Skip to comments.Culberson's sway over Metro plans may be diluted -Lampson ...could affect rail project
Posted on 11/09/2006 11:21:24 AM PST by weegee
Culberson's sway over Metro plans may be diluted
A Lampson appointment to key House panel could affect rail project
Last throws U.S. Rep. John Culberson easily won re-election, but his party lost the House, which means the Houston Republican could lose some of the committee influence that has made him a force to be reckoned with in Metro's transit plans.
But local House Democrats said it is virtually certain Culberson will keep his seat on a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee that authorizes transit funds and will continue to have a strong say on projects in his district.
His influence could be diluted if Democrats succeed in placing newly elected Democrat Nick Lampson on the same subcommittee, where Culberson is now the sole Texan among 15 members.
On Tuesday, Lampson won the seat formerly held by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, who preceded Culberson on the transportation funding subcommittee.
Opposition In his tenure on the panel, DeLay blocked the Metropolitan Transit Authority from spending any federal dollars on rail. Culberson has not gone that far but says he will oppose Metro building any significant part of its planned University light rail line on Richmond.
"I think generally the new majority is much more sensitive to mass transit and light rail," said U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston. "But we still have to work to get our money, and Culberson is going to be on that committee, and we still need to have his help."
Green and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, said they want Lampson on the subcommittee but also want Culberson to stay.
"He (Culberson) is there from Texas, and although he and I have some philosophical differences, he's helped me get money for some of my transportation projects," Green said.
"I want any Texan I can get to be well-received on any committee they might be on because that is an asset for Texas," Jackson Lee agreed. "What we want is to make sure that we are fighting for Texas and that the resources that Texas sends to Washington come back in full force to the state of Texas."
Despite the new majority, Green said he does not intend to press the issue of whether the University line segment west of Main should go on Richmond or Westpark.
"That's John's concern. It's his area, and we're pretty territorial," Green said. "I'm not going to get involved in the Richmond controversy as long as he stays out of my district."
Lampson served in the House from 1997 to 2004, including service on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Metro seeks support Lampson and Culberson staffers said the two were not available for comment Wednesday. Metro spokesman George Smalley issued a statement saying, "Transportation is a non-partisan issue."
It said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, "has always been a staunch supporter," and "we believe the House delegation will continue to support our expansion program, too."
"We look forward to working with our delegation to get the federal funding this region deserves," the statement said.
Lampson's Web page includes the comment: "I worked very hard to increase transportation funding for the Houston area and strongly disagreed with Rep. Tom DeLay when he took an 'over my dead body' approach to increased light rail and Metro funding."
The suburban Houston district Lampson will represent does not include any of Metro's planned light rail or Bus Rapid Transit lines, but its residents have keen interest in commuter rail from Houston to communities in Fort Bend County.
Downplaying Lampson Robin Holzer of the Citizens Transportation Coalition a grass-roots group that has supported rail on Richmond and said Culberson should not interfere in the federally prescribed route-selection process said Lampson's election will probably have little effect on the University line debate.
However, Holzer and Jackson Lee said the defeat of another Richmond rail opponent, state Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston, could give Metro a freer hand in choosing a route.
During a debate with Wong, Ellen Cohen, the Democrat who defeated her in state House District 134, said the Legislature has nothing to do with Metro. Wong responded that it was the Legislature that created transit agencies, including Metro.
Jackson Lee said residents in the Montrose portion of District 134 vigorously support light rail.
Chris Seger, an Afton Oaks resident and longtime opponent of Metro rail plans for Richmond, said he and others "naturally regret Martha Wong's defeat because she was such a stalwart force in making Metro look at the damage (light rail) would do to Richmond."
Seger said Richmond rail opponents "are eager to work with Cohen as best we can and will not view her as an adversary."
He said Culberson remains strongly against rail on Richmond, and "It would not behoove Mr. Lampson to go fishing in troubled waters" by taking a contrary stand.
Accidental Houston Chronicle memo admits to tainting the news with political agenda (Posted on 11/25/2002)
A Houston odyssey: DeLay, Lanier and light rail
Posted to HoustonChronicle.com Nov. 20,2002
Next November, voters in the city and across the Metropolitan Transit Authority service area will cast a truly important vote: They will decide whether Metro should be permitted to expand our rail rail system beyond the 7-mile South Main line.
There isn't a more critical issue on the horizon. I propose a series of editorials, editorial cartoons and Sounding Board columns leading up to the rail referendum, with this specific objective: Continuing our long standing efforts to make rail a permanent part of the transit mix here.
The timing, language and approach of the paper's editorials would, of course, be the decision of the Editorial Board. But I suggest that they could be built upon and informed by a news-feature package with an equally specific focus: Telling the story of rail here by examining the long term relationship of the two key players in the local transit wars -- Rep. Tom DeLay and former Mayor Bob Lanier. For better or worse, (mostly worse, I would argue) no two have had a more significant impact on transit decisions here. Our readers deserve to know how they've operated to fund and promote an anti-rail agenda for the past two decades. This would be vital information for voters as they come to their decision on rail. It would also be highly entertaining read.
We in Houston have our own version of the "Chinatown" story of the early 20th century Los Angeles, when the currency of power was water: Who controlled it; who received it; where it came from; and where it went at what price. Since World War II, Houston's currency has bee concrete-- millions of cubic yards poured for freeways.
DeLay and Lanier have been the two central characters in our local drama. This urban-suburban, Republican-Democrat odd couple is bound by the belief highways and poured concrete are the path to a profitable future for this area, and its converse--the belief that mass transit must be stopped in its tracks...
Wow. I'd never seen that memo before. As for Culberson, I've never seen a paper hate someone more.
That memo was online for a few hours before there was a dry retraction that it wasn't meant for the public's eyes.
It's not the first time the Comical has engaged in political games in the NEWS reporting. LBJ bought off the editors back in the 1960s. He held a letter that acknowledged the paper's "deal" in exchange for permitting a bank merger to go through that Houston's business community wanted. In return the Houston Chronicle was to not be critical of Johnson or the war in Vietnam.
This came out (with a lot of Johnson's audio recordings) in the 1990s.
Still wonder was is on JFK's tapes. They are waiting until everyone associated with the administration is dead before revealing the truth. Only hope those tapes survive long enough (I think 50 years was the stated date).
WHO'S MONEY, FOOL?
"I want any Texan I can get to be well-received on any committee they might be on because that is an asset for Texas," Jackson Lee agreed.
BS. "any Texan" did not hold to Tom DeLay.