Amen for newspapers and the Internet. On Thursday night after the governor revealed his plan, the local TV news shows – including the normally excellent Chicago Tonight – were reporting the governor’s back-door deal of free rides for seniors as a sure thing (and feeding into Blago’s self-creafted image as some Capra-esque pol while they did it). But the next day, online critics, and local print outlets are pointing out that the gov’s plan is both poor government and not the economic incentive he thinks it is. A commenter on a TOC post I wrote last week noted that a Chicago senior citizen would have to spend $70,000 on taxable goods in order to offset the $176 lost revenue from their free CTA pass (using the gov’s own numbers based on a twice-a-week ridership)
Now television news* has joined with the party, rightly pointing out that even the $19 million isn’t enough, as rates might have to be raised to cover the free rides. I know “the media” gets a lot of flak for being the tail that wags the dog, but television news is the worst offender.
Most seniors are not hurting because of transit costs – and not near as much as those who live near the poverty line – so this is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, and the creation of a problem for which there is now no solution, since legislators are now faced with a pass-it-or-perish situation. So in that way, you could argue that the bill is a sure thing since it does give pols some political cover. Then again, downstate legislators (and know-nothing suburban reps like Christine Radogno) have gone out of their way to avoid some pretty obvious solutions in the past, and that’s why the transit crisis is – to quote Frank Stallone – far from over.
* Hey Trib, if you’re going to create a video-only site that’s largely dependent on your own branded content, just go whole hog with it so people can find clips for local news events. And also, let’s get working on an embed code, huh?