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Blogger to Politician?

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Speaking to poor planning and development, an opinion piece from last week in the St. Petersburg Times talks of bloggers moving from idea maker to action taker. "Many of us are angry about the impoverished environment we've inherited... Because of this brutal lack of place and community in our real world, those who Richard Florida calls 'the creative class' have been agitating for positive change by using the Internet to exchange ideas... it's just a question of time before some of these folks enter the local political scene."

One person who comes to mind is Damien Goodmon, who first hit local blog notoriety with his public transportation dream map.

To date, Goodmon, a transit advocate, has fought hard against the Expo Line that will travel 8 miles from downtown to Culver City with a planned second phase continuing to Santa Monica. He's leading the Citizens' Campaign to Fix the Expo Rail Line (he uses Blogger to update the website) who seek to fix the deficiencies on the light rail line that has already broken ground. Among the problems, the major theme from the group is safety on the at-grade crossings where they believe the train should run in a trench similar to underground portions of the Metro Blue, Gold and even Expo Lines.

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He's really got some community force behind him, especially this last Friday when 2nd District County Board of Supervisor candidate and current State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas has gave him some credit when referencing his group in a press release:

State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas today called on Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard Parks to immediately resign his appointed position on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) because he has accepted more than $21,000 in political contributions for his campaign for L.A. County Supervisor for the Second District while serving as an MTA Board member. [snip]

The Citizens' Campaign to Fix the Expo Rail Line called for a state and county investigation into Mr. Parks' MTA contractor fundraising activities. To date, Mr. Parks has refused to return any of the more than $21,000 in contributions he solicited. Worse yet, he continues to vote on MTA projects of prime interest to his campaign contributors as a sitting member on the MTA Board.

Not everyone agrees with Goodmon, but change doesn't come when no one's rocking the boat. Recently, he's been submitting public records requests to Metro regarding accidents and incidents along the Blue Line. Metro has refused according to documents he has been e-mailing the press. What's interesting is that a study by the American Public Transportation Association and USA Today found that the Metro Blue Line, which travels 22 miles from Long Beach to downtown, had 61 fatalities between 1990 and 2002. It ranked number one on a list of major U.S. cities who had light rail. San Diego came in at second with 22 fatalities during the same time period with more than double the mileage of light rail tracks. San Francisco with a whopping 73 miles of light rail has only had 8 fatalities.

Whether Goodmon is right or wrong on the Expo Line, he's on to something and he's definitely paved a path to political leadership in the near future.

Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist