Sunday, February 28, 2010

More HSR rant

Transportation projects are essential to the economic viability of California. We cannot sell or distribute the goods or services that are the backbone of our business community without transportation infrastructure, and transportation is one of the few tax expenditures worthy of our support-when it is done right. Sadly, California’s High Speed Rail development has become the third cousin of a good transportation project, and as currently designed is a monster boondoggle, inefficiently planned, using money that has yet to be produced by future generations. With the State possibly unable to sell the bonds approved by voters in 2008, and private investment running in the other direction, the CHSRA is now counting on Federal Stimulus funding to get this thing going- Stimulus funding that We The People have no oversight in spending!

Looking at the Business Plan and route alternatives produced thus far, it appears the High Speed Rail project has been created by politicians rather than rail experts, as a giant make-work project. While an efficient system should have been based on ridership demand, we now know those ridership numbers to be inaccurate. This is especially alarming to us in Orange County, as the Anaheim to Los Angeles segment is the first scheduled to break ground, and we have yet to see real numbers that justify that impending construction! Even CHSRA’s own people are beginning to question the viability of this, as the LA Times reports “Katz, who also serves as a Los Angeles County transit official, wants a review to ensure that the L.A.-to-Anaheim leg, which has nearly doubled in cost, is based on actual demand and is efficiently designed to avoid duplication with existing rail services. "I think there are a number of legitimate questions that need to be raised," he said.”

Instead of the straight path that bullet trains follow in Europe and Japan, the California route winds like a snake through the Districts and cities of those politicians directly connected to the project, with the most to gain. The inefficient route placement will result in lost time in transit, as we sacrifice the direct path of speed for the gerrymandered path of political expedience.

In addition, while some areas such as the Central Valley are begging for this project, hoping the jobs will rescue their skyrocketing unemployment numbers; other communities are questioning the wisdom of the route placement, and its impact on their own quality of life. Communities on the peninsula who caught wind of the routes years ago are already well into the lawsuit stage.

Here in Orange County the project has been a deeply held mystery, and public outreach is only now beginning, with the first public disclosure of the Alternatives Analysis presented January 20 of this year, using Right of Way width still not determined! As Orange County awakens to the reality of this project, and its imminent time tables, activists are raising the alarm (and money) in anticipation of reviewing, and likely opposing, the upcoming Draft EIR, soon to be released. For those familiar with CEQA, it is distressing to realize we have managed to get as far as Draft EIR with this just now hitting the editorial pages, but both the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register have now opposed this project in recent months. It is about time.

High Speed Rail needs to be sent back to the drawing board, and created with a transparent and community-driven planning team, to be an efficient use of our tax dollars, and a benefit to each of the communities it touches. Then and only then should California support the project with the funding it requires and deserves. Until that time, we need to put the brakes on, possibly by removing the project from those currently running it, and turning it over to those without political agendas.

Game over, we need to hit the reset button. Apparently the Los Angeles Times would agree.,0,5686672.story

Some fear California's high-speed rail won't deliver on early promises

There's concern that local, state or federal subsidies would be needed as projected ticket prices between L.A. and San Francisco have almost doubled. And building costs for the first phase have grown

By Rich Connell and Dan Weikel

February 28, 2010

Despite a new $2.25-billion infusion of federal economic stimulus funding, there are intensifying concerns -- even among some high-speed rail supporters -- that California's proposed bullet train may not deliver on the financial and ridership promises made to win voter backing in 2008.

Estimates of ticket prices between Los Angeles and San Francisco have nearly doubled in the project's latest business plan, pushing ridership projections down sharply and prompting new skepticism about data underpinning the entire project.

"This just smells funny," said state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), a supporter of high-speed rail and chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

New inflation-adjusted construction figures show that outlays needed to build the first 520-mile phase of the system have climbed more than 25%, from $33.6 billion to $42.6 billion.

And some government watchdogs are concerned that a linchpin commitment to taxpayers in the bullet train's financing measure -- that no local, state or federal subsidies would be required to keep the trains operating -- may be giving way.

High-speed rail planners recently advised state lawmakers that attracting billions in crucial private financing will probably require government backing of future cash flow. "Without some form of revenue guarantee from the public sector, it is unlikely that private investment will occur at [the planned] level until demand for California high-speed rail is proven," project planners wrote in December.

