Trustees deadlocked 2-2 on the reopening timetable last week without trustee Joan Laursen. Presumably with five trustees present Thursday, the district can get moving,. The pieces are in place and the evidence of the educational and psychological damage of the shutdown continues to mount.
USA Today reported last week that the University of California-San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay had seen record-high numbers of suicidal children in January. The situation in San Francisco is so dire that the city has sued the school board to force it to submit a reopening plan. The city’s legal filing included the following statistics:
“The USCF Benioff Children’s Hospital has seen a 66% increase in the number of suicidal children in the emergency room and a 75% increase in youth who required hospitalization for mental health services,” the lawsuit reported. There also were increases in anxiety, depression and eating disorders physicians reported.”
It’s likely that San Francisco is not an outlier—there have been plenty of anecdotal reports about teenagers suffering during the lockdowns. Given that parents can opt out for their children, let’s get the elementary schools reopened.
The board for the bullet train released yet another business plan that again shrinks the project as expenses soar.
The business plan, originally submitted in draft form in February 2020, went to the board last week. To meet its proposed budget, the 171-mile link from Bakersfield to Merced will be reduced to a single track instead of the two previously planned. Authority executives claimed that will not affect operations significantly early on—a claim that defies common sense.
The authority’s plan claims that the Central Valley link will generate greater ridership numbers than improving CalTrain on the Peninsula or investing in Metrolink in Los Angeles.
Gov. Newsom had it right in his first address as governor when he said that it was time to end the project. Gov. Jerry Brown, a fan of the project, had kept it alive during his eight years despite soaring costs and little progress by convincing the Legislature to divert 25% of cap-and-trade revenues to the project.
Now with a rail fan in the White House, state officials are hopeful that more federal money will be coming. The Trump Administration withheld more than $900 million based on the failure of the authority to meet any of the milestones in the original “stimulus” bill that passed during the Obama Administration.
The report also notes that it could cost more than $100 billion to complete the project, bringing it back to the number that Brown retreated from ($98 billion) to revise the plan presented to voters in 2008. The notion that the system can ever meet its 2-hour and 40-minute trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles and do so without any public operating subsidy was a fantasy at the start and continues to be one.
It’s well past time for the Legislature to assert itself and convince the governor to quit wasting money on this project. There are other needs, for instance, California has the worst roads in the country despite gas taxes that are among the highest.