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The Money Pit: California’s not-so-high-speed rail

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Have you heard this story, a couple finds a million dollar distress sale mansion on the market for a mere $200,000? Some upgrades are needed, but overall it’s a bargain. What ensues is comedic brilliance as the owners find out the house is barely standing. They pour more and more money into the house in the classic Tom Hank’s comedy “The Money Pit.”

Have you heard this story, a couple finds a million dollar distress sale mansion on the market for a mere $200,000? Some upgrades are needed, but overall it’s a bargain. What ensues is comedic brilliance as the owners find out the house is barely standing. They pour more and more money into the house in the classic Tom Hank’s comedy “The Money Pit.”

Just like this movie, the California High-Speed Rail has become our Money Pit, but unlike the movie, this is no laughing matter.

In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 1A, a $9.95 billion bond to partially fund an 800-mile high-speed electric train traveling up to 220 mph. The goal would be that the state would fund a third, one-third by the federal government, and the last third via private investment. Total cost was estimated at $35 billion.

What has transpired since 2008? No more federal funding and no private funding. From 800-miles we went to 520 miles, as a cost savings measure. From 220 mph we are at 110 mph in large sections of the rail, to save money of course, and a possible completion date of 2020, is now estimated to be completed by 2033.

With all these cost-saving measures you would assume the cost would come down. Unfortunately, for California taxpayers, this money pit keeps getting worse.

The price tag for all these cost-saving measures brought to you by the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the California Legislature is currently estimated at $77.3 billion. But wait you want more savings and fiscal responsibility, too bad, because this $77.3 billion estimate may ultimately cost California taxpayers $98.1 billion. My prediction is it will be even higher.

At this point, it might be cheaper and faster to build a Death Star instead. Not to mention more useful.

This is not what the voters were promised. We did not approve a not-so-high-speed train with a price tag most likely ten times the initial projected cost to California taxpayers.

This boondoggle of a money pit must be stopped. Those billions can be used to help repair our roads, highways, bridges, dams, water reservoirs, and critical infrastructure.

If elected to be California’s next State Controller and Chief Financial Officer, I will look at all legal means to cut funding to this project. In my opinion, if we bought one thing and are getting something else, then the authorization to fund this project has not been authorized by the people, and thus the Controller may have the legal authority to stop payment until the project complies with Proposition 1A.

I hope, I won’t have to do this, and the Legislature does its job and kills this project. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We made a promise to taxpayers to be good stewards of their trust and money. Let’s restore that trust and do the right thing, and let’s put an end to this money pit.

Alternatives to the HSR

High-speed rail was well-intentioned but the reality is, that HSR is extremely expensive and it is obsolete technology. We must look at new innovative ways and look to future technologies of the 21st century not technology from the 1970s.

If we want an alternative to the HSR, there are two promising technologies that might be the future of transportation in California. The first is HyperLoop. Speeds-up to 700 mph, more affordable to build and operate, and could be used to transport cargo cutting down traffic congestion on the roads. This could be ideal for long distances.

 

 

The second alternative that is ideal for larger metropolitan areas and fast enough at 200 mph for longer work commuting trips is the skyTran. This is also much cheaper and better than the HSR.

 

 

Regardless, of what we do and decide, we must look beyond the current paradigm and have a vision that looks to solve the problems we have now and will face in the future. It’s time we dump the HSR and look to the future, not the past.

 


Konstantinos Roditis is a candidate for California State Controller. You can learn more about his campaign at cacontroller.com, and you can follow him on Twitter & Facebook.

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Democrats

Trump to meet with Democrats about border wall, shutdown

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Trump to meet with Democrats about border wall shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders are seeking to avert a partial government shutdown amid a sharp dispute over Trump’s border wall and a lengthy to-do list that includes a major farm bill and a formal rebuke of Saudi Arabia for the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump is set to confer Tuesday at the White House with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer ahead of a Dec. 21 deadline to shut down a range of government agencies.

“Republicans still control the House, the Senate and the White House, and they have the power to keep government open,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement Monday.

“Our country cannot afford a Trump Shutdown,” the Democrats said, adding that Trump “knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement.”

Republican congressional leaders have repeatedly said it’s up to Trump to cut a deal with Democrats, an acknowledgement of their own inability to produce spending bills with Republican votes alone.

That gives Democrats some momentum heading into the closed-door talks, which also could veer into Trump’s request for emergency funding for deadly wildfires in California and a Republican-sponsored bill to extend expiring tax breaks and delay some health care taxes.

Before lawmakers adjourn for the year they also may consider a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller and a plan to overhaul the system for handling sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill.

By far the biggest unresolved issue is the border wall. Trump wants the next funding package to include at least $5 billion for it, an idea Democrats have flatly rejected.

Pelosi and Schumer have urged Trump to support a bill that includes a half-dozen government funding bills largely agreed upon by lawmakers, along with a separate measure that funds the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Sept. 30. The homeland bill includes about $1.3 billion for fencing and other security measures at the border.

If Trump does not agree to that, Democrats will likely urge a continuing resolution that funds all the remaining appropriations bills at current levels through Sept. 30, an aide said. The aide was not authorized to discuss strategy by name and requested anonymity.

Trump said Friday that Congress should provide all the money he wants for the wall and called illegal immigration a “threat to the well-being of every American community.”

At an appearance in Kansas City, Missouri, Trump accused Democrats of playing a political game and said it was one he ultimately would win.

