Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rob Blagojavich Holds CTA Riders Hostage

I got the following email forward today:

It's been a long ride. Today, the Senate and House have finally approved a long-term plan to fund transit.

This bill will help CTA, Metra, and Pace avoid coming fare increases and service cuts, and help to stabilize the three agencies for years to come. After 25 years of waiting, this is it!

However, the Governor must still sign the bill.

Governor Blagojevich has said that, while supportive of transit funding, he will rewrite or "improve" the bill sent to him by the legislature. The Governor does not have the power to just rewrite legislation--what he's talking about is using an "amendatory veto."

An Amendatory Veto suggests changes to the bill. The bill would go back to the House and Senate. The legislature can either vote to accept the Governor's changes, vote to override the changes (with a 3/5 majority), or let the bill die.

An Amendatory Veto would (at least) delay a solution to the transit crisis or (at worst) endanger the solution altogether.

Please call the Governor's office today to tell him to sign HB 656, without an amendatory veto, immediately. Tell him that an amendatory veto is still a veto, not a signature.

Governor Rod Blagojevich
(217) 782-6830

(courtesy of SaveChicagolandTransit.com)

I've had my grievances with Save Chicagoland Transit. I'm not a fan of taxpayer bailouts of corporate monopolies either. However, I agree with the advocacy group for this reason: Governor Blagojevich is violating the separation of powers in government. The executive branch of the government is there to execute the law. While it does have veto powers, it does not have legislative powers. As of this writing, the governor issued this statement:

While the Governor has been clear in his opposition to increasing the sales tax to fund mass transit, he said today he will accept the approach passed by the General Assembly in House Bill 656 in order to avert devastating service cuts and fare increases, but will use his amendatory veto authority to make sure seniors citizens can use public transportation for free.

Translation: the Governor vetoed the bill. But to somehow claim moral authority over the legislative branch, he won't sign it until senior citizens ride for free. In this case, he isn't saying "do it for the children", but "do it for the old folks". This puts the legislative branch in quite a bind. They could accept the governor rewriting the law (something beyond the governors supposed powers), but be stuck with the task of finding extra funds, or cut other programs that help old folks. Or they could override the veto with a supermajority and be smeared as being "insensitive" to seniors, and be set up for defeat by governor-sponsored opponents in the next election.

The governor knows that this veto will take up precious time. He is probably aware that pay cuts, fare increases, and service cuts will begin by January 20th. As a consumer of RTA services (I ride the Metra now instead of the CTA, but they fall under the same budget), I'm incensed that the Governor would use me and fellow riders as a weapon to bully the legislature to get his version of a bill through.

Let him known that you won't fall for his doublespeak, a veto truly is a veto, and he holds both the legislature and RTA ridership in contempt.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ron Paul's showing in Iowa decent, but there is a silver lining

Though Ron Paul's fifth place showing in Iowa was lower than some had hoped, there is actually some good news to be gleaned from his vote total for his future performance in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

Average polling data indicated that Ron Paul had risen to 7.6% in polls by January 2nd. With his 10% showing at the Iowa caucus, he showed that he could bring out at least a third more voters to the booths than polls indicated. Common sense says that polling will never be perfect, but on the other hand it may be true that polling really does exclude Ron Paul support because they're young, never voted before, or do not use land lines. If this pattern holds, Ron Paul will always do better than what's reported by traditional polling methods.

There are also certain elements of the Iowa population where Ron Paul trounced the competition. According to MSNBC's exit polling, Dr. Paul dominated among independents who voted Republican with 29% of the vote, and with voters who described themselves as angry with the Bush administration he scored a whopping 54%. Since New Hampshire expresses both of those demographics strongly, and plays host to the libertarian-oriented Free State Project, he stands a good chance of placing highly and even winning that state.

Another interesting fact is that Ron Paul was one of only three candidates to place first in an Iowa County (the other two being Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney of course). This happened to be Jefferson County, Iowa. If anybody knows what makes Jefferson County special, please let me know. This is definitely good news that the campaign is able to target locations where he's popular and draw out the voters. You can view how Republicans placed by county, here.

Update: here are some more predictions on Ron Paul and other Republican candidates, as well as the number of delegates assigned per candidate.