Will the LA Times Ever Report Honestly on HSR?

Jan 17th, 2012 | Posted by

The Los Angeles Times editorial board is a solidly pro-high speed rail group, but their reporting on the project is a different matter entirely. While an editorial board is free to take whatever position they want to on any issue, the articles written by reporters are supposed to be rooted in facts and free of any obvious biases – or, if biases are present, those should be acknowledged.

That isn’t happening at the LA Times right now, not their HSR coverage. Ever since Ralph Vartabedian took over the beat midway through 2011, the Times’ coverage of the project has shifted away from independent and informative to very profoundly biased against the project. We’ve gone over this before – the myriad ways in which Vartabedian’s stories are repeatedly slanted against the project, rarely ever reporting from a neutral place and rarely ever acknowledging the project’s merits or quoting supporters. Vartabedian checks the journalistic box by getting a quote from California High Speed Rail Authority officials, but in his world it’s the Times versus the Authority, with people like Elizabeth Alexis – one of the state’s most prominent opponents of the high speed rail project – passed off as a neutral analyst.

Vartabedian’s latest smear job tackles the question of the cost of alternatives to high speed rail. The story’s bent is obvious: the Authority is somehow making shit up again, heroes like the City of Burlingame and Elizabeth Alexis (project opponents, but never mentioned as such) call them out, and Vartabedian’s just reporting on what he sees.

Except as always, his reporting is full of flaws and errors, especially errors of omission. For example, his article doesn’t actually discuss whether or not the $170 billion cost figure for expanding freeways and airports cited by the Authority is valid or not. He doesn’t look into projections of freeway usage, construction costs, or inflation factors. He doesn’t total up the list of proposed and desired projects to see whether $170 billion makes sense or not.

Instead he simply is parroting arguments against that figure made by known project opponents. His article is really about whether the Authority should rely on Parsons Brinckerhoff for these numbers or whether they should rely on the rabidly anti-HSR UC Berkeley Institute for Transportation Studies, whose 2010 report on HSR was a deeply flawed product reflecting its own biases.

Here’s the closest Vartabedian gets to talking about the cost of building other transportation infrastructure that HSR could help handle:

Caltrans predicts that traffic on Interstate 5 and California 99 in the Central Valley will double over the next 25 years. But agency officials say they have not scaled back plans to make highway improvements in the state’s agricultural heartland because of the high-speed rail project. Not until the rail system is built and actually reduces traffic on both roads would Caltrans adjust its investment strategy, officials said.

That’s a typical stance of highway planners across the country – they typically refuse to accept that demand for freeway lanes could actually decline, so they won’t adjust their plans until the proof is staring them in the face. Besides, Caltrans can plan to widen I-5 and Highway 99 all they want to – we know the cost of widening 99 alone will be $25 billion, and that’s a 2006 estimate that has surely soared too since that time. I am willing to bet money that Vartabedian will never, ever challenge the wisdom of that project.

And yet this anecdote doesn’t actually shed light on the core question of whether the Authority’s $170 billion figure makes sense. Vartabedian should have looked at the cost estimates for those widening projects, but never did so. Apparently that would have gotten in the way of his anti-HSR bias.

Surely the Times can actually find a reporter willing to look at the facts rather than just pass along quotes from known project opponents. Maybe a letter writing campaign to the Times is needed. Remember, we aren’t asking the Times to be pro-HSR. Instead we’re asking them to do their jobs and report accurately and independently on the project, rather than allow an anti-HSR bias to color every single article with a Ralph Vartabedian byline.

  1. Drunk Engineer
    Jan 17th, 2012 at 23:14
    #1

    his article doesn’t actually discuss whether or not the $170 billion cost figure for expanding freeways and airports cited by the Authority is valid or not.

    Oh, please, stop it. Quoting from their own report, here is how the Authority computed the $170 billion figure:

    For this analysis, system capacity was used instead of a ridership forecast to make the comparison between a high-speed rail investment versus an equivalent investment in highways and airports.

    The theoretical capacity of the rail line is:

    * 12 trains per hour in each direction
    * 1000 seats per train19 hours of operation per day
    * 70% average load factor for trains

    Anyone who thinks they will run 12tph to LA is utterly delusional.

