Monday, June 20, 2005
A catchy headline from a liberal-media viewpoint might lead you to believe that an exorbitant tax hike to build a light rail system in Denver is a good idea. The taxes will pay for the "FasTracks" Plan. However, the substance of the article does not lend much support to the presented "spin". Just because a light rail plan is touted as a "national model" by its advocates does not mean it is the panacea that it has been touted to become. Colorado voters approved a $4.7 billion tax increase that only promises to be another wasteful government boondoggle. (Ask Boston motorists how the smooth construction of the Big Dig changed their lives for the better). Another problem is that the light-rail system may push the populated boundaries of the Denver metropolitan areas beyond what "Smart Growth" advocates can tolerate. If environmentalists are concerned about sprawl, how far do they want to expand the mass-transit system? People who live in outlying areas are not going to exclusively rely on the light-rail to get around.
Another problem is that many car owners will vote for the mass transit system thinking that they will have a better drive-time commute because their neighbors will take the expanded light-rail service. (A twist on NIMBY, it seems). For example, one voter had this to say...
...Brian Carmichael, who supported the FasTracks measure even though he probably would never give up his 35-minute commute to downtown Denver.
"It's a better luxury having my own car and coming and going as I need to without worrying about the schedule," he said.
There are prominent critics of the "FasTracks" tax hike and transportation plan. The Independence Institute came out with a Top 10 list to oppose the FasTracks plan.
1. It won't relieve traffic congestion: DRCOG says traffic will grow 63 percent by 2025, but FasTracks will take less than one-half a percent of all cars off the road.
DRCOG, Review of the RTD FasTracks Plan, 2004, p. 23 says FasTracks would reduce weekday vehicle-miles traveled by 0.496 percent. Transit's share of total travel would increase from 2.27 percent without FasTracks to 2.85 percent with it.
2. It won't relieve rush-hour congestion: DRCOG says it will take only 1.4 percent of cars off the road during rush hour.
Ibid, p. 24, says FasTracks would increase transit's share of peak-hour travel from 2.7 percent to 4.1 percent.
3. It's far too expensive: RTD wants to spend more than half the region's transportation capital funds on transit lines that would take only one-half a percent of cars off the road.
DRCOG's Metro Vision 2025 plan (2002) calls for spending $3.5 billion on road improvements (p. 107). By comparison, RTD wants to spend $4.7 billion on FasTracks.
4. It isn't fast: DRCOG says light-rail trains will average no more than 25 mph and commuter rail trains no more than 40 mph. By comparison, some RTD bus routes average 36 mph and other transit agencies have bus routes that average more than 55 mph.
Ibid, p. 21; General Accounting Office, Bus Rapid Transit Shows Promise (GAO-01-984, September 2001), pp. 26-27.
5. It won't relieve air pollution and may make ozone worse: DRCOG says it will lead to negligible reductions in carbon monoxide and other emissions and will actually increase nitrogen oxide emissions (which lead to ozone-smog).
DRCOG, Review of the RTD FasTracks Plan, 2004, p. 26.
6. Most people will rarely or never use it: DRCOG says FasTracks will increase RTD's dailyridership by 72,000 trips. DRCOG also says Denver metro-area residents will take 13.55 million trips a day in 2025, meaning FasTracks will carry only 0.5 percent of trips.
DRCOG, Review of the RTD FasTracks Plan, 2004, p. 23.
7. We can relieve congestion without a tax increase: HOT lanes will mostly if not entirely pay for themselves through tolls and will do far more to relieve congestion.
Robert Poole Jr. & Kenneth Orski, HOT Networks: A Plan for Congestion Relief and Better Transit (Reason Foundation, 2003).
8. We can have far better transit service without a tax increase: Bus-rapid transit using HOT lanes will move people as fast or faster than rail transit. The General Accounting Offi ce says busrapid transit costs as little as 2 percent as much as light rail to start and less to operate as well.
General Accounting Offi ce, Bus Rapid Transit Shows Promise (GAO-01-984, September 2001), p. 17.
9. It forecloses options: RTD wants to spend $851 million in federal funds and $95 million in local funds on rail construction. Devoting the federal funds to HOT lanes and bus-rapid transit would do far more to reduce congestion and leave the local funds for schools and other needs.
RTD, FasTracks, 2003, table ES-1.
10. Congestion will get far worse if it is built: Unless something else is done - such as HOT lanes and bus-rapid transit - DRCOG says the time Denver-area drivers waste sitting in traffic will increase more than 150 percent whether or not rail transit is built.
DRCOG, Metro Vision 2025, 2002, p. 97.
