That’s what we felt when we looked at the front page of the Metro+State section of this morning’s paper. Three stories are presented.
One is a commentary on the progress of the legislation which will initiate legal action on behalf of the proposed "mass transit" boondoggle. The second is another blast of propaganda by columnist Smith about the anticipated magical results of that boondoggle.
The third tells us of a newly awarded contract for the expenditure of further millions of dollars on highway construction which, it seems to us, must cut sharply into projections of ridership for mass transit in the so-called northeast corridor.
One has to wonder. Are the people responsible for these projects actually talking to each other? Driving is made easier. Residential units downtown are being encouraged, if not actually subsidized. And the city is building and giving away parking garages. Who will use mass transit?
Well, there are thousands of ordinary Indianapolis residents who do need public transit back and forth across town to work, shop, visit, whatever. We’re all for that. But "express routes" with stops every eight to ten blocks won't be much help to those folks. We most certainly oppose using additional public funds to make life easier for those who have made the choice to live in suburbia. We don’t need rapid transit on the Stadium-to-Palladium route.
Let’s take quick look at a few of Ms. Smith’s comments.
Argument against the plan which she belittles: "We need to protect voters from themselves." No. We need to protect voters from the frequent political, financial charades made possible when media personnel are apparently under orders not to ask germane questions.
"...$600 million would come from the federal government." Some more of that "free" federal stuff.
"The plan...will double the number of buses on the road." How about those on city streets for intra-city uses? And with what priority in the over-all plan?
"I’m confident in Hoosiers’ ability to sniff out a bad business deal that involves their tax dollars." The "sniffing" ought to be in concert with a responsible media. We recall an incident when the then current mayor was denying any thoughts of a new stadium while the CIB was concurrently buying the land where the new football field now resides. A reporter who did ask about the purchases was told to buzz off, and apparently did so as the question was never asked again. Or at least never printed.
With a little objective "sniffing" by the media, the ability of Hoosiers to approve or disapprove the $10 million annual gift to the basketball team would be greatly enhanced.
It is difficult for individual citizens to "sniff" out anything, when media coverage of publicly financed projects so often resembles the press release from the political source initiating the project.
An old friend is credited with the saying, "It's a mighty thin pancake that don't have two sides." In the local print media, mass transit has become a "mighty thin pancake."