Letter: High-speed wrecking ball headed for state | March 28, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - March 28, 2012

Letter: High-speed wrecking ball headed for state

High-speed rail is a devil's bargain for California. Discussions about how to fund it, which segment to start with, and how great it will be, are like assurances of the safety of the Titanic. This project would put our state under water for decades to come.

But it seems that the specter of $3 billion in federal money is so enticing to our Legislature that, in spite of the fact that California is teetering on the brink of insolvency, our state government has pledged to match the federal funds for building the bullet train, knowing that we'll have to come up with another $89 billion to complete the project. That's right: $89 billion.

The fiasco looks like this: Our bankrupt federal government offers taxpayer dollars to our bankrupt state government, which offers more of our taxpayer dollars to, no doubt, some well-greased palms, and a few high-bidding construction unions, for a needless project that can only end tragically, ruining California's economy beyond all recognition for generations to come. Think austerity measures and worse.

Governor Brown, rather than admitting this is a time-bomb for the state, has said he'll try to get the money from China. China? Do we really want the Communist Chinese holding and controlling part of California's infrastructure? What are the implications of that for our sovereignty? Our bankrupt state now seems ready to sell its soul for a "free" government lunch.

Of course there are no free lunches. That is the concept that has bankrupted most of the Third World, and seduced European countries such as Greece into financial ruin. It takes wisdom and courage to turn down "easy" money, which always comes with strings attached. We need our senators and other decision-makers to turn down this gigantic wrecking ball that is aimed squarely at California.

Cherie Zaslawsky, Menlo Park


Posted by Margaret Fruth, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Irrespective of all other issues, we can't afford this train. The debt service alone will be huge enough to adversely impact other programs, such as schools. If the governor & legislature sell bonds in June, I will have to conclude that we don't need to vote for any new taxes whatsoever this November. Any politician who votes for selling these bonds, doesn't need my vote.

Posted by R.GORDON, a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

What a pile!
Where were you in about the fifth year of the war that was illegal and broke our country?
Crying over Wall Street losses?
It is simple math. The rich do not want to fork over money who live comfortably in their antiqued filled houses on the Peninsula.
You do not hear anyone griping outside of our beloved San Mateo County. Check out the opinion polls of those younger people who have more to worry about than trivial pursuits and guarding what they have left.
America has little or nothing left as a nation. It is those who are rich and comfortable who are very much in agreement with you.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Yes Mr. Gordon, please DO check the opinion polls. 75% of the state is now AGAINST HSR. Hardly only "San Mateo County."

Posted by R.GORDON, a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm

75% Republican financed votes. Not ONE university or college or specific age group was polled.
Mostly over 40ish.
Get a grip.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Mr. Gordon:

Really? From the linked article:

"If a bond measure to construct a high-speed rail system were put on a California ballot today, the state’s voters would reject it by 59 percent, according to the results of a new Field Poll released Tuesday."

"The results highlighted a significant change in voter sentiment since November 2008, when Proposition 1A passed with more than 52 percent of voter approval and successfully established California’s High Speed Rail project."

"Nearly two out of three of the voters who took part in the Field Poll stated they would support the legislature putting the bond measure back on the ballot for another public vote.
By an almost two-to-one margin, — or 59 percent to 31 percent—voters said they would reject high-speed rail, according to results.
The poll also found that 37 percent of voters who approved Prop 1A in 2008 would change their vote to no if the bond measure came on the ballot again."

Web Link

Not 73%, but certainly a majority think the project should be killed.

Posted by Ethan, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Apr 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Re. increasingly expensive transportation:

"The most radical thing you can do now is stay home."
--Gary Snyder

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

MV -

Remember what George Bernard Shaw said about wrestling with a pig.

Editors: No offense intended to the porcine community.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

You're right POGO. Sometimes I can't resist pointing out when someone is so blatently wrong.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm

MV -

It's a common affliction.

Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2012 at 11:14 am

To Cheri,POGO and Menlo Voter:

Love you guys. Let me vote for you sometime. I used to feel so alone, now suddenly the obvious is obvious to others. Union Labor only cares about itself - at the expense of everyone else. All the best - and keep your comments coming.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

The parasite is KILLING the host.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 14, 2012 at 11:33 am

As I've said before, I'd rather build a stairway to the moon.

And everyone should note that with this last budget modification (and does anyone believe the new budget is anywhere close to the final number!), this is no longer "High Speed" Rail.

What they are now proposing is just a $60 billion train. Just.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Amtrak already runs from the bay area to LA. If the new HSR isn't really HSR, there's no need for it as train transport between the two areas already exists. It would be irresponsible to build a duplicate, unneeded train.

Posted by Christopher Chiang, a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I love California because we are willing to invest in progressive policies. I do worry that we forget that not all progressive policies are equal in their public return on investment or moral responsibility.

I share everyone’s dream for California to be a 21st century state, but a truly advanced society starts with its children. It’s there we should be building grand dreams.

Chris Chiang
Democratic Candidate for the State Senate
(for San Mateo County/northern Santa Clara County)
More info: www.halfourbudget.org

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 15, 2012 at 7:29 am

Mr. Chiang -

Yes, and most of those "grand dreams" you reference have made our state the highest taxed and most indebted state in the nation. Congratulations.

Instead of dreaming about trains, I suggest you focus on a few things that impact citizens of our communities every day.

Here are just three. First, our schools are failing our children and they are dropping out at an absurdly high rate. You want something that impacts our future - think about half of our kids entering the workforce without so much as a GED. Second, our roads are in a horrible state of disrepair and the traffic. If you drive on El Camino Real - as we all do - this road alone is costing you and your neighbors countless wasted hours and wasted gasoline spending every single trip. Grand dream? I'm not aware of a single proposal that will have even the slightest impact on that. And third, instead of our public employees working for the citizens, our citizens are now working for our public employees, especially those that are retired and no longer employed. What was once a few percent of a budget for pension benefits is now the single biggest component. In some municipalities, pensions will be almost half of government spending.

So forgive me if I'm less than enthusiastic about a $100+ billion train to Los Angeles. How about a politician with the courage to address these real issues honestly?