Monday, August 28, 2017

Leftist thugs attack right-wing Berkeley demo



At least five people were attacked and 13 people were arrested during a "Rally Against Hate" held in Berkeley, California on Sunday. As the The Washington Post reports, the violence this time was due entirely to left-wing anarchists or members of a loosely aggregated group grouped under the generic name antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

Shortly after, violence began to flare. A pepper-spray wielding Trump supporter was smacked to the ground with homemade shields. Another was attacked by five black-clad antifas, each windmilling kicks and punches into a man desperately trying to protect himself. A conservative group leader retreated for safety behind a line of riot police as marchers chucked water bottles, shot off pepper spray and screamed "fascist go home!"...

See also Antifa Beats Up Trump Supporters, Fuels Right-Wingers.

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The Central Subway numbers are the same

Steven Stamos at the SFCTA responded to my question about the city's contribution to the Central Subway project:

Mr. Anderson,

The SFCTA's contribution to the project has not changed. The $124 M in Prop K for Central Subway is still the correct figure. The apparent discrepancy appears to be the result of how the article grouped various fund sources into local, state and federal grant totals. Specifically, it looks like the article also counts the $14 M in State Transportation Congestion Relief Program (TCRP) funds that the SFCTA programmed to the project and a small amount of federal funds that we had exchanged with sales tax several years ago. ($123M Prop K + $14 M TCRP + $2 M federal funds = $140 M).

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

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Vision Zero failing worse in LA

San Francisco's traffic death scorecard

Two years ago today, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed his Vision Zero mayoral directive, setting the city on track to end all traffic deaths by 2025.

Unfortunately for Garcetti and the rest of L.A.’s residents, the results so far have trended badly. According to the Los Angeles Times, “in 2016, the first full year that Garcetti’s Vision Zero policy was in effect in L.A., 260 people were killed in traffic crashes on city streets, an increase of almost 43 percent over the previous year” and, at least as of April 2017, traffic deaths were running 22 percent higher than 2016.

Some critics are quick to blame L.A.’s Vision Zero programs for the unhealthy trend. Playa Del Rey road diet critics cite their own documentation showing a doubling of “accidents” since Vision Zero safety improvements were implemented. (If true, this would argue for more traffic calming, though that is not the conclusion they come to.)

The actual reasons for the alarming trend appears to have more to do with increased driving, low gas prices, a strong economy, and a lack of political will to take Vision Zero seriously. The program was barely funded for the first two years, until council leadership recently shepherded $27 million for the current fiscal year which just began on July 1. On top of the paucity of funding, several councilmembers have actively blocked safety improvements in their districts.

To mark the anniversary, the city Transportation Department (LADOT) put out a press release touting work accomplished so far...

Rob's comment:
If at first you don't succeed, double down on "traffic calming" and spending! San Francisco was more ambitious than LA, since City Hall only wanted to end all traffic deaths by 2024, not 2025. Neither goal is remotely plausible

According to the graph above, however, we're doing better than LA, though it's hard to detect any impact after the city's adoption of the Vision Zero slogan/policy, since, according to the Collisions Report (page 7) the city has averaged 30 traffic deaths a year for more than ten years.

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Bailing out the Honolulu rail project

John Pritchett

Today from Honolulu's Civil Beat on the rail project bailout:

...That’s the number the Legislature used when crafting the bailout, said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Based on that figure, the Legislature’s $2.4 billion package would be more than enough to pay for the project, Dela Cruz said in an interview.

House Speaker Scott Saiki agreed.

“HART’s report makes clear that the cost is $8.165 billion,” Saiki said. “And the $8.165 includes contingency costs.”

But now the city says it needs about $8.7 billion. And lawmakers are accusing [Honolulu Mayor]Caldwell of padding the tab.