    Brsk Reply:

    All you need is 4 trains in the peak 15 minutes. The rest is optional. If you don’t understand that freeways and roads are designed for the peak 15 minutes, or slightly less insane peak 1 hour per day, than you are too drunk to even remember what being an engineer was like.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    All you need is 4 trains in the peak 15 minutes.

    Agreed! But that isn’t what the CHSRA claimed. They used a ludicrous 12tph — throughout the entire day — to compute the transportation demand. A more credible calculation would have been based off the ridership model projections (obviously a much lower number).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Capacity is capacity, though. The Authority did not figure out peak HSR capacity, assume demand would meet it the entire day, project it down to freeways and airports, and then recompute the peak based on a realistic peak factor. That would be a deceitful fudge. Instead, it figured out peak HSR capacity, and then computed freeway and airport expansion cost based on meeting the same capacity hurdle.

    There are a lot of reasons why this capacity-based computation is stupid, but “HSR won’t hit peak capacity for the entire day” is not one of them.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    By the type of logic the Authority used, you could justify the cost of adding a light rail line to every country lane. Transit will ALWAYS have higher capacity than roads. The question is whether you will have enough demand to use enough of the capacity to make it worthwhile.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, that’s why a capacity-based argument is bunk, in addition to the fact that travel demand is not fixed, but instead responds to how good the options are; that’s why they should have a cost-benefit analysis rather than a cost comparison for providing an 8,400 pphpd capacity.

    However, there’s a very big difference between “HSR won’t get 12 tph at the peak,” and “HSR won’t get 12 tph continuously throughout the day.” The latter is fairly obvious. The former is less so; HSR will probably never get 12 tph at the peak, but the shared trunk line from LA to Chowchilla/Manteca may get pretty close at full build-out.

    Derek Reply:

    Anyone who thinks they will run 12tph to LA is utterly delusional.

    A demand curve proves it isn’t.

  2. morris brown
    Jan 17th, 2012 at 23:30
    #2

    Robert the problem with your latest attack on the Times and its reporter, is you fail completely to give facts to back your argument that his reporting is inaccurate and not correct.

    In point of fact Vartabedian’s facts are backed up up with solid numbers and have been analyzed by many experts.

    You have over the last several months taken the same stance with the LAO, the Peer Review Group, Senators Lowenthal, Simitian, and now most lately DeSaulnier.

    Last week, even the California Sierra Club, a huge supporter of the project changed its position and now does not accept the proposed plan.

    Just out is this from Investor’s Business Daily:

    http://news.investors.com/Article/high-speed-rail/598021/201201171910/jerry-brown-should-shun-high-speed-rail-.htm

    And so daily, not only the LA Times but media publications by the dozens have examined the project and are saying no.

    It isn’t only the LA Times reporting you attack, you attack the WSJ, Washington Post and any media that doesn’t support the HSR project, which now is in complete chaos with only Gov. Brown still hanging on in full support.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Comments from supporters:

    CommunityBuilders Bernardino at 5:17 PM January 17, 2012

    The fact that every other industrialized nation is able to get high-speed rail built but the United States can’t do the same reveals just how much control oil interests have over our lives. We’ve become enslaved to them. And, we’ll pay whatever the pump says while our economy further contracts as jet fuel grows increasingly expensive.

    California, and the rest of the United States, will no longer be competitive because the propaganda outlets that serve these interests will keep the public confused about the need for diversity in the state’s transportation mix. Billions upon billions of dollars can be spent on more freeways, but, heaven forbid, we actually use public dollars on something that runs on electricity.

    larryscheib at 3:42 PM January 17, 2012

    The Acela averages less than half its top speed of 150, it has assumed upto 50% of the air and train market on some segments and it operates at a profit. Now imagine faster trains (220 mpg) and more convenient stops and cleaner air. Face it, trains make sense and people prefer trains over planes. Its easier to put in new stations, rides are more comfortable and every study I’ve read shows that they are cheaper to ride. They are environmently friendlier, something that can’t be overstated for SmelLA.

    The HSR plan just needs to be wrinkled out so that it doesn’t appear like CAHSR is spending money irrationally. They need to take the first chunk of money and put cargo train lines off grade so as to reduce dangerous train crossing and then design the HSR to take advantage of these off grades. Creativity is all that is needed, not fear from the Air and Auto industries and 19th century politicians.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Unstated in the article: Are the projections for increased highway traffic reliable? Is continued investment in the road system wise? What is the likely effect of increasing oil prices? (I don’t see electric self-driving cars as being a real soon answer.) What is the effect of an aging population that may still be fairly energetic about travel (i.e., visiting grandchildren), but who are unfit to drive? What about other costs of oil dependency, such as oil wars?

