The Orlando Sentinel, never recognized as a bastion of progressivism, reports (or rather, editorializes) on the faltering CSX-Orlando rail deal today and - guess what - continues the newspaper's campaign of misrepresentation of the issues and distortion of key points.
Sentinel quotations (in italics) are followed by logically inferred meanings:
Today is decision day for commuter rail
- The House earlier this week signed off on the deal. But its chief hurdle has always been the Senate, where trial lawyers and unions, along with critics such as Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, have spent months building a barricade.
Overlooked by our eyes - and rightfully so - are, among others, the only Democrat in the state Cabinet, editorialists from several major newspapers from all across the state, residents of communities that would be negatively impacted by the CSX deal, educators, nurses and providers of other public services, and the people they serve - and millions of taxpayers from Pensacola to Key West.
- Barring a dramatic turnaround, CSX spokesman Gary Sease said the company would decide during the next few days how it wanted to proceed.
"We don't want to do things hastily," he said. "We want to consider all the options."
- "It's a great project for the whole state," said Noranne Downs, the Florida Department of Transportation's Central Florida head.
"The feds are ready for us. The locals are ready for us. The state House is ready for us. It would be a darn shame if it got this far and did not pass."
- But a frustrated Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the federal funding won't wait.
"I think it probably kills any form of commuter rail in Florida for 20 years," Dyer said. "A lot of people haven't looked at the big picture."
Added Dyer, " Tampa and Lakeland will never in our lifetimes see commuter rail if this goes down, and they don't seem to understand."
- "There comes a point in time where there's not a lot more a lobbyist can do," said John Thrasher, a former House speaker and lobbyist for Orlando.
- Rep. Dean Cannon had hoped to build a coalition of Senate votes by packing the rail deal with perks for other regions of the state.
The Sentinel's position: Siplin, Crist and Lynn are critical to today's momentous commuter-rail decision
- Without commuter rail, Mrs. Lynn, the more than 30,000 commuters who drive each day from their homes in Volusia to their jobs in Orange and Seminole will remain I-4 hostages. Another generation of your constituents would be left suffering the miseries of high gas prices and wasted hours sitting in their cars instead of productive time at their jobs or enjoyable hours with their families.
- The more than $400 million the state would spend on commuter rail would mean construction jobs just as many of your constituents are suffering through this bad economy.
- But even more important are the exciting new housing opportunities and job centers that are likely to spring up along the 61-mile route from DeLand to Poinciana. No longer would families be trapped simply because they can't afford a second -- or even first -- car.
When folks start complaining about unfettered development, keep in mind there's always somebody all too happy to have the untenable consequences dumped on their heads. Look what we're doing to the country bumpkins in Polk County, bless their little hearts.
- Mrs. Lynn and Mr. Siplin are being pushed hard by the state's trial lawyers. This special interest doesn't want the state to cover the liability costs in wrecks involving commuter rail, which would run on tracks owned by CSX freight company. Clearly, these lawyers are trying to protect the possibility of their own billion-dollar payday from a wreck. They have even gone so far as to threaten lawmakers by showing them the attack ads they'll see this election if they support commuter rail.
- Mr. Crist, only the weight of your leadership can overcome that kind of vicious politics. You've voiced support for commuter rail; now it's time for you to fight for it.
Look, it's a vicious world out there. Paula hates us. Everybody hates us. We want what we want and we want it now, but we're weak. We have no voice. Woe is us. Can't you do for us what you did for John?
- This is more than a Central Florida issue, Governor. If commuter rail dies today, it could be a generation before Florida gets another shot. Forget about projects in Jacksonville and Tampa. Forget about your legacy as a leader of the national effort to reduce pollution spewed by cars.
Look, I'm stamping my foot! Do you believe me now?
NEWS UPDATE, 5:24 p.m.: CSX commuter rail project fails