Legalistic nonsense II: the documentation

At last night’s town hall meeting, John Culberson and others said many times that METRO clearly said that the rail line would be on Westpark, not Richmond. I posted about this earlier this week. But there’s another version of that claim that deserves some comment. I’ve heard over and over again that METRO’s map clearly showed a Westpark alignment. So I pulled my copy of the flyer METRO sent out before the 2003 referendum. Here’s the map that showed the proposed rail system:

Here’s a close-up:

That’s a pretty thick line. It seems to cover Westpark, Richmond, and 59. There are no street labels at all. The only label says “Greenway Plaza.” And Greenway Plaza is on Richmond, not on Westpark.

Speaking of making up the “facts,” my previous post spawned some discussion over at Off the Kuff, and in that process another outspoken METRO critic proved he has no idea what he’s talking about:

All the pro-urban rail lemmings ignore the CLEAR language set in the City Charter referendum back in 2001. Article II, Section 21 states that METRO must hold a vote before any secment can use that STREET.

Posted by: Tom Bazan | April 12, 2006 09:41 AM

The word street is nowhere in that provision; it speaks only of “systems.” Called on this, Bazan then proceeded to quote a Houston Chronicle editorial to back up his claim. Last time I checked, the Chronicle was not in charge of interpreting the city charter. And the editorial didn’t use the word “street” either.

The entire text of Article II, Section 21 of the City Charter reads:

Section 21. METRO rail system projects.

City Council shall not hereafter grant any permission, consent or authorization required by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) in connection with the construction, maintenance, or operation of all or part of a rail system unless METRO previously has conducted an election at which a majority of the METRO voters who participated in the election approved construction of the rail system. Such City permission, consent, or authorization shall not be subject to any election under this Charter. The construction, maintenance, or operation of the rail system project described in Ordinance 2000-1028 shall not be subject to any election by the City or METRO under this section or any other section of this Charter.
(Added by amendment November , 2001)

Another commenter put up the list of lines on the ballot. Here’s the same list from the METRO flyer:

As that comment and an audience member last night pointed out, those are clearly line names, not descriptions of alignments. The North Hardy line (for which an alignment had already been chosen) isn’t on Hardy Street or the Hardy Toll Road. And you’d be hard pressed to find a “Southeast” street.

Comments? Visit our forums. And do get your “facts” straight.

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