That is feeding fears that a larger state commitment, beyond the $9 billion in construction bonds approved by voters, could be sought to complete the 800-mile project. "To now put in that we have to [give] some kind of revenue guarantee . . . is totally unacceptable," Lowenthal said. "That's not what we agreed to."

Financial risks and planning adjustments are inevitable in such a massive project, say officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority. They insist that significant progress is being made, that there is cause for optimism and that they are keeping their commitments to voters. Opportunities for capturing more federal dollars are greater than ever, they say, because President Obama supports high-speed rail.

"The project is moving forward, very much," said Mehdi Morshed, the agency's executive director.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a coalition of business, labor and political leaders argue that the project is ahead of others in the United States and will provide enormous benefits in job creation, congestion relief and environmental improvements.

Tying San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco together with European-style 200-mph trains has been a long-stalled dream for many. The prospect that construction could actually begin has intensified scrutiny of financial, ridership and route issues.

"I think the numbers should be scrubbed," said authority board member Richard Katz, adding that doing so could help the project.

Jeff Barker, the agency's deputy director, said the latest business plan fueled confusion about a revenue guarantee.

"We didn't do a good job of explaining that," he said. The system is being designed to operate without a taxpayer subsidy, and that will be clarified in a new, as-yet unavailable report, he said.

But Morshed, who is stepping down next month, reiterated that some guarantee, probably from the federal government, may be needed to ensure that cash flow can repay front-end construction investments by private parties. That is not uncommon in federally backed projects, he said, and would not violate the state's ban on taxpayer operating subsidies.

Current plans call for up to $12 billion from private-sector investors, about $18 billion from the federal government and up to $5 billion from local agencies. New forecasts show an operating surplus topping $1 billion a few years after service begins.

But some analysts point out that almost all U.S. rail systems -- and a number of foreign operations -- have required large government loans or cash infusions to keep running.

Under the new scenario, one-way fares between L.A. and San Francisco rise from $55 to $105, closer to the cost of an airline ticket. The change shows healthier surplus revenue, which may appeal to private investors. But estimated ridership falls by about one-third, to about 40 million annual boarders in 2030.

Some transit advocates say predictions of private participation aren't realistic. "A lot of it's still magical thinking," said Bart Reed, executive director of the Transit Coalition.

Fare, ridership and financing projections should be viewed as fluid and subject to revision based on changing conditions and assumptions, high-speed rail officials say. But revised ridership estimates have heightened suspicions about the projections' reliability. Some smaller cities, like Gilroy, Merced and Bakersfield, show numbers of nonlocal trips equal to or greater than Los Angeles. "We've never understood their models," said Lowenthal, whose panel is delving deeper into the projections.

A recent federal Government Accountability Office study found that rail cost and patronage projections around the world, including on some high-speed lines, tended to be overly optimistic, making it difficult to gauge the financial viability of projects. Limited federal money may be available for several competing projects, the report adds.

Such warnings underscore what some see as the mixed blessing of the recent windfall of federal dollars. To help create jobs, California is supposed to break ground in two years.

The goal is to start Los Angeles, Bay Area and Central Valley segments about the same time. But the backhoes would be digging before officials know how much future federal and private funding will be available to connect the system, officials say.

Conflicts are brewing in Southern California as planners step up efforts to squeeze trenches, viaducts and extra tracks into a crowded rail corridor cutting across the region. Problems remain over how the bullet train will pass through Los Angeles' Union Station transportation complex. Existing buildings, freeways, rail lines and overpasses around the station make it an extremely tight fit.

In Buena Park, city officials recently learned that part of a new award-winning transit-oriented residential project tied into the city's 3-year-old Metrolink station may have to be ripped out.

A high-speed rail representative told local officials, "We either take the condominiums or we take your station," recalled Councilman Art Brown, who has generally supported the bullet train. Planners are reexamining the issue, but it remains unresolved.

Katz, who also serves as a Los Angeles County transit official, wants a review to ensure that the L.A.-to-Anaheim leg, which has nearly doubled in cost, is based on actual demand and is efficiently designed to avoid duplication with existing rail services. "I think there are a number of legitimate questions that need to be raised," he said.

