Smash a Toy Train, Get $25 Worth of Gas

Sep 23rd, 2014 | Posted by

Just two days after the historic People’s Climate March, Republican candidate for governor of California Neel Kashkari has decided to celebrate by inviting people to a Burbank gas station to smash a toy “crazy train” (that’d be his term for high speed rail) and in return get a $25 gift card for gasoline.


This guy is cheering on the burning of our planet. The climate crisis is one of the worst problems we face and he thinks it’s a joke, an opportunity to smash sustainable infrastructure while enabling people to go on spewing CO2 into the atmosphere.

Thankfully Kashkari is going to get beaten by at least 20 points, by a governor who spent today talking to the United Nations about what California is doing to stop climate change.

But it’s scary that in 2014, a Republican candidate for governor thinks it’s good politics to mock climate change and encourage people to undermine efforts to reduce our carbon emissions.

  1. joe
    Sep 23rd, 2014 at 19:02
    Neel Kashkari’s ‘homeless’ stay in Fresno irks GOP mayor

    It’s not surprising that Swearengin and other Central Valley Republicans might be miffed that Kashkari picked Fresno as a prime example of the problems of poverty and homelessness. Not only is Fresno one of California’s few large cities with a GOP mayor, but the Central Valley is a Republican stronghold that Kashkari needs to win big to have any chance of beating Gov. Jerry Brown in November. Kashkari could have selected any one of several Democratic strongholds with homelessness problems, such as San Francisco or Oakland, to make his point.

    synonymouse Reply:

    She should be irked that Fresno is the car theft capital of the US.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Bakersfield MSA is the current car theft capital. Nearly all of the top 10 is California including Fresno, San Francisco/Oakland and San Jose/Sunnyvale.

    SF/Oakland ranked #4 in 2013, it was #6 in 2011 and 2012, #9 in 2010. Looks like the area is trying to make a run to the top of the list.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The GOP is not keen to make the Central Valley their base…a place where Republican candidates succeed largely because the economy is based on unequal land ownership (i.e. industrial farming) and the workforce is largely uneducated, marginalized, and Latino on those industrial farms.

    It’s the last place in California where the “elitist” wing of the GOP are also part of the “populist” wing of the party. In the rest of the State it’s two separate parties, and they both really don’t much like each other. But the elitists refuse to let the populists have control over candidate selection. So the purpose of a candidate like a Kashkari (or a Whitman), is to appeal to the new middle class in the State that will largely be Asian American and work in places like Silicon Valley and Orange County. It’s a long term strategy, and one that no one has mastered.

    Swearengin is positioning herself as a “unity candidate” but is not Pete Wilson. The GOP would actually be better served by using the State Senate scandals lately to argue for some limit on campaign spending. That way, they could not need so much money to run statewide races and pick candidates with smaller wallets but more government experience.

    However, CA Democrats have exactly the same problem…if between different groups. Brown’s success has swept much of that infighting under the rug…but a large part of the next four years for him will be finding a way to balance his party’s factions so that they stay in power. The GOP is usually much better at maintaining the unified front, but income inequality has crippled them badly in this way (at least in California).

    datacruncher Reply:

    Swearengin might have done well if Perez had made it to November. Against Yee I think she has a tougher race. But hopefully she does well enough to show the Republicans they should consider a different candidate route. Their strategy of running more celebrity/wealthy outsiders a la Schwarzenegger has gained no traction.

    Politico recently mentioned a MIT/UCLA study that pegged Fresno as “neutral” politically, neither left nor right. See PDF page 39 of the study at
    Maybe Fresno is one of the better regional sources for them to find a more moderate GOP candidate for statewide office to appeal to non-GOP voters (Swearengin or someone else).

    Some interesting political history dealing with Fresno. Some of the roles it played in California political history gets overlooked. For example, the first woman elected to the State Senate represented Fresno (not the Bay Area or Southern California).

    Rose Ann Vuich was a moderate Democrat running in 1976 mainly against the Brown/Gianturco shutdown of new freeway construction. Caltrans had cleared much of the ROW for Freeway 41 in Fresno which left a vacant route running the length of the city. There were no studies from the state to build any other transportation route in the ROW nor was there any discussion of selling it to private developers.

    Vuich in campaign speeches referred to the 1 or 2 miles of completed Freeway 41 that dead-ended at the cleared ROW as the “freeway to nowhere”. (obviously a catchy wording to be paraphrased by some again today)

    She won the election in a surprise win. Eventually she persuaded the Legislature and Brown to fund and complete the Freeway 41 construction in Fresno, although Gianturco remained opposed to the project.

