Los Angeles: the focal point for socially-engineered transportation policies formulated by special interests bent on modifying personal behavior and politicians catering to the transportation needs of illegal aliens...
Los Angeles is a community of cars and commuters, the hub of an exceedingly large metroplex stretching beyond county boundaries where workers may commute easily over one hundred miles or more per day. With such diversity, ride-sharing becomes almost impossible due to the lack of concentrated work centers and compact feeder neighborhoods. There is no inexpensive or practical way to respond to the demands of your employer or to the demands of a family emergency without access to a vehicle.
And yet, the MTA (the over-politicized and bloated Municipal Transportation Agency) and the far-left idealists in the State and Federal transportation agencies continue to attempt to separate California's citizens from their cars... ostensibly to relieve the congestion of a growing traffic nightmare.
Enter the diamond lanes...
A failed experiment in social engineering which has increased traffic congestion over the years as a significant portion of busy freeways lose up to 20% of their car carrying capacity in favor of those mommies and other who carpool. Most of the time, the lanes sit idle as a testament to the far-left loons in the California legislature.
The latest outrage... A freeway that will be a little less "free"
A Trojan horse: accepting federal funds to allow the State of California to convert their failed diamond-lane carpooling experiment from an HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane to a HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lane? All in the hopes that charging people money to use a "hopefully" less crowded lane during rush hour traffic will seem to relive some of the traffic congestion. And in politico-speak, "reduce the nation's energy requirements by eliminating much of the idle commute time."
Stupid is as stupid does...
The Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, typifies the inarticulate and somewhat incompetent Bush Administration. In her little speech, Peters sounded like President Bush as she mangled the names of the California Governor (Schwarzenegger) and the Los Angeles Mayor (Villaraigosa). Her little speech was filled with stupid inanities while her background leaves no doubt that she is a functionary and lacks the heavy transportation credentials that one would assume would be a prerequisite for a Cabinet position.
"U.S. Secretary of Transportation Announces $213 Million Grant to Cut Traffic, Improve Transit and Clean the Air in Los Angeles"
"Congestion Reduction Funding to Finance Creation of New HOT Lanes, Better Bus Services"
"An ambitious plan to cut highway traffic jams and provide better bus transit services in Los Angeles is eligible for more than $213 million in federal Congestion Reduction grants, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters said. The Secretary noted that the grant will allow local leaders to move forward with a plan to use proven transportation solutions like congestion pricing to improve southern California’s traffic, economy and air quality."
“'The concept is simple but the idea is bold, to make L.A. an easier place to live, a better place to do business and a cleaner place to raise a family,' Secretary Peters said. 'We want this iconic American city to continue to be known for its epic Hollywood movies, not epic traffic jams.'”
Oh Yes, the impact of up to 85-miles of HOT lanes and 60 new busses will be the turning point!
"In announcing the funding in Los Angeles during an event with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Secretary said that the new federal funding would provide the leverage local leaders need to convert up to 85 miles of local HOV highway lanes into more reliable high occupancy toll, or HOT, lanes by the end of 2010."
"These roads use electronic tolling technology to allow drivers to pay a fee for access to less-congested lanes. She added that sophisticated sensors will monitor the region’s freeways and adjust fares for the lanes based on traffic levels. Secretary Peters said that being able to choose to avoid back ups to experience faster commutes was 'a better option than being stuck in traffic and staring at an open lane just to your left.'”
DUH, you think?
Suspicious accounting from the start...
"Under the proposed deal, the federal money would pay for 60 passenger buses that would use the new high occupancy toll, or HOT, lanes in Los Angeles County. That would free up MTA funds for creating the lanes."
Busses which would primarily benefit the illegal alien population.
And if anyone cares, HOV miles are measured in lane-miles; so you can have 20 lane miles representing a two-lane 10 mile stretch of lane. Another opportunity to bamboozle the public and the federal authorities.
Following the money...
The city, county and state all bend over backwards to accommodate illegal aliens which, in and of itself, represents added pressure on the transportation infrastructure including the daily commuting congestion, higher insurance costs relating to uninsured motorists and the necessity of increasing bus transportation for those who do not have convenient transportation.
Not to mention the special interests, including the unions, who benefit from the continuing construction of projects which rarely pay for themselves and are heavily subsidized. So the diversion of funds from one project into another is not unknown.
Even as a start, consider the amount of real time, energy and money which will be spent on the conversion, installation of electronic systems, and the bureaucracy to manage the system and billing. Or will it be subcontracted to a politically-connected special interest firm?
