The city fathers of Bakersfield, in the portion of the state where the initial tracks will be laid down, in a symbolic vote, voted 6-1, against the California's high speed rail. They employ the logic that a) the state and the feds don't hsve the money, b) when those two entities don't have any money, they start looking at cities and counties for the money grab and c) they won't be able to actually use the high speed choo-choos for years and years.
The Bakersfield City Council Wednesday joined the growing chorus of opponents demanding that the high-speed rail project be scrapped.
The council voted 6-1 to say "no" to the California High-Speed Rail Authority's plans to build the project in pieces, with an unusable segment under construction in the San Joaquin Valley for the next 10 years.
The council's move was virtually identical to a unanimous vote by the Kings County Board of Supervisors in October that disapproved of any possible route through Kings County.
In a blistering presentation to the council by City Manager Alan Tandy that echoed an equally harsh staff report, Tandy said the project's proposed path would destroy key landmarks in downtown Bakersfield, operate no trains for the foreseeable future, be overseen by Authority officials he said have failed to respond to Bakersfield officials, concerns over a period of 18 months and worsen the state's existing fiscal crisis.
At potentially $120 billion dollars for the project... there's no money but Tandy knows that's not going to stop this thing.
"When the state has fiscal crises, they turn predatory to cities and counties to cover their excess spending," he said.
Tandy attacked the argument that the project would bring needed jobs, saying that it would be better to create employment by improving run-down streets and roads in Bakersfield and Kern County.
This fiscal black hole effect was precisely the fear of a Democratic lawmaker, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal of Long Beach:
"My fear is that with (an uncertain) price tag and no dedicated revenue stream, any money we do get will go to that project, to the detriment of the state's existing transportation systems,"
But whom thought that plunging head-long into the project was a good idea anyway. Sigh.
Several council members said they admired the vision of high-speed rail, but couldn't in good conscience support the plan because of the amount of borrowing it would require in a state already in a deficit crisis.
"Sacramento continues to look at local governments as the piggy bank to fund their out-of-control projects," said Councilman Russell Johnson.
Alas, the grand statist vision of public make-work projects will never yield to the realities of fiscal sanity.