    Swearengin not committing to vote for Kashkari reminded me of a comment in Vuich’s 2001 obituary in the LA Times: “She delighted in keeping both Republicans and Democrats off balance. She never let anyone know how she would vote until it was time for the roll call.”

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Swearengin definitely would have been helped by Perez being the other candidate, but that has more to do with the fact that he represented the Californio wing of the Democratic Party.

    I can’t find it online anymore, but the map showing which Secretary of State candidate had the most votes in each county (Yee, Perez, Swearengin, and Evans) is very telling. You can see the splits I am talking about quite clearly.

    As for Fresno, it’s not where to look for “moderate” GOP candidates. Most of the truly moderate members there are in fact Democrats because they are Latino.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Why would the Machine want an outsider.

    Jerry will win with 103% of the vote.

    In Italy they call it the “Sistema”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “…but income inequality has crippled them[GOP] badly in this way (at least in California).”

    Yeah – like Brown, Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer, Newsom are poor working class joes.

  2. Jerry
    Sep 23rd, 2014 at 19:02

    At least he could donate the toy trains to poor children instead of having them smashed.

  3. Alon Levy
    Sep 23rd, 2014 at 19:05

    He can read polls just as well as you do. He knows he’s not winning. He’s not running for governor anymore – he’s engaging in a long application process for wingnut welfare.

    StevieB Reply:

    The Kashkari GOP is the champion of minorities and the poor.

    Kashkari, in his remarks to delegates, highlighted the party’s role in opposing slavery and supporting the Civil Rights Act.

    Kashkari represents the GOP not of this century.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why not? Plenty of non-racists within the GOP, some of whom are in perfectly good standing within the broader movement (e.g. Reihan Salam and Ramesh Ponnuru).

    Ted Judah Reply:

    He’s angling for a show on Fox News: “Neel with the Deal”…

    synonymouse Reply:

    He’s TARPboy; I gather he does not need the money.

    Jerry is our Kingfish.

    BrianR Reply:

    The problem is Neel Kashkari is running for governor as if running for Mayor of Palo Alto. That’s a position he could realistically win but there are only about 38,000 registered voters in Palo Alto. Obviously, securing the Palo Alto and Silicon Valley libertarian vote does not scale up very well at the state level.

    Jesse D. Reply:

    Plus he could run with the “Hey, I’m probably your neighbor! Vote for me!” angle.

    Have him sit in a VTA train and he’s a shoo-in.

  4. jimsf
    Sep 23rd, 2014 at 19:21

    I suggest everyone email him with their thoughts. I know I am going to do it right now.

    Jesse D. Reply:

    I’ve been taught that if you have nothing nice to say to somebody, say nothing at all.

  5. Joey
    Sep 23rd, 2014 at 19:52

    I generally think that the climate benefits of HSR are overstated but this is just insulting.

  6. Reality Check
    Sep 23rd, 2014 at 20:17

    SF Transbay Transit Center’s future in doubt after deal falls apart

    By Marisa Lagos, J.K. Dineen and John Coté
    Updated 5:28 pm, Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    An agreement between San Francisco officials and downtown developers over a proposed tax district collapsed this week, throwing into jeopardy the future of the Transbay Transit Center, the extension of Caltrain downtown and the construction of half a dozen skyscrapers, including one that’s set to be the largest on the West Coast.

    That tax district is a key piece of the city’s financing plans for both the Transbay Tower and the $2.6 billion Caltrain extension into the new transit center at First and Mission streets — but it is now likely to become the subject of protracted litigation. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved the original terms of the tax district, over which developers balked and threatened to sue.


    SF Transbay Transit Center Deal Collapses, Developers All Back Out Of Tax Deal

    We thought this was settled two weeks ago, but now everything is a mess. As of today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the original, two-year-old understanding between developers in the Transbay District and the city has blown up, and developers are vowing to sue over what they’re essentially calling a bait-and-switch. This puts completion of the Transbay Transit Center, as well as the essential rail extension from CalTrain to the Transit Center, in serious jeopardy if the two sides can’t come back to the bargaining table.


    synonymouse Reply:

    Does anybody really care or is surprised when the same cast of worthies is responsible for this as the Central Stubway?

    BART and MTC-Hemminger are happy.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Calling it the Transbay Transit Center doesn’t make it so. It’s an arduous walk from the four joint Muni/BART rail transit stations along Market Street in San Francisco. They would better call it the Transbay Bus Center. BART is the major trans-bay transit operator.