Communication with cities is being improved, said Barker, the rail agency's deputy director. "We're playing catch-up," he said. Overall, his quasi-independent agency, with a small staff and mostly contract planners, has produced results, he said.

But lawmakers are likely to overhaul the high-speed rail agency and move it more directly into state government, Lowenthal said. "It's not going to be out there on its own," he said.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Happy Ending to a Grafitti Story

The newspapers have been covering a story about Anaheim shop owner Rosa Bobbio, and her battle with the City of Anaheim, and the dirtbags-excuse me, misguided youth, who have tagged her building for years.

Sadly, they are not sharing all of the story.

Back in fall of 2009, upholstery shop owner Rosa Bobbio reported to the Anaheim Police Department that her building had been tagged, once again. This time they hit the glass shop windows out front that display her work to passersby, etching the glass with their tagging. Rosa contacted the City to find out what she could do to stop the insanity. She had already installed bars on the windows and doors out back, after several burglaries, but she refused to put bars across the front. As she told me during a visit to her shop, she did not want the criminals to make her feel like she was in jail in her own shop, hiding behind bars. She also did not want the neighborhood to look “trashy” with bars on shop fronts. While the Police were unable to give her much advice on how to stop the tagging, the contact apparently triggered something in the system, alerting the City’s Code Enforcement department to the fact that Rosa had not eradicated the graffiti herself.

Rosa received a letter from Code Enforcement, demanding she replace the glass in her store front. After calling glass companies, she realized it would cost over $1500.00 to replace the large expanse of glass, and she had no assurance that the taggers would not come back and deface the new glass. Rosa felt she was trapped in a cycle of victimization she could not escape. Nobody wants to live that way.

Feeling defeated, Rosa left the graffiti. Clearly, this was not the answer, as Anaheim is committed to removing graffiti as quickly as possible, as that is the only known deterrent to the crime. These “artists” need their work to remain in place, for bragging rights. Get it removed before anyone else sees it, we remove the incentive for the taggers, and they will go elsewhere, to an area where it stays up long enough to be seen, and presumably admired by those with no respect for private property. Based on this stand against the crime, the City of Anaheim issues fines to property owners who fail to clean up their property, and that includes having been victimized by taggers. It is not fair, but life is rarely fair. How many of us clear the trash from our flower beds that was dropped by others? Same concept, but frustratingly for Rosa the price tag was much higher. Feeling victimized twice, first by the taggers, and then by her own City, Rosa dug in her heels. The press covered it, and the City of Anaheim became the big, bad meany.

The sad thing is that all of this was based on pure miscommunication. Rosa Bobbio was convinced that her ONLY option was an expensive glass replacement, with more to come as the taggers repeated their behavior. Once Sandra Seaton, the head of Anaheim’s Code Enforcement division caught wind of the problem, she plugged Rosa in with a company that polishes glass, ridding the window of the graffiti for a much lower price tag. A huge thank you to WKRP Inc. for coming out and tackling Rosa’s windows for free. They do all kinds of graffiti removal services, and the gentleman I met while I was out there talking to Rosa was very nice.

WKRP Services, Inc.

www.wkrpservices. com

Mike Speakman

714-832-2146 Ext 103

949-289-1457 cell

So in the end, Rosa’s windows are graffiti free, (for now) and she now has the name of a lower cost solution should the taggers return. Code Enforcement has waived the fines, as they were only seeking compliance, not punitive action. The only really happy ending to this story would be the tagger in the back seat of a Police car, but we will take our victories where we find them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Scoping Meeting for new ARTIC train station

On February 24, 2010, the public is invited to a Scoping Meeting to review the plans for the ARTIC train station. ARTIC is the new facility that will serve High Speed Rail (if it gets built) as well as Metrolink, and eventually the ARC monorail through the Resort, and perhaps someday the MagLev to Las Vegas. When initially proposed, ARTIC was supposed to be a public-private partnership. However, the private sector has declined Curt Pringle's generous offer to invest in the station, so it is now a fully public investment, see the chart below to see how our money is being spent.
ARTIC Funding Sources

