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Tue, Jul

Henrik Ibsen’s 'An Enemy of the People' Mirrors Metro’s Missteps

LOS ANGELES

LA TRANSPO - My wife and I were in New York last week and saw the play "An Enemy of the People"--a great evening of theater--the title of which immediately made me think of Metro. Now--for the benefit of the employees of Metro, Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright, and the play was written in 1882 (and no you cannot see Norway from a Tunnel). Basically, it’s a play about a man who is ostracized for daring to tell the truth--something Metro does everything in its power to keep from happening--and which I like writing about. 

Before I get to the main subject of this column, I want to share an anecdote about Los Angeles. We were in an Uber going to theater--and the driver asked us a question----how is the homeless situation in LA?--now that is eye opening and a reflection of how the world currently sees LA. The first question I was asked for years was how lucky you are to live there--it’s such a fun place--what the hell has happened to our city--a subject I intend to write about in future columns. Furthermore, graffiti on empty buildings isn't art--its defacement and a worldwide embarrassment to our city. 

Now back to Metro--only reluctantly and after taking a number of antacids and valium. Metro's ineptitude and misinformation policy is on full display for our community if people start to pay attention. Let's start with their latest survey they just published--My Metro Budget Activity--there is a Public Safety Section--and the results they published show that only 13% of those polled thought that law enforcement should be increased on public transportation--while 87% believe that Metro needs less or keep it the same. This raises the question--who did Metro poll for this survey? The residents of Forest Lawn? This is like the old joke of the husband telling the wife--are you going to believe your eyes or what I tell you...Last week there was an article entitled “Riding Metro with the Crackheads". Maybe Metro can start a reality show--"What's my injury"---join a fun filled trip on Metro and maybe we will get you there safely.... although we're not totally sure. To put this in perspective, there is going to be a ballot measure this November to undo some of the softer on crime decrees---a direct result of the Criminal Justice backlash. Smash and grabs are not a sport---they’re a crime.  While I'm at it---this is a reminder--George "Revolving Door" did not get 75% of the vote in the primary. In the election in November, it’s time to vote this compassionate fool out of office. 

Many of you have read my earlier communications about the Sepulveda Transit Corridor proposed project--where representatives of Metro will do anything they can to keep the public from learning the truth about it and continue to obfuscate facts and misinform the public. As a prelude, the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was supposed to be published in May 2022--then moved 2024--and now its 2025. Maybe their employees are smoking the crack they can find on the trains? There's no urgency because there is no accountability----only moribund and slothful organizations behave like this. This project started in 2014. 

Let me share with you actual information about the current BART extension (six miles) in San Jose. Originally conceived in 2014 and slated to cost $4.4B with a completion date of 2026. Now the cost after review by the Federal Transit Administration is $12.75 Billion (more than $2.1B per mile) and the completion date has been pushed back to May 2037. Yet Metro refuses to tell the public that any tunneling will cost more than $2B a mile and will take 20 years to complete--do the math--your head is not neck ornament---if 6 miles will take 11 years to construct---12+ miles will take more than 20 years to construct--and that assumes construction will begin in 2025 or 2026--irrespective of the litigation that will certainly happen---so 2050 is a realistic date if ever---and considering Metro hasn't built anything on time or on budget in 25 years (almost a perfect record)---to assume this will cost $35B-$40B is not unrealistic---not to mention it will be obsolete before its finished. My critics--who of course have uninformed opinions about my writings--keep raising NIMBY--and want to make my voice irrelevant. My response simply is this is America---everyone is entitled to an opinion--even if it’s boring and uninformed--just another useful idiot without a clue. To be clear--Metro has never responded to any of my emails or disputed any of the facts I present. The simple reason is that they know it’s true--and the truth doesn't keep them gainfully employed--and heavens to bits---might hold their inept executives accountable. To further prove my point, after I recently talked to a reporter about this subject, and I was quoted--a spokesperson from Metro called the reporter and asked why I was called--and that he should not talk to me in the future. (Our attorney sent a letter to Metro's counsel about this--where he was reminded that we do live in America and freedom of speech is a foundation of our country).  Metro continually acts as furtive, scared organization where full disclosure, candidness and openness are anathemas---and leadership is anything but. 

The future is exciting--with so many new innovations over the next two decades. Currently Archer Aviation is testing an electric flying taxi---which can land on designated buildings and just achieved 100 miles an hour--and that's only one innovation of many. Electric cars did not even exist 20 years ago---so keep your seat belt on. 

Metro needs to be forward thinking and innovative to meet the needs of our very vibrant population. Until then, it remains "An Enemy of the People".

(Fredric D. Rosen is a retired Businessman who has served on multiple corporate (both public and private) and charitable boards. He was Ticketmaster's CEO for 16 years and was responsible for making it the leading ticket company in the world.)

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