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Archive for April 25th, 2009

Roberts Making Stuff Up. Already.

hhMan, at this rate the truth will not stand chance.

Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts has already come up with a novel justification for going after a full-penny, $140m. a year transit sales tax. Doubling the tax to a full cent would permit CATS to build trains faster you see.

“We stand to be many, many years delayed if we don’t seek some sort of additional revenue source,” Roberts told News14’s Aaron Mesmer. Roberts also said, according to Mesmer, that with the additional half cent the existing transit plan could be finished by 2020 and, quoting Mesmer here, “if funding stays the same, it will take until 2035.”

The problem here is that 2035 is not a delay — it has been the target completion date since 2006. Official Charlotte, Roberts included, has been utterly, completely fine with that time-line. Until now.

In fact, during the 2007 transit tax repeal effort, CATS’ existing 2035 plan was defended as a great human achievement, one which could not possibly be improved upon. Not only was the plan not broken, it was darn near perfect. Roberts, as head of the MTC, was as familiar as any elected official with that plan. But now 2035 is too slow.

Let me tell you what is really going on here. Roberts knows that she cannot possibly argue that the public should support doubling the tax without at least offering the appearance of giving them something “new” in return. That new thing would be trains up and running, even faster. So she paints 2035 as an unnacceptable “delay,” glossing over the fact that Roberts and all the supporters of a transit tax hike were fine with 2035 just months ago.

Closing thought, try to stomach this June 2008 self-congratulatory Orgburo session for transit tax supporters, Center City Partners, the Chamber, city planners, etc. explaining to visitors from Tampa just how they snowed the local populace into keeping the half-cent. Expect more of same.

Double, even. It has already started.

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