On Friday, Caldwell issued a news release saying HART needed $3 billion. He said Oahu taxpayers would have to make up any shortfall---up to $1 billion, the mayor estimated---with property taxes. Despite the Legislature’s announced plan, Caldwell’s statement assumed the bailout would be financed entirely with general excise taxes.

“The shortfall is $3 billion, of which $1.5 billion of the shortfall is construction costs, and the remainder is in financing costs,” Caldwell wrote.

Caldwell has long called for Oahu taxpayers to foot the bill for rail with a GET increase. So Friday’s news release was nothing new.

But it seemed out of touch with the discussions over the past two weeks---not just the bailout proposal, but also statements made by key legislators weeks ago, in public, to Caldwell and his staff.

On Aug. 14, during an all-day briefing at the State Capitol, lawmakers rejected Caldwell’s repeated call to pay for the rail by extending the half-percent GET surcharge in perpetuity, instead offering to give it a three-year extension. The surcharge is set to expire in 2027.

Dela Cruz and his powerful House counterpart, House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke, both pointed out that the GET extension would cost Honolulu taxpayers $1.5 billion in interest and other financing fees. In other words, half of the $3 billion paid by taxpayers would go to banks, not the rail.

That’s because under Caldwell’s preferred plan, HART would have to borrow money to pay costs now and pay off the loans, with interest, from revenue that won’t start coming in until 2028.

By creating a new source of revenue immediately, like a new hotel room tax, taxpayers could save as much as $1 billion in interest, Luke said.

“A billion dollars is nothing to laugh at,” Luke said during the briefing.

Caldwell left the briefing early and didn’t hear all of the legislators’ remarks, but his chief of staff, Gary Kurokawa, was there to face blistering criticism from lawmakers, who made clear they were not inclined to fund rail with the general excise tax.

Since then, lawmakers have been circulating an analysis from the Department of Budget and Finance showing the project will save about $208 million in financing costs by relying on the hotel room tax rather than completely on the general excise tax.

A slide from a Department of Budget and Finance presentation shows the state will save about $208 million in financing costs by relying on the hotel room, or TAT tax.

In an interview Saturday, Dela Cruz said it would be irresponsible to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on interest payments when the state faces major liabilities for items such as the state employee health and retirement funds.

“We have too much of our own liability,” he said. “There’s no way.”

While the Legislature’s plan to extend the GET surcharge by three years estimates the extension will raise about $1.046 billion, Dela Cruz said that number is conservative.

Hawaii Department of Budget and Finance based its estimate on a general excise growth rate of 3 percent. That compares to a 4.6 percent growth rate HART predicted in its submission to the FTA.

“The fact is he’ll get a windfall if his numbers actualize,” Dela Cruz said of Caldwell.

Still, there has been no shortage of drama between the mayor and his fellow politicians.

Caldwell and Kurokawa met privately with legislative leaders last week to discuss a deal. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, the former chairwoman of HART, were also there. It ended with Caldwell storming out.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Caldwell was upset with the tone of the meeting, which apparently included a criticism of his leadership and honesty. He also told the newspaper that it appeared that at least one lawmaker, who he declined to name, was drunk during the meeting.

Sen. President Ron Kouchi admitted that tensions were high in the room, but he told Civil Beat that as far as he was aware no one had been drinking, as the mayor alleged. Kouchi refused to disclose who was involved in the negotiations, saying that he didn’t want to go “tit-for-tat” with Caldwell in the press.

“The discussion got a little passionate and the mayor chose to leave,” Kouchi said. “That’s my take on the whole thing. But we were hoping to work together.”

Regardless, it appears Honolulu’s mayor has a credibility problem with his counterparts.

“Colleen Hanabusa summed it up best when she said it looks like the mayor is trying to cover for something,” House Speaker Saiki said.

Caldwell’s spokesman did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

In addition to the three-year general excise tax extension, the proposal would raise Hawaii’s hotel room tax by 1 percentage point, from 9.25 percent to 10.25 percent, for 13 years. The industry says this is too much for an already highly taxed industry...

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