    If the private market is that great, why don’t we really go full steam on privatizing the whole road system, right now?

  3. Derek
    Jan 17th, 2012 at 23:38
    #3

    “…they typically refuse to accept that demand for freeway lanes could actually decline…”

    That’s because it won’t.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Don’t know about that. My route to work is roughly the same that my parents was 30 years ago. Traffic is actually less now because of the addition of one lane in each direction and because the route reached equilibrium.

    Derek Reply:

    Yes, restricting growth is another strategy to prevent traffic congestion, but that comes with its own problems.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Touche

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “Traffic is actually less now because of the addition of one lane in each direction and because the route reached equilibrium.”–Sobering Reality

    Could it be due to other things?

    http://transportation.nationaljournal.com/2011/07/peak-car-use-shows-a-rational.php

    http://grist.org/list/2011-04-27-did-we-just-hit-peak-cars/

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128255.600-the-end-of-the-road-for-motormania.html

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Over 30 years? Probably not. Nationwide, traffic is down from 2005, but not from 1980.

    It’s probably what Derek said – tight restrictions on development. Rochester and Buffalo are the same – scarily empty roads – only there it’s organic.

  4. Emma
    Jan 17th, 2012 at 23:58
    #4

    We will probably spend $400 billion in expanding highways and building airports in order to do what improved LOCAL public transit (in form of commuter, light rail and buses) would have done for under $70 billion.
    Getting all the cars off the highways that only drive short distances would significantly reduce the amount of traffic so the whole argument doesn’t hold.

    It’s not people that travel from SF to LA that cause traffic congestion on highways. It’s the commuters and their habit to drive from work to home and vice versa. 1 person per car is incredibly inefficient and will always cause traffic congestion no matter how wide the highways are. But if you consider that one bus can take up to 50 people, that takes 50 cars/truck off the road with one busload.

    There are two reasons why people are not ready to make the switch to public transit:
    1. The frequency is too low.
    Low frequency => less independence in planning a traveling route => more waiting at the station / fewer riders => higher subsidies.
    This could be changed through higher subsidies which will provide more trains and buses. Higher frequencies will attract more riders => increase revenue => fewer subsidies.
    2. The light-rail and bus lines do not cover the cities equally.
    The huge mistake that American politics is doing is waiting for the demand to increase in order to provide more supply. NO! NO! And again: NO! What we must do is increase supply by increasing frequency and expanding/adding lines. THEN people will realize that they can reach any part of their cities by train/bus and they will leave their cars at home.

    Someone has got to take the first step. Over the last 70 years, the USA have decided to go a different path than the European namely:
    Europeans: Provide more supply and demand will follow.
    USA: Wait for demand, then provide more supply.*
    *Sorry for the weird wording. Not a native speaker.

    I think I already told you but I’m saying it again. The reason why HSR is so successful in Europe and East Asia is because they have a system that “feeds” the HSR lines. In Europe, there are many ways to get to a central station:
    -Taxi
    -Bus
    -Light rail
    -Subway
    -Commuter rail (stops at all stations)
    -Commuter rail (stops at major stations)
    View the public transportation system as a pyramid with HSR at the top. Now what is our plan? A bunch of parking lots, buses and in some cases light rail and commuter rail which should be the minimum at each station. In the end people will still clog the highways. But unlike in the past, they’re on their way to a HSR station.

    Emma Reply:

    And don’t come me with “there is no political will” or “there are no funds.” This is what the politicians want you to think to make you surrender and say “Okay, do whatever you want with my money.”

    This attitude needs to die in this country or absolutely nothing gets done.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Airports don’t need expansion to meet demand. It’s a manufactured problem.

    The airlines actually rallied against a new airport in Ornage County and did nothing to support a new airport in San Diego back in 2006 that was “so badly needed”.

    Someone should take a hint.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Excellent post Emma! My family driving from the Bay Area to SoCal (maybe) twice a year; 4 per SUV. My wife and I commuting from Gilroy to San Jose 5 days per week all year long (give or take some vacation days); 1 per SUV and 1 per car. I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of auto, freeway congestion in California exists in the urban areas vs vacationers travelling I-5. Yes to endpoints!