The city, county and state has traditionally transferred tax money from designated highway funds into the general fund to balance out-of-kilter budgets. What is to keep a portion of this money from being siphoned off to balance today's deficits and which would require additional taxes in the near future to replace the funds after the next election cycle?
How much money could be at stake...
One need only look at a single toll-road in Orange County to develop an estimate...
"Currently, fees for accessing a 10-mile toll lane on a highway connecting Orange and Riverside counties range from $1.20 to $10, said Orange County Transportation Authority spokesman Joel Zlotnik. Using the lanes at 5 a.m. weekdays costs $1.20, but the fee rises to $10 at 3 p.m. on Fridays." The roughly 177,000 motorists who use the 91 Express Lanes pay an average $2.25 toll, Zlotnik said."
That's approximately $398,225 per day; $1,991,250 per 5-day week. An attractive target for the politicos who are hunting everywhere for funds to erase a budget deficit caused by out-of-control spending, not so much on infrastructure, but on expanding government, special interest projects and the care, feeding and healthcare of a hoard of illegal aliens.
No real road improvements...
In this scheme, there would be no road improvements to help maintain our crumbling roads or build-out new lanes which are desperately needed. Just considering the administrative overhead burden on $213 million in grant money, the citizens of Los Angeles and California will be sure to be tapped for additional funds in the near future.
Worsening of traffic...
Even current car pools with only two people would have to pay the toll. Three carpoolers and you would be home free. And there is no exemption for hybrid vehicles now allowed to use the HOV lanes. Thus people who do not want to pay for the HOT lane will now re-enter the normal traffic lanes thus degrading traffic further.
It should also be noted that the carpool experiment was flawed from the beginning as those people wishing to use the carpool lane must carefully increase their speed while crossing three or more lanes to enter the restricted carpool lane area; often at the expense of increasing the risk of accidents or slowing down other drivers as one navigates to the designated HOV lane. Likewise, cars that must depart a carpool lane to exit at an off-ramp must cross a minimum of three to four lanes -- thus slowing down all traffic.
For those in Southern California, consider the San Diego Freeway South (I405) from the Ventura Freeway (I101) through the Sepulveda Pass towards the airport (LAX). Although there is a carpool lane, it is often just as jammed as the regular lanes -- and there is no apparent benefit for the experiment.
And this is only a start...
Meanwhile, the MTA continues to spin their pipe dreams of building a world-class underground transit system next to some of the most expensive high-rises in the land and which would run almost parallel to a known earthquake fault. And how many executives and professional workers do you think will take this line? About as many as currently commute into the city? Hop on any bus and it appears you have entered a third-world nation.
Time to take action...
If you are curious to know where the money came from, it came from the City of New York which operates a famous and successful subway system and where a majority of city dwellers in this very small, compact city do not even own or drive cars. They turned the grant down rather than attempt to institute congestion-based pricing in Mayor Bloomberg's leftist paradise.
According to officials, the deal is not done until city, county and state agencies would have to agree. The plan must be implemented by 2010 in order to secure the funds.
And, as with all projects of this type, the devil is in the details. According to the MTA, they are not sure of the pricing or even if solo drivers would be able to use the system.
The hidden agenda?
Is it possible that this scheme is to simply charge enough money so that people will leave the car pool lane altogether so as to permit California to keep receiving the federal funds that they may lose if the car pool lane does not allow an average speed of 45 miles-per-hour?
The impossible dream...
"Transportation officials hope enough people use the buses and the tolls clear enough space in the carpool lanes for traffic flow to stay at about 45 mph at all times."
In a state facing a 10-billion dollar deficit, and motorists experience the effects of up to $4.00/gallon gasoline, the thought of increasing spending on a foolish venture is more than ridiculous, it is political. Another "pilot" program which eventually ends up as a "pile it" project.
San Francisco: the home of multi-cultural political correctness: Crazy far-left radical to run against far-left radical...
There is no doubt that San Francisco is unlike any other major city in the nation. There is the famously cold damp fog, the locus for destructive earthquakes, the heart-challenging hills, drug-shooting hippies, and a variety of sanctuary policies which openly welcome illegal aliens.
And from the official San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau...
Diverse San Francisco.
"San Francisco may be the world's most diverse and exciting city. Explore our amazing cultural tapestry with these stimulating one-day itineraries, and plan your travel adventures with the other special interest resources provided below"
"San Francisco’s rich African American heritage can be found in the unlikeliest places - if only you know where to look. Enjoy this one-day itinerary, which offers a glimpse into the City's extraordinary black culture."
"Asian people make up a crucial part of our city’s cultural heritage. Only in San Francisco can you delight in cultures from across Asia, each just a few steps away from each other. Visit historical sites and colorful Asian neighborhoods."
"San Francisco is a city chock full of historic lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) commemorative memorials, political precedents and historic events. Visitors who crave a crash course in queer culture are invited to uncover an unrivaled education in the streets, cafes, parks and museums of San Francisco. Leave your heart in America's Favorite Rainbow City with this exciting tour."
"The City’s rich Latino heritage pulses throughout the streets of San Francisco, and much of its vibrant street scene is concentrated in one distinct neighborhood, The Mission District."
It is hard to believe that in this sea of diversity is an area where "old white" guys can feel at home. Of, course it is San Francisco's financial district with its iconic buildings like the Transamerica Pyramid. Home to major corporations and often known as the Wall Street of the West.
So why is San Francisco a city where common sense takes a leave of absence and the loony leftist politicians rule with an iron hand?
The latest insult to normalcy and good behavior...
"Anti-war Cindy Sheehan files to take on Pelosi"
"Peace activist Cindy Sheehan wants to snatch House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's congressional seat from her in November, but first she's going to need the help - and signatures - of 10,198 friends and supporters."
"Sheehan was at San Francisco City Hall on Friday to take out papers for her independent run for Congress, but without those signatures from voters in the district, her name won't show up on the ballot."
"'It's an uphill battle,' said Sheehan, who vowed to run against Pelosi in July after the speaker refused to start impeachment proceedings against President George Bush. 'But I'm excited about the signature-gathering process. It's going to be an opportunity to talk to people about our campaign.'"
Casey would be appalled...
"The 50-year-old Sheehan, whose son, Casey, was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004, became the public face of the anti-war movement when she mounted a demonstration outside Bush's Texas ranch that lasted from 2005 to 2007."
Casey's willingness and enthusiasm to serve should not be marred by the actions of a grief-stricken mother who has been manipulated by those in the far-left to lead the charge to impeach the President. The very same people who rail against nuclear energy, any expansion of the military and who seem to be part of the "hate America" or "Blame America First" crowd.
"Even after pleading exhaustion and closing down "Camp Casey" in May, Sheehan was a regular speaker at anti-war gatherings across the nation. Since moving from Dixon to San Francisco's Mission District, she's been campaigning virtually full time."
"Sheehan has name recognition, particularly for her Camp Casey crusade."
"I said last year that I was going to take a break (from the anti-war movement) and then come back," Sheehan said in an interview at her Mission Street campaign headquarters.
"But when the president commuted White House aide Scooter Libby's prison sentence last summer, she said, she decided 'that seeing George Bush impeached would be a victory for humanity.'"
Progressives is a political label, not a description of their policies...
There are plenty of congressional Democrats, especially in the Bay Area, who don't agree, including Reps. Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Pete Stark, along with other progressives, both in and out of office.
The Far-left's anti-war and Marxist agenda...
"Impeachment isn't Sheehan's only concern. Pelosi's refusal to vote for an immediate end to the Iraq war and to support single-payer health care shows she's out of touch with San Francisco's progressive roots, Sheehan said."
Financed from the outside...
"The odds don't bother Sheehan, who has raised more than $100,000 for her race, most of it from outside the district."
"'Even people who I won't represent are willing to back me, because they know what I'll do in office,' she said. 'Many people in San Francisco know me, and they know my persistence.'"
"'If I get to Washington, I'll only be in office a couple weeks before Bush leaves, but I guarantee he'll know I'm there.'"
The only thing missing in Sheehan's campaign is the environmental activism components; which will probably be added in the near future.
What can YOU do?
Now is the time to return competence to all levels of government.
It is now time to remove the far-left old hippies and those that represent the special interests and the government of Mexico from office. It is time to concentrate on the legal citizens first before institutionalizing our "mandatory" charitable giving.
In case you haven't noticed, the major companies and their employees are moving to other more tax- and user-friendly states. The entrepreneurs and small businesses that support this great state are also moving. Perhaps that's the true plan: force everybody out, turn a major portion of California into a third-world nation, let the illegals vote to take over the political infrastructure and de facto cede Southern California to Mexico.
The size of government, along with the waste, corruption and outright pandering to special interests must be curtailed. There is no alternative if California wants to remain the Golden State.
My best friend has already relocated and tells me that the State appears to be doomed. I sure hope he is wrong -- but then again, he is more often right than wrong by a significant margin.
Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.
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The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius
Anti-war Cindy Sheehan files to take on Pelosi