The Almost Charmingly Relentless Bad Faith Of The Orlando Sentinel’s Editorial Page

031: Called UponThe Sentinel editorial page was at it again recently, stomping feet and labelling people who object to corporate giveaways and freight train disruption in their downtown cores “haters” and other such silliness.

We sure are selfish over here. After all, these freight trains and this looming industrial corridor really aren’t that big of a deal. Don’t we understand that CSX provides a valuable freight service, for which we should all be thankful? And, I mean, these Orlando folks have just wanted commuter rail for so long. It’s been such a high priority. It’s so important for mobility. And did I mention the freight traffic really isn’t that big a deal? Surely, if they could, those Orlando folks would keep it because it’s really a minor issue, right?

Hmmm. From the Sentinel, A1, Oct. 15, 2002, Part 3 of a 4-part series called Breaking the Gridlock.

Headline: Rerouting Trains Could Ease Backups; But Diverting Them From Orlando’s Center Would Come At A Steep Price

“Twinkies and beer, it turns out, do a remarkably good job of blocking traffic. Of course, anything packed in a mile-long freight train stops traffic. Just ask Central Florida drivers. About a dozen times a day, their trips through Winter Park, Orlando and other parts or urban Orange County are halted by engines and freight cars rumbling across the region’s urban midsection.

“Those trains, hauling everything from coal to auto parts – and even the spongy snack cakes – can shut down an intersection for five minutes or more. Over the course of an entire day, that’s nothing. But to commuters hurrying to work or racing to pick up a child at day care, it’s an eternity….

“…For 20 years, there have been sporadic calls to move train traffic [You mean calls for commuter rail, right? It’s such a priority, right?] out of downtown Orlando, but the effort has never picked up steam. It’s a great idea, offcials say, but no one has been willing to take on the tab, which could top $400 million. Now, however, Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty has appointed a 21-member committee to find a way to get traffic moving in car-clogged Central Florida. And while most of his proposal focuses on bigger and better roads, it’s also raising the question of what to do with the freight tracks that run right through the heart of downtown.

“…Today, about 12 freight trains and five passenger trains lumber through downtown every day…[Lakeland can expect at least double that as the rail relocation and deal play out over the next 10 to 15 years, according to a new state study.]….

“…The best chance for moving freight may come if local leaders decide to run commuter rail through Orlando. Already, John Mica, R-CSX [OK, that’s mine] has secured about $8 million in federal money…

“…”It’ll have to be tied to a mass transit project,” Mica said. “That’s the only way.” [That, and finding a state Department of Transportation willing to dump one city’s problem onto another with no warning, discussion, or mitigation.]

Again, not a passenger rail deal, folks. It begins and ends with freight rail, as Mica himself so elegantly puts it. None of this is new. I reported these basic facts back when I worked for The Trib, but it was funny to discover this story as I was fishing around through some stuff. I can’t link to the whole thing, It’s too old. I just saw a hard copy.

I don’t know who’s writing the editorials for the Sentinel now that Jane Healy is retired, or whatever. But come on guys – Healy, Mike Thomas, whoever, read your own paper and have a little honor. You could very easily write: “Yes, yes, we got over and stuck it secretly to cities in west Central Florida – and probably the rest of Florida – with the help of DOT. We understand why they might be mad, but, ces’t la vie…” That would be intellectually honest. At least stop whining. You’re the big kids kicking sand in everybody’s face. My goodness, Mica and Jeb put this deal together, and you’re being bullied? Please. It’s not enough to get over? You have to complain about people realizing you’re getting over?

Or, if you actually wanted to be responsible, you could write: “Yes, yes, we got over and stuck it secretly to cities in west Central Florida – and probably the rest of Florida – with the help of DOT. Maybe that was a mistake. We understand why they might be mad, and maybe we ought to work on a way to improve this for everyone.”

I won’t hold my breath.

Creative Commons License photo credit: william couch

8 thoughts on “The Almost Charmingly Relentless Bad Faith Of The Orlando Sentinel’s Editorial Page

  1. I posted a somewhat similar comment on the Sentinel editorial blog. It’s time to revamp FDOT. This project is ridiculous. And FDOT just keeps turning out the PR fluff (Marianne learned alot at the Sentinel). I wonder if Tupperware really wants to change their underused land. Tupperware is a corporation that flies so low under the radar, its hard to imagine them wanting to be in the development business.

  2. I posted a somewhat similar comment on the Sentinel editorial blog. It’s time to revamp FDOT. This project is ridiculous. And FDOT just keeps turning out the PR fluff (Marianne learned alot at the Sentinel). I wonder if Tupperware really wants to change their underused land. Tupperware is a corporation that flies so low under the radar, its hard to imagine them wanting to be in the development business.

  3. Good to see you at it again. This project was done in the dark and it really makes you wonder about our state politicians. Drink the CSX kool-aid Orlando and send your left overs to the folks in Winter Haven. With the economy and the state budget in the shape that it is in, how can anyone in their right mind fork over the hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to a private entity for 65 miles of track. Get ready Lakeland because there will be double tracks through downtown before you know it.

