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(Queen Sheila) Jackson Lee Urges Officials to Reject (Houston) Rail Ballot Ruling
Houston Chronicle ^ | Sept. 21, 2003 | MIKE GLENN

Posted on 09/21/2003 10:47:57 PM PDT by anymouse

A member of Houston's congressional delegation wants federal transportation officials to reject an internal last-minute legal ruling that has prompted the latest assault on Metro's light rail plan.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta should reconsider the opinion from the Federal Transit Administration's chief counsel, ruling that Metro's ballot language would result in an elimination of federal funding if a bill making its way through Congress is signed into law, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, said Sunday.

"We've gone too far to be able to turn back now," she said, calling any construction delay resulting from the opinion "intolerable."

Standing amid the dangling cables at a still-unfinished light rail stop near Main and Richmond, Jackson Lee called the matter "a local issue that should be left to local voters."

"We want to be assured that the federal government will not interfere with any election that we will have and will not interfere with any funding," Jackson Lee said.

The latest dispute erupted Thursday after Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, released a letter from FTA chief counsel William Sears that ruled the 22 miles of rail segments must be individually listed on the Nov. 4 ballot.

While the sections are cataloged on the board resolution -- considered part of the referendum -- voters won't find them on the computerized ballot screens because of their length. Instead, they are asked to approve "construction of extensions of Metro's rail system" and other transit agency projects.

Jackson Lee said Metro board members will meet today, "to redefine the language in order to be assured that every person who votes is aware of their commitment to a rail system, if their vote happens to be yes."

Any alteration to the ballot language, however, could run afoul of Texas law, which mandates that any election, including a description of the measure, be filed within 45 days of Election Day. That deadline fell Saturday.

"We are very much up against that time frame," Jackson Lee acknowledged. "We are less than 45 days away from the election. This is a crisis as it relates to state law and as it relates to federal law."

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: election; houston; lightrail; metro; queensheila; texas
Queen Sheila is at it again.
1 posted on 09/21/2003 10:47:57 PM PDT by anymouse
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To: buffyt; PetroniDE; Flyer; Allegra; humblegunner; Humidston; Ron H.
Houston ping.
2 posted on 09/21/2003 10:52:51 PM PDT by anymouse
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To: anymouse
Why does the Queen worry about mass transit, when she drives in a limo all the time?
3 posted on 09/21/2003 10:53:39 PM PDT by exit82 (Ted Kennedy knows all about frauds--he is one.)
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To: GOPcapitalist
Light Rail + Queen Sheila = $B's of wasted tax dollars.
4 posted on 09/21/2003 10:54:55 PM PDT by anymouse
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To: anymouse
I heard Representative Culberson on the Jon Matthews show on KSEV the other day. From what I gathered, the actual transit document we will vote on in November authorizes eventual rail extension for a much larger number of miles that the widely published reduced case that they finally cut back to. That is what I understood anyway.

Maybe the reduced case is what we are being asked to vote money for now, but slipped into this transit document is authorization to build even more miles, but the funds are not provided for those additional miles. Not now anyway. But maybe if Metro can juggle its budget and projects to free up money in the future for another light rail extension, they will argue they don't have to go back to the voters again because we authorized the extra milage back in 2003.

I may be wrong in what I understand about this. However, I want the ballot wording to reflect what will be built for how many dollars and how many future miles of extension we are authorizing in addition, if any.
5 posted on 09/21/2003 11:27:51 PM PDT by rustbucket
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To: anymouse
Could be like what we have in Denton County:

Light rail was defeated in the recent elections by the majority of voters, but they're proceeding with it anyway, since a couple of towns did approve it.

I'm convinced the huge number of road construction projects causing massive traffic tie-ups in Denton this summer (well, massive for Denton, anyway) was done to make people see mass-transit as a cure for traffic ills.

Rather than putting blame where it belongs, on a monumentally stupid highway bureaucracy in our area.
6 posted on 09/22/2003 10:30:54 AM PDT by Redbob
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