Saturday, January 07, 2006

Before You Can Say "Chavez"...

...Frank Krusei is at it again. Expostulating at length on the offer of fifteen million dollars in fuel from Citgo, he said that the diesel offered by the Venezuelan petroleum company was not the kind used by the CTA. The CTA chief presented a counterproposal that would have Citgo buy an equal number of fare cards, which it would distribute free to low income riders. Krusei also expressed hesitancy to "depart from the established foreign policy of the United States" by patronizing a Venezuelan company. Citgo has suggested that the CTA swap the diesel with another company.

Krusei met at length yesterday with legislators and aldermen in the office of Ald. Ed Smith. Many pols had little patience for Krusei's maneuvering-which comes in the wake of last spring's legislative "bailout" of the CTA. Rep. Marlow Colvin warned Krusei, "when you come down with that hat, there better be a check for fifteen million in it." Colvin and others are convinced that Citgo can meet the CTA's demands, and US Rep. Luis Gutierrez(D-Chicago) assured Krusei that the State Department would approve of the deal.

The CTA has already refused to roll back fare hikes, even if the $15 million comes through. Angry riders and testy legislators will not win the agency any popularity contests, and this will decrease the chances of state aid in the future-and increase the cries for privatization or a "formula change."

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