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By Tim Hunt

Bullet train boondoggle rushes ahead

Uploaded: Mar 21, 2013

The absolutely shameful rush to the rip off of taxpayer monies knows as the train to nowhere or bullet train boondoggle continued this week.
The Legislature, on a narrow vote last year in the Senate with the two Senators who knew the most about high-speed rail opposed (Mark DeSaulnier and Joe Simitian, appropriated the first $3.7 billion from the bond approved by voters in 2008.
With the rail authority in a mad rush to commence construction this summer on a San Joaquin Valley route that politely will connect nowhere (Madera) to nowhere (Bakersfield). The rush is necessary because of the federal matching money comes from the 2009 stimulus legislation and has a time limit.
The board approved selling the $3.7 billion in bonds at a meeting this week despite both pending legal challenges and the question about whether it is legal to build a segment that may not accommodate true high-speed rail and relies on blended connections at both the Los Angeles and San Francisco terminus points. It is very questionable that the project, if ever completed, can meet the specifications promised to voters for travel time from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
The state treasurer's office will determine when to sell the bonds, but it is easy to speculate that this rush, just like the entire project, is an effort to commit the state in what amounts to a huge ($68 billion or more) bet on the come. At best, funding for 15 percent of the project has been identified—assuming it can be delivered for today's sticker price—and the state continues to anticipate private funding that has not materialized. Remember, the rail is supposed to operate without taxpayer subsidy.

Switching gears to positive news, the board of directors of the Valley Pregnancy Center has promoted founding executive director Barbara Saba to the CEO position.
Barbara left a corporate job to found the center nearly 25 years ago and has led it ever since. The center serves about 1,400 moms and mothers-to-be annually, often when they are carrying an unplanned baby. In recent years, about one-third of the center's clients have been married women and the average age is now a woman in her mid-20s.
In 2011, the center relocated from its long-time office in Dublin to expansive new quarters in the Atrium Building at Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton. It is a state-licensed medical care provider that offers its services at no cost to the women thanks to its donors. It accepts no state or federal funding and is entirely supported by its donors.
The organization's annual Walk for Life will take place in downtown Pleasanton and Amador Park on May 4.