Bill giving railroad immunity is simply ludicrous
Most Floridians probably don't know that our state senators are quietly rushing through legislation that will benefit one of the nation's most profitable companies - CSX Railroad - at the expense of public safety and at tremendous cost to Florida taxpayers.
Even as they slash funding for schools due to the budget crisis, they are giving this wealthy company immunity for their future wrongdoings and forcing taxpayers to pay in its place. This could mean hundreds of millions of dollars or more for a corporation with a disastrous track record of putting corporate profits before public safety. (Tampa Tribune, April 24, 2008)
Florida's CFO criticizes railroad deal
In a harsh critique of the state's deal to bring commuter rail to Orlando, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink said the $641 million plan was crafted under the "cover of darkness" and urged lawmakers to revise the controversial proposal. (Ledger, April 26, 2008)
If any of Florida's bills seem bad, just wait
Look on the bright side. There are still a few days left in the Legislature's session, and no matter what you think of any of these ideas, it is a lead-pipe cinch they will slip in something even worse before it's over. (St. Pete Times, April 26, 2008)
Webster's train deal plays loose with Florida's tax dollars
The deal that Central Florida strikes with CSX should not force hundreds of trains into communities that had no say. And if Central Florida wants to spend its share of transportation dollars on commuter rail, that's its call. (Tampa Tribune, April 24, 2008)
Webster not leaving Florida legislature quietly
Term limits are pushing Dan Webster out of the Legislature after 28 years. For some of his colleagues, he's not leaving quietly enough. (St. Pete Times, April 25, 2008)
Webster's rail bypass: Something for everyone
If Florida Senate Majority Leader Dan Webster wasn't already a family man, he might promise anyone around his first-born son in exchange for support of the proposed CSX-and-commuter-rail deal. The newest Webster revision survived a key Senate committee vote Tuesday, but only after Webster dangled some carrots around the Capitol. (Ledger, April 24, 2008)
Mom says it's commerce vs. kids
Graves says she can't understand why the state's considering a deal to give CSX around $640 million to buy rail lines near Orlando and improve privately owned tracks in Jacksonville -- while, at the same time, cutting services to kids. (Jacksonville, First Coast News, April 23, 2008)
Webster maneuvers the CSX boondoggle through his committee
By tucking the CSX liability provision into the massive bills, ironically known as "trains" in Tallahassee lingo because of their habit of picking up a hodgepodge of ideas, defeating the bills may be difficult for opponents of the plan. (Ledger, April 23, 2008)
Appeal to Committee on Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations
"This project changes the way we move freight trains in our state FOREVER. It concentrates freight trains in cities who were never consulted, never given the opportunity to be a part of the process. Instead we are pressured and intimidated.
"There is not a good answer as to why these communities were not included. Instead there are throw away comments about how metropolitan areas take priority in the state.
"Well, Lakeland is not a rural town. We are a responsibly planned and grown city. Our growth is not out of control. We are not overly congested. This is not by accident, it is by design. So Lakeland grows responsibly and we get punished? We get dumped on by our neighbor? The Lakeland metropolitan area serves a quarter of a million people. We have the second busiest emergency room in the state.
"Lakeland felt the pressure in this room and is trying to salvage something from this monster of a deal. But if the power in this room can bully and intimidate the second largest inland city - God help the small towns in our state." (Julie Townsend, Executive Director, Lakeland Downtown Partnership, April 22, 2008)
Lakeland residents want state to blow whistle on CSX deal
Lakeland residents don't want more freight trains as part of a commuter-rail deal the state is working on. (Orlando Sentinel, April 21, 2008)
US rails seen rolling along despite economy
Despite a wobbly economy and sliding freight volumes, U.S. railroads have chugged along in recent quarters thanks to strong pricing -- and barring a deep and prolonged recession they show no sign of stopping.
"I think the railroads' pricing power story is going to last for several more years at least," said Keith Schoonmaker, an analyst at Morningstar. (Reuters Market News, April 20, 2008)
The meaning of 'getting railroaded'
So why should we be "finding a way to make it work" when the real issue seems to be whether it should even exist at all? In spite of all these shortcomings and unanswered questions, the CSX deal is still speeding through the Legislature with tacit approval from the administration of Gov. Charlie Crist.
Once moving, the train continues to its final destination, unstoppable and undeviating from its predestined path.
Now, confused enemy of the state, you know why they call it "getting railroaded." (Ledger, April 20, 2008)
Planners: Questions remain for rail facility
Evansville Western officials still have not responded well enough to transportation and environmental issues for their application for a rail freight terminal in Winter Haven to proceed, regional planners said Friday.
Although the first phase of the CSX project is still under review, backers are looking ahead to the second phase, which would be an industrial park on approximately 931 acres surrounding CSX's proposed facility.
That development is not part of the application being reviewed by the planning council and no plans for it have been submitted. (Ledger, April 19, 2008)
More CSX deception from its cheerleader
But isn't that the real problem with everything that surrounds this CSX deal: half-truths and secrecy? (Tampa Tribune, April 18, 2008)
Rail project took long time to get on track
In recent months, The Ledger has examined hundreds of public documents, recordings, memos and other material in an effort to determine how the half-billion-dollar-plus project managed to get state approval without undergoing even a single public hearing. (Ledger, April 17, 2008)
Inquiry: Train plan railroaded secretly
Bush, who left office in January 2007, isn't talking about the subject.
He recently rebuffed reporters who sought to ask about CSX after he made a speaking appearance in Lakeland and he didn't respond to a subsequent e-mail inquiry from The Ledger. Among the unanswered questions are whether he gave any consideration to projections of greatly increased rail traffic through Lakeland and other "S" line cities before agreeing to the deal. (Ledger, April 16, 2008)
Does Rail Transit Save Energy or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
Far from protecting the environment, most rail transit lines use more energy per passenger mile, and many generate more greenhouse gases, than the average passenger automobile. Rail transit provides no guarantee that a city will save energy or meet greenhouse gas targets.
Rail transit attempts to improve the environment by changing people's behavior so that they drive less. Such behavioral efforts have been far less successful than technical solutions to toxic air pollution and other environmental problems associated with automobiles.
Blog coverage in Lakeland . . .
April 26, 2008
Bill giving railroad immunity is simply ludicrous