“I actually think the politics of what they’re doing is very bad for them,” Trump said of Democrats. “We’re going to very soon find out. Maybe I’m not right. But usually I’m right.”

Pelosi, who is seeking to become House speaker in January, said she and many other Democrats consider the wall “immoral, ineffective and expensive” and noted that Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, an idea Mexico has repeatedly rejected.

Protecting borders “is a responsibility we honor, but we do so by honoring our values as well,” Pelosi said last week.

Schumer said Democrats want to work with Trump to avert a shutdown, but said money for border security should not include the concrete wall Trump has envisioned. Instead, the money should be used for fencing and technology that experts say is appropriate, Schumer said.

“We do not want to let a Trump temper tantrum govern our policies or cause the shutdown of a government, which everyone on both sides of the aisle knows is the wrong idea,” Schumer said. If Trump “wants to shut down the government over Christmas over the wall, that’s his decision,” he said.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Trump was all that stands between fully funding the government and a shutdown.

“Time and again, President Trump has used the government of the American people as a bargaining chip for his fabricated solution to his manufactured crisis,” Leahy said Monday in a Senate speech.

Trump “wants to score a made-for-reality-TV moment and he doesn’t care how many hardworking Americans will suffer for it,” Leahy said. “This is not about border security. This is about politics, pure and simple.”

But House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Democrats were the ones playing politics.

Trump “wants to secure the border. He got elected president on that platform,” Scalise told Fox News Channel.

If there’s a better way to secure the border than the $5 billion plan Trump has laid out, Democrats “need to come with an alternative,” Scalise said Monday. “They can’t come and say they want to shut the government down for no reason because they don’t want border security. They’ll lose that argument with the American people.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Monday he does not believe Trump or Democrats want to shut the government down.

“When I was with him the indication was he didn’t want to shut the government down, but he did want his wall,” Shelby said.

___

AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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Democrats

If Kamala Harris didn’t know her senior aide was sued for harassment, then she’s unfit

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If Kamala Harris didnt know her senior aide was sued for harassment then shes unfit

Senator Kamala Harris, considered high on the long list of potential 2020 Presidential candidates, is caught in a tough situation. one of her top aides, Larry Wallace, settled a lawsuit against him alleging he sexually harassed his executive assistant. Harris claims she didn’t know about it. Being unaware of incidents that were reported to her staff may be worse than knowing about it and doing nothing.

Kamala Harris aide resigns over $400G harassment settlement

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/kamala-harris-aide-resigns-over-harrassment-asettlementA senior adviser to U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., resigned Wednesday over inquiries about a $400,000 harassment lawsuit against him while working at the California Department of Justice.

Larry Wallace resigned after the Sacramento Bee asked about the 2017 settlement, the paper reported.

“We were unaware of this issue and take accusations of harassment extremely seriously,” Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams said. “This evening, Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator, and she accepted it.”

The lawsuit filed by Danielle Hartley accused Wallace of demeaning her based on her gender while she worked for him as his assistant.

Either she’s lying or incompetent. There’s no in-between on this one. If she knew about it and hoped the non-disclosure agreement signed by the alleged victim, Danielle Hartley, would keep it out of the press, she’s lying now. A spokesperson for Senator Harris claims the entire staff unaware of the issue.

It’s far-fetched, but here’s the thing. If we give her and her staff the benefit of the doubt and stipulate that they were all completely unaware, then that says something loud and clear about a person who wants to be President of the United States. She can’t be.

Running the executive branch of government is much more difficult than keeping track of whether or not top aides are sexually harassing their staff or settling lawsuits. By claiming ignorance, she’s demonstrating incompetence.

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Democrats

Trump, feckless Republicans, and the advance of Democratic socialism

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Trump feckless Republicans and the advance of Democratic socialism

When Trump and the GOP helped Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats take 40 House seats in November — the most seats picked up by the Democrats in a mid-term since Watergate — they helped usher in a new era of extreme-left policies.

One of the benefactors in this transformation of Congress was the Democratic Socialist movement taking place within the Democrat party. In the 2018 election season, candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) won in numbers significant enough to dictate policy and establish itself as the new base of the party.

Even before the new Congress opens for business, Nancy Pelosi has let it be known that many of the pet projects of the Democrat’s socialist agenda will be revisited, including:

Unfortunately, Trump and the new GOP “leadership” team of Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell are on the same page as their Democrat counterparts on these issues.

On the global warming front, one of the fresh faces of Democratic Socialists is Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), and she’s the brainchild — a term I use loosely — behind the effort to create the Green New Deal, which urges lawmakers to pass legislation forcing the U.S. to become 100% dependent on green energy.

Former Vice President and current High Priest of the Church of Global Warming Al Gore is orgasmic with excitement to see his fake climate science back in the spotlight, and he gave the Green New Deal his blessing.

By the way, Trump has let his daughter Ivanka set global warming policy, and shortly after his victory in 2016 she and Daddy met with Rev. Gore to discuss climate issues. When asked afterward how the meeting went, Gore said, “The bulk of the time was spent with the president-elect, Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued.”

Earlier this year, I wrote a piece warning that the United Socialist States of America was closer than we realized and how a Blue Tsunami in November would give rise to Democratic socialism and a revived extreme-left agenda. I’m sad to say this is exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, with Trump already talking about building a “beautiful relationship with Pelosi” in order to grab a few policy “victories” for his 2020 campaign, and with the same tired leadership controlling the GOP in Congress, the USSA really could be just around the bend.

Originally posted on StridentConservative.com.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook.

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