Have you been following the race for governor? I have, and I’m deeply disappointed. Almost none of them is talking about transportation.
How can we create jobs, stop people from moving out of state, encourage entrepreneurs or do anything to save our economy when we are in a literal and political gridlock? How much time do you waste in bumper-to-bumper traffic getting to or from work? How many delays have you had on Metro-North, where on-time performance has reached a new low?
Why isn’t this an issue?
Sure, they pay it lip-service. Ned Lamont talks about tolls on trucks — quite a switch from his earlier support of statewide car tolling. I guess the polls beat out tolls when he saw how unpopular they were. But using trucks as a funding scapegoat? Sure, why not? Everybody hates trucks.
On the rails, Lamont promises Wi-Fi on Metro-North, but no mention of increased parking, more railcars for overcrowding or keeping fares down. Gee, he didn’t even promise a return of the bar cars. You missed that one, Ned.
As for Bob Stefanowksi, he’s clearly in the “tolls-are-a-tax” camp. But it’s so much easier to know what he’s against than what he supports. He’s been eluding the media except for a couple of debates and has subjected himself to little campaign scrutiny, aside from fund-raising.
Ask him about any topic and he’ll remind you that Dan Malloy is the cause of all our problems, and he has the solutions, though he never explains what they are. He pivots from question to sound-bite like a whirling top.
Just who are these guys?
Lamont served as a selectman in Greenwich, but Stefanowski has never held elected office. In fact, Stefanowski wasn’t even a full-time Connecticut resident until last year after splitting his time in London for much of the past decade.
He also didn’t vote for 17 years. How can he say he cares about running Connecticut without participating in the process?
Lamont’s greatest political credential is running, over and over again, for everything from the U.S. Senate to governor. Hey, at least he tried.
What Lamont and Stefanowski have in common is that they are multimillionaire businessmen who have plowed much of their fortunes into funding their campaigns. They’re quick to remind you they are businessmen, not politicians.
And therein lies the problem.
Running a state government is not like running a business. You may be governor, but you’re not the CEO of a state. You have to work with a legislature, not a board of directors (whose members you probably hand-picked). Haven’t we learned by the example of the Donald Trump administration’s chaos that it’s folly to assume a businessman can govern?
But there’s another serious candidate we must not forget, though he too is just another businessman with no political track record.
Oz Griebel is running as the no-party candidate and this guy does have transportation experience. He was the first chairman of the Transportation Strategy Board in 2001, and you’ve got him to thank for the new cars on Metro-North.
Sadly, many of the TSB’s ideas were never implemented before Malloy shut it down, but of the “three-businessmen-of-the-apocalypse” who want to be governor, Griebel is hands-down the best on transportation.
Cameron on Tolls and State Transportation Policy
- Restricting Trucks on I-95 or Raising Their Tolls Further Won’t Help Traffic: Cameron on Transportation (Aug. 19)
- Instead of Working on the Transportation Mess, CT Politicians Demagogue About It: Cameron on Transportation (Aug. 13)
- Forestalling Tolls and Tax Increases Won’t Keep Bridges from Rotting: Cameron on Transportation (May 27)
- Jim Cameron Speaks to Greenwich Audience About CT’s Transportation Funding Crisis (March 31)
- State Legislators Hold Ultimate Responsibility for Funding, Improving Roads and Rails: Cameron on Transportation (March 21)
- No Free Ride: Connecticut Needs Tolls and Gas Taxes: Cameron on Transportation (Feb. 25)
- Don’t Blame Gov for Transport Project Delays, Blame the Legislature: Cameron on Transportation (Feb. 7)
- Predictions for Roads, Rails and Air Transport in 2018: Cameron on Transportation (Jan. 21)
- CT’s Prospects Get Ever Darker for Transport Funding, Even for Maintenance and Plowing: Cameron on Transportation (Jan. 2)
- Think Gridlock on the Roads Is Awful? Wait’ll You Consider Political Gridlock: Cameron on Transportation (Dec. 11, 2017)
- Big Transportation Improvements? CT Needs To Play Budget Catchup First: Cameron on Transportation (Nov. 17)
Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident for more than 25 years. He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group, sits on the Merritt Parkway Conservancy board and also serves on the Darien RTM and as program director for Darien TV79. The opinions expressed in this column, republished with permission of Hearst CT Media, are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com.