    Michael Reply:

    Robert, after your last “Until the BART bonds passed in 1962, San Francisco had only two buildings of over a dozen stories” you’ve lost all credibility. Your role in the creation of BART is secured, but as someone who “was there, then” you should either know better or have forgotten.

    SF has had buildings over “a dozen stories” since the quake. Russian Hill had two buildings over a dozen stories since the 30’s. Downtown has had many more.

    This isn’t 1960. Please try to recalibrate to 2010.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    I stand corrected. Thank you Michael. According to Wikipedia, 43 of San Francisco’s 45 tallest buildings were built after the BART bonds passed. 2 predated that election, the 32-story Russ Building in 1927 and 140 New Montgomery, 26 stories, in 1925. There were at least two other buildings of more than a dozen stories: The Call building at 703 Market Street and the Standard Oil Building at 225 Bush Street. My point still stands, that virtually all of San Francisco’s high rise came only after the BART bonds passed in 1962.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ah that explains why the same thing happened all over the rest of the world around the same time.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Los Angeles was one of those cities. LA had a 13-story height limit until it was eliminated in a vote in 1956. Then it saw a flurry of building upward in the 60’s and 70s, the vertical growth happened without a BART-type system.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    A better Bay Area anchor for High Speed Rail would be the BART overhead in Oakland, six minutes from Embarcadero in San Francisco with at least 16 trains per hour. Instead of Caltrain, upgrade the UP/Amtrak line from San Jose to Sacramento via Mulford. Better, safer, more reliable, and less costlyl. Maybe by-pass the Martinez bridge with a tube from Port Costa to Benicia.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    synonymouse Reply:

    Arduous walk? Quoi alors?

    I used to walk from Macy’s down to the East Bay Terminal twice a day for 20 years. Piece of cake.

    joe Reply:

    Oh no. Wealthy assholes threaten to sue SF because their property values soared. “We’re too rich to pay taxes – cut our rate because our real-estate windfall is a bait and-switch.”

    SF needs to make this a win-lose lawsuit. Decide to jack up taxes beyond the agreed rate to offset the greater than anticipate impact on the environment and city services. Let the courts decide if rates should go down or be raised.

  7. synonymouse
    Sep 23rd, 2014 at 20:19

    It is as good a publicity gimmick as any other. But if he has any stones he should hold it in Lebec. Or Mojave.

    The election is a farce. With the Pelosi-Burton-Brown patronage machine cutting checks to all their many friends they have built an invincible block of indebted cadres. They will be in power for decades.

    And the voter initiative process is gutted. Even a rich guy with a relatively popular scheme could not qualify. Apart from being placed on the ballot by friends in the legislature the only successful signature generated ballot initiatives will be from the teachers union.

    I just vote out of tradition – like eating turkey at Thanksgiving.

  8. les
    Sep 23rd, 2014 at 21:18

    I can use $25.00 for gas. It would be my contribution to C&T and hence HSR. If I had to spend the certificate in another state then I’d be upset. I also assume the models can’t go but 2 mph max.

    BrianR Reply:

    I am sure the models go about a ‘scale’ 500 mph since they must be very cheap but that’s beside the point. I don’t think Kashkari’s train smashing antics are going as well as he thinks. A certain percentage of the population (namely children) not following the news will probably just think of him as “that guy who hated model trains” and years from now look back and ask themselves “now why was that guy running for governor and why did model trains make him so angry?”

  9. Andy M
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 05:13

    This sort of stupidity will come back and haunt and ridicule him when the system is up and running. A bit like the preacher who predicted steam locomotives would cause milk to turn black and cause chickens to stop laying. The best counter-strategy is to make sure you document evidence to spring back on him when the time comes.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Obviously, his heroes are Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan and George Wallace. Do something outrageous enough to land in the history books, then let historians debate if it was not a sign of ignorance, but of political savvy….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Naah. In a year nobody will even remember him. A few years later nobody will remember Moonbeam.

    They’ll remember the Sperminator a little bit longer.

    The DogLeg will be remembered as our Maginot Line on rails.

  10. Trentbridge
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 05:42

    Are the toy trains American made?

    les Reply:

    Made in China

    les Reply:

    no RRIF loans for Kashkari. Maybe he has some TARP money stashed away.

  11. John burrows
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 12:30

    Fisher-price has a toy Thomas and friends talking diesel listed at $17.99. From looking at a picture it would appear to be made of plastic and I think would smash very well. Maybe this is what Neel will be using.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    100 gift certificates @ $25 each
    100 toy trains @ $18 each
    Total $4300, wonder who’s paying

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Hopefully a million Angelinos turn up for the “free gas, man” and Kashkari gets charged with inciting a riot, Paul, please monitor the situation for our further entertainment.

