Friday, 22 February, 2019

Calif. Gov. Newsom announces withdrawal of most National Guard troops from border

Gov. Newsom Pulls the Plug on California’s Costly Bullet Train Boondoggle Gavin Newsom To Scale Back, Not Abandon, California's High-Speed Rail
Ellis Copeland | 14 February, 2019, 07:41

Gavin Newsom is scaling back the state's Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high-speed rail (HSR) program, deciding instead to focus on a shorter route in the Central Valley.

Addressing the Legislature and state officers for the first time, Newsom used the 43-minute speech to say his fledgling administration is prepared to make "tough calls" on the beleaguered projects, two of the largest public works efforts ever undertaken by the Golden State. "The current project, as planned, would cost too much and take too long". "There's been too little oversight and not enough transparency", he said.

"This is a bipartisan issue - at least it should be - and I hope he follows through, and takes the lead of California in the process", he said. "And they have suffered too many years of neglect from policymakers respectfully here in Sacramento".

"I have nothing but respect for Governor Brown's and Governor Schwarzenegger's vision".

The rail service was meant to decongest key airports and highways that have reached saturation points in the most populous and richest state in the nation. "The Bay Area and Los Angeles must be - and will be-part of California's high-speed rail network".

A state audit issued in November said California's High-Speed Rail Authority's "flawed decision making and poor contract management have contributed to billions in cost overruns and delays".

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He supports finishing the rail line - already under construction - between Bakersfield and Merced because it would stimulate the economic of the state's central region and reduce air pollution, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In response to Newsom's comments, CHRSA Chief Executive Officer Brian Kelly said the authority is "eager" to complete the project's construction in the Central Valley.

"And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump", he added. California has spent $5.4 billion on the train so far.

The California project's envisioned 800-mile network, with trains speeding as fast as 220 miles per hour, made it one of the largest, and most costly, public works developments in recent US history.

On housing, Newsom said he has invited the leaders of 47 cities that haven't kept up with mandated affordable housing goals to meet next week for a "candid conversation". We have the capacity to complete the rail between Merced and Bakersfield. "We can align our economic and workforce development strategies, anchored by high-speed rail, and pair them with tools like opportunity zones, to form the backbone of a reinvigorated Central Valley economy". "Because last week, we heard another president stand up at the State of the Union and offer a vision of an America fundamentally at odds with California values". "He described a country where inequality didn't seem to be a problem, where climate change didn't exist, and where the greatest threat we face comes from families seeking asylum at the border".

In his speech, Newsom rejected Trump's rhetoric about an "emergency" at the border as part of a "manufactured crisis", noting that data has shown that undocumented immigrants are generally less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.

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