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Video Report: California High-Speed Rail Under Siege

| January 20, 2012
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On Wednesday, in his State of the State address, Governor Jerry Brown gave a rousing defense of California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project. From the New York Times on Thursday:

Mr. Brown championed the rail project at a time when it has seemed increasingly endangered. The cost has doubled to $98.5 billion. The notion of starting the work in a sparsely populated section of the state has been ridiculed. And support for rail projects in Congress has all but died.

Here’s a This Week in Northern California video report on the current travails of the proposed HSR system, including opposition to the project in the Central Valley. The report was produced in cooperation with Train Wars, a documentary film about high-speed rail, now in production.

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  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but we’re broke
    here in CA. Don’t you recall just a few months ago that Gov. Brown was trying
    to pay for the CA $28 Billion dollar (not Million, Billion) deficit by asking
    state taxpayers to raise taxes on themselves, and in this recession, where CA
    has almost 13% unemployment. Remember the “automatic budget trigger
    cuts” about to be enacted by Controller Chiang because CA pulled a bait
    and switch and “overprojected” phatom revenue of $4 billion coming
    into CA coffers? Don’t you realize that those automatic trigger cuts will cut 7
    school days from all K-12 education in California, which will only lead to even
    worse educational attainment, scoring, results – to which CA already ranks
    almost dead last.

    What part of
    “broke” don’t Sacramento Democrats get? Yes, we all want something
    like that shiny brand new car, or that $2 million house with a pool, or that
    $5000 suit that fits just nice – BUT, if you can barely make the minimum
    monthly payments on your credit cards, is it really a prudent thing to say
    “to hell with it” and take out that new loan?

    Look, CAHSRA’s recent
    biz plan “currently”estimates cost to build between $98.5 – $117
    Billion, just for SF-LA. In 11/08, they told voters it would be only $33
    Billion for SF-LA including SD & Sac. But, as of 12/22/11, CA only has $3
    billion from feds, with ABSOLUTLEY NO PRIVATE INVESTMENT.

    Where is the other
    $115 Billion coming from?

    And, bonds are paid
    back at $2 for every $1 borrowed, so taking out new CA loans (i.e. issuing
    bonds) for $115 Billion will actually require California taxpayers to pay back
    $230 Billion for this Train to Nowhere Boondoggle.

    It is
    truly priceless that our Democratic legislators and “leaders” in
    Sacramento refuse to listen to the Field Poll, and other polls, that prove
    Californians overwhelmingly (by 75%) don’t want any taxpayer money spend on
    High Speed Rail.  When will the
    Democrats start listening to the People who elect them, rather than the
    California Labor Federation and other well-connected Unions that keep pushing
    to bankrupt the state via a useless train that no one wants, that CA can’t
    afford, and that no one will be able to afford to ride, nor want to ride.  When exactly will they start listening in
    Sacramento?  Do we need to have all the
    California Independents and Repubs and moderate Democrats vote out the ultra
    liberal in Sacramento?  Hell, the CAHSRA’s
    own Peer Review Group says to no fund this stinker of a project – how worse can
    it get than that?

    Look,
    read the best selling 2011 Michael Lewis book called “Boomerang” -
    flip to pages 171 -212 (Chapter entitled “Too Fat to Fly”).
     Lewis details the Greek financial collapse, the reasons why Spain,
    Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, and yes – very soon – France and England, and
    perhaps Germany, will be going belly up soon.

    In short, these
    countries did exactly what California has done: promised too much, borrowed too
    much, promised lavious but unsustainable penions to hundreds of thousands of
    retired employees, with health benefits, etc.  But, those promised debts
    are called “unfunded liabilities”.  In Greece, they were able to
    keep all of these unfunded debts off the books via fraud and corruption.  

    But, these debts are
    now sinking down from the state level to the cities and counties in California.
     What this means is that borrowing costs continue to rise, but more people
    continue to retire, so more is spent from each years General Fund toward these
    retireee pensions and health care costs.  The inevitable result -
    BANKRUPTCY FOR CITIES, COUNTIES, AND YES, EVENTUALLY THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA.
     Remember Vallejo went backrupt to get out of these unfunded promises?
     Well, financial experts who analyzed Greek default are predicting 100 CA
    cities/counties will also go BK in next two years.  

    But, CA-State wants to take
    $118 Billion in new bonds (aka new “loans”), or $236 Billion due w/interest
    pymts ($2 interest/principal paid for every $1 borrowed by California) – FOR A
    HIGH SPEED TRAIN THAT THE FIELD POLL IN DEC. 2011 PROVES THAT MOST CALIFORNIANS
    DON’T WANT, WOULD NEVER RIDE, AND WOULD RATHER SEE SCRAPPED SO K-12 FUNDS FOR
    CHILDREN, SENIORS, PARKS CAN BE RESTORED. 
    WHY DON’T SACRAMENTO DEMOCRATS LISTEN TO THE VOTERS?!

    • http://twitter.com/phfresno Paul Herman

      Copying and pasting other people’s words is unethical Florez, and your ranting will not change that fact that California will begin building HSR this year. Sorry to burst your bubble. 

  • Anonymous

    New Statewide Field Poll Dec. 2011 Results here proving that the
    MAJORITY OF CALIFORNIANS DO NOT WANT ANY KIND OF HIGH SPEED RAIL IN CALIFORNIA –
    COMPLETELY OPPOSITE OF WHAT GOVERNOR BROWN SAYS – DECEMBER 9, 2011 POLL HERE:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/12/state-voters-would-reject-high-speed-rail-project-poll-shows.html and http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19484490 and http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/12/solid-majority.html

    And this new January 14, 2012 Survey USA Poll shows
    that most Californians want the sale of HSR bonds to be stopped, and most
    believe the train will never be built: http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport_main.aspx?g=a6de7d0b-533c-4fb0-bfea-6fbd5ec746ed

    It comes as no
    surprise that Republicans want the bond sales stopped by a margin of 71/19, but
    a plurality of Democrats also want a halt to the project, 46/41, as well as a
    plurality of independents at 48/39.  In fact, the only demographic that still wants the bond
    sales to take place is self-described liberals, 33/62.  Moderates are
    opposed 2-1 to the bond sales, 54/27.

    This 12/2011 Field Poll, and the Survey USA Poll all confirm that 9/29/2011
    statewide poll that confirms CA voters would overwhelmingly vote to spend
    limited state money on education/tuition, mentally ill, water, environment
    (75%) over a “high-speed-train” between SF LA (11%). 63% vote to end the HSR
    boondoggle now & 61% say they would never take a HSR train. Due to CA’s bad
    budget, in 2011 we saw: protests at UC/CSU from 26%
    tuition increases, lawsuits from cities/non-profits from CA taking their money
    but releasing convicted felons into our communities, senior centers/state parks
    closing, CA taking redevelopment funds, cutbacks in social services, etc. In
    contrast, HSR costs rose to $117 billion but feds only provide $3 billion &
    CA liable for $97 billion and additional cost overruns. Call Governor at (916)
    445-2841 and Treasurer Lockyer at(916) 653-2995to kill the boondoggle now. 

    Poll here: http://www.probolskyresearch.com/california-voters-on-state-spending-and-high-speed-rail/ ans http://www.probolskyresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Probolsky-Research-State-Spending-and-High-Speed-Rail-Results-Memorandum2.pdf