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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

16 states hit 9th Circuit to sue President Trump, as expected

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16 states hit 9th Circuit to sue President Trump as expected

It was one of the most replayed parts of President Trump’s announcement regarding his national emergency declaration last Friday – a sing-song moment as the President predicted the declaration would be made, Democrats would sue, they’d go through the 9th circuit, and their decision will hopefully be overturned by the Supreme Court. So far, he’s been absolutely correct as 16 states have filed against the declaration.

New York, California, 14 other states sue Trump in Ninth Circuit over emergency declaration

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-york-california-sue-trump-in-ninth-circuit-over-emergency-declarationThe attorneys general of California, New York, and 14 other states on Monday filed a lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit against the White House’s recent national emergency declaration over border security, claiming President Trump has “veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making.”

President Trump sarcastically had predicted the lawsuit last week. He’s slammed the Ninth Circuit multiple times as “disgraceful” and politically biased.

My Take

This is their right, and while it may annoy those who support building the border wall, it would be a mistake to condemn these states for trying to stop it. This is part of the way our nation is intended to operate. If one or more states feel the need to challenge the authority of Washington DC, they should be able to make their case before the courts. If the courts make decisions based on the Constitution, then the end result will be the accurate and righteous one.

That’s how this was all intended.

I’m not suggesting the 9th Circuit is going to treat this fairly, nor am I confident the Supreme Court will make its decision solely on the Constitution, but until things are changed, this is what we’ve got. Attempts to subvert any component of this system from the President’s right to declare the emergency to the states’ rights to challenge it to the courts’ responsibility to make a ruling about it all would be to denounce the foundation upon which this nation was built.

There was a way this could have been avoided. Had the President and the GOP decided to have the debate over the wall while they had power over the House, Senate, and White House, they would have been in better position to get the wall going by now. Unfortunately, they an improper political calculation to hold off on the wall debate until after the midterm elections, and now it’s costing the American citizens. It costs us money to sit here through the shutdown and the legal battle over the national emergency declaration. It’s costing us time; the wall should be much further along by now. It may end up costing us the wall altogether if they aren’t able to make a strong case before the Supreme Court.

We are in the midst of a crisis at the border, one that has been going on for decades. Let’s not exacerbate the crisis by adding a Constitutional crisis on top. This needs to play all the way out.

 


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Democrats

Leftist media pushes back on Green New Deal criticism

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Leftist media pushes back on Green New Deal criticism

It’s been an up-and-down couple of weeks for proponents of the Green New Deal. Before details were released, it was already being heralded as the greatest thing since President Obama’s election. Then, the details came out and even many on the left were taken aback by the ambitious and incoherent provisions of the deal as detailed in a FAQ section on Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s government web page.

But that was just a draft. They took it down. At least that was the story.

Unfortunately for proponents, they were caught a little flat-footed as questions started pouring in about, well, all of it. Even if we dismiss the less-draconian concepts such as eliminating air travel or the less-sane ideas like taking care of those who are unwilling to work, the left is still stuck with a proposal that the most frugal estimates put at costing around $7 trillion while other’s consider the decade-long cost to be in the HUNDREDS of trillions of dollars.

This is, of course, ludicrous. There’s not enough money in the entire world to pay for the proposal if its cost is somewhere between the lowest and highest estimates, but that hasn’t stopped leftist media from regrouping. Now that the dust has settled a little bit, they’re doing everything they can to recommit to this concept. It’s not that they suddenly believe in this fairy tale. It’s that they don’t want this to be the issue Republicans attack in the 2020 elections.

One article in particular that I read from CNN (yes, sometimes I need to see what the other side is thinking) really struck me for its honesty about the situation. Though I stopped reading it in paragraph two when it referred to “non-partisan” PolitiFact, I went back to it just now to digest the awfulness fully (see the sacrifices I make for our readers!).

To be clear, much of what this article says is correct. It asserts the GOP will take the tenets of the Green New Deal and use it to scare voters into thinking it’s even worse than Obamacare. From 2010 through 2016, Republicans attacked Obamacare incessantly and it worked, giving them the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and the White House in 2016. Unfortunately, they stopped there and didn’t actually go after Obamacare with the same fervor they held in their campaign rhetoric and now the Democrats have turned the issue on its head.

But here’s the thing. Obamacare may have been bad, but the Green New Deal truly is worse. It’s not even close. Even if we take at face value the notion that the Green New Deal is simply an ambitious framework around which real legislation can be forged, we have to look at the core issues entailed in order to see the true damage it can do. This is a socialist document. It’s a call for the same levels of insanity that drive the Medicare-for-All movement. Within its frivolous attempts to change perceptions of air travel, cows, and job creation is a deep-rooted desire to convert Americans to needing more government.

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The Green New Deal represents the far-left’s desire to make more American dependent on government. At the same time, it aims to increase the levels of dependency for those who are already in need of assistance. It wants Democrats to latch their wagons on the notion that if we become a militantly environmentalist nation, that will serve the dual purpose of giving us fulfillment while saving the planet.

I believe most leftist journalists understand this, but they see in the ridiculous framework a path through which Republicans can be defeated wholesale in 2020 as long as the left can control the narrative surrounding the Green New Deal. They fear another Obamacare counterinsurgency that would wipe out the anti-Trump gains they made in 2018, so they’ve adopted a stance that the Green New Deal isn’t as bad as Fox News says it is. Meanwhile, they’re doing everything they can to say, “look over here and not at the Green New Deal.”

The politics behind what the Green New Deal represents is more in play than the tenets of the proposal itself, at least in the eyes of leftist media. It’s not that they want to promote the concept. They simply don’t want the concept to derail their party in the next election.

 


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Culture and Religion

Louis Farrakhan refers to Ilhan Omar as ‘sweetheart,’ prompting zero outrage

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Louis Farrakhan refers to Ilhan Omar as sweetheart prompting zero outrage

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan referred to Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as “Sweetheart” as he addressed her during a speaking engagement on Sunday. He apparently caught his faux pas and immediately justified the remark, but at that point the moniker which many consider to be sexist or misogynistic had already been noted.

Nevertheless, it didn’t cause the stir one might expect. As a far-left progressive, Omar is known for being a feminist icon on Capitol Hill even though she hasn’t been in office for a full two months yet. As our EIC noted, the lack of a rebuke was because of the source, not because she now feels it’s okay to refer to her as “sweetheart.”

The statement came as Farrakhan was telling Omar she shouldn’t be sorry for the statements she made last week about Israel, AIPAC, and Jewish influence in Washington DC, particularly over Republicans.

In a world where consistency was still considered a virtue, followers of Omar would be wondering why she’s not expressing outrage over the belittling reference from a powerful man. But the world isn’t consistent and Farrakhan always gets a pass.

 


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