Folks, Sounds of Jim Croce are filling my mind, “Operator, can you help me place this call?” Lillie Tomlin’s voice echoes in the background, “One ring-a-dingy. Two ring-a-dingy.” And how many times did you see the tried and true scene in which the main character fills in for the switch board operator and tries frantically to connect incoming calls to their intended recipient.
Well, it’s time for you to catch the phone craze and make a few calls. If you’re more in tune with the 21st century, e-mails or text messages are also acceptable vehicles for the message: Michigan’s transportation infrastructure, including public transportation, critically needs increased investment. Pass the MITA Plan!
As was discussed last week, the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) put forward a plan to move the ball at least half way to the goal of a “good” level of transportation investment as found in the Transportation Funding Taskforce’s (TF2) recommendations. The Grand Rapids Press published an article this past Monday describing why transit advocates are supporting the MITA Plan — “Gas tax plan, higher registration fees have support of local transit advocates.”
Fast forward a few days, last night the Michigan House passed a series of “shell” bills over to the Senate on the MITA Plan (article at: http://www.freep.com/article/20081212/NEWS06/812120389). Both the House and Senate are now scheduled to return to session next Thursday, December 18. This sets up the possibility that the two chambers may agree on a new funding package before adjourning for the year. However, as the article notes, this chance is slim at best and much work, debate and horse trading will be taking place between now and then.
So, pick up the phone or type out an e-mail to your House member and Senator to say thanks for their hard work and to ask them to Pass the MITA Plan! Action is needed now and until next Thursday, December 18th.
• When calling your legislators (especially state senators) and any other legislators that you know, again thank them for their hard work and urge them to support the MITA Plan. When you’re on the phone with your senator, also ask him or her to urge Senator Bishop (the Senate Majority Leader) to work on this so as to be able to bring the MITA Plan to a vote next Thursday. (House members at: http://house.michigan.gov/find_a_rep.asp; senators at: http://senate.michigan.gov/SenatorInfo/find-your-senator.htm.)
• Ask your members, constituents and other concerned citizens to call or email their legislators. You and they can visit www.FundMiTransit.com for an easy online email. Just follow the step by step instructions and you’re an activist in no time. And don’t forget to take a moment to personalize the e-mail message, especially the subject line. You don’t want your words discounted because they may think they are spam or something less.
• Write a letter to the editor of the GR Press (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your local paper about the importance of funding transit and the need to pass the MITA Plan. (View Letter to the Editor Tips.)
• Then (did I say clearly enough?) urge your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and others across the state to do the same. We need everyone’s help to make this happen.
Now is the time to act. If this transportation funding package doesn’t pass in next week, we will need to wait until next Spring at the earliest before it is considered again. We don’t have that long to wait. The work ahs been done crafting a solid plan to take the first step towards the rebuilding of Michigan’s transportation infrastructure. Please make time to support this proposal!
All for today.
P.S. From the irony department, a couple people were asking about the origin of the phrase, “lame duck.” Well, because such things make me curious and the internet is such a wild assortment of such info, I discovered that its first recorded usage was in 1761 and it originally described folks who couldn’t pay their bills in the stock market. Ironic indeed. I guess once you leave office, you won’t be around when the bills become due. (http://www.phrases.org.uk//meanings/lame-duck.html)