    Pecos Reply:

    Thanks Emma. We also don’t need to look to Europe for examples. NYC is a perfect example. Subways and busses operate on a schedule of frequent during the day and less frequent at night. That seems to work well, plus it’s very affordable .

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Earth to Emma…

    If you are expecting the United States to turn into Europe, you are sadly mistaken. Japan is slightly better analogy though Europe is a cautionary tale for the US in many respects.

    Understand, all transportation decisions in the United States (as they probably are everywhere else in the world) are political.

    Suburban California was the prototype for voluntary racial segregation after Shelly v. Kramer threw out race-based covenants. Middle class people could leave their urban troubles behind as soon as they bought a car and a starter home.

    As long as the standard of living for Americans increased no one questioned the wasteful of this. Now, with the Baby Boomer generation about to leave the workforce the rotting core of American society has been exposed because higher nominal incomes can no longer hide rising fuel prices, larger debt loads, and trade deficits.

    Now Americans (especially those born after say 1964) are getting religion on what life is “really like”. Now the culture of postwar material excess is ending. We’re getting our goods from Asia, our labor from Latin America, our investment capital from Europe, and our energy from God-know-where.

    Americans are slowly figuring out why the Japanese and French built HSR first. They are beginning to get why the Germans are so supportive of solar power. Not to mention why Mexico legalized marijuana….

    They get it because with unemployment being what it is, “job creators” only have one reason to hire: return on investment. And that’s what people are looking for, pure and simple.

    Emma Reply:

    First you say “If you are expecting the United States to turn into Europe, you are sadly mistaken.”

    But in the lower paragraphs you give one reason after another why the United States will eventually have to go the same path Europe and East Asia took decades ago.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Did I not say

    Europe is a cautionary tale for the US in many respects

    ?

    To answer your directly: California and the Western United States couldn’t support a European style population density until you had technology like the railroad and hydroelectric dams. As a result, the US is more pristine than Europe. Not every natural resources has been tapped out of the ground yet or hunted to extinction.

    And unlike Europe, as I was once excoriated by a planning professor, we didn’t have 20th century style bombing campaigns wipe out cities and allow planners to start over.

    As an example, Americans won’t give up cars any time soon. What could easily happen though, is that they use them for shorter and shorter trips and less commuting. What’s happening in the Bay Area with BART is also instructive, I think. Transit is an important component, but it’s going to take another 20 years before we get the type of density that would support the system you crave.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No. The US is not pristine; North America was modified extensively by humans over the millennia, using fire and other tools, and when those humans succumbed to imported diseases in the 1500s, it became overgrown with invasive species.

    Nor does the lack of bombing mean anything. Sweden was neutral in WW2, and so was Switzerland. Many other places were not neutral but were not subjected to much bombing either – for example, Paris was relatively unscathed because it had no military targets. In those places, planners worked with what they had. If anything, the US was where planners started over, with urban renewal; that’s part of why people left the cities. (Of course, among the bombed, some engaged in similar urban removal policy, e.g. Britain and France outside Paris proper, while others rebuilt intact cities, e.g. Japan.)

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Alon,

    Your perspective is colored by your time in New York City and the Upper East Coast. I am curious to know if you have lived anywhere else (in the US) for an extended period of time. There, because transit penetration has always been strong, it was easy to dismiss Robert Moses as some sort of Dr. Strangelove character obsessed with building infrastructure.

    But in the rest of the United States, transportation was all about selling land to newcomers. And once cities became settled, (including New York) it was about to reinforcing social hierarchy. For example, Southerners before the Civil War generally opposed federal transportation money. They would tell you it’s a states’ rights thing, but it was really because river traffic was very effective for commodities, but less for manufacturing. Can you guess what the planter class wanted?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Are you sure you’re not trying to reply to my other comment in this subthread? Because my having lived in New York and Providence doesn’t have anything to do with my knowing that the idea of pre-Columbian America being pristine is racist mythology rather than reality. Nor does it have anything to do with the fact that Switzerland and Sweden were not bombed in WW2.

    Though, for what it’s worth, transit penetration used to be strong in many cities that aren’t really associated with transit or density today. LA had a huge network of streetcars. So did Denver. If I’m not mistaken, Denver’s ridership per capita at the peak was higher than New York’s ridership per capita today. There existed cities in the West, and there existed transportation other than transcontinental railroads.

