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Brian Mast Looks to Score Points by Pressing All Aboard Florida

July 10, 2017 - 1:30pm
Brian Mast and Dave Aronberg
Brian Mast and Dave Aronberg

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., continues to take aim at All Aboard Florida (AAF).

At a House Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee meeting last month, Mast grilled Mike Reininger of Florida East Coast Industries about AAF’s financing and infrastructure projects.

After the meeting, Mast insisted he wasn’t impressed with Reininger’s answers, claiming on social media AAF “continues to obstruct the truth from the citizens.”

Mast insisted taxpayers deserve the truth about who is paying for AAF, adding he thinks that group is failing to address critical safety and economic concerns.

“Today I had the opportunity to question All Aboard Florida head Mike Reininger at a committee hearing,” Mast noted. “Despite their dishonest claims to the contrary, All Aboard Florida has repeatedly pursued public, taxpayer-funded financing.”

Mast’s questioning Reininger was applauded by groups that opposed to the high-speed rail operation.

“Thank you, Rep. Brian Mast, for standing up for your constituents against All Aboard Florida,” Florida Not All Aboard posted on its Facebook page. 

Citizens Against Rail Expansion (CARE) praised Mast as a “community champion.”

But according to Jim Kovalsky, president of the Florida East Coast Railway Society, Mast was offering nothing new. Kovalsky said these are the same types of claims used against AAF for the past three years, noting the funding is private and that AAF will upgrade bridges and railroad crossings with state-of-the-art renovations.

“It's too bad that Congressman Mast obviously has no knowledge of the project and is simply taking propaganda from anti-rail groups,” Kolvasky told Sunshine State News. 

Mast opposed the train when he ran for the open seat representing parts of the Treasure Coast in last year’s election, but the timing of his recent push against AAF has been called into question.

Days before Mast questioned Reininger, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) polled the district. Their results showed a top Democratic challenger -- namely, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg -- running close in a district Mast won by 10 points last year.

With Mast supporting President Donald Trump on repealing and replacing parts of Obamacare and with his focus on protecting the Indian River Lagoon, a pollster who works with the Democrats expected the freshman Republican to be in better shape. 

“His numbers should be up, not lopsided,” the poller told SSN. “I guess Mast, believes going back to his roots and campaigning against AAF will help him.” 

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish, a supporter of the train, told SSN that AAF  has become a political “boogeyman issue.” 

“AAF has won the argument in court. It’s time to move on and deal with the real issues at hand,” Parrish said.

Even Mast stated on his Facebook video that he’s not on the House Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, but he asked if he could sit on it that day to participate in asking questions of the AAF executives.

Kovalsky insisted this is nothing but a wedge issue. “I suppose if you need your poll numbers to go up, Mast will try to make AAF the political whipping boy,” said Kovalsky.

AAF emailed SSN that the rail venture has been consistent on the train being privately funded and its main goal is to continue to work with the local communities on upgrading railroad crossings to ensure public safety.

Ed Dean, a senior editor with SSN whose talk show can be heard on radio stations across Florida, can be reached at him on Twitter: @eddeanradio


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Thank you Representative Mast. You are following through on your campaign promises!!!

Rep. Mast should be careful as to what media outlets he curls up with. Stuart News is a silly, disoriented little home town outfit. Stick to legitimate mainstream media.

GO BRIAN !... "All Aboard Florida" is an ENDLESS TAXPAYER "Money Pit"! ! ! A seemingly endless scam by sanctimonious, scallywag Lobbiests along with the pettifogging politicians populating Tallahassee (a never-ending case of "who is in whose pocket?"

The Governor's of this fine state have shot down rail transportation since the first JEB Bush administration. It was done either through direct actions which claimed to be in favor of the general population. Instead the money which was set aside was used for road improvements that were at capacity within months after opening. Then the other High Point was Gov. Scott turning down FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION MONEY and avoided funding passenger rail improvements in the state. Yes there is always strings with federal funds, but with Florida being a DONOR state on the issue of federal transportation related revenues, the federal funding would have changed that balance for a while. The entities that win when it comes to redirecting these funds is NOT the citizens. Look at the businesses that grow. Always follow the money trail.

Too bad doing what's right is now considered scoring points. Congressman Posey has been no slouch in helping his constituents oppose AAF. He revealed the consulting firm AAF used to come up with ridership projections was convicted of fraud. He exposed the taxpayer support that goes into all forms of federal funding for AAF. Congressman Mast is joining others in Washington that actually listened to the citizens of the region and did something about it!

Florida needs mass transportation systems very badly. All Aboard Florida is the first step in making that happen. When Gov. Scott vetoed the high-speed rail from Tampa to Orlando 6 years ago it set us back as a region and as a state. We need this rail system because our highways are full and our airports are full, and our tourism and resident numbers grow every year.

1. Railroading is a 150 year-old solution to a 21st Century problem. A boondoggle at best. 2. Our highways are congested in urban areas - not in the arteries between those urban areas. This "new" route will not solve the "last mile" problem and these engineers know it. Boondoggle!!

Your "theories" are hogwash "Tom Hall" (you just have to be affiliated with "All Aboard Florida" in some yet to be revealed fashion..."

Yep and the money that Scott turned down would have provided money to build NEW high speed rail tracks through communities that WANTED it. The state HSR commission already determined that the old Flagler line was the least safe, most costly route for HSR from MIA to Orlando. The only reason AAF came to pass was to line the pockets of the freight people and the land developers.

To those of us living on the Treasure Coast who would suffer from the increase in train traffic through the hearts of our communities, this is not a bogus political issue as this article suggests.

AMTRAK already runs from Miami to Orlando, It's on its own tracks and the High Speed Line could run there. To be realistic, a local train on the old Flagler line, would maybe, solve the traffic problem ????????????? Think this thru, don't waste tax dollars. Not bogus here on the Coast. Tourists can ride AMTRAK.

Editorializing via the headline is just wrong. "Looks to score points...." One more example of why the approval of media is so low.

I didn't read "LOOKS TO SCORE POINTS" as a bad thing. He's scoring for the good guys, so what's your deal Charlotte?

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