Loretta “affirms her support” of California High Speed Rail! As does the Orange Juice Blog (some of us anyway.)

I’m not in the habit of posting up every little communique I receive from Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana) , or you’d see little else here.  But I’d been thinking, there’s been a little too much Kumbayah around this joint, and it’s supposed to be a Mosh Pit.  It seems like us liberals running this place have been in agreement with our conservative friends – Cynthia, Zenger, Ryan Cantor, etc – on too many issues, it’s unhealthy and unnatural.  Especially local stuff – corporate welfare, corruption, OC boondoggles, police brutality, the democracy of district elections – it’s like there’s no daylight between us.  But two things that CAN be counted on to stir up dissension in our ranks – California High Speed Rail and Obamacare!

This just came in over our Central County Transom:


WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46) today testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on the importance of high speed rail in California. Rep. Sanchez argued that a high speed rail system is a much needed transportation project and a critical job creator for the state.

“This is bold, this is big, and in other words, this is Californian. [High speed rail] is the best project for getting us out of this real recession,” said Rep. Sanchez. “There are a couple of realities in California. Our unemployment rate is still stuck at over 8% and we have some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation. High speed rail moves both of those points.”

“In the first five years of construction alone, California’s high speed rail system will support 100,000 new constructions job in areas where we need our people to work. It is estimated that there will be over one million direct and indirect jobs in my area,” continued Sanchez.

Rep. Sanchez referenced the air and road delays that Californians have come to live with, but that waste valuable time and fuel. Every year, auto congestion drains $18.7 billion in lost time and wasted fuel from the state’s economy and flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco are some of the most delayed in the nation.

Rep. Sanchez also spoke of her experience in transportation infrastructure financing, expressed her willingness to stop projects that are not on sound financial footing, and confirmed that, “this is the time for this project. I believe that the [High Speed Rail] Authority has worked very hard to put together a finance plan that will work for Californians.”

“This is an important project, it’s important for jobs, it’s important for our economy and I urge you, we all need to work together to make this a reality,” finished Rep. Sanchez.


Vern again.  Our friends on the right – the honest ones – have several big objections to California High Speed Rail (apart from their general ideological allergy to ambitious government projects) – a big one of which is that the project has morphed into something other than what was described to and approved by voters in 2008’s Prop 1A.  Most notably, it was supposed to be largely funded by private investment, not the government or bonds. And they have a point – voters in 2008 had no idea how long and severe the Bush recession would be.  And sure enough, the project is being fought in the court on those grounds, and in December a judge ruled that the state can’t take out bonds to cover the project.  But, as Loretta mentions in the video above, the judge has declined to stop the project thus far, so we push on by other means, buoyed by our marvelous Jerry Brown surplus.

Most of the project’s travails are the doing of hostile California Republicans representing us in Washington, particularly Jeff Denham, a zealot hailing from our smog-choked Central Valley, who, after three years of blocking federal funding to his own state for this crucial project, has now been trying to convince his colleagues on the Hill that we will be unable to make a a $180 million payment of matching funds we will owe the Feds in April.  The Governor’s answer to these setbacks?  Diverting a quarter-billion from our cap-and-trade carbon-reduction program.  Sounds good to me!

Some environmentalists have criticized the use of cap-and-trade money for rail, saying other projects could reduce greenhouse gas emissions more immediately.

“Yes, it’s long-term,” Brown said. “But we aren’t all, you know, Twitter-holics that have to have instant gratification after 140 characters. We can take a few years and build for the future, and that’s my sense here, that I’m coming back to be governor after all these years. … It’s been on my list for a long time, and I think we’ve got to get it done. And we do need that funding, and it’s legal, and I hope the Legislature will support it.”

HSR foes also claim they expect hardly anyone will want to use high-speed rail to get back and forth between Northern and Southern California.  I expect they will.  Thousands of folks drive and fly up and down our state every day, and that is only going to get prohibitively expensive in the coming years and decades.  But in any case I created a poll last time I wrote about this; and we can re-visit that poll today – VOTE!

[poll id=”299″]

At a basic level, the project’s backers have facts they can point to, as do the project’s opponents, and we will throw those back and forth in the comments section, but it really comes down to ideological beliefs in what our government can and should do.  I believe the reason we have a nation and a government is so that we can accomplish these amazing projects that will make our lives better for generations;  conservatives have always resisted such projects.  But aren’t you glad our grandparents made the railroads and the highways, Social Security and Medicare, the UC system?  Shouldn’t we tighten our belts and build something for OUR grandkids?  Can we no longer accomplish things that Asian and European nations have built YEARS ago?  And most compellingly, High Speed Rail is just going to cost more the longer we put it off!  (We SHOULDA done it in the 90’s.)


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.