    Meanwhile, in New York, transportation was in fact not about reinforcing social hierarchy. It was about rewriting it; the way it was to be rewritten was filtered through the ruling class, but it was about forcible assimilation of immigrants, rather than about reinforcing class privilege. It was all very utopian; the Progressives were horrified by what went on in the slums and looked for ways to integrate immigrants into society, but because they couldn’t break of their own classist and racist prejudices, they prescribed suburbanization and cultural assimilation rather than higher wages and better tenement construction standards.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Tom, you’re getting the recent history (say, post-1965) of American transit wrong. The issue is not and has never been lack of political will, not the way you describe. Rather, it’s been a combination of bad policies, some (high construction costs, the FRA) coming from pure incompetence and some (saddling transit agencies with highway debt) coming from backroom legislative dealings.

    Middle-class assholery explains a lot of things, including why the transit mode share in large US cities is not 60%. It does not explain why it only scratches 15% in a handful of old cities, and is under 5% in most.

  5. Donk
    Jan 18th, 2012 at 01:29
    #5

    The article was flawed by even mentioning the Berkeley study, but I think it’s great that someone is calling out PB on this.

    I don’t understand how PB can be so dumb to screw themselves so bad on this. Obviously their goal is get a huge chunk of the $100B investment in HSR – if they had any intelligence, they would push for an expensive project, but just expensive enough that it would still be supported.

    Just like in a poker game – you don’t throw all your chips on the table right away when you have a good hand – you throw in just enough to draw everyone else in and keep them in the game longer so that you can get more from each of them and maximize your profits. PB basically had a straight flush and blew their wad in the first round, and everyone has folded.

  6. Donk
    Jan 18th, 2012 at 01:39
    #6

    One good example of the folly of this project is the picture at the top of the LA Times article. This is a picture that was taken from the CHSRA. Notice that they have an enormous station with 4 HSR trains in parallel. When would you EVER see 4 trains parked at the station at the same time ?!? Maybe at LAUS in 2100? And there isn’t a single commuter train mixed in – the whole thing is dedicated to HSR.

    Typical multi-billion dollar solution to a low-multi-hundred million dollar problem. These idiots have really fucked this project. Thanks PB. Can somebody here who understands PB well please write a guest post entitled “How PB bungled California HSR”?

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Donk

    Your comments are very well taken. While you are correct in nailing PB’s greed and perhaps its resulting incompetence, you are ignoring the political factor.

    That would be that the political picture of California has changed, probably permanently. We have a one party system, somewhat analogous to Mexico under the PRI or Venezuela under Hugo. The Republicans are relatively impotent – that’s a major reason you don’t see any Prop re-vote on the ballot. Like New York state, the unions and in particular the public employee unions are in control. Their view is quite narrow, like the banks, take care of your own people first and foremost.

    The state economy is much sketchier than the public realizes. The natural resources were never that great by comparison to say Venezuela or even Mexico. A little oil, a little gold and we may be going into an historical drought. The best arable land is being paved over and the water is being stolen by LA. The power of the farmers, just like the rest of the old order, is gone. That fast. They could not even engineer a Gray Davis-like recall any more. And isn’t it instructive that the two remaining economic engines – Hollywood and Silicon Valley – are at this very moment locked in a death struggle?

    Altho for sure a political machine can push thru a boondoggle but will it be able over the long run to pay for its upkeep? Take BART, the closest relative to the CHSRA, as the model. It thrives because it commandeers a great part of the transit expenditures in the Bay Area. It starves out the rest.

    The CHSRA comprises two BART’s, one in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Modesto to Bakersfield, and the other LA to Palmdale. I am leaving out the Bay Area because I believe hsr will terminate in San Jose. These two proto-BART’s will require extensive subsidies. Where will these monies come from?

    That political imperatives now dominate CHSRA planning is clear from undead uber-zombie known as the Tehachapi Detour. What does it tells you about who’s engineering this thing that a priori we are denied the opportunity to even study the optimal alternative?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Oh synonymouse, you loveable Luddite you….

    Joseph Schumpter is rolling over and over (and over) in his grave with that comment. You sound utterly disillusioned that seventy years after white America abandoned cities and a functioning economy for Leisure World and its discontents that somehow there will be no renewal.