Funding Sources

Renewed Measure M--Project T Bond Proceeds $99.2 million

Measure M Transit Revenue $44.6 million

2008 State Transportation Improvement Program $29.2 million

Federal Earmark $3.2 million

Federal Transit Administration $2.6 million

*Total $178.8 million

*Information current as of 10/26/09

The Scoping process is a step in CEQA, during which the public agency reveals the plans to the public, and gathers input from the public. This is a very important step, as a comment at this time essentially acts as a "place holder" to allow for dispute later in the event that the project does not meet the desires of the community. Forfeit your right to comment now, and it becomes harder to object later. During the Scoping Meetings for High Speed Rail, only 2 meetings were held in Anaheim, both on the same day, and the only notification listed on the CHSRA's mailing list for those meetings was the City of Anaheim Planning Department. Few showed up, because few knew, and HSR supporters interpret that lack of attendance as lack of interest. So it is important to attend this meeting and send a strong message that yes we ARE interested in transporation issues in our community, when we know about them!


Anaheim West Tower Gordon Hoyt Conf. Ctr., 2nd Fl.
201 South Anaheim Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92805

February 24, 2010 at 4:30 p.m.
Visit anytime between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Parking for the meeting will be at:
City of Anaheim Parking Structure
200 South Anaheim Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92805

Notice of Public Scoping Meeting

For the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) Draft Environmental Impact Report
The City of Anaheim is responsible for preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for construction/ operation of the proposed ARTIC Project. ARTIC will be an intermodal transportation facility that will replace the existing Metrolink/Amtrak station currently located south of Katella Avenue and west of the Orange Freeway (SR-57). The proposed ARTIC site is located on a 16-acre site south of Katella Avenue, east of SR-57 and Douglass Road, and west of the Santa Ana River.
ARTIC will be an iconic transportationfacility where people will seamlessly move between transit services to reach Southern California activity centers and business districts. The station will accommodate passenger arrivals, departures and transfers with supporting retail, restaurants and passenger services within the building.
Your Input Counts

Interested individuals, organizations, and agencies are invited to participate to learn more about the project and provide comments on what issues you would like to see addressed in the environmental document.

Can't Attend?

Comments may be submitted by March 8, 2010

Contact: Ruth Ruiz, Public Information Specialist,

City of Anaheim

Office: (714) 765-5060 Email:

200 South Anaheim Boulevard, Anaheim, CA 92805

Register Now!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mob Rules

Disney hotel workers represented by Unite Here 11 are staging a hunger strike to bring attention to their cause, in the fight against the evil empire of Disney. let's look at both sides of the issue.

A Facebook page for "Disney is Unfaithful" has posted the following statement.

"Approximately 2,100 employees of the Disneyland Hotels, including bellmen, dishwashers, room attendants, and cooks, have been working without a contract since February 2008. Disney is unfaithful to the community and the workers because they do not uphold their espoused family values. Many hotel workers who have given years to the company will be faced with increased difficulty in obtaining healthcare for their families due to the proposals of Disney. The company is proposing to increase both cost and eligibility requirements to these low wage workers for benefits like health-care, vacation and seniority. This will cause suffering to many workers and their children."

What Unite Here is not telling you is that in 2008, Disney offered to extend the current contract to cover cast members during negotiations, and Unite Here refused the offer. Those cast members are working without a contract because their own leadership dismissed the offer. Working without a contract and working without benefits is NOT the same thing! While the Union refuses to negotiate with Disney, Disney has continued to deposit over $14 million dollars into the Union Trust to cover employee health care benefits. Disney is still acting in good faith.

Health care costs are rising, but Unite Here refuses to pass any of those increases on to their members, like the rest of us have to pay. Instead, they are demanding that Disney increase their payments by over 30% to cover the increased cost! My own family pays more every year for our employer sponsored benefits, and we have been notified that next year the plan we have been in will be eliminated entirely. This is life, and no single segment of the population should carry increased burden, nor should they be exempt from the burdens that others shoulder.

