Happy July! The MCFB Office is a flurry of activity these days. We’re juggling multiple hot-button issues throughout the summer months including water quality regulations, ag crimes, and of course –the high speed rail litigation. The MCFB, along with its co-litigant team, has successfully won its first preemptive challenge in the case, along with getting some good news that the Governor will allow the lawsuit to be decided per the way the California Environmental Quality Act intended –by a judge and not the Legislature. This news only furthers our cause and strengthens our legal position as we gain momentum in what appears to be a long drawn out battle against the California High Speed Rail Authority.
Let me start off by clarifying a verb definition:
Verb: Talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way…
Past Tense, bloviating…the act of espousing hot air (v.)…
Now let’s try using it in a sentence…
The State Senate, after some extensive party line bloviating, begrudgingly passed a bill this week that would release bond funds for the Central Valley portion of the high speed rail line. The Senate held the roll call open until they got the minimum number of votes necessary –21, to pass the bill. Although the Senate had the opportunity to remove the Project from the Central Valley, those chose the latter. This approved action sets up a unique situation of pass the buck –and the impacts –to those in the Central Valley. In an exceptional state of irony, the 4 leading Democratic Senators who withheld their votes for the Project are serving on the Senate Select Committee on High Speed Rail, as does the traitorous Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield), who voted in favor of the bill. This Select Committee has been responsible for a measureable amount of oversight and review of the California High Speed Rail Authority’s bevy of documents; financial reports, and environmental reports. In serving on this Select Committee, these Senators pleaded with the rest of the Senate to consider the local opposition for the Project in the Valley and the lack of secured funds for the remainder of the Project, all in fleeting efforts to change their colleague’s minds. Their institutional understanding of the Project made their decision quite clear –it’s a losing deal for the State and their Districts. Yet somehow, the other 20 Senators whose Districts do not include the Central Valley (again, the mutinous Senator Rubio aside), were able to cast a vote that deafened the voices of our region, and allowed other forces to prevail over constituent representation.
This type of constituent representation –to cast a vote on the basis of an over-riding Statewide need –is exactly what isn’t supposed to happen in the field of democratic representation. A Senator from Los Angeles County should not be able to cast a vote that alters the way of life or even on a much less dramatic scale –the way a train passes through another area in the State, say –in Madera County. But this is exactly what occurred late into the afternoon on Friday, July 6th.
The basis of this rhetorical bloviation, (I’m not quite positive that a word), was an old premise long memorialized in our culture by Spock’s character in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek;
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
I find this pattern of the California electorate voting in favor of the high speed rail project, despite enough red flags having come up regarding the validity, cost, and feasibility of said project to paint the sky red, of cataclysmic consequence. The needs of the few in this case, are those needs in the Central Valley. Our unique combinations of agricultural resources, vast amounts of open space, socioeconomic status, and population epicenters depending on these same resources –have made us targets for destruction, demolition, increased blight, and of course the obvious –additional cheap construction. For these reasons the benevolent body of California’s electorate rambled on in endless oratory last week about how our area needed this major infrastructure project, how much we undyingly will benefit from it, and from their perspective’s –how generations to come would be a party to its showers of economic prosperity.
That all may be true in an alternate universe where California wasn’t robbing every red cent from Peter to pay Paul, a universe where the Authority executed a proper environmental document that doesn’t account for 7 out of 10 impacted resources (who needs to account for damages done to agriculture, schools, and transportation when you have a colossal beneficial super project), or a universe that doesn’t rely on California’s Central Valley to feed the ENTIRE world.
However, in its present conceived status, as the esteemed Senators sitting the Senate Select High Speed Rail Committee noted, the Project offers ZERO of those actual benefits. Benefits simply can’t be turned into reality by wishing them to be. Hard work, long hours of peace and dedication, and patience, again I repeat –PATIENCE, are the only ways to realize benefits for generations to come. That sounds a lot like how our Valley was built and its roots still remain standing on our bedrock agricultural heritages. We do not seek a metropolitan lifestyle, nor one that induces sprawl and growth beyond our control. Los Angeles and San Francisco are available to occupy that habitat niche.
We only want peace and our pleasant continuance of life. Call us simple, but the needs of the few are the ones that matter to us.
Anja K. Raudabaugh