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After Setback, L.A. Mayor Still Intent on Speeding Transit Projects

In the aftermath of the seemingly narrow defeat of his pet measure to speed up the expansion of L.A.'s transit infrastructure, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa remains unbowed in his attempts to accelerate his key initiative, writes Ari Bloomekatz.
November 9, 2012, 8am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Mayor Villaraigosa has heard this song before. After multiple failed attempts to speed up the implementation of the 2008 sales tax increase dedicated to funding the expansion of the region's transit system by various means, including seeking assistance from the Federal government and Chinese equity firms, Villaraigosa is vowing once again to "go 'back to the toolbox' if necessary to accelerate several projects, including a subway to the Westside," reports Bloomekatz. 

The day after a ballot measure that would have extended the tax appeared to have lost by an agonizingly thin margin, the Mayor and advocates of the measure were assessing the impact of its failure, and beginning to consider the next steps. The Mayor seems intent on continuing the fight by exploring "some very innovative ideas about how we can accelerate transportation funding in this state."

However, "Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, a major supporter of Measure J, said Tuesday's results dealt 'a major setback' to transportation advocates who hoped to take advantage of low interest rates and cheaper construction costs to extend rail lines."

"This was an opportunity to move forward and save money, and we just won't be able to do that," Toebben said.

Opponents, meanwhile, were celebrating.

"Sunyoung Yang of the Bus Riders Union, which campaigned against Measure J, said in a news release Wednesday that Metro's 'record of disdain for the civil rights of the county's working class Black and Latino majority, and Measure J's heavy emphasis on corporate boondoggle rail and highway projects simply did not warrant giving the agency more money.'"

"She said Tuesday's vote could force a needed shift in the debate over how to allocate Metro funds 'with racial equality, social justice, and a good transit policy for all at the core.'"


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Published on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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