    The Book of Revelation is more uplifting than your comments. Your cries of despair are almost comical. The future is bright, even if tomorrow won’t look like yesterday…

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Donk:
    When would you EVER see 4 trains parked at the station at the same time ?

    With the planned long turnaround times, ‘fairly often’.

  7. morris brown
    Jan 18th, 2012 at 05:37
    #7

    Robert writes:

    ” Remember, we aren’t asking the Times to be pro-HSR. Instead we’re asking them to do their jobs and report accurately and independently on the project, rather than allow an anti-HSR bias to color every single article with a Ralph Vartabedian byline.”

    But Robert, indeed you are asking the Times to be pro-HSR. The Times is already very pro-HSR on their editorial page, building pyramids etc.

    Your attack on Vartabedian is without any measure of substance. He is doing his job, supporting his reporting with solid evidence. It is just evidence you don’t care to acknowledge or accept.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @morris brown:
    As I’ve noted before, take a walk through the LA Times archive, and compare Vartabedian’s reporting style on non-HSR topics with stories from other LA Times reporters about the same issue. His style does tend more towards ‘the sky is falling’ school of fear sells papers.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    That’s consistent with his earlier beats on defense spending in the 80s and 90s. His next piece is likely to be “Is HSR the new Star Wars project?”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Naah, Star Wars projects accrue to BART Vader.

  8. Sobering Reality
    Jan 18th, 2012 at 07:40
    #8

    Will the LA Times Ever Report Honestly on HSR?
    ********

    Probably about the time you consider any article that is critical of HSR to be “honest”.

    Mike Reply:

    Winner: Best comment of the month.

  9. Roger Christensen
    Jan 18th, 2012 at 09:06
    #9

    Another parallel to the 90s. LA Times reporting on MetroRail was horrendous while editorial support was solid.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    And the greater parallel is that opposition to MetroRail became the last stand of LA County whites against the future.

    And whaddaya know, HSR is becoming the last stand of California whites against the future….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Cairo being the future you are embracing.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I’m surprised you didn’t say Miami, with it being a Third World City n’ all…

  10. Emma
    Jan 18th, 2012 at 10:56
    #10

    You know, Robert, a statement on SOPA would kinda fit. Imagine the government having the power to shut down political blogs like these because corporations believe they are a threat to their efforts to bribe the government?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Bribery never dies. I am sure it is going on apace in Hugo-world and it probably went on, sotto voce, under the Stasi in East Germany.

    Meanwhile, are Jerry and Antonio going to turn Fresno into the next Buffalo:

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/10563-another-1-billion-wont-help-buffalo-new-york

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You mean Jerry and Antonio are giving Fresno per capita income growth that’s more than twice as high as the national average? Sweet!

    synonymouse Reply:

    How can that be if Cuomo calls Buffalo “the crisis in Western New York”?

    But I guess free boob jobs will the next non-negotiable demand of Jerry Brown’s unions.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re overestimating Cuomo’s honesty. Most likely he wants to build megaprojects in Upstate New York to take credit for when he runs for President in 2016. He’s busy trying to plop a convention center in a random neighborhood of Queens, too, and promoting an unnecessary bridge replacement that, before cost overruns in construction, is already budgeted at $8.7 billion, i.e. more than the Bay Bridge Eastern Span Replacement.

    Anyway, go to the BEA, who I trust on this more than I do Cuomo. Go here, and click on table 3. The US as a whole grew 4.9% per capita in real terms from 2000 to ’09, the Buffalo metro area grew 11%.

    Now, Buffalo has undergone population loss, but incomes are rising. It’s nothing like Detroit, which has undergone both population loss and also -10% income growth over the decade.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s not random, it the last big chunk of empty land in Queens. If they are going to close Aqueduct there’s better things they can do with it, Rochdale Village South for instance. Moving the convention center to Queens means the state can sell all that high priced Manhattan real estate under the Javits convention center. More pertinent question to ask is why the state or even a private developer is considering building a convention center. Attendance at conventions has been declining for years.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I gather that Boxer and Feinstein are pro-SOPA. That means the entire Pelosi machine and Moonbeam have gone Hollywood too. Brown’s siding with the LA establishment now makes hands-off Tejon and the Chandlers totally comprehensible. Silicon Valley should have been more supportive of Meg.

    It is clear now that the patronage machine will make a full court press for the Peripheral Canal to send the last of Norcal water to Lalaland. But happy days are here again according to Moonbeam.

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