Long road ahead to restore transit agency’s credibility

Mike Anthony

Mike Anthony

By MIKE ANTHONY

We’re pleased Proposition M has been removed from the Feb. 5 ballot.

As we’ve said before, we didn’t believe the proposed half-cent sales-tax increase recommended by County Executive Charlie Dooley to fund the expansion of MetroLink stood a snowball’s chance of being approved by voters — particularly those residing in south county. In fact, county officials could have saved themselves a lot of time and aggravation if they simply had taken our advice when we wrote in this very same space Nov. 1, “We urge the County Council to reject Mr. Dooley’s suggestion to place the sales-tax increase on the Feb. 5 ballot.”

And that was written before former Metro Chief Operating Officer Larry Salci’s well-documented appearance on KTVI-TV’s “You Paid for It” program and before a St. Louis County Circuit Court jury ordered Metro to pay $2.56 million to a group of four firms that the transit agency had sued for $80 million.

Having removed the tax-increase proposal from the February ballot, county officials are talking about restoring Metro’s credibility and bringing the issue back at some point.

Good luck with that.

Given the actions that have occurred since the jury’s verdict, we believe real questions have surfaced about who really runs Metro as its Board of Commissioners appears to be no more than rubber stamp for the wishes of County Executive Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.

We agree with Seventh District Councilman Greg Quinn, R-Ballwin, who joined Sixth District Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, in voting Nov. 13 against placing Prop M on the ballot.

Councilman Quinn said last week that many of the questions that led him to vote against placing Prop M on the ballot last month remain unanswered and must be addressed before any Metro tax is brought back to the County Council.

Short-term fixes aren’t going to restore Metro’s credibility. It’s going to take a long time — and even then voters here aren’t likely to support a tax increase unless there’s some tangible benefit to them.

Once again, we recommend a regional transportation plan be developed that details MetroLink expansion, including costs and a reasonable timetable to bring it to south county.

We predict any future ballot measure to fund an expansion plan that does not include a south county extension will be stopped dead in its tracks by voters here.