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AWC Asks Aldermen to Take a Stand Against Effective Transit

Alderman George Cardenas has been an outspoken opponent of Ashland BRT.

Yesterday Roger Romanelli’s anti-bus rapid transit group the Ashland-Western Coalition made its most overtly political move to date. An email from the coalition urged members to lobby their aldermen to oppose the CTA’s plan, implying the AWC will campaign against politicians who support it. “The Chicago February 2015 election is ahead,” Romanelli wrote. “It's time for Aldermen to declare their Ashland BRT positions. Are they with the people... or do they support a costly, disruptive BRT?”

The email offers to connect recipients with other BRT opponents in their district, and exhorts them to attend their local ward service night with others to ask the alderman where he or she stands on the issue. A list of “key aldermen” whose districts include Ashland, as well as a map of the 2015 ward boundaries, is provided.

While 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, the 32nd Ward’s Scott Waguespack, and 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett have all voiced skepticism about the plan, the only one whose viewpoint on BRT is mentioned in the email is the 47th Ward’s Ameya Pawar. This summer he tweeted his support for the project:

@mossdesign @activetrans @streetsblogCHI @thisislakeview @curbedchicago thank you! I can't wait for Ashland BRT. I hope Western comes next.

— Alderman Ameya Pawar (@Alderman_Pawar) July 9, 2013

“[Pawar] supports BRT despite its proposed ending at Irving Park Road before his ward,” Romanelli wrote. Actually, under the new ward boundaries, the northernmost mile of the system will run through the 47th. “We need his reversal or a new 47th Ward Alderman.”

The AWC is drawing a line in the sand, suggesting that aldermen who speak out for a more efficient and equitable Ashland are jeopardizing their careers. But the real question is, who's going to declare themselves as the anti-transit aldermen? Which of these politicians is going to go along with the AWC and say they want to block better access to jobs, safer streets, and a more promising economic future?

Cardenas has a good start on going down in history as the alderman who tried to deep-six BRT. In December he appeared on Chicago Tonight, making a number of backwards statements about the plan. Just yesterday, Cardenas tweeted his opposition after reading a Sun-Times article that mentioned the city is considering permitting more left turns off of Ashland as part of the plan:

Issue is not just left turns. This whole thing is out of left field!!

— George Cardenas (@georgeacardenas) February 3, 2014

Romanelli has one thing right. It’s crucial for Chicagoans to reach out to their aldermen to let them know how they feel about BRT. If you haven’t already done so, send a message to your alderman asking them to endorse the CTA’s plan.

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