With costs skyrocketing, and Disney trying to avoid layoffs,  it is no longer viable for Disney to pay into the Union plan. Because Disney is such a big company, they are able to "buy in bulk" and get great coverage for their cast members, at a better cost than the Union deal. 30 other Unions working for Disney have enrolled in the benefits plan, and none of the others are protesting. Unite Here is the ONLY Union of 31 in total that has refused to see reason and accept the changing times we all live with. For those Union members who are enrolled in the Disney plan, Disney pays 75% of their plan! That is an incedibly generous benefit, but Unite Here insists that Disney cover 100% of their benefits! I am sorry, but where else on the planet does this happen?

The Disney plan actually offers better variety in choice of doctors and access to services, as well as sick pay, which is unavailable through the Union plan. The Union has also hiked co-pays with little or no warning, and took away cast members' sick pay with no warning! Disney's plan is stable.

The Union has tried to scare their members into believing it would cost $500 a month to enroll in the Disney plan, and I can understand the panic of hearing that number when making minimum wage. I did not have that kind of money as a resort drone, waiting tables, and IF THE NUMBERS WERE REAL, it would be a problem! According to Disney, "For a single Cast Member in 2010, the seven health plans in Disney Signature Benefits begin at $6.50 per week, with five health plans that are less than $20 per week. For a family of four, we offer four health plans at $68 or less per week, with the lowest starting at $29/week."

In addition to comprehensive health care coverage, the Mouse offered annual wage increases of 2.7% to 3.9% per year for five years for non-tipped Cast Members, the continuation of current eligibility requirements for all current Cast Members (ie, Cast Members can work as little as 70 hours per month and still be entitled to full health care benefits) and seven paid sick days per year -- a benefit the Union recently suspended. In an age when people are losing their jobs, this is jawdropping generous in my book!

In the 2 years the Union and Disney have been battling, Disney has asked for a Federal mediator to help them resolve the issue on at least FOUR occasions! In every case, Unite Here has refused. On January 29, Disney asked again for mediation, to try and get their cast members covered, and the Union responded, not by agreeing to mediation, but with a hunger strike! The Union tells the news media that they will agree to mediation, and they did send Disney a formal letter agreeing to mediation, but as of this date (February 16, 2010) when I checked with Disney, they do not have a response from the Union agreeing to details. If the Union is so concerned, why are they not at the negotiation tables?

Talking to Disney does not seem difficult, in the 2 years the Unite Here people have spent getting dressed up like characters for the benefit of being arrested in front of the media, SEVEN other Union contracts representing 7,100 cast members were renegotiated, with none of the other Unions protesting in the street!

In the place of Disney, I honestly do not know that I would have been as gracious. When Unite Here went on a hunger strike in the rain, Disney offered them the use of a ballroom to keep them out of the weather. Frankly, I would have told them to find better benefits with their next employer. So when i see reports of Disney being depicted as the evil empire, I have to respond. Every city is a company town to some extent, and while I do not always agree with Disney, I am proud of the way the biggest employer in the region conducts themselves, even in the face of angry and unreasonable mobs.

A quick note to Unite Here: I know a lot of college students in my neighborhood who would LOVE to have your jobs, with or without benefits.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"I feel that the dormant goodwill in people needs to be stirred. People need to hear that it makes sense to behave decently, or to help others, to place common interests above their own, to respect the elementary rules of human existence. They want to be told about this publicly. They want to know that those 'at the top' are on their side. They feel strengthened, confirmed, hopeful. Goodwill longs to be strengthened and cultivated. For it to develop and have an impact it must hear that the world does not ridicule it...I try never to give people practical advice to deal with the evil around them, nor could I even if I wanted to -- and yet people want to hear that decency and courage make sense, that something must be risked in the struggle against dirty tricks. They want to know that they are not alone, forgotten, written off..."

Vaclev Havel
Chip Hanlon posted a serious kick in the pants regarding the Paycheck Protection Initiative over at Red County

I am throwing out this challenge to all Anaheim residents; Get off your duff and make a difference in this state! We have the chance to take our Government back from those who would take from us for their own special interests, by helping the grassroots efforts of the Citizen Power Campaign.

To all Anaheim candidates I ask: What are YOU doing to support this important work? If you oppose this Initiative, tell me why, so we can share that information with Anaheim's voters. Make it good.

This Initiative is essential to restoring the balance of access when Union leaders use Union members' money (often against their will) for issues the individual members oppose. This does not prevent Union members from speaking out on those issues they feel passionately about. It simply keeps the Unions from taking money without permission, and using it in ways outside the will of those members from which the money was taken.

