My Hypocrite of the Year Award

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I’ve never had a high opinion of Connecticut politicians, of either party. I have developed a particular urge to kick in the ass that state’s senior U.S. senator, Richard Blumenthal, for being a publicity hound and hypocrite. That urge began after the overturning in December 2013 of a Metro North Railroad train on a sharp curve at Spuyten Duyvil, N.Y., resulting in the death of four passengers.

Blumenthal and fellow Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer (they’re known to some reporters as Schumenthal) used that tragedy (the engineer became inattentive approaching the curve) to hound the Federal Railroad Administration into promising to require inward-facing cameras on all locomotive cabs. This would prevent accidents, the two men said, although there is no evidence at all that this is the case. Rather, it would make it easier for investigators to determine what went wrong after an accident. Fortunately, the proposed regulation has disappeared without a trace somewhere in the bowels of the White House Office of Management & Budget, OMB being the place in Washington, D.C., where adults work.

I’m grateful to reporter Ana Radelat of The CT Mirror’s Washington bureau for calling to everyone’s attention Blumenthal’s latest antic. He urged that all railroads unable to complete installation of positive train control by the December 31 deadline be heavily fined. “Our nation’s rail passengers require more than hollow rhetoric and sluggish action by regulators and railroads,” he said in his own version of hollow rhetoric.

But—and here’s the part that floored me—he asks that Connecticut’s railroads (especially including Metro North) be exempted from any penalties. Why? After all, Metro North hasn’t lifted a finger to actually physically install PTC these past seven years and says it won’t get the job done until 2018. Well, Blumenthal explains that MN has made a “good faith effort” and thus deserves not to be penalized. A spokesman for the state’s DOT quickly said MN had indeed made a “good faith effort.”

Oh my, the cynicism just drips out of peoples’ mouths in Connecticut. So to you, Senator Blumenthal, goes my 2015 Hypocrite of the Year Award. Congrats, or something.—Fred W. Frailey

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