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Last updateMon, 25 May 2015 2pm

LOS ANGELES Wednesday, May 27th 2015 8:53

WAGE RAISE RAGE

  • WHO WE ARE-Nearly half of Los Angeles just gave itself a raise. Following a wave of state and local minimum-wage bills and initiatives, Los Angeles became one of the largest cities to dramatically raise its hourly base pay and join Seattle to hit the magic $15-an-hour demand pushed by labor and community groups nationwide. The City Council…
  • ​City Snookered by Westfield Billionaires

    Jack Humphreville
    LA WATCHDOG-In March of 2014, the Herb Wesson led City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti approved a 25 year, $48 million giveaway to help the $28.5 billion Westfield Corporation finance its $250 million development, The Village at Westfield Topanga. (Photo) But this subsidy championed by Councilman Bob Blumenfield was hardly necessary as The Village…
  • Slick With Denial: ‘Self-Regulation’ and the Latest Oil Spill

    Judith Lewis Mernit
    HISTORY LESSONS IGNORED-On Wednesday, May 20, the day after a Santa Barbara County fire inspector discovered a stream of contaminated crude oil flowing onto a pristine segment of the Southern California coast, a group of researchers published a study linking the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to a mass die-off of bottlenose dolphins. The 46…
  • Scaremongering about the Patriot Act Sunset

    Jameel Jaffer
    FALSE CLAIMS EXPOSED-In a last-ditch effort to scare lawmakers into preserving unpopular and much-abused surveillance authorities, the Senate Republican leadership and some intelligence officials are warning that allowing Section 215 of the Patriot Act to sunset would compromise national security. (One particularly crass example from Senator…
  • Still the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave

    Ken Alpern
    ALPERN AT LARGE-It's been another year and another successful Flag Placement at the West Los Angeles National Cemetery. Crawling out of bed in the morning on a holiday weekend to show up bright and early for a show of American patriotism and respect to our veterans and fallen heroes, the region and nation saw yet again how the Boy Scouts, Girl…
  • Retaliation: VA Police Target Veterans

    Robert L. Rosebrock
    LOS ANGELES – Recently, I was interviewed by John Ismay, an Iraqi War Veteran who is the “Veterans and Military Issues Reporter” for Southern California Public Radio. We met at the Los Angeles VA to discuss the never-ending misappropriation of land at this largest VA in the nation, within our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans. We were…
  • City Controller’s Grandstanding DWP Audit is the Real Waste of Ratepayer Dollars

    Dennis Zine
    JUST THE FACTS-City Controller Ron Galperin’s Grandstanding DWP Audit results were finally released. Unfortunately, the conclusion and political spin that came afterwards from the controller was misleading. Here are the FACTS: The DWP’s Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute are administered by DWP managers and representatives of the…
  • A Place Where ‘Special Interest’ is NOT a Dirty Word

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-We need to have a new word to differentiate the villainous “Special Interest” that everyone is always complaining about and the “Special Interest” that almost all of politicians and civic and social activists have adopted as a cause. It is impossible to have passion about multiple issues. I know I have mentioned this before, but it seems…
  • Alert! America’s Small Businesses are Being Screwed by Big Business

    Robert Reich
    THE ECONOMY-Can it be that America’s small businesses are finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses? For years, small-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up behind big businesses lobbies. (Photo: small businesses in Studio City) They’ve contributed to the same Republican…

 

  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…




ICYMI-Amy Schumer shows Dave her vagina

Remembering Ann Meara: 1929-2015

The Star Spangled Banner … like you’ve never heard it before

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Voters Don’t Trust State to Build High-Speed Rail

CALWATCHDOG - Californians don’t want to pay for high-speed rail, nor do they trust the state government to build it, despite the aggressive push from Gov. Jerry Brown.
A new poll found that the majority of voters have buyers’ remorse when it comes to High-Speed Rail.

A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found that 59 percent of voters would oppose building high-speed rail if the measure was placed on the ballot again.

Yet Brown announced on Friday that California’s strict environmental laws could be bypassed in order to build the train system. The mandatory Environmental Impact Report for the train system is not complete, and current law calls for certified Environmental Impact Reports for each segment of the system.

