Ed Scofield is considered our most conservative supervisor now that John Spencer is gone. Barry Pruett goes out of his way to embrace Ed while dissing the rest of the Rood Center. But The Union’s editor, with his persistent anti-government diatribes, makes even Ed look like a mushy moderate.
In this editorial Ed does a good job of showing the editor of “The Tea Party Gazette” that a recent attack on government spending (the latest to drum up circulation to his demographics) – and in this case against a new transit center – was misguided. I was going to blast him too. I did some research on the project and found his assertions false. But bowing to discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to let it go. I couldn’t help but notice how Jeff treats the Transit Center differently from the way he writes about his big advertisers, treating them with kid gloves. Here’s the rebuttal from Ed and Ms. Guerra of Transit Services:
The recent editorial by Jeff Ackerman, “Pennies from heaven to the president, governor and down to the Supes,” made some less than flattering statements regarding the construction of the Tinloy Street Transit Center as well as public transit in general.
Opinions can and do vary widely in our community. Often these differences hinge on a person’s level of knowledge and level of actual responsibility in any given matter.
Let’s face it, it’s easy to have a strong opinion when you aren’t really held accountable for the outcome. As Transit and Transportation Commissioners representing this community we have been provided with a high level of education on these matters and have been chosen by the community to make decisions and be accountable for the outcome. With that in mind, we offer a different perspective.
OK, it’s pretty clear that the editor doesn’t believe that operating a transit system in Nevada County is worth the expense. And he is correct when he points out that the cost to operate a transit system in rural areas requires subsidies above and beyond rider fares.
This is true in nearly all transit systems, rural and urban. As far as transit’s value to a community, the question has been asked and answered in literally thousands of communities on many occasions.
In Nevada County and throughout our country the answer has been that we support transit, and believe it has a place in our transportation options. In response to this, your government officials move forward under the assumption that transit is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Let’s move on to the question raised by our local newspaper: Why are we spending $1 million on a new “bus stop” when the economy is weak and we are laying off employees?
When this question is simply put, this action does seem somewhat illogical. But opportunities sometimes materialize requiring that action be taken in an unconventional manner.
First a little background: The Tinloy Street Transit Hub (much more than a “bus stop”) has been extensively studied and reviewed by Grass Valley, Nevada City, the county and the community. It has been determined to be a necessary repair/upgrade to our community transit system. The new facility replaces the current hub at the corner of Neal and Church streets and resolves numerous safety, traffic and accessibility issues. In short, if we want a transit system in Nevada County, this new facility will eventually need to be built.
The $1 million price tag for this project is certainly a great deal of money. But this project will construct the one and only transfer hub for Gold Country Stage. This project will require the total reconstruction of Tinloy Street between East Bennett and Bank streets including new parking, street lighting and ADA compliant sidewalks. The transit station itself will have a restroom and storage building, covered shelters for passengers and enough room to service four buses simultaneously. All of these features will meet the standards of appearance approved by the City of Grass Valley. The price tag is commensurate with the benefit this community will receive.
So why are we building it now, when the economy is struggling? The answer is, because an opportunity presented itself.
We must understand that government financing is complicated and often illogical. But the basis for the complex rules are to protect public money and to (at least attempt to) meet broad (state and nationwide) goals and priorities.
One of our recent national priorities was to try to stimulate the weak economy (federal stimulus program) by constructing needed infrastructure, thus improving our country and creating jobs. The federal stimulus program offered funding to help construct the Tinloy project.
As mentioned earlier, government funding can also be frustrating and illogical. We would have preferred funding to help with operational expenses rather than new construction, but this was not allowed under the stimulus program (or under other programs used for funding this project). The opportunity was not ideal, but it was a viable opportunity.
We accepted this funding to help with this project (several other similar funding sources were also accepted and used).
So was this a good or a bad move for our community? Should we have rejected the funding offered to our community because it exacerbated the national debt?
Your local government’s decision was to accept the money, construct a project needed for our community’s future, and construct it with a local contractor. Judge for yourself.
Ann Guerra is the Chair of the Nevada County Transit Services Commission. Edward C. Scofield, District II Supervisor, is the Board of Supervisors appointee to the Transit Services Commission.