AP article below
THE DAILY 7: Durbin's doozy, Kristol & Hewitt, International Freedom Center blames America, Chirac loses again, Bolton Borked?, Asheana Maihepat
1) Here's what's really wrong with what Senator Dick Durbin had to say, last week
- What Durbin said about our troops was far worse than the offensive comments that Trent Lott had to say
- While Trent Lott was trying to compliment a fellow senator at his birthday party (many Democrats like Hillary Clinton have complimented former KKK member, Robert Byrd), Durbin was intentionally sliming the reputation of our troops
- Lott's comments were off-the-cuff but Durbin's came from prepared text
- Yes, Durbin compared our troops to Nazis and Soviets but that also means he compared the captured Guantanamo terrorists to innocent concentration camp and gulag victims
2) William Kristol argues that Durbin should be stripped of his leadership position (like the way Trent Lott was), while Hugh Hewitt says Durbin should be censured by the Senate.
3) Ground Zero's Blame America exhibit: Family members of 9/11 victims are fearful that the International Freedom Center will be hijacked by anti-American interests.
4) Not Your Father's Wall Street Journal: "The Journal will add a Saturday issue named Weekend Edition, with a new emphasis on softer features - entertainment, travel, sports, arts, books, real estate and, yes, recipes.
5) Battle of Brussels: Blair seen as winner, French see Chirac as loser in latest European political fiasco.
6) John Bolton: Remember him? Neither do we.
7) Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease: Last week, a 12 yr old girl complained about her yearbook photo and parents demanded that the school recall all 200 yearbooks that had already been printed and paid for. Now, she has had a full makeover and presumably the superficiality of prom dresses and glamour shots will take Asheana Maihepat very far in life. Crybabies are the newest powerful interest group.
Senator Dick Durbin should talk to former hostage Douglas Wood and find out who are the real evil people in this world
Here's a story that won't get much media attention - Douglas Wood, who faced death in many fashions over the last few weeks APOLOGIZED TO PRESIDENT BUSH for what he was forced to say on camera while being held hostage by terrorists. He also supported the war effort and complimented his coalition rescuers saying that they are proof positive that the war effort in Iraq is working.
This man, Douglas Wood, is a great inspiration...
Wood: Rescue shows policy working
(CNN) -- The Australian hostage held captive for nearly seven weeks in Iraq before being freed last week has said his rescue by Iraqi troops is a sign that U.S. and Australian policies are working.
"I actually believe that I am proof positive that the current policy of training the Iraqi army -- of recruiting, training and buddying them worked -- because it was the Iraqis that got me out," Douglas Wood told reporters in Melbourne after returning to Australia Monday morning.
The 64-year-old engineer also apologized to U.S. President George W. Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard for statements he made at gunpoint in a DVD his captors released to the news media.
On the DVD, Wood pleaded for Australian, U.S. and British troops to withdraw from Iraq.The Australian government refused the kidnappers' demands that its 1,400 troops and pay a reported Aust. $25 million ($19 million) ransom. Wood was kidnapped April 30 and released June 15, when Iraqi forces supported by coalition forces stumbled across him during an unrelated raid in the Al Adel neighborhood of Baghdad.
"Perhaps I'm proof positive that the current policies of the American and Australian governments is the right one," he said. Flanked by his brothers and his wife Yvonne, an American, the engineer described his 47 days in captivity as "like a nightmare."
If they can rig elections in Ukraine, they can certainly do so in Iran...
The front-runner in Iran's presidential runoff sought to rally moderates Sunday by warning that his hard-line opponent would run a totalitarian regime. The statement from the campaign manager for Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani came amid suspicions the powerful Revolutionary Guard would rig the runoff vote for conservatives.
Rafsanjani's campaign manager, Mohammed Baghir Nowbakht, said Friday's runoff was crucial because hard-liners would not tolerate differences of opinions if elected and would run a "totalitarian" regime.
"They would never let other groups participate in the government," he said.
One losing candidate already has accused the Revolutionary Guard and its vigilante supporters of fixing votes during the first round of balloting. None of the seven candidates received the necessary 51 percent to win outright, forcing the runoff.
Rafsanjani — president in 1989-1997 — finished first in Friday's balloting with only 21 percent of the vote. That was barely half the 40 percent most political analysts had predicted he would get.
But an even bigger surprise was the emergence of Tehran's hard-line Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — a former Revolutionary Guard commander — as the voters' second choice. He received more than 19 percent.
Ahmadinejad, 49, is unabashedly conservative, resurrecting the fervor of the 1979 Islamic Revolution during the campaign by saying Iran "did not have a revolution in order to have democracy."