The Paycheck Protection Initiative is the ultimate statement of American ideals, in that nobody, not the government, not the unions, nobody, should be able to take money from an American paycheck and use it to buy access to politicians for causes the "donors" do not agree to!

If you have ever complained about special interests having access to politicians, but you thought one person could not make a difference, here is your chance to do something!

If you want to be elected in the City of Anaheim, and there are many of you, share what YOU are doing to protect the voices of your Union constituents who have had their voices ussurped by those who are supposed to represent them.

You will find more information, and a chance to sign the petition, and make a donation to help pay for professional signature gatherers, at the website here

You can also join Scott Baugh for a rally at the Slide Bar in Fullerton on Saturday, February 13th at 10 am. If you want to attend from Anaheim, contact me at and I will pack my greenhouse killer SUV with passengers.

I can tell you from my own interviews with local grassroots leaders: Anaheim is in a funny mood, a mood that matches much of the rest of the nation. Anaheim is tired of the same old political elite telling the citizenry what they have chosen to do to and with the everyday people of our hometown. There is an anger simmering beneath the surface, and we can either tap into it and make it work for us...or we can ignore it and maintain the status quo. The status quo will not longer be tolerated in Anaheim, that is a message I hear from leaders in the neighborhoods, that is a message I will make very clear as the election moves forward. To every candidate in Anaheim, I ask; Will you be part of the solution? Tell me about it.

To every reader that this might reach: Get off your butt and work toward a solution, download a petition, sign it, get members of your household to sign it. Take it to your bridge game, your neighborhood potluck, your workplace (if your employer allows). We keep screaming for cleaner politics, let's make it happen!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Government Spending


An unnecessary or wasteful project.

This typically North American term is often applied in two specific ways, either to describe work of little or no value done merely to appear busy, or in reference to a government-funded project with no purpose other than political patronage. It can also be used for an unnecessary journey by a government official at public expense.

Part of its oddity lies in its sudden emergence into public view in an article in the New York Times on 4 April 1935. This had the headline “$3,187,000 Relief is Spent to Teach Jobless to Play ... Boon Doggles Made”. The “boon doggles” of the headline turn out to be small items of leather, rope and canvas, which were being crafted by the jobless during the Great Depression as a form of make-work. The article quoted a person who taught the unemployed to create them that the word was “simply a term applied back in the pioneer days to what we call gadgets today”. He suggested that boondoggles had been small items of leatherwork which were made by cowboys on idle days as decorations for their saddles.

The word instantly became famous. It seems that Americans had been feeling the lack of a good word to describe unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulent projects and leapt upon it with delight.

It wasn’t quite new. The first appearance of the word is actually in a British publication, Punch, on 14 August 1929:

The chief scout has recently been presented by the University of Liverpool with a Degree, and by the scouts of America with a boondoggle. Of the two, I think I should prefer the boondoggle. Great as is the honour conferred by the Seat of Learning, there is a homely flavour about the other gift which touches the heart even more. “Boondoggle.” It is a word to conjure with, to roll around the tongue; an expressive word to set the fancy moving in strange and comforting channels; and it rhymes with “goggle,” “boggle,” and “woggle.” three of the most lighthearted words in the English language.

The Daily Messenger of Canandaigua, New York, explained the background to this puzzling item on 20 August 1931:

The boondoggle, which leaped literally into fame overnight when it was introduced by Rochester Boy Scouts at the jamboree in England, is a braided lanyard on which various things such as whistles can be hung. So fascinating do the boys find it, that they have spent practically all their spare time on the work.

On 6 April 1935, two days after the New York Times article appeared, a contrary view about the origin of the word was published in a syndicated snippet in the Nevada State Journal:

“The word ‘boondoggle’ was coined out of the blue sky by Robert H. Link, eagle scout,” wrote Hastings. “It has absolutely no significance except that it has come to mean a good-looking addition to the uniform.”

Mr Link, later a scoutmaster, was also said to have been its originator in an item in a magazine called Word Study later the same year. He is now often quoted in reference works as its inventor. As all the early appearances of boondoggle — none before 1929 — are in connection with Scouts’ lanyards, it is indeed likely that it was created in that milieu. The stories about cowboys and pioneer days have nothing going for them apart from the guesses of one person reported in the 1935 New York Times article.

