Monday, September 14, 2009

A little context in the local transportation debate

It has come to my attention that Christof Spieler, formerly an engineer with Matrix Structural, and board member of the Citizen's Transportation Coalition, and blogger at Intermodality, now works for Morris Architects as Technology Director. The vice president of Morris Architects is one, Doug Childers who is a President of the Richmond Rail group. It is widely speculated that MA is going to be one of the companies sub-contracted to do much of the design work for METRO's expansion. It is important to keep an eye on the back room connections of these groups, it is often quite incestuous. Often the public face of activism is also the private connection to a interest group with a financial stake in the outcome of the debate. It is always a good question to ask yourself "who benefits". Because often you will find that the bouncing buck has bounced into the pocket of the activist in question. Follow the money and you'll rarely go wrong.

That is not to say that his statements are false, they may in fact be valid arguments, but they must be tempered by his financial connections as well.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does "widely speculated" mean? Sounds like a species of mammal that sits on couches and makes stuff up.

September 15, 2009 3:21 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Fair question, here is some supporting data:

There is a coalition of groups calling themselves Transportation for America that is actively seeking to steer federal transportation funding and objectives in the Smart Growth / New Urbanist direction. MA is a member of that group, as well as CTC Houston.

http://t4america.org/who-we-are/

Then there is the fact that they are trying to redevelop an area adjacent to the current red line.
http://houston.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2004/05/24/daily6.html
http://www.aiahouston.org/udc/HISTORY.htm
http://www.chinatownconnection.com/houston-midtown-transit-oriented-project.htm

and then finally there is page 3 of this document:
http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache%3Aipg3pkmUZMIJ%3Awww.acsp.org%2Fevents%2F2006Conference%2FLast_Minute_Changes_Flyer.pdf+%22Morris+Architects+Houston%22+%22rail%22&hl=en&gl=us&pli=1

It would appear to me that Morris Architects has plans on getting the redevelopment work from all that land that METRO is going to condemn under it's eminent domain powers to build transit-centric mixed-use developments. The upcoming constitutional amendments that would implement eminent domain amendment restrictions would certainly throw a monkey wrench into the works if they pass, So I would also not be at all surprised if both METRO as well as the CTC and other rail promoters fight tooth and nail to defeat those proposed amendments.

September 16, 2009 9:26 AM  

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