Mega Projects or Mega Failures?
Many of us have followed the two huge mega projects that Governor Brown has backed with interest, and for myself, gloom. The water tunnels project to bring more Northern California water to Southern California and the high speed bullet train project. Grand ideas. Big ideas. Big mistakes.
Why is it a big mistake? Let’s talk about the high speed bullet train which would be neither should it ever get built. The concept is to build a train that would get from SF to LA in less than 2.25 hours. Impossible. Cannot happen. Voters actually approved a $9 billion bond issue to get the train project rolling (how did voters ever say yes to this?) and subsequently, interest for the train has been reduced significantly. Why has the enthusiasm waned? Several reasons: 1. Cheaper fuel. People are able to put $2.30/gallon fuel in their car or truck and drive to LA for less than $60. 2. Time-drive time from SF to LA in 6 ½ to 7 ½ hours. By the time you drove to the train station, parked, shuttled in to the terminal, waited for the train, boarded, and then stopped at all the stops along the way, the train would get you to LA in about 5 – 7 hours. You still have to rent a car, take public transportation, or walk to your destination. 3. Now that the engineering obstacles of the southern stretch are coming into focus, voters are realizing that the $68 billion estimate is off by about a factor of 3 or 4. The tunnels will cost about $50 billion alone. 5. The bullet train has no support from the probable future Governor, Gavin Newsome. So whatever Brown puts in place for funding is likely to see reversed once he is out of office. For all those reasons and the lawsuits that are pending-most of us say Forget it!
As to bringing more Northern California water to Southern California, the cost to the environment is such that multiple lawsuits are being filed or have been filed. Also, Southern California is getting by without more water by simply initiating some long needed conservation practices that we are very familiar with in Northern California.
There are bigger problems to solve for us. We cannot get a transportation bill out of committee due to a standoff because Republicans believe there are plenty of taxes already collected but we should stop spending those taxes on the tunnel for water and the high speed train. If those mega projects were off the table, there would be plenty of money to fix our roads and our bridges. For once, I kind of side with the minority Republicans who are saying no to any new taxes or fees to fund infrastructure unless and until we quit spending foolish money on Brown’s legacy mega failures!
Dan Walters wrote a column on this recently in the Sac Bee. If you want to read his much more eloquent opinion piece on this subject, click here
That’s All Folks!
I want to introduce myself to you and introduce this new addition to the ECA Weekly Newsletter. I am Lacey Torkelson Smith, incoming 2016 ECA President. I work for Wells Fargo Insurance Services and am honored and excited to serve as President for this group this year. I am going to have this “President’s Message” each week in the newsletter and I want you to feel free to call me with questions or comments for the ECA in general, and my messages in particular. Let’s move together and make 2016 our best year yet!
Owner’s Meeting: at the ECA strategic Planning retreat held a couple of weeks ago, a common issue was brought up-“how do we stay connected with our membership?”. Although we are very influential and are working on our membership’s behalf on several levels, not many members are aware of what we are doing unless they serve directly on the Board of Directors. It is easy to feel disconnected. I want to change that without intruding on everyone’s busy schedule. To that end, I am doing the following: A) with John, I am calling each and every member firm to connect with them and you should hear from us in the coming weeks, and B) working with staff to initiate an annual “owner’s meeting” that will have invitations extended to owners of our member firms. The intent of the owner’s meeting is to get owners connected to what we do, and to listen to the owners’ concerns and issues that we should focus on. This is exciting and unprecedented and I am happy to spearhead this effort! More to come shortly as the next week will see invitations go out, a date set, and a location reserved for our very first owner’s meeting.