Monday, March 17, 2014

Thea Selby appointed to high-speed rail board

 Selby gave the Bicycle Coalition a blank check

From a California High-Speed Rail Authority press release:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors Chair Dan Richard issued the following statement today upon Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez’s appointment of Thea Selby to the Authority’s Board of Directors: “Ms. Selby’s appointment to the Board of Directors represents a continuation of the Authority’s commitment to working with a variety of stakeholders. She brings a long legacy of supporting transportation projects in the Bay Area, particularly high-speed rail, and will be a valuable asset to the Board,” said Chair Dan Richard.

That is, Richard understands that Selby won't be asking any bothersome questions or voting against whatever he wants to do. Selby ran for District 5 Supervisor in 2012, a campaign of happy-talk and bullshit. She's been particularly awful on the massive UC housing project on lower Haight Street. She seems to think the garish murals on the property and her cutesy, "silly bunny" eyesore project somehow made it okay to allow UC to rip off that public property to fatten its real estate holdings.

Fortunately for California taxpayers, the high-speed rail boondoggle seems to be in its death throes. Selby's recent op-ed in the Examiner provides a sample of her mindset, which is why Richard rightly assumes Selby will be a team player. Selby compares the high-speed rail project to building the Golden Gate Bridge:

Once the voters approved a bond, financing was neither clear nor easy to come by. Ferry companies and others launched lawsuits to stop the bonds from being issued. There were no companies willing to take on the issuance of the bond until Bank of America stepped up.

But the state legislature created the Golden Gate Bridge District, the voters approved the construction bonds, and the bonds were serviced using bridge fares. That special interest litigation wasn't serious enough to even delay the project, which came in under schedule and under budget.

Selby finishes her op-ed with a rhetorical flourish:

The California voters decided and passed a bond to be spent on high-speed rail in 2008. That train has left the station, and that money can’t be spent on anything else. And we decide as well which politicians we want to vote for. There are the ones like Gov. Jerry Brown who steadfastly and unwaveringly support California high-speed rail and work to make the vision a reality. And there are those who look for an opening and think they found it in the wind currently blowing on this latest visionary infrastructure project. It’s up to us to decide.

Actually, it's now up to the courts to decide. According to opinion polls, most Californians now oppose the project and would like to see it on the ballot again so they can reject it. And according to Judge Kenny, that money can't be spent on high-speed rail, since it doesn't conform to what the state's voters voted for in 2008, though that litigation process isn't over yet. Gavin Newsom understands that the money for the project simply isn't there, while Governor Brown is trying to hijack cap-and-trade money for high-speed rail, which even Democrats oppose.

Selby clearly doesn't know or understand any of this, which is why Richard is pleased to welcome her on board the train to nowhere.

See the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail for the best analysis of the project's many shortcomings. 

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The gentrification of the Santa Clara 49ers

Ticket prices at the Santa Clara stadium

The Field of Schemes blog is skeptical about stadium deals. This morning on the 49er's new  stadium:

We finally have a model for a successful stadium project, then: Build it in a market where you have a fan base rabid and rich enough that they’re willing to pay anything for a chance to buy tickets, and where naming-rights fees run into the eight digits, and you’re all set. Too bad everybody can’t play in the Bay Area.

But in the long run, the NFL---and football in general---is in trouble because of the concussion issue. They can fiddle around with the design of the helmets and the rules all they want, but that's unlikely to do anything but mitigate in a marginal way the dangers, since you don't have to be hit on the head to suffer a concussion.

I say this in sorrow as a long-time 49er fan (as I mentioned before, I was at Kezar Stadium for the 1957 playoff game against the Detroit Lions). Actually attending 49er games is now too expensive for working class fans.

Like a lot of sports fans, I'll likely be watching more basketball and baseball---games that have little chance of serious head injuries---than NFL games. It's impossible to keep denying that football is an intrinsically violent game, unlike baseball and basketball.

When I was a kid in the 1950s, boxing was a much more popular sport in the US than football. On TV we had the Wednesday Night Fights and the Friday Night Fights, sponsored by Gillette Blue Blades and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. 

The sheer, undeniable brutality of boxing has now relegated it to a much smaller audience in the country, and I never watch it anymore. 

The fate of Muhammud Ali---suffering from Parkinson's syndrome for years---probably forced many to face the ugly, intrinsic violence of boxing. Football may suffer the same decline in the long run. The wisdom of allowing children to play Pop Warner football and teenagers to play in high school is now being questioned. 

From the Seattle Times