    The State of Florida should consider the separation of commuter from freight rail corridors to enhance future passenger rail service in urbanized areas and encourage freight rail traffic be routed through non-urbanized areas. This position is very consistent with the State’s interest to provide liability protection to CSX. The risk factor would be greatly reduced if freight was routed through rural corridors. A logical plan for commuter rail will utilize the exiting lines that traverse Central Florida along the I-4 corridor for the movement of people.

    The City of Lakeland is genuinely concerned with the impacts associated with increased freight trains along the “S” line that bisects through our downtown. CSX has commented that the “S” line has the capacity to handle 54 train movements a day although the line currently carries about 18 trains per day. CSX officials have publicly expressed their desire to put as many trains as they can on the rail line. The rerouting of freight rail traffic will destroy downtown Lakeland.

    Polk County has a growing population. In fact, the US Census Bureau lists Polk County as one of the top 20 fastest growing counties in the state. The annual estimates by the federal agency show that on July 1 Polk County had 574,746 residents. Lakeland is the largest community in Polk County with a population nearing 100,000 and roughly 250,000 people residing in our immediate service area. We continue to make strategic investments in support of area economic development efforts as evidenced by our active endorsement of the new USF Lakeland Polytechnic campus and we seek to protect those investments as we encourage regional partnerships throughout the 1-4 corridor.

    In the early 1980’s The City of Lakeland set out on a path to being an invigorating community. Since then hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested by both the private sector and public sector in downtown improvements and new construction. An integral part of the long range strategy has always been the relief of commuter traffic between Orlando, Lakeland and Tampa.

    Orlando wants freight out of their area as evident by past articles in the Orlando Sin Tin El. Get ready because this deal that was done outside of the sunshine, behind closed doors and stinks like day old fish will bring double tracks to Lakeland before you ring in the 2010 new year.

  4. Good to see you at it again. This project was done in the dark and it really makes you wonder about our state politicians. Drink the CSX kool-aid Orlando and send your left overs to the folks in Winter Haven. With the economy and the state budget in the shape that it is in, how can anyone in their right mind fork over the hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to a private entity for 65 miles of track. Get ready Lakeland because there will be double tracks through downtown before you know it.

    The State of Florida should consider the separation of commuter from freight rail corridors to enhance future passenger rail service in urbanized areas and encourage freight rail traffic be routed through non-urbanized areas. This position is very consistent with the State’s interest to provide liability protection to CSX. The risk factor would be greatly reduced if freight was routed through rural corridors. A logical plan for commuter rail will utilize the exiting lines that traverse Central Florida along the I-4 corridor for the movement of people.

    The City of Lakeland is genuinely concerned with the impacts associated with increased freight trains along the “S” line that bisects through our downtown. CSX has commented that the “S” line has the capacity to handle 54 train movements a day although the line currently carries about 18 trains per day. CSX officials have publicly expressed their desire to put as many trains as they can on the rail line. The rerouting of freight rail traffic will destroy downtown Lakeland.

    Polk County has a growing population. In fact, the US Census Bureau lists Polk County as one of the top 20 fastest growing counties in the state. The annual estimates by the federal agency show that on July 1 Polk County had 574,746 residents. Lakeland is the largest community in Polk County with a population nearing 100,000 and roughly 250,000 people residing in our immediate service area. We continue to make strategic investments in support of area economic development efforts as evidenced by our active endorsement of the new USF Lakeland Polytechnic campus and we seek to protect those investments as we encourage regional partnerships throughout the 1-4 corridor.

    In the early 1980’s The City of Lakeland set out on a path to being an invigorating community. Since then hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested by both the private sector and public sector in downtown improvements and new construction. An integral part of the long range strategy has always been the relief of commuter traffic between Orlando, Lakeland and Tampa.

    Orlando wants freight out of their area as evident by past articles in the Orlando Sin Tin El. Get ready because this deal that was done outside of the sunshine, behind closed doors and stinks like day old fish will bring double tracks to Lakeland before you ring in the 2010 new year.

  5. And where will the state $$$$$ come from to support this CSX/Orlando/Winter Haven power play? With the massive budget problems ahead, I suppose we could take more money out of schools to make this happen? That would make about as much sense as the rest of this bad backroom deal.

    But, I agree with Billy, the press should quit trying to pass off chicken droppings as chicken salad and tell it like its!

  6. And where will the state $$$$$ come from to support this CSX/Orlando/Winter Haven power play? With the massive budget problems ahead, I suppose we could take more money out of schools to make this happen? That would make about as much sense as the rest of this bad backroom deal.

    But, I agree with Billy, the press should quit trying to pass off chicken droppings as chicken salad and tell it like its!

  7. Like a friend once said, “You can roll horse turds in sugar and call them doughnuts, but they’re still horse turds.” This deal reeks of a sick horse and needs to be put out of it’s misery before it drags on much further.

  8. Like a friend once said, “You can roll horse turds in sugar and call them doughnuts, but they’re still horse turds.” This deal reeks of a sick horse and needs to be put out of it’s misery before it drags on much further.

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