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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Crazy Train"

Previous posts have discussed California and its high-speed rail project.  Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari has written Governor Brown:
February 18, 2014
The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Governor of California
State Capitol, First Floor
Sacramento, California 95814
Dear Governor Brown,
I am writing to request that you take appropriate measures to cancel the high-speed rail program. It is an egregious example of your priorities being completely out of touch with the struggles of millions of California families.
Although you refused to acknowledge these realities in your State of the State address, the facts are: 17 percent of Californians are in need of work. Our schools are ranked 46th in America. 24 percent of Californians are living in poverty. And now, in your own words, we face “the worst drought that California has ever seen since records began being kept 100 years ago.” Given these harsh realities, the high-speed rail is a vanity project we cannot afford.
In 2008, the California people voted for the high-speed rail before the full effects of the Great Recession were felt. Since that vote, millions of California families have come under severe hardship:
• The number of Californians in need of work has increased by 29 percent.
California’s poverty rate has increased by 27 percent.
• The number of Californians living on food stamps has increased by 87 percent.
The Central Valley has been hit especially hard, suffering some of the highest unemployment in the state. With almost 40 percent of all Central Valley jobs tied to agriculture, the drought is devastating for the region. The rail is a distraction that diverts time and resources away from addressing the most pressing needs of Californians.
Even Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a fellow Democrat, has changed his mind and acknowledged the high-speed rail is a mistake. “I would take the dollars and redirect it to other, more pressing infrastructure needs … I am not the only Democrat that feels this way… I am one of the few that just said it publicly. Most are now saying it privately.”
I am sure you would agree it is far better to admit a major error than to stubbornly maintain a deeply flawed course of action – especially when so many Californians are struggling. I sincerely hope you will agree to cancel this vanity project. I look forward to hearing from you.
Best regards,
Neel Kashkari