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High-speed rail is a bad idea when cities are failing

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Posted: Saturday, July 21, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:30 am, Sat Jul 21, 2012.

In the 1930s, San Bernardino was a prime winter vacation destination for Hollywood movie stars seeking to get away from what they considered to be chilly Los Angeles weather. Just as winter ended, two major league baseball franchises, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Browns, held their spring training camps in Berdo, as its many admirers lovingly called the Inland Empire city.

Everything was great — palm trees, pools, sun, golf, baseball and maybe an occasional glimpse of Bob Hope.

Those days are long gone. Earlier this month San Bernardino became the second-largest U.S. city to file for protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy code, Chapter 9. Stockton, San Bernardino’s neighbor to the north, and Mammoth Lakes, a tiny resort town, filed earlier in July.

In 2008, Vallejo started the bankruptcy trend, although “trend” is the wrong word. All four cities were driven deeply into debt by the housing collapse and rising public employee salary and benefits commitments.

The three recent filings have triggered speculation that this is merely the iceberg’s tip, and that more major California cities may soon take the same route. Joe Nation, a Stanford University economist, thinks that bankruptcy may be “inevitable” for many municipalities unless they can win major concessions from public employees on salaries and pensions.

Given that California, with its $16.7 billion deficit, can barely keep its head above water, and given further that its cities are cutting day-to-day services in an all-out effort to stave off San Bernardino’s fate, the hour is long past for Sacramento to show leadership and behave in a financially prudent manner.

Instead, last week Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill authorizing California to sell $2.6 billion in construction bonds for the initial 130-mile Central Valley bullet train segment. Brown’s signature allows the state to access $3.2 billion in federal funds for the project.

The latest of various cost estimates is $69 billion, a sum that, assuming the bullet train ever gets finished, will probably be half the actual amount. Already, $69 million is 51 percent higher than the 2008 $45 billion calculation but less than a truer, earlier projection of $98 billion that was slashed after public outrage.

The rail is mind-bogglingly absurd. Despite a $55 billion shortfall, construction will begin later this year near Merced with 300 miles of track to be laid from there, over 10 years, to the northern outskirts of Los Angeles. A decade (3,650 days) to lay 300 miles averages 500 feet a day. A northern link connecting to San Francisco wouldn’t be finished until 2028. For comparison sake, in 1931 New York’s 102-story Empire State Building was finished within 13 months.

According to recent polling, 59 percent of Californians said they’d oppose the bullet train and, if given another chance to vote for it, would halt public borrowing. Nearly 70 percent said that if the train ever runs, they’d “never or hardly ever” use it.

California’s failure can be measured by methods other than charting its cities’ bankruptcies. Forbes Magazine noted that since 1990, California’s government jobs in have increased increased 20 percent from roughly 2 million to nearly 2.4 million today. Over the same period, manufacturing jobs have declined from roughly 1.9 million to just 1.2 million, a 37 percent decline. From 1990 to 2012 the ratio of government employees to factory employees in California has doubled from 1:1 to 2:1.

The only thing that surprises me about California is that voters haven’t made an effort to recall Governor Brown as was successfully done in 2003 to Gray Davis. Maybe everyone who hasn’t moved out of California has grown accustomed to being steamrolled by Sacramento.

Joe Guzzardi, a California native, is one of thousands who reluctantly left his home state. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pa. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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Welcome to the discussion.

14 comments:

  • Robert Chapman posted at 7:26 am on Sun, Jul 29, 2012.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Imagine, Ms. Bobin criticizing people for doing what she is famous for, personal attacks. Hyprocisy at it's finest.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:54 pm on Tue, Jul 24, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Ms Bobin stated...Not a personal attack? Your mental acuity is fast diminishing, Mr. Baumbach

    From your perspective me stating you are wrong because you are ignorant of reality in my view is not a personal attack. It is saying you have no clue what you are talking about. That's all.

    I am ignorant of various topics as well. Everyone is. This happens to be one that you fit in.

    By the way, what is Glug, glug, glug ... I am ignorant of what that possibly could mean. Sounds like your expertise.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:53 pm on Tue, Jul 24, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Ms Bobin stated...Not a personal attack? Your mental acuity is fast diminishing, Mr. Baumbach

    From your perspective me stating you are wrong because you are ignorant of reality in my view is not a personal attack. It is saying you have no clue what you are talking about. That's all.

    I am ignorant of various topics as well. Everyone is. This happens to be one that you fit in.

    By the way, what is Glug, glug, glug ... I am ignorant of what that possibly could mean. Sounds like your expertise.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 11:56 am on Tue, Jul 24, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Eric Barrow stated...I would encourage the readers of the Sentinel to call the paper 209-369-2761 and request Joe’s column be discontinued.

    Of course, liberal solution to winning over ideas to his way of seeing this is to encourage people to demand free speech be eliminated for those he disagree with. It is no wonder Mr Barrow supports Obama. White House Communications Director Anita Dunn prasied China’s Marxist Chairman Mao as a “favorite political philosopher in a 2009 speech to school children.praised.

    Mao is famous for limiting free speech as a good Marxist.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:25 am on Tue, Jul 24, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2830


    Yes, he told us in advance what he planned to do. Few were listening.

    The following is a narrative taken from a 2008 Sunday morning televised "Meet The Press'.