    John burrows Reply:

    Looks like the actual number was over 100 including some who were there for the gas. And Neel picked up at least one endorsement—A voter who said he would vote for anyone willing to give him a $25.00 gift certificate.

    Kashkari seems intent on reinforcing his reputation of being a real doofus, but Republican voters in the state congressional districts will be concentrating on electing or reelecting Republicans for Congress in 2014 and not worrying too much about governor until 2018. Hopefully Democrats will do the same.

    John burrows Reply:

    To rephrase that last sentence—Hopefully Democrats will focus on the 2014 congressional elections to the same degree.

  12. Observer
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 12:50

    In 2010, republican registration in the sate was 30.94%, just a couple of weeks ago I read that it was at 28.5%, it is now at 28.23%. Notice that their opposition to HSR is not gaining them additional members. Kashkari’s silly and embarrassing antics is not going to help. After this election I would not be surprised if their state registration drops below 28%.

  13. John burrows
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 14:46

    Stunts like this are going to make the governors race so one sided that many of us may be inclined to not bother to vote—Even more so because there are no other state wide races that are drawing that much interest. So voters may be more likely to not bother this time around except for a relatively small number of strongly motivated Republicans who will come out in force, resulting in the Republicans picking up a couple of congressional seats that they would not have picked up had there been a bigger overall turnout.

    It is almost as if Neel has been told to take one for the team by trying some stupid stuff in order to depress the vote.

  14. Robert S. Allen
    Sep 25th, 2014 at 23:15

    Let’s speculate. Convert Caltrain north of SFO/Millbrae to a Muni airport express line. South of Millbrae, grade separate and convert it to BART, linking up with planned SV-BART at Santa Clara. Abra-cabra, there’s BART around the Bay, an integrated 5-County rapid transit network serving the six million residents and the many Bay Area jobs.—–
    Run HSR north from San Jose along an up-graded UP/Amtrak route via Mulford to Oakland and Sacramento. From a transfer station at the BART overhead in Oakland, San Francisco’s downtown Embarcadero Station is 6 minutes away, with at least 16 trains per hour.—–
    That would be better, safer, more reliable, and far cheaper than what is being planned. Add BART to the Golden Gate and Carquinas Bridges, Brentwood, and over the Altamont, and bring a balanced five-county plan to the voters for approval and funding.

    Joey Reply:

    Can there actually be consequences for posting the same thing three times?

    Clem Reply:

    The biggest issue with your plan is the slow trip time from SF to Silicon Valley, with the long detour around San Bruno mountain. The SP must really have been onto something way back in 1907.

    I would split the BART line at 24th, run a new tunnel under Bernal Hill, and join the ex-Caltrain ROW in the vicinity of tunnel 3. Then run BART peninsula express service non-stop from 24th to Millbrae along the Bayshore Cutoff, enabling an express train to overtake the local train (the latter dawdling around Daly City) by one full 15-minute headway interval. Failing this, BART simply can’t compete with a diesel Baby Bullet or even the 1957 SP steam expresses; pick up an old timetable sometime.

    Finally, start an organic mushroom farm in that cavernous basement. Name it the Transbay Mushroom Company.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Muni could use it as a stop and car storage for a Geary line that would cross Market at 3rd & Kearny and proceed into SOMA.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    The long way around San Bruno Mountain is a killer — everyone involved in BART planning should have and no doubt did know better.

    But Clem you well know (even if Allen pretends he doesn’t) that you cannot dump all of the Peninsula/S Bay commute traffic into the BART core from 24th St to Embarcadero. Given the capacity of the BART system even white-gloved crowd pushers don’t handle the existing traffic much less the growth. You need redundant and/or higher capacity lines into SF from the South (and soon the same from the East).

    You’re making America’s Finest look good by comparison with suggestions like these ;)

  15. John burrows
    Sep 26th, 2014 at 09:41

    While Kashkari has been out smashing toy trains, Betty Yee has changed her position and now supports HSR. Could Our lieutenant governor be next? I can picture Gavin holding his finger up to the wind as he considers how best to re-triangulate his position.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Thanks for the infro. I was going to vote for her. Now I’ll throw it away.

    Jesse D. Reply:

    So you’re going to throw away your vote because somebody does something you don’t agree with?

    You must be a hit at hosting parties.

    joe Reply:

    Betty Lee cites the Governor’s CnT funding for her shift to ‘Yes’.

  16. Jesse D.
    Oct 3rd, 2014 at 06:28

    Can I just smash Neel instead, take his wallet, and get more than $25 worth of gas?


    Damn. :(

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