Yesterday I had breakfast with Joel Lourie over at the Lizard’s Thicket on Forest, and as we were chatting he was accosted by a constituent who didn’t like what he’d halfway heard Joel saying about the need for more moderates in the Legislature. He proceeded to lecture Joel on why voters are more and more “conservative” these days. Mainly, it had to do with spending.
But the thing that jumped out at me was the local example he used. After excoriating the effort to raise the sales tax to pay for transportation needs, he said, flat out, “We don’t need buses.” He said it like public transit was just the stupidest, most wasteful idea he had ever heard of.
The conversation ended pleasantly, as Joel listened politely and declined to engage the voter on the more incendiary things he said. (After many years of dealing with angry readers, I can testify that’s a good formula for ending conversations better than they started — look for areas of agreement, look for opportunities to explain your own position better, but mainly allow the frustration to be vented. Most people just want to be heard, and don’t have the same opportunities to make that happen that politicians and journalists do.)
But I thought back to it later in the day. Brian Murrell of ADCO and I went to get some lunch at Greek Boys, and had to park almost a block away north on Sumter. As we walked past the bus stop at Sumter and Hampton in the bitter cold, we passed a guy — probably a patient from Palmetto Health Baptist across the street — standing with a walker waiting for the bus.
We had a nice, warm lunch inside — I had the beef tips over rice with greek salad (minus the feta). It didn’t take all that long — service is fast there — but we weren’t in a hurry, either. We took time to chat with Butch Bowers and Todd Carroll from Hall Bowers over at the next table. Call it 30 minutes, maybe 40.
Then we bundled back up and headed back into the bluster. And as we passed the bus stop, there was that same guy with the walker, still waiting. He had to be chilled right through his bones.
At that moment, I wish that voter from Lizard’s Thicket that morning had been there to tell THAT guy we don’t need buses.
All of which is a long way of getting to the point that Columbia City Council is simply doing what has to be done by coming up for different revenue source for the bus system, for now. Read about that here.
What we should have done was pass the sales tax. But since we didn’t, the city’s got to do something (and so will the county). So that, so far, is what it’s doing.