An editorial in the Houston Chronicle hits the nail on the head regarding the irony of DeLay negotiating an agreement on a local issue in his district. And they explain well exactly what I have been thinking on it.
DeLay was the real winner in a local issue that pitted neighborhood activists against a joint proposal from the chemical industry and a railroad company to build a new rail line. DeLay had promised the railroad, Burlington Northern, and the chemical industry he would not interfere. They gave big money to TRMPAC, founded by DeLay. Then after constituent pressure and a fast-approaching election, he negotiated a deal. The question is, even with the agreement and the Clear Lake community winning this fight, do Clear Lake residents have residue anger toward DeLay for the years he steered clear of the issue? In other words, are residents willing to hold him accountable for not stepping in sooner because he took campaign money from Burlington Northern? On its own, it is doubtful; as a piece of the puzzle, maybe.
Here is the editorial:
WIN-WIN, DELAY STYLE
Rail tap dance allows House majority leader to collect corporate contributions for his PACs while leaving Clear Lake constituents smiling
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
When Burlington Northern railroad officials forked over more than $50,000 to Texans for a Republican Majority last year, they and a group of chemical company allies thought they had assurances that the PAC's founder, Congressman Tom DeLay, would stay neutral in the consortium's efforts to build a new hazardous cargo rail line through DeLay's district. One of the partners, Lyondell Chemical, contributed $16,000 to DeLay through company officers and employees.
As recently as last July, a DeLay spokesman reaffirmed that his boss was staying out of the controversy between proponents of the project and Clear Lake residents opposing it on environmental grounds.
Then the November election campaign heated up, and Democrats tried to exploit community discontent with the proposed rail line by laying the blame for it at DeLay's feet.
In late October, DeLay appeared at Houston City Hall for an unusual meeting with the CEOs of the competing railroads. He was now singing a different tune: Constituents don't want another rail line, so let's make a deal.
The irony was palpable when DeLay took the bows this week as the guiding force in a deal between Burlington Northern and Union Pacific. The agreement resolved the controversy over UP's monopoly of a rail line serving the Bayport Industrial District, introduced competition on shared tracks, and made a new line unnecessary. Participants in the negotiations say DeLay's role was essential in securing the compromise.
"The result is better than we could have hoped for," the majority leader crowed. "If you look up the term 'win-win situation' in the dictionary, you could find a picture of this agreement."
Only in Tom DeLay's New World Dictionary is a reader likely to find the following definition for "win-win": A situation in which one collects generous contributions from one side in a controversy; shifts position under political pressure, currying support from an aggrieved constituency on election eve; and then proudly announces "a Christmas compromise," producing hails of jolly good fellow.
The congressman's critics may not appreciate his methods, but in this case it's hard not to admire DeLay's fancy footwork and the end result. Shippers in Houston's important petrochemical sector get competitive rates, a new rail line does not have to be built near residences and schools, and new traffic does not further overload Houston's east end.