WLRN Miami – Business group “surprised” by All Aboard Florida Snub
Posted on December 12, 2014
By Christine DiMattei
A group of Palm Beach County business leaders says they’re confused by All Aboard Florida’s unwillingness to appear at their luncheon Thursday, especially since it was All Aboard Florida who pitched the idea in the first place.
The proposed Miami-to-Orlando passenger rail was the topic of discussion for the Economic Forum of Palm Beach County’s monthly lunch meeting. But just a few weeks before the event, All Aboard Florida officials canceled, citing “scheduling conflicts and a formatting change.”
Economic Forum President Rebel Cook says she made it clear to All Aboard Florida from the start that the format of the meeting would be a panel discussion.
“I was very surprised. They asked for the program,” said Cook. “They requested the program and I said that would be fine. But we bring in as many sides of an issue as we can.”
Also surprised was Tequesta Mayor Abby Brennan, one of the panelists. In recent months, Brennan has voiced concerns over the public safety implications of All Aboard Florida’s plans to run 32 trains a day on the Florida East Coast Railroad tracks.
“This was never supposed to be a debate,” says Brennan. “It was never presented that way to me. It was simply a forum that we would hear what All Aboard Florida has to say. Then I would have an opportunity to explain some of the challenges that we were facing.”
But Economic Forum organizers are not unhappy. They say that after word got out that All Aboard Florida would not be appearing, the Forum Luncheon got about 30 more paid guests than usual.
Since the proposed passenger rail project was first announced in March of 2012, All Aboard Florida officials say they’ve been present at over 700 public meetings.