    From Sunday's 07 Sept. 2008 11:48:04 EST, Televised "Meet the Press"

    THE THEN Senator Obama was asked about his stance on the American Flag.

    General Bill Ginn' USAF (ret.) asked Obama to explain WHY he doesn't follow protocol when the National Anthem is played.

    The General stated to Obama that according to the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Sec. 171...

    During rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present (except those in uniform) are expected to stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Or, at the very least, "Stand and Face It".

    NOW GET THIS !!

    'Senator'Obama replied:

    "As I've said about the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides". "There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression.." "The anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all that sort of thing."

    (ARE YOU READY FOR THIS???)

    Obama continued: "The National Anthem should be 'swapped' for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song 'I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing'. If that were our anthem, then, I might salute it. In my opinion, we should consider reinventing our National Anthem as well as 'redesign' our Flag to better offer our enemies hope and love. It's my intention, if elected, to disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren. If we, as a Nation of waring people, conduct ourselves like the nations of Islam, where peace prevails - - - perhaps a state or period of mutual accord could exist between our governments

    ......"


    When I become President, I will seek a pact of agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts. We as a Nation, have placed upon the nations of Islam, an unfair injusticewhich is WHY my wife disrespects the Flag and she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past".

    "Of course now, I have found myself about to become the President of the United States and I have put my hatred aside. I will use my power to bring CHANGE to this Nation, and offer the people a new path..My wife and I look forward to becoming our Country's First black Family. Indeed, CHANGE is about to overwhelm the United States of America "

    WHAAAAAAAT, the H e l l is that???

    Yes, you read it right.

    I, for one, am speechless!!!

     
  • John Kindseth posted at 5:15 pm on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    John Kindseth Posts: 243

    Ms Bobbit:

    Of all people, I would think you could "compare and contrast" [standard words from teachers far past] the differences between the transcontinental railroad, and the financial disaster of the train to no where.

     
  • Eric Barrow posted at 1:41 pm on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1513

    Another negative column by Joe. I can see no reason why the LNS supports this guy he brings nothing to the table but negativity and tries to support his opinions by cherry picking facts. Joe stated that Forbes reported that government employees have grown by 20% since 1990 but fails to mention that the population has grown by 28% during the same time period. I would think that Joe has enough to write about in his home state with the Nittany Lions receiving sanctions. The LNS has had to cut Monday circulation and at the same time they continue sending circulation dollars to Pittsburgh. I would encourage the readers of the Sentinel to call the paper 209-369-2761 and request Joe’s column be discontinued.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:59 am on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Baumbach wote: "I try to imagine the lack of understanding and ignorance that would have to be involved to draw the conclusions Ms bobin does...but it is even beyond that."

    Not a personal attack? Your mental acuity is fast diminishing, Mr. Baumbach.

    Glug, glug, glug - you are drowning in the cesspool of which Mr. Chang spoke so eloquently.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 11:40 am on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Thank you for substantiating my point which was not a personal attack but an observation of how it possible you draw the conclusions you do.If I called you a bigot like you do many, that would be a personal attack.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:20 am on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I am surprised that Joe Guzzardi did not call for the recall of Governor Schwarzeneggar, especially since he failed in his OWN bid for governor in the recall election. Scwarzeneggar made a bigger mess out of this state than any governor in recent history.

    No wonder he had to leave California.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:17 am on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I see that since you have nothing better to say in ALL of your comments these days, Mr. Baumbach, you resort to personal attacks.

    It is apparently fine for you to make them, but everyone else is considered incivil.

    You are a hypocrite of the first order. I feel sorry for you.

    None of these groups would have prevented the building of the railroad, as none would prevent the building of the high speed rail. Steps to protect the environment are necessary, unless you prefer....oh, that's right, you do prefer living in a cesspool of pollution.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:34 am on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Ms Bobin stated...Thank goodness Mr. Kindseth was not around in the late 1860's when the Transcontinental Railroad was being built

    Yes, and thank goodness the ACLU, green environmental groups, sierra club, prevailing wage laws and unions were not there when the Transcontinental Railroad was being built. We would still be using horse and buggies.

    I try to imagine the lack of understanding and ignorance that would have to be involved to draw the conclusions Ms bobin does...but it is even beyond that.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 2:38 pm on Sun, Jul 22, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Kindseth wrote: "Joe, the train from nowhere to nowhere is far worse than you describe. Just to start, thousands of ranches will be cut in 1/2, valuable farmland siezed (sic) by a corrupt state and put out of production. Loss of tax base,"

    Thank goodness Mr. Kindseth was not around in the late 1860's when the Transcontinental Railroad was being built. California would no doubt still be only accessible by ship, around the horn or through the Panama Canal, which would most likely not exist either if Mr. Kindseth had anything to do with it. Moreover, he would have protested that all the jobs were going to immigrants and Mormons, and not to "his kind" of Americans.

     
  • John Kindseth posted at 12:01 pm on Sun, Jul 22, 2012.

    John Kindseth Posts: 243

    Joe, the train from nowhere to nowhere is far worse than you describe. Just to start, thousands of ranches will be cut in 1/2, valuable farmland siezed by a corrupt state and put out of production. Loss of tax base, etc. Dan Walters called Brown & company, the politicians who live in a bubble. He is more charitable than I. I call them by their indian names......"He who walks with [s##t} fecal shoes."

     

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