Brown’s announcement collided with the filing of an environmental lawsuit by Central Valley farmers and farm groups in state Superior Court. The farm groups include the Madera and Merced county farm bureaus as well as Madera County, and are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop rail construction.

There are already several lawsuits against the high-speed rail project, and several more Central Valley agriculture groups are planning to sue.

The poll


On Sunday a press teleconference was held to discuss the latest public opinion poll on high-speed rail. Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said the results were very striking, especially with Brown’s hard push to get the project started.

Support for the project appears to be coming primarily from labor unions, which would greatly benefit from the rail construction projects. Even with union leaders’ support, 56 percent of union employees now reject the state funding plan, according to the poll.

But voters find the concept “a bit of a luxury,” according to Schnur, as only 5 percent of poll respondents said they would even use the rail monthly, and “zero percent said they would use it weekly.” Most respondents said they would not use high-speed rail at all, preferring to drive or fly when traveling in the state.

Schnur said that the poll was not divided along party lines or ethnicity. Most voters said they don’t want the statewide project to be built using taxpayer funds, and would prefer that any transportation funds be spent on local transit projects.

Voters were more concerned about the economic future of the state, according to Schnur, and lack confidence in government to execute the construction of high-speed rail properly.

High-speed rail redux


Fifty-five percent of the voters want the bond measure put back on the ballot, and 59 percent say they would vote against it.

The cost to build the rail project has more than doubled since the bond measure was passed in 2008.

In the hands of the Legislature

Without another ballot measure to vote on, the future of high-speed rail rests in the hands of the Legislature. Lawmakers can choose to fund the project, or not.

But despite pressure from Brown and labor unions, state lawmakers are feeling heavy pressure from constituents to withhold funding of the rail project.

If voters “connect the dots” between a tax increase and spending on a controversial bullet train, “it could completely undermine support for Brown’s initiative,” said Schnur during the teleconference.

Schnur said that Brown sees himself as a visionary and believes that California needs the high-speed train as key component of the state’s infrastructure in the future.  But he also said that it’s voters who don’t want to spend the money right now to build the train.

The $240 round-trip fare is another reason voters appear skeptical of the plan, especially with low-cost airfare available.

Proposition 1A Mandates

With Brown’s latest push to get construction of high-speed rail started, mandates from the original 2008 ballot measure   seem all but forgotten:

* The California High-Speed Rail Authority must have all of the funding ahead of time, before any construction starts on a new segment.

* The high-speed train system must operate on its own entirely, and in the black. That means operating profitably, and includes caveats of no government subsidy. But the current plan unrealistically relies heavily on a projection of 100 million users by 2030, a notion that was created with manipulated data.

* Prop. 1A stipulates 11 requirements that must be met before funds can be released for the construction of a “corridor” or “usable segment.”  Specifically, some of these requirements include actual high-speed train service, ridership, revenue projections and planned passenger service.

Environmental guidelines


Brown’s meeting on Friday included several leading environmental organizations. With California Environmental Quality Act laws being tossed out for this project, injunctive relief will also be banned, according to rail expert Rich Tolmach, impacting all of the lawsuits.

Tolmach said that superficial, one-page program Environmental Impact Reports will become the only required environmental documents. Project EIRs can be anything, Tolmach said, don’t have to be tied to program work, and can be revised without consequences. Piece mealing will become completely legal. This will not just apply to Merced-Fresno or Merced-Bakersfield, but to the entire state for the duration of the project, said Tolmach.

Bypassing environmental laws appears to be the wave of the future by state lawmakers for pet projects. Last September, Los Angeles legislators jammed a bill through the Legislature allowing a Los Angeles stadium to be built without adhering to California’s strict environmental laws.

Voters should be concerned because it appears that Brown is doing the same thing with high-speed rail in order to provide the union jobs he obviously promised he would deliver. Voters need to ask if Brown can legally bypass state laws and stop lawsuits, or if he is just running roughshod over the process in order to deliver to the unions.

(Katy Grimes writes for CalWatchdog.com where this article first appeared.)
–cw

Tags: Katy Grimes, California High Speed Rail, CHSR, Environment, voters, Superior Court, farmers, Merced County, Governor Brown, lawsuits







CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 45
Pub: June 5, 2012





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