By Sylvia Gurinsky
We have met the enemy of Tri-Rail, South Florida, and it's some of this region's own Democratic legislators.
Because, according to the Palm Beach Post, they were pressured by unions and because they didn't want the state to be liable for accidents on the tracks, they joined anti-tax-under-any-circumstances Republicans in voting against a bill that would have provided a permanent source of funding for Tri-Rail - a $2 surcharge on rental cars. Because of that, unless a miracle happens, Tri-Rail may have a year and a half to two of survival at most before it's killed entirely.
Many commuters can't afford that. Ridership is up over the last few months for people trying to save money on gasoline. Others don't have a car as a backup plan, and must travel in the tri-county area - some from Palm Beach County to Miami-Dade - using Tri-Rail.
Co-conspirators in this mess are Gov. Charlie Crist, who's spent the session polishing his entry speech into the U.S. Senate race, and legislative leaders in both houses and both parties.
Democratic lawmakers say they're pro-labor. Not judging by this vote. They turned their backs on fellow South Floridians struggling to hold on to jobs. Come November, 2010, angry Tri-Rail riders might turn the tables in the voting booth.