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12th January
written by Sean Noble

Good grief.  Light rail’s blight in the greater Phoenix area is only getting worse.  First, it was the completely dishonest campaign to convince voters that it would reduce traffic congestion and that it wouldn’t remove any traffic lanes (renderings of Central Avenue showed three lanes in each direction).  Then it was the construction phase that was ten times worse than promised by light rail boosters.  Lately it’s been trains hitting cars and smaller-than-hoped-for ridership numbers.

And now this: “artists” riding the light rail with no pants on.

The Arizona Republic carried a story on Sunday headlined “Light-rail riders shed trousers.”  Here is one of the craziest quotes I’ve ever read by an elected official: “The International Don’t Wear Your Pants Day is great; we need more things like this.”  That brilliance was uttered by Avondale Vice-Mayor Ken Weise.  Uh, sir, it just isn’t good public service to be cheerleading people taking their pants off in public.  What’s worse, he apparently had his 11-year old daughter with him.  She is obviously the adult in the family, her quote was, “It’s kind of bizarre to look at.”  Yes, dear, bizarre is one way of putting it.

Now, I don’t know Weise, never met him, heck, I’d never even heard of him before this story, but it just isn’t setting a good example when  your daughter witnesses your glee at pant-less patrons of light rail.  It’s kinda creepy.

There are a couple other gems in the story.  Apparently, we haven’t seen much of this kind of thing in Phoenix in the past because we didn’t have enough “public spaces.”  Now that we have light rail, we have “a public space in which diverse groups can come together.”

According to “urban-studies expert” Nan Ellin at ASU, “Things like this get people excited, and that’s the promise of the public realm. You’re in a space where people don’t know what will happen. I think people will start to say, ‘Phoenix is cool.’ People get excited when they see the possibilities of things like this.”

Well, without pants on, I hope they don’t get too excited.  And I don’t think this is the kind of “excitement” most people want in Phoenix.  This woman has a PhD and she says that taking your pants off in public is going to have people saying Phoenix is cool?  Did she do that on the subways of Manhattan when she was “earning” that PhD at Columbia? Her comments are not only embarrassing to Columbia (although they won’t be embarrassed by it) they’re especially embarrassing to ASU, or should be.

Hasn’t this cost us enough?  It’s costing us credibility and now more money for Metro to invest in signs that say, “No shirt, no shoes, no pants, no service.” 


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  1. 12/01/2009

    The ten years of analysis that went into light rail can basically be summarized as follows: the nation’s other top 15 cities all have light rail, or heavy rail, or subways or elevated trains, so maybe if we get something like that, they’ll take us seriously.

  2. Thomas Grier

    I totally agree with the post and the comment. I have had some observations lately in regards to the light rail. Graduate students I work with, undergraduate, and those who have degrees are mostly very excited about the light rail hailing it as a great leap forward for phoenix. I work construction to pay for school sometimes and all the blue collar people I work with say it is a disaster. The “educated” seem to love the idea of mass transit…a phrase I hear a lot from them is, “you have to measure intangibles.” The enlightened blue collar workers seem to just see it as another way that our state will bring in more trashy people..yeah that right’s…

  3. Kim Owens

    I can only hope Mr. Weise was speaking tongue-in-cheek…since I live in Avondale I am hoping so! EWWWWWW!

  4. Susie Mallory

    A Phoenix resident for 19 years, imagine our surprise when we saw this on the news right here in Indiana. It’s not getting good press and is an embarr”ass”ment.

  5. […] of the Sun continue to mount.  This time, the brainiacs who brought us light rail (and their “public places for art”) decided that it was too much hassle (and money) to provide any facilities for the folks they […]

  6. […] guards transporting prisoners is not an intended use.  But people claiming to be artists can take off their pants and we are supposed to celebrate the “public space” that is now […]

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