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Ron Kaye: The MTA is child's play

September 29, 2012

In the climactic scene of director Ivan Reitman's 1993 political satire “Dave,” President Mitchell (Kevin Kline) tells a joint session of Congress he lost his way, forgot his job was to make people's “lives a little better…care more about you than I do about me...care more about what's right than I do about what's popular...”

The occasion for my viewing “Dave” recently was Warner Bros. executive Jeff Brown's quarterly movie event for staff and guests on the Burbank lot where he brings together filmmakers to talk about what they created in advance of screening their movie — directors, producers, editors, writers and actors.

It was fascinating to hear how a movie got born, but it was Reitman's comments about how the political culture he made fun of 20 years ago seems like child's play to what we see today.

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I was getting “Dave” flashbacks Thursday morning as I watched the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board members squirm over whether to give the bus-train advertising contract to CBS or Titan — firms that are spending fortunes on dozens of lobbyists to get a $22-million to $23-million-a-year contract.

The meeting started nearly an hour late with only seven of the 13 members present and went downhill from there, to the point they couldn't even muster a quorum for a while to approve a long list of non-controversial measures because of conflicts of interest.

Then chairman Mike Antonovich announced that in discussions with the California Department of Transportation, several of the “alternative concepts” for extending the Long Beach (710) Freeway to Pasadena along Avenue 64 and through the San Rafael neighborhood were “off the table” from consideration as staff had recommended because of “low-performance characteristics.”

The five alternatives to be advanced, to actually be studied in depth, range from doing nothing at all to tunneling from the Interstate 10 under Eastside L.A. communities, South Pasadena past Huntington Memorial Hospital to the 710 Freeway stub at the Foothill (210) Freeway junction.

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