Whatever its origin, it was that article that converted boondoggle from a word existing quietly in its own small world to one of public importance and continuing usefulness.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2010. All rights reserved.

Your comments and corrections are welcome.

Page created 8 Jun. 2002

Last updated 8 Sep. 2007

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Money, Lies, and Audiotape

While I was working on a separate blog for High Speed Rail, the whole stinking thing busted open. I have posted about it on Red County

Spokker was right, the folks at CARRD (Palo Alto heroes that others call NIMBYs) tracked the funky ridership numbers back to a memo from the subcontractor showing that numbers were, well, less complete than one might like them to be.

Combined with audiotape I already had of Executive Director Medhi Moshed (I mangle the poor man's name) telling the HSRA Exec Commte that their contractors are getting gifts and trips during a discussion of conflict of interest and reporting policies, we get a pretty good idea of what the contractors are all about.

I, for one, do not want to pay them another nickel of State money until this is fixed, and I will be VERY vocal about it with any leaders who will listen to me!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Register Wants to Send HSR Packing

While the OC Register has been strangely silent on the issue of High Speed Rail, they finally spoke up today in an Editorial piece that was not favorable to HSR's position of continuing to move forward no matter what. The article is here:

Most of the HSR Board meetings are held in Sacramento, which leaves many of us unable to go and speak or even sit and watch the proceedings, while they decide what to do in our community without our permission or input. This month's meeting is in San Diego, it is tomorrow at 9 am. I am attending, and taking anyone who wants to carpool. It is in the middle of the workday, so I know it is hard to get away, but if you can manage it, contact me directly and I am happy to pick up anyone who wants to go.

In the meantime, other responsible rail advocates have been networking throughout the State, and people in other communities are having the same problems we see in Anaheim.

1) Lack of public notice or input. While the HSRA says this has all been public information, and they have had meetings, making it seem as though if we do not know about this it is our own fault, let's look at their idea of public notice.

During the Scoping Meeting, the ONLY Anaheim contact on their list for notification was Sherry VanderDussen at the Anaheim Planning Department. I do know that the City posted something to their website, and an email notice went out to some citizens who are on their mailing list. However, that is a pathetic attempt to contact the public. During the Scoping Meeting, they held two meetings per location, at three locations. That is a grand total of six meetings, for a route that runs from Anaheim to Los Angeles. Of those meetings, their own documents show that 100 people TOTAL attended, and there is no record of how many of those attendees were staff from various agencies, union reps from the trade unions, and how many were actual residents and businesses that are affected by the project. In contrast, when we contacted residents through a grassroots network to tell them about the Alternatives Analysis, we had over 150 people attend, in the pouring rain. The citizens of Anaheim are interested in the project, we simply were not adequately notified. This is a trend we see in other communities, and we are comparing notes.

2) Lack of real information related to meetings: After the Scoping Meetings, the HSRA did conduct some outreach meetings, where they showed a video that was information light at best. Maps show an animated arrow traveling from Anaheim to Los Angeles, with no topographic or landmark type marlers to allow the public to orient the location of the train line. The statement that they are using the "LOSSAN Corridor" means nothing to those who do not understand that the LOSSAN is the existing Metrolink line.

3) Murky information: While the HSRA has handed the common citizens generic information, they have been sharing with leaders in Sacramento information that I will graciously categorize as "spun"...when the LAO reviewed the Business Plan (revised because the old numbers did not work) they called out the revelation that private investors would only jump into this program if their investment was guaranteed. But since Prop 1A forbids a taxpayer subsidy, the HSRA will call it a "ridership guarantee" as if that somehow makes it palatable to those of us who pay for that "guarantee". There are too many instances of this obsufucation to count, so I am creating a separate blog specifically to adress issues of HSR and its effect on our area.

Stay tuned, and I will create a separate space so as not to bog down the Anaheim blog with HSR issues, and we can get on to the important work of discussing the upcoming elections, and events in your area.

By the way, if you know of an event or meeting in your area, I would love to post about it, contact me directly to send the info.