The news that the City Council was thinking of de-funding the streetcar program’s capital investments this morning sent shockwaves throughout the city. The Council, in their morning meeting, de-funded the effort to the tune of $42M, reserving only $5M left for future planning. The shock was immediate, explosive, and frustrating. Phones rang off the hook in the council offices shortly thereafter with angry constituents demanding that the council reverse their decision.
This afternoon, Chairman Gray backpedaled so fast you’d think he was cycling backwards in the Tour de France. After the lunch break, in their legislative session, the Council reinstated $10M in immediate capital funding, and set aside $37M in reserved funding once the Mayor has a further plan.
The total time between the cutting of the streetcar funding and its restoration through new budget amendments was less than four hours. The response was overwhelming, and is an amazing example of the power of the constituent to influence, through emails, phone calls, tweets, blogs and other rapid-fire media, the workings of the council. Good job, everyone.