RTA to hire lobbyists to boost federal capital funding

The Regional Transportation Authority is preparing to hire a public relations firm to lobby Congress for more capital improvement dollars for the CTA, Metra and Pace.

Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting that a firm formerly headed by David Axelrod and its partners are set to win a $1.7 million lobbying contract. That’s a lotta dough, so they better rake in some cash for the Red Line and other high-priced improvement projects.

And the RTA is betting they will do just that. In fact, the RTA is hoping to quintuple the federal capital dollars it receives, to about #2.5 billion a year. But, as Greg Hinz writes in his blog, “Doing so will be extraordinarily difficult, given that Congress has been unable to pass a long-term transportation funding bill, even though most of the money would go for politically popular highway work.”

So, good luck with that.


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  • I mentioned Congress being being unable to pass a transportation bill before. Hiring Axelrod's firm isn't going to sway the House.*

    However, we have $1.7 million of supposedly scarce RTA money being urinated away to curry favor with undoubtedly politicians still affiliated with Axelrod. I'm surprised that they haven't given Todd Stroger $.9 million to lobby for more homeland security money.

    BTW, the link is no good.

    *I may have noted here, but certainly did elsewhere, that the House is taking those who post here that the highway trust fund is not enough to support highways by suggesting cutting the transportation bill by 1/3. You folks still can't figure out the law of unintended consequences.

  • Jack, thanks for letting me know about the broken link. It's fixed now.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:


    Reading that reveals 3 things.

    (1) We are really supposed to believe that this was a competitive process? Was Rich Rod's firm also making a proposal?

    (2) Either (a) RTA is blowing money asking for something national when there is no stomach for it [i.e. I'm sure NY needs $5 billion a year, etc.] when there are already industry lobbying groups like APTA, or (b) who in the rest of the country is going to listen to a commercial that an agency in Chicago that is so inept that even the state does not earmark capital money to it [but only to the service boards] wants their money? Which brings us to...

    3) The CTA wants to go it alone indication at the end of the Hinz article.

    I assume you used the last sentence of the original post in the same manner you used it in a post a couple of days ago. But the economy is stimulated in that Axelrod's buddies are pretty much guaranteed $425K of our sales tax money per year for the next 4.

  • Or the RTA could use the $1.7M to do something truly extraordinary -- like start to balance its own freaking budget. Of course, that would require Illinois politicians to understand that they're running out of other people's money to spend, and good luck with that. What a bunch of whiners.

    And wasn't this administration supposed to end the revolving door between high-level government jobs and lobbying firms, precisely to prevent this kind of tax-supported fleecing?

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