RUN WITH THE CROWD
Brandau knew he had a winner of a political issue. Shortly after the Jan. 28 council meeting, he videotaped a brief explanation of his vote and posted it on his Facebook page.
“I voted no, and I’ll tell you one of the reasons I voted no,” Brandau said. “A buddy of mine sent an article to me today from the Investors Business Daily – just fresh today, talking about Los Angeles’ mass transit fiasco. Apparently there’s fewer people riding transit in Los Angeles.
“One of the quotes in here from The Times says, ‘Transit agencies are still trying to figure out where the riders have gone and what it will take to bring them back.’ That’s from The Times. Another quote from this article says, ‘The problem here isn’t that transit has been underfunded. We spend a lot of money on transit. The city’s ongoing public disaster points to a bigger problem – having government make these kinds of investments in the first place. Investments that are driven more by log-rolling politicians and fanciful visions of changing behavior rather than actual consumer demand.’
“Now we have one of these projects right here in Fresno. When some of my council colleagues took me to task, I asked our city manager, ‘Is (has) Fresno lost transit ridership?’ And indeed we have. He admitted that in front of the public.
“One of my problems here is that transit is only used by about 3.5% of all of the people in Fresno County; 96.5% of us use the roadways. Our roadways are falling apart everywhere, all across Fresno County, whether in the cities or in the county. Our roadways are falling apart even in beautiful Northwest Fresno, where I represent. But we’re not fixing those roadways. Instead, we’re spending $34 million on a transit system for relatively few folks.
“Look, I’m not against transit, and there’s a lot of ways I would help fix Fresno’s bus system. But it’s a huge investment – especially way over budget – and it’s not something I wanted to vote for today. And I thought you should know about it. Unfortunately, only Councilman Brand joined me, so it was passed 5-2. It’s going to happen.
“But I voted no, and I did that with a clear conscience.”