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Winning The Lottery

If I were an employeee I would be asking myself how the Mayor can ask me to work for less while she advocates spending $100-billion for high-speeed rail.

Mar 15, 2012

Families Protecting The Valley Newsletter

MARCH 15 2012


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Board of Directors

Denis Prosperi
Chester Andrew
Bob Smittcamp
Russ Waymire
John "Dusty" Giacone
Joe Marchini
Mark Watte
Kole Upton
Piedad Ayala
Tom Barcellos
Jim Walls

Winning the Lottery

Do you ever sit around with your friends talking about what you'd do if you won the lottery? Everybody talks about the house they'd buy, the car they'd drive, the places they's go. That's how I feel when I listen to California Governor Jerry Brown and all the politicos who support high-speed rail. Except they don't seem to think they have to win the lottery to build it. They actually seem to think that if they buy the house and the car and the trips they'll become rich because of all the economic activity it will create. That's Keynesian economics in a nutshell, and it would be a great way to live if it only worked.

The problem with California and the rest of the nation along with the cities and counties is that they require growth to support all the promises they've made mostly to s. They can't keep up with the pensions, the healthcare and the salaries without growth in the economy. But, the economy isn't growing and the debt is swallowing everything else in its wake.

In Fresno, Mayor Ashley Swearengin is asking employees for wage and benefit concessions or she tells us the city could face bankruptcy. If I were an employeee I would be asking myself how the Mayor can ask me to work for less while she advocates spending $100-billion for high-speeed rail. I guess the Mayor would answer that those aren't local dollars, they are federal dollars. We're apparently out of local dollars, but these federal dollars are free and we can't afford not to take them. So the Mayor seems to think that a broke federal government can get together with a broke state government and a broke local government and spend money printed out of thin air and make us all better. Meanwhile all of us who get paid with local dollars must take cuts while we spend the federal dollars on a new program.

So the local police and fire must make less while we spend more to create railroad jobs. Why would I take less for being a policeman or fireman so that you can create jobs for railroad workers? Who do we need more? Railroad workers or police and fire? I don't think I would agree to a reduction in wages or benefits in this scenario. Would you?

We know the Mayor didn't create this financial mess the city finds itself in, she inherited it. She didn't spend the money on a baseball stadium that can't fulfill its end of the bargain. She didn't create the multi-million dollar problems at the Met or the millions lost at Granite Park. But, she is making the same kind of mistake in spending more money on a new boondoggle we can't afford. And when she's gone we'll have to tell the next mayor it's not their fault either, it was the people who were here before. We think it's time for a mayor(or a Governor) to stand up and just say no. No more spending money we don't have to fix the 'broke' problem.

Here's some advice: we need to tighten our collective belts, reign in the salaries, pensions and healthcare and get the budgets balanced as if there will be no economic growth for sometime to come, maybe years. We can't ask employees to do this out of one side of our mouth while advocating spending billions and billions out of the other side. At some point in the future we might have a healthy enough economy to think about building something as huge as a statewide high-speed rail. In the meantime why don't we just try to keep the things we have running as best we can?

And one more thing: the Mayor and her fellow HSR enthusiasts in the City of Fresno are perfectly content to throw the rest of the Central Valley (CV) under the train for whatever benefit they think the City might get from this boondoggle. Neither the Mayor nor the others have shown any interest in supporting their CV neighbors to the North and South when they have pleaded with HSR staff and consultants to respect their cities, counties, and existing economic infrastructure from the immense devastation expected by the currently planned routes of this train. Instead, the Mayor and others have frivolously dismissed their concerns. The Mayor needs to be reminded she only represents, and speaks for the City of Fresno and nothing outside the Fresno City limits.

Fresno County to rethink support of high-speed rail

By Kurtis Alexander - The Fresno Bee

Fresno County supervisors plan to revisit high-speed rail this month, a sign that they may be looking to scrap support for the project.

While the supervisors have no decision-making power over the proposed rail system, which is expected to break ground early next year, withdrawing their endorsement would be a symbolic blow to an effort that's struggling to maintain popularity.

Fresno County remains one of just two San Joaquin Valley counties along the line that is on record backing high-speed rail and, as the largest, has power to sway public opinion.

"It's very significant to have as much local support as possible," said Tom Richards, a Fresno developer and vice chairman of the state High-Speed Rail Authority board. He said Fresno County's reversal would be a disappointment.

The rail authority is proposing a 520-mile system that would run trains between San Francisco and Los Angeles, through Fresno, in just 21/2 hours.
The project, however, is drawing criticism for its cost and the course of the tracks.

This week, Supervisor Judy Case called for a discussion of high-speed rail at the next board meeting March 27. While Case stopped short of saying she wants to pull support for the project, she expressed doubts.

"Currently, they're in a full-speed-ahead mode, and I think they need to slow that up and take care of the details and the criticism," she said.

The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution committing support for the project in 2007 and, in 2010, renewed that commitment in a letter to the rail authority with a 5-0 vote.

But Case noted that the terms of the project have since evolved, including the price tag and route plan, and said it was the board's responsibility to take another look.

In November, the rail authority increased the cost estimate from $45 million to $98 billion. That's left some wondering where the additional money will come from. The route also has been set for west of the Highway 99 corridor in Kings County, angering some farmers who would see their land split by tracks.

Supervisors Phil Larson and Debbie Poochigian have also begun to air criticism. Neither would commit, however, on whether the board should change its stance.
Supervisor Henry Perea, a longtime advocate of rail, said rescinding support is a bad idea. He said it would only undermine the county's bid to locate an economically valuable rail maintenance station in Fresno County.

"The go or no-go decision about high-speed rail rests at a much higher level of pay grade. We shouldn't touch it," he said. "We don't want to send the wrong signal to the authority and lose the opportunity to have the maintenance facility and the jobs that come with it."

The other county that has endorsed the rail project is Merced.

Perea said Merced County would likely win the maintenance yard if Fresno County withdrew its backing, just as Merced got a University of California campus instead of Fresno.

"I don't want this board to be responsible for the next UC Merced situation," Perea said.

The Board of Supervisors is not likely to withdraw its endorsement at the next meeting the agenda item is yet to be finalized but it could direct that a new resolution be drafted for follow-up consideration. The board also could order a letter to be written, expressing concerns.

Richards, with the rail authority, said he hopes that supervisors will wait for a new business report on the rail project, due out at the end of the month, before changing sides.

"There's too much valuable information in the document that will be necessary to have reviewed to make a decision," he said. "We've worked very hard to address concerns."

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