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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

CTA and Old People

For those of you who don't live in Chicago, here's the rundown on where we stand with Doomsday:

In September, the CTA threatened to have a Doomsday because of no funding and pretty much going to go broke. The solution back then was a rate increase and cutting service from about 20-30 bus lines, most were the Express routes. After wheedling and begging, they got some money at the zero hour and Doomsday was averted - to six weeks later. In November, similar threats of impending hikes and cuts, already with talk about ANOTHER Doomsday in January. This time, again at the zero hour (because apparently nobody likes to make a solution other than the night before the deadline), the small amount of funding came through - in the form of an advance on their 2008 funding. So now they obviously are further in a funding deficit and the January Doomsday is in less than a week. The plan now involves a larger rate hike, including higher rates during "rush hours", and cutting the service on over 80 bus lines.

At this point, there WAS legislature in the works to increase the sales tax and real estate tax and that would come up with the funding. And instead of signing the legislation, Governor Blagojevich decided to gum up the works by saying, "Sure, I'll sign this - but only if we give free rides to all senior citizens."

That's where we currently stand, from what I've been following and am able to digest.

I don't know what the hell our governor is thinking. No wait, I probably know EXACTLY what he's thinking. I just can't believe that with the crisis at this level, he won't put on his big-boy face and just sign the damned bill without playing with his devious political agenda like a mischievous child pulling the wings off of flies. He likes his power and he wants to stay in power and he likes the feeling of power over all of us.

So, you may ask, where does the whole senior citizen plan come from and what's so bad about giving them a free ride?

Well, for starters, I'm not saying that giving the elderly a free ride is a "bad thing" - I'm just saying it's a bad idea, especially at this point in time. And this point in time is all about the fact that our public transit system is BROKE, which means that it's the wrong time to talk about plans to bring in LESS MONEY by giving free rides. If your bakery is going under financially, that means it's a bad time to decide to hand out loaves of bread to pretty women in hopes of getting laid. Which is a good analogy for what Blagojevich is doing.

He's just sucking up to get the old people votes.

Yea, the elderly historically do the most voting. So that means catering to them is top priority for the sneakiest of politicians. And what better way to kiss some wrinkled ass than by offering them free public transit rides? I mean they currently have a DISCOUNT program so they pay a hugely-reduced fare, but Blagojevich is worried that the general fare increase, even with the huge reduction in price, would be too much for the elderly and their fixed-income lifestyles. So rather than doing something sensible like demand that reduced-fare prices remain the SAME, he's decided to go with a demand for free rides for the elderly and children can pretty much suck a lemon until they're old enough to vote for Blagojevich.

Don't get me wrong, kids need to do a lot more lemon-sucking in this day and age, but it's not like the kids are paying for the fares: their parents are. And parents suck enough lemons on a daily basis.

So of course, as soon as people starting coming to their senses about why he might be catering to the elderly (and the rest are fuming over putting another wrench in the works for ending Doomsday), he took his soapbox over to the pulpit and started defending himself while at the House of Hope megachurch and went from sucking-up to guilt-tripping. Once the reverend James Meeks had livened up the crowd of churchgoers, of course. I think that what sums up his argument is apparently his quote of: "How many of you agree with me that it is the right thing to do to give your grandmother a free ride on a bus?"

So that's it. Apparently if we're not cool with him handing out freebies while the system goes broke, we're so evil and wrong that we apparently hate our own grandmothers. Well, Rod, as long as we're tacking on laws designed to make wishes and nonsense come true, then how about adding that any male with an offspring be sold only winning lottery tickets? After all, how many of you agree with me that it is the right thing to do to make sure your father wins the lottery?

Mayor Daley shouldn't be so pessimistic," Blagojevich said. "Maybe he needs to come to the House of Hope and have a little bit of hope, because I have high hopes for our lawmakers."


Laws are passed by legislators, and despite your bag of hope and sunshine overflowing, this addition you've made has pretty much made half a dozen legislators decide to probably change their votes. Since the original bill luckily passed and went into your hands (where you promptly used it as toilet paper and marked it "return to sender") by only a slight margin, these vote changes have likely doomed the bill to not pass this second time around. And then we're all screwed and Doomsday wins.

If you want a REAL taste of Blagojevich's dastardly suck-up plan, you'd have to look closer at what he actually wants for senior citizens. Even though he stated at one point that all Illinois seniors would ride for free, he REALLY only meant LOCAL senior citizens. In order to qualify for the free ride, you'd have to live in that district. Chicago elderly can use the CTA/Metra/Pace systems for free, but in other connected cities, it would only apply for the public transit in their district. And as for the rest of Illinois seniors from downstate - there's no hope for you.

Then there's the entire issue of HOW all of this would be DONE. Special cards issued by district? Some kind of shiny pass that can be copied and sold? Magic beans? The truth is that the governor didn't think of ANY of this crap. He just wanted to pander to the voting elderly in the city, and his next appearance being at the Hallmark Retirement Home at 2960 N. Lake Shore Drive this morning in about 2 hours is just more proof of that.

If he REALLY cared about the senior citizens with fixed incomes not having to suffer with rate hikes, he should have proposed to keep their reduced fare cards at the SAME PRICE, rather than just letting them have free rides and screwing over the children in the process. That would be the genuinely-thoughtful and practical thing to do.

You know what? After all of this, I'm rethinking some of my cast choices for my CTA-based movie (which now has a working title of "Crossing the Line"). I'm thinking Daley should be played by someone more like Danny DeVito rather than Fred Thompson. DeVito can deliver a little better humor than Thompson could. I'd consider Patton Oswalt, but he's a little young-looking. And maybe someone a little more evil than Tom Cruise for Blagojevich, despite my wanting to see Cruise in a villainous role.

I wonder if Satan is available.

(Blagojevich at the megachurch with his "hope")
(The truth about which senior citizens would ride free)

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