop. Go after the tunnels under the Allegheny River for light-rail extension. Go after the silly Wabash Tunnel.

I'd suggest you hold a picket at Gateway Center. I'd suggest you hold a picket and march through the Wabash Tunnel. There you could stop the flow of traffic up the ramp into the tunnel near station square -- and hurt nothing. Nobody uses the tunnel. It was a waste.

2. Go after the "treating the citizens like crap Republicans in Harrisburg" with their idea of spending on the campaign of Michael Diven. That is more proof of the same type of treatment. Insist and insure that Diven goes down in a flaming defeat. He is part of the problem. He is going to be funded by the Senate GOP committee.

3. Not only do you need to tank Diven's opportunity to rise in status while walking on the backs of those who rely upon mass transit -- you need to put forth good effort to those who have been fussing about the same issues of service to citizens -- such as myself. I could use some help in making a few points about transit issues.

Real alternatives need real support.

Real alternatives need real workers to help the cause and come to the game with their special interests. My interests have been moving in the same ways as yours for years -- but on different paths. I think that the capital budget is a place to wage a battle. That's one that has been ignored. That capital budget is where some other foolishness resides. And, a battle on the capital budget is going to get more support among the wide-base of community taxpayers who are still idle in this struggle.


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