Warren Buffett dives into local politics to fight streetcars

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has broken his practice of staying out of local politics, urging his hometown of Omaha to abandon a planned streetcar project.

Buffett wrote to the editors of the Omaha World-Herald this week to meet with the mayor to lobby against the $306 million project and urge the city to allow a referendum.

However, the city authorities are proceeding with the construction of trams. That’s because he believes Mutual of Omaha’s plans to include a $600 million headquarters tower downtown will spur development.

In the letter, Buffett said he had decided to make an exception to his policy of staying away from local issues, but said, “Teach a wealthy 92-year-old what’s good for their future. He said he wanted to consider streetcars because they would be “very expensive to implement.”

“Residents will be served much better by extending or enhancing service provided by the bus system,” Buffett said. The trams, supported by large public subsidies, continue to run carelessly, and mistakes are literally thrown into the cement.”

Buffett did not respond to questions about his letter on Thursday.

The proposed tram will depart less than 20 blocks from Buffett’s Midtown home for decades, passing the headquarters of his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate on its way downtown.

When Mutual of Omaha officials announced that the new office tower is expected to be the tallest building in the city, the new tramway will be a key part of the plan, as it will provide convenient access to the new headquarters. said it is. The company declined to respond directly to Buffett’s criticism on Thursday.

The city is using new tax revenues from other anticipated developments along the tramway to pay for the project. And the city council has already approved the bond to pay for it.

Buffett said he would vote against the project if given the chance, but the city doesn’t need to hold an election. There have been few, and we have made progress.

Omaha Mayor Gene Stozert told the Omaha World-Herald that he met with Buffett on Wednesday to discuss the city’s streetcars and development.

“While I hold Buffett in high esteem, I respectfully disagree with his position on streetcars.”

Buffett’s headquarters staff is only about 20 people, and the streetcar is only about seven blocks west of his office, so even if he passed the front door, it’s unlikely that more people would take the streetcar.

But the conglomerate, led by Buffett as chairman and CEO, is a global company that includes BNSF railroads, Geico Insurance, several major utilities, and various manufacturing and retail businesses such as Dairy Queen and Precision Castparts. owns over 90 companies in Berkshire also owns approximately $300 billion worth of stocks, including large investments in Apple, Coca-Cola and Bank of America.