Hidden Letter to the Editor: Light Rail

This letter appeared in the Scottsdale Republic print edition today. Fernandez is goofy and unorthodox, but his facts are not in dispute.

Facts are facts on light-rail crime so lay off paranoia label

Regarding the Scottsdale Republic’s June 7 editorial, “Light rail in Scottsdale deserves civil, not paranoid, debate,” I believe the para­noia is coming from the newspaper’s editorial staff.

The newspaper called my character­ization of rail as a “crime-delivery sys­tem” hyperbole. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has the facts to back up my assertions.

Portland’s light-rail system was touted as the model system for the Phoenix area. During that same time period, it was reported in the Portland Oregonian that a Washington County light-rail station in the suburbs west of Portland ac­counted for nearly three times as many crime calls as the next-highest place in the county. Reports indicated light rail as the leading place for drug sales. When Portland’s rail system was under construction, a major gang war took place over who was going to control the drug traffic along the line.

The Scottsdale Republic questioned why Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said earlier this year, “We can’t be a great city unless we have a great light-rail system.” This kind of comment is to be expected from an unabashed tax-and­-spend, big-government liberal. As for Mesa’s expansion of rail, although I see it as a total disregard for the taxpayers and small business, I wish them good luck with their crime-delivery system.

I make no apologies for standing up for Scottsdale. Unfortunately, the City Council has opted to sell out to the de­velopment community — i.e., the “cre­ative class.” Since when have out-of­-town developers shown a love of com­munity? The over-proliferation of high­rise apartments along Scottsdale’s des­ignated transit corridor will be their excuse to herald the need for rail tran­sit.

The Republic maintains Scottsdale’s vaunted cachet long ago wore out its welcome. I can see where the newspa­per is coming from, especially with the illusions of the current City Council that Scottsdale can retain its cachet with the explosion of bars and night clubs. Former Mayor Herb Drinkwater wouldn’t recognize his beloved Scotts­dale.

The Republic’s plausible arguments against rail are that our streets might be too small, small business along the route might suffer from the construc­tion and that our city might be unable to subsidize a project of such magni­tude in the near future are indisputable. I would add to your list: increased traf­fic congestion, pollution and a hazard for first responders.

In light of the fact that Maricopa Association of Governments has stated — as a default mechanism — that bus rapid transit will be implemented on Scottsdale Road by 2014, further dia­logue is a moot point [Note: Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane is the chair of the MAG transportation committee. JW]

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and Councilmen Bob Littlefield, Guy Phil­lips and Dennis Robbins — all on rec­ord as opposing rail — should exert their leadership skills and put a stop to this bogus “dialogue.” Take light rail and modern streetcar out of the equa­tion and save the citizens a lot of unnec­essary grief and keep the rail-riding criminals out of Scottsdale.

Michael Fernandez owns Pottery Paradise Inc. in Scottsdale.

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  1. The case against light rail is much stronger than Mr. Fernandez contends. Specifically, its economics are incredibly poor. For $2+ billion, we took easily traveled streets that accommodated both excellent bus service and provided numerous lanes for cars, replacing them with light rail offering fewer stops and eliminating at least three lanes formerly available for auto use. A really, really, really dumb idea!

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