Saturday, March 17, 2018

High-speed rail fiasco rolls on

...Proposition 1A authorized the state to borrow $9.95 billion to get the project going. Information about Proposition 1A in the November 2008 Official Voter Information Guide stated that “the total cost to develop and construct the entire high-speed train system would be about $45 billion.”

This $45 billion “entire high-speed trail system” included service to Sacramento and San Diego as well as the route between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It also assumed dedicated track for the entire system, as opposed to the current “blended” plan in which high-speed trains share track with commuter light rail at the “bookends” near San Francisco and Los Angeles.

See the text of Proposition 1A and the ballot material related to it: Prop 1A: Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act...

Meanwhile, the groups making money off of California High-Speed Rail continue to push for the project to continue. The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, a coalition of unions with a monopoly on the construction workforce for the project, issued a statement on March 9 supporting the 2018 Business Plan: SBCTC Statement on California’s New High Speed Rail Plan.

With politically powerful unions continuing to support this project, the spending will continue until the courts finally stop it. Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) and other organizations will continue to argue to the judicial branch that the state’s legislative and executive branches have failed to uphold the promises made to voters in Proposition 1A.

In the meantime, the property takings and cultural erosion of agricultural communities far away from San Francisco and Los Angeles will continue at the hands of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Rob's comment:
As a Democrat, I hate to say it, but for once this shamefully stupid project is all the fault of the Democratic Party, not the Repugs. The unions cited above are an important part of the Democratic Party's base, and even dumb projects create jobs for those unions, which is all they care about. It's hard to find elected Democrats willing to speak out against this project.

Alas, Gavin Newsom, leading candidate for Governor of California, is flip-flopping on the issue:

Antonio Villaraigosa, stopping off Wednesday in the Central Valley to survey construction of the state’s oft-debated high speed rail system, accused Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom of repeatedly equivocating on the project, criticizing his Democratic rival for governor of being “for it, before he’s against it, and then he’s for it again.”

The former Los Angeles mayor suggested Newsom, the frontrunner in next year’s contest, was revising his positions “when the winds blow in his direction.” Newsom was an early backer of the rail project, and he campaigned for the $9.95 billion bond measure in 2008. But his opinion soured over route and business plan deviations. Newsom told a Seattle radio program in 2014 that he would use the money for “other, more pressing infrastructure needs”...

In today's Examiner:

Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom’s first campaign ad touts his “courage” for marrying same-sex couples 14 years ago in The City, a move that bucked state law and catapulted the former San Francisco mayor into national headlines. But closer to home, the nation’s historic first LGBT Democratic club has voted “no endorsement” for the June gubernatorial primary, leaving the slick-haired trailblazer out in the cold...

Odd that the gay club didn't endorse Newsom. Still, Newsom's boldest policy move was on homelessness in San Francisco, the issue that helped elect him mayor back in 2003. He actually screwed up the gay marriage issue with his terrible timing, which helped George W. Bush get reelected in 2004.

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