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Friday, January 13, 2012

Irvington neighborhood association jumps the shark

Neighborhood associations are there to protect the interests of the neighborhood. No matter how much sentiment there may be in the neighborhood about external matters, it really dilutes the credibility of the association to get involved in them. Apparently, the Irvington neighborhood association does not understand this, as it's about to inject itself into the debate about the new interstate freeway bridge. Bad move.

Hey, busybodies, form a separate group called Irvington Against the Bridge, Irvingtonians for Green Transportation, Yuppies for the Whales, whatever you like. But please, stick to the knitting and keep the neighborhood association out of the bridge morass. It's like the City Council passing infantile resolutions on Supreme Court jurisprudence and the war in Afghanistan -- you just look silly.

Comments (13)

Oh good, one more group of busy-bodies to delay the ultimate decision.

How about they focus on good roads and schools and less shootings in Irvington? Y'know something soluble?

Silly, and distinctly officious. Direct hit on both.

a neighborhood association weighing in on a project that would consume and waste every transportation dollar for the entire northwest for decades while not imrooving travel conditions in the least, even under the proponests' rosy projections, is not "searching abroad for monsters to destroy" but is in fact doing the right thing to protect its residents.

This blog regularly notes the damage done by inattention to civic affairs by people who think that something stupid or wasteful across town is "not my problem.". We are all connected, and there is nobody in the enteire Northwest who would not be hurt by a project concocted out of phony stats, absurd projected increases in population and miles driven, and that will produce no benefit except to the greedy contractors and the pols who grease them, and a liars budget of $4B.

The question is not why Irvington is sticking its nose in, it should be why isn't every organized association and interest group in town doing so as well?

Wonder if Irvington is still a nuclear-free zone?

I'm with Seldes. If every association weighed in against it, it might really change the dynamics of the decision. Perhaps not the outcome, mind you - just the dynamics.

The tactics of CoP bureaucrats often involve divide and conquer. And this works very well with any NA that is overly protective of only the territory within its boundaries. Irvington has positioned themselves above this, and others ought to follow their example.

One is tempted to think this post is motivated by disagreement with the position taken, rather than by the taking of a position.

there are significant negative impacts for N and NE neighborhoods in particular. increased pollution. increased traffic noise. decreased access to transportation (project will clog I-5 in Rose Quarter).

how is this NOT the neighborhoods business?

Whatever they may say about you and your blog, Jack, they can't accuse you of surrounding yourself with "yes men".

how is this NOT the neighborhoods business?

Copy that!!

For the second time today I entirely concur with Jack.

I wonder how many bridge engineers are in this neighborhood association?

It was bad enough to have silly Sam weigh in the how the bridge was going to look. Now we have some soccer moms joining in? What are they going to do, specify the grade of concrete to be used? I think the phrase "stick to your knitting" applies here.

How did we manage to build the entire interstate freeway system in the 60's without gathering input from each mayor in every town?

Gosh, Andy, sexist much?

You reallize, of course that your patronizing and dismissive comment is exactly the kind of mindset that drives people bonkers about CoP projects. The suggestion that only those with degrees in engineering are appropriate commenters on projects like this is how things like the tram and the uv water treatment scam get done ... The agency hires the techies and then suggests that anyone without the relevant tech degrees is just a housewife who ought to tend to her knitting.

And while you probably weren't around for it, thise who were can tell you that, across much of the US, and especially in cities like Portland, the highway system was the supersized pork project of the century, with bottomless levels of greed and graft in every decision ... All flavored by a huge dose of institutional racism, where black neighborhoods were prefentially targeted for freeways. Far from designing the system without the input of the mayor in every town, the system was pretty much built by, for, and of the well to do and well connected --- the exact same people who are trying to shove this fantastic boondoggle down our throats now, before another couple years of hard times, high gas prices, and VMT declines makes the projects's fantasy rationale too ludicrous even for the Zero.

What's sad about the below is that people will think that the problems are with the particular mode being discussed, rather than with all these mega-projects, especially those involving bridges of any sort.

Innovation Briefs

Vol. 23, No. 3 www.innobriefs.com

January 15, 2012

Fresh Winds Blowing from Sacramento
For California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project, last week brought plenty of  surprises and challenges.  Dominating the headlines were the resignations of several top officials of the High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA). Among them were board chairman Tom Umberg, CEO Roelof van Ark, board member Matthew Toledo, Deputy Director (Environment) Dan Leavitt and press secretary Rachel Wall. Dan Richard, a respected and trusted advisor of Gov. Jerry Brown, appointed to the Board last year, is expected to assume chairmanship of the Board (Umberg remains as a member of the board).

The past week also saw the release of a fresh critique of CHSRA’s business plan and an avalanche of criticism by influential commentators and analysts. The critique, entitled Twelve Misleading Statements on Finance and Economic Issue in the CHSRA’s Draft 2012 Business Plan, received wide distribution among state legislators and senior officials in Gov. Brown’s administration. It was authored by a group of independent experts who have closely followed the project over the past two years — Alain C. Enthoven, William C. Grindley, William H. Warren, Michael G. Brownrigg and Alan H. Bushell. The report challenges methodically, one by one, the credibility of the business plan’s key assumptions concerning the project’s construction costs and financing; revenues, ridership and operational costs; and societal benefits. ( http://www.cc-hsr.org)

Last week's press commentaries added to the climate of skepticism that is increasingly engulfing the project. In close succession, there appeared a January 8 column by the well known Sacramento Bee columnist, Dan Walters (It’s Time to Kill California’s Bullet Train Boondoggle); a January 9 op-ed in The Washington Post by the newspaper’s editorial writer Charles Lane (California’s High-Speed Rail to Nowhere); and a January 10 piece in The Wall Street Journal by Wendell Cox and Joseph Vranich (California’s High-Speed Rail Fibs).

An Orange County Register editorial on January 12 further underscored the widespread opposition to the project by the state’s newspapers. The editorial sounded alarm about legislative attempts to fast-track the HSR project by exempting it from environmental review (Rep. Feuer’s Assembly Bill 1444). Waiving environmental regulations can speed project approval and undermine legal challenges, pointed the editorial. The HSR project already faces multiple court challenges on environmental grounds, with more suits likely.

Even the Sierra Club has turned critical ."The draft business plan does not leave us feeling optimistic about the viability of the current high-speed rail program," wrote Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California in a January 13 letter to the Authority. "We urge the HSRA to reconsider its business plan." (www.scribd.com)

Departure of key personnel could mark a new beginning

The unexpected departure of the Authority’s top officials has added to a series of reversals experienced by the project in recent days. Most damaging has been a scathing report by the independent Peer Review Group that pronounced the Authority’s plan "not financially feasible" and warned of "immense financial risk."  Adding to it has been  a growing chorus of skeptical lawmakers  and further news of declining public support (a SurveyUSA news poll showing only 33% of voters in favor of the bond sale).

The abrupt mass resignations of senior management are seen as a bid by Governor Brown to assert a tighter control over a project that is facing a critical first test later this spring when the legislature will be asked to vote the first $2.7 billion in bonds to start the initial 130-mile stretch of the line in the Central Valley. Last week, Brown also announced that he intends to fold the Authority into a new state transportation agency, thus placing the project under more direct supervision of the Governor.

So far, Gov. Brown has maintained steadfast support of the project, but his recent actions suggest that he is sensitive to public opinion and to the political winds blowing from the state capitol. Many lawmakers, some from the Governor’s own party, counsel against rushing ahead with construction and suggest taking the time to thoroughly rethink the business plan. They include Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D), chairman of the select committee on high-speed rail; Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D), chairman of the transportation committee; and Sen. Joe Simitian (D), chairman of the budget subcommittee overseeing transportation. The dim prospects for any further federal funds or for private money to support the project beyond the "Initial Construction Section" must also weigh heavily in the Governor's assessment of the project's long-term viability.

In the meantime, changes may be expected in the Rail Authority’s management style. Those who know the incoming chairman well, look forward to an agency that will be less confrontational, more respectful of its critics and more attentive to the legislators. They hope the Authority  will be more willing to reach out and build bridges to citizen groups, and will assert more control over its contractors.

Only time will tell whether last week’s events represent a true turning point for this divisive initiative. However, multiple signs coming out of Sacramento give us reasons to hope that real changes in direction are indeed underway.

Kenneth Orski, Editor/Publisher


Note: the NewsBriefs can also be accessed at www.infrastructureUSA.org; A listing of all recent NewsBriefs can be found at www.innobriefs.com

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