Populist movements don't build themselves ...

... It doesn't matter what the "horse race" outcome of the campaign is, if we fight the campaign. Fighting it, we learn how to fight. Learning how to fight political battles, we become citizens again. Becoming citizens again, we reclaim the Republic that lies dormant beneath the bread and circuses of modern American society.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Train: Leveraging HSR for a Fresno Regional Rail Corridor

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence
Kings County officials have been opposed all proposed routes:
Board members said no high-speed rail route through Kings County would be acceptable while denouncing the Authority and its Fresno-to-Bakersfield environmental impact report. “I think we should come out and oppose high-speed rail in Kings County, no matter what alignment they have,” said Supervisor Tony Barba during a discussion of the county’s official response to the EIR, which is due Thursday. He was applauded by a large crowd that nearly filled the Board of Supervisors’ chambers at the Kings County Government Center.
And then they opposed getting started on California HSR:
HANFORD — Kings County supervisors on Tuesday will likely ask three key legislators to delay high-speed rail funding until the project resolves local conflicts. ... The Legislature is expected to vote in June whether to spend $2.7 billion in state bond money on the project, which has created major controversy in the San Joaquin Valley and stoked opposition from several cities and counties who believe it should be scrapped. Denying the funding would stop the Authority from starting construction in Fresno later this year or in early 2013.
And now, County officials seek to preserve Amtrak :
... But Authority officials have recently entered into discussions with Kings County to see if Amtrak service through Hanford and Corcoran can be preserved, said Larry Spikes, Kings County administrative officer. Downtown stations are considered critical to cities’ local economy. Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard couldn’t be reached for comment. “Taking Amtrak right out of the heart of Hanford and Corcoran is just not a good idea,” Spikes said.
So, don't want the HSR Station in town, don't want the HSR to go outside of town, and wants Amtrak to be continued to Hanford and Corcoran at slow speed when the San Joaquin after the high speed route between Merced and Bakersfield becomes available. What I am looking in this week's Sunday Train is a different way to go about this that provides a mix of local and intercity transport benefits to the major county centers: the Fresno Regional Rail Corridor.

Read about the system and join the conversation at:

The Stars Hollow Gazette
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Daily Kos

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Romney Wants An Economy He Refuses to Make Possible

Burning the Midnight Oil for Progressive Populism

Romney indulged in soaring rhetoric{1} when he declared victory{2} in the fight to become the Republican Nominee and launched his General Campaign pitch:
I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. Because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hard-working, educated and skilled employees is intense, and so wages and salaries rise.
One problem: he refuses to make it possible.

The success of new business enterprise requires customers with the means and willingness to buy, and productive workers, equipment and natural resources. Romney's policies are:
  • To take even more of the means from those with the willingness to buy to those who place a higher priority on accumulating wealth
  • Offer his hypothetical entrepreneurs workers that are under-skilled and under-educated
  • Saddle prospective entrepreneurs that attended college with a burden of debt
  • Reduce the freedom of those workers with health benefits to take a job with that entrepreneur
  • And insist on leaving all of those entrepreneurs exposed to the risk of the next oil price shock recession throwing them into bankruptcy
He expresses a desire for a wonderfully desirable economy, but his policies promise that his administration will be too damn lazy to lift a finger to it possible.

Heck, that could be a bumper sticker: "Vote Romney for a Lazy, Do-Nothing Government."

That's it. Click through the links to join the discussion at your preferred community blog. Nothing below the fold but notes.

The Stars Hollow Gazette
Progressive Blue
Daily Kos

{1} Really, I read the transcript. That part of it is soaring rhetoric. If you had a different impression, you may have watched it as it was delivered ~ but I never said it was a soaring delivery.

{2} He had of course declared victory before, but when running a scorched earth campaign, sometimes you have some hold outs in the hills that you have to chase down before its really won.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Train: Should Cap&Trade Funds finance the California HSR?

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

One element of the recent California HSR "revised" draft 2012 Business Plan (which we shall call the Other, Other Plan) involves looking to one particular means of finance in addition to general fund bond finance and Federal transport grant funding:
Cap-and-Trade Program Funds
Assembly Bill 32 (Statutes, 2006, Chapter 488) mandates a reduction of statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In accordance with that law, California will implement a market-based cap-and-trade program. Funds from the program can be used to further the purposes of AB 32, including for development and construction of the high-speed rail system.

This has led to the current controversy in which the California Legislative Analysts Office, the LAO, has argued that the Cap and Trade funds might not be usable for HSR (pdf: p. 8).

One of their points, "Other GHG Reduction Strategies Likely to Be More Cost Effective," involves a serious and common misframing of the question of the use of funds dedicated to reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: when reducing GHG emissions in a project that serves multiple purposes, the cost effectiveness of the GHG emissions spending depends on what share of the project funding is represented by that GHG emissions spending.

So more on transport, Green House Gas emissions, and the peculiar analytical weaknesses that crop up whenever the California LAO turns its attention to HSR, over the fold.

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The Stars Hollow Gazette
Coming at 8pm to the Daily Kos

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Train: The Miami/Orlando Passenger Rail Project

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

I saw this story a couple of weeks ago, but between the happenings in California and some unanswered questions I had, I haven't mentioned it yet. Florida East Coast Industries plans Miami-Orlando passenger service by 2014:
Passenger train service between Miami and Orlando could begin as early as 2014 under a plan announced Thursday by Florida East Coast Industries.

The new "All Aboard Florida" service, which would be privately owned and operated, would offer frequent, regularly scheduled daily trains geared to business travelers and tourists. The Miami-Orlando trip by rail would take three hours, about the same time it takes by car via Florida's Turnpike.

There would be four stops: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando, each with connections to airports, seaports and existing rail systems such as Tri-Rail and Metrorail. The trains would run on existing FEC tracks that stretch along the east coast from Miami to Cocoa. Forty miles of new track would link Cocoa to Orlando.

Well, waddya know ~ a Passenger Train that Scott Walker can't kill. More about the Miami/Orlando Train, below the fold.
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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Train: Did Governor Brown Save California's HSR?

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

As I mentioned in last week's Sunday Train, the California HSR Authority came out with a revised draft Business Plan.

And why do you revise a draft Business Plan? Because some people suggested some modifications to your previous draft Business Plan might be in order ... for instance, if there's a possibility that you cannot get bonds authorized to start work on the part of the corridor where the Federal Government has already put some funding on the table.

The new, revised, draft Business Plan seems to mark the final passing of the baton from the Judge Kopp absolutist vision of the what an HSR "simply has to be" to the more grounded, realistic vision of Governor Brown ...

... and in the process of dragging the HSR Authority back into touch with reality, it is quite possible that Governor Brown has saved the California HSR project.

There are two qualifiers here. The first is that without an account of someone privy to the details of the Governor's intervention, we won't know what changes were things the California HSR was on track to doing anyway, and what changes were pushed upon them. But even there, what "the HSR Authority wanted to do" was likely heavily influenced by the changing of the guard from Schwarzenegger appointees to Brown appointees at the Authority.

The second is that getting to work is not yet a done deal. Supporters of the project ~ whether ongoing supporters or those won over by the newly revised plan ~ still need to work to help see the project through to construction of the first construction segment.

The devil is in the details, so we go chasing the devil below the fold.

Join the discussion at:
The Stars Hollow Gazette
Agent Orange