Friday, December 19, 2008

It's over...

Wow... Let's hear it for transparency and accountability, eh?

As you may already know (because I'm a bit late reporting on it), the City of Riverside has successfully ousted Greyhound from their downtown Riverside terminal. In a back-room political deal that the old Democratic machine in Chicago would be proud of, the Council told the City Manager to negotiate a deal with the company. They gave said manager a range of payout amounts, and he and Greyhound officials negotiated a settlement within that range. So, for the sum of $625,000 (of our tax money), the City has sent Greyhound packing. This agreement never came to a vote of the city council, and was never even reported to citizens until a local activist asked City Hall a direct question about it. The agreement was signed on December 9th, and service will end on January the 31st.

Interestingly enough, many community groups were taking up the cause of saving the Greyhound station. Even the local League of Women Voters was going to hold a forum on the station, in mid-January. Just a cursory jaunt through the letters-to-the-editor of our local paper shows broad opposition to this move, and yet the City did it anyway. Even stranger, they managed to spend over six hundred thousand dollars of our tax money to buy out the next 15 years of a $1/year lease.

Not only does this blatant example of underhanded politics deprive our city of yet another transportation option, at precisely the time when we should be expanding our choices, but it deprives local citizens of the involvement and oversight that they deserve from their government. This is shameful.

For more information on the story, read the Press-Enterprise articles here and here. Oh, and come to the City Council meeting on Tuesday. Local eminent domain protesters are going to be there, telling the Council that they can't just go behind our backs like they did. (I won't be there, I'll be on a northbound Amtrak, but I wish all of you the best.)

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