Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Monday, February 4, 2013


Commuting by car leads to more weight gain 

 http://www.dailynews.com/health/ci_22483504/commuting-by-car-leads-more-weight-gain

By Kathryn Doyle, Reuters Health, January 30, 2013

 
People driving to work every day are packing on more pounds than their colleagues on trains, buses and bikes, according to a new study from Australia.

"Even if you are efficiently active during leisure time, if you use a car for commuting daily then that has an impact on weight gain," said lead author Takemi Sugiyama of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.

Among people in the study who got at least two and a half hours of weekly exercise, car commuters gained an average of four pounds over four years - one pound more than people who got to work another way or worked from home.

Of 822 study participants, only those who got enough weekly exercise and never drove to work managed to stave off any weight gain over the course of the study.

Participants who didn't get enough weekly exercise also gained weight, but how much they gained wasn't tied to their mode of getting to work, according to results published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"Simply achieving the amount of moderate physical activity otherwise recommended won't provide enough compensation to overcome the effect of commuting for a long period of time," said Lawrence Frank of the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

But there are probably other factors at work that were not considered in the study, noted Frank, who was not involved in the new research.

 "People who have longer commutes tend to purchase a lot of their food and run a lot of errands on their way to and from work," which could influence weight gain, he said.

And 80 percent of car trips are non-commuting, he points out.

Previous studies that focused on total time spent in cars per day have also found a link to becoming overweight or obese.

A 2004 study of adults