Tag Archives: stimulus

Behind Government Budget Problems

Sutro Baths Steps by sirgious
Sutro Baths Steps, a photo by sirgious on Flickr.

This month’s post by Gail the Actuary explains our country’s (and the world’s) economic situation better than I ever could, so here it is.

This obviously speaks for Oakland as well, since we’re one of hundreds of US cities built upon a once lustrous but increasingly potholed and cracked foundation of cheap (and now all burnt up) oil and gasoline.

We’ll need to find other means of social lubrication, and in the meantime, don’t be poor!

The ramifications touch every part of our society, and thus I’ve tagged this with all categories. Put on your systems thinking cap and get reading!

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Our Year of Being Sick; plus, the OAC *IS* Sick

A lot of us were well-adjusted to a sick economy I guess… you know, the one where everyone was living high and getting high off our credit (debt) bubbles….

I haven’t been more sick any other year (except maybe overseas) than this year. I think it’s partly due to work and personal stresses. It’s also from traveling overseas and down to LA (note to self; never go back to the south coast shitter again), not getting enough sleep and not eating well. (workaholic and net addict) Seriously, there is NO good tasting tap water in LA/LB. This must be Brita’s largest US market. (my friend there who i stayed with has one.)

Of course, it’s also the macro economy. Everyone looks for a scapegoat when things are going badly. It must be in our genetics. As I said, we were all well-adjusted to being happy, well-fed, flying to Vegas or Disney every other weekend (okay, not me, but many people) and that sort of all ended for what’s left of America’s so-called egalitarian “middle class” in 2007-2008.

Lately I’ve had the flu, a cold, and now strep. All in less than two months. The receptionist at my doctor’s office recognizes me now. Every time I start working out and getting into better shape, I get sick, which negates any gains I had. Sound like the stock market to you? Perhaps your 201k? Or is it a 101k? (I have zeroed out my ‘k’ — not playing in the wall$treet casino ever again, even though I had a really great phd fund manager and was not losing very much… check out Hussman Funds on google.)

Now, about the OAC BOONDOGGLE

Sooo… expect more posts this season since I am sick at home. Do check out TransBay Blog’s post about the Metro Transportation Commission’s evil “oakland airport connector” proposal… you see, since there’s not enough money to fund this Airtrain-to-Nowhere, BART will have to take out a “TIFA” $150,000,000 (150 million) LOAN which is utter insanity.

We are in triage mode as a region/country right? (Everyone nods their head except Gold Man Sacks execs and their puppet Obama-man.)

So a much easier solution would be to grade separate the AirTrain BUS lane into a bus-ONLY lane. Make that a 6″ tall/wide cement “curb” or berm to separate the bus-only lane from the car lanes so car drivers (I know how you are on market street in SF) don’t jump in-n-out(TM) of the bus-only lane.

You know how cheap that would be? $10MM at most? A $490MM savings?? No kickbacks??? And saves travel times by the same amount.

Then start charging solo private auto/suv drivers $2-3 for the privilege of schlepping their ‘rides’ in circles around the airport while waiting for Their Precious to appear outside the terminal gates for pick-up.

http://transbayblog.com/2009/07/21/disconnect-the-connector/

Go read it, and write an appropriate letter to YOUR ‘MTC Rep’ today ahead of the MTC’s meeting where they will decide how much of OUR tax dollars to waste on this Airtrain-to-Nowhere!

The only people who benefit from this $500 million lame “OAC” project are the contractors. They are very highly likely wining and dining each and every MTC Board member. The one who voted AGAINST this asinine proposal was Mayor Tom Bates, for who knows what reason. Good for him for that bit of good behavior though.

***CAVEAT***

The ONE good reason to build the OAC long-term is that fuel prices will go up because of peak oil. If you don’t know what that is, click here.

However, that also means that hardly anyone will be able to afford to fly, either. Which means OAK will be a used parking lot with no future, except as perhaps Oakland’s version of Alameda’s monthly go-go Antique Fair.

Finally, we have a DOT Commish blogging that “not only does this country want high-speed rail, but also that this country is ready for high-speed rail. And it demonstrates a pent-up demand in America for the kind of fast, reliable, and sustainable transportation option people in Europe and Asia already experience every day.” — and we don’t have the money or energy to build it now. Too bad we paid for GM and all this car crap for 1945-2008 and have nothing to show for it. It was a wonderful life?

Oakland’s Slice of the Stimulus Pie Update: $5.8M for Street Rehab

President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 signed earlier this month promises a down payment on fixing and improving the nation’s infrastructure. The $700B in it pales next to the $7-8T the Fed/Treasury have given to our central banksters. But eating cake is better than eating yellow dirt cookies, as Haitians can attest. Here is an updated list of money Oakland should see “immediately,” to spend on public amenities:

  • Oakland – Various Streets and Roads Rehabilitation Rehab City of Oakland STP-ARRA $4,774,000
  • Oakland – Citywide Curb Ramp and Sidewalk Repair Bike/Ped City of Oakland STP-ARRA $1,194,000

Oakland’s famous “80 year repaving cycle” as mentioned in this 2003 City of Oakland report should become a little shorter in places as the Oakland Public Works Dept. uses the money to rehab our streets. 

According to North Oakland blog WeFightBlight, the city is actually on a 100 year repaving cycle, and it would cost $27 million to repave or otherwise keep a high “Level of Service” condition in Oakland’s 836 miles of roads per year. Is that a boondoggle or what?

Today’s Chronicle has a full accounting of MTC’s agenda for local transportation funding priorities, with 80% of stimulus dollars targetted to maintaining existing roads and transit lines. The MTC’s own site shows that of $495 million allocated by Congress, the remaining 20% will go toward safety and new projects including the Airport Connector.

Longer term, the MTC has a “Tier 2” list of not-quite shovel-ready investments and contingency projects based on its own ability to get additional funding. These monies cannot be spent immediately:

  • Oakland – Airport to Coliseum BART air-train connection. $70,000,000 
  • BART – System-wide rehab, mostly for renovating train car interiors: $16,972,051
Since Oakland has the most BART stations (and thus potential users) than any other city, this means that city residents who hold steady jobs in San Francisco stand to benefit the most. Of course, the entire region’s BART riders will benefit from basic maintenance.

At yesterday’s MTC meeting AC Transit advocates complained, perhaps rightly so, about undue emphasis on funding  BART’s Oakland Airport connector at the expense of inner-city bus transit. I have always felt that the airport should have a connector, given the voluminous amounts of cars which sometimes create a nighttime parking lot on the way into the airport. On the other hand, if we stop flying in great numbers, then this will be Oakland’s “bridge to nowhere” within 10-15 years. I believe that any electrification of our transport systems can only be a good thing. 

Oakland’s Mayor’s office contributed a $2.6 Billion shortlist of “shovel-ready” projects through the US Mayor’s Conference earlier this year as part of the USMC’s lobbying effort led by Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

 

Source of Oakland funding receivables:

MTC, http://apps.mtc.ca.gov/meeting_packet_documents/agenda_1229/TMP-3885_memo_Attach-B-1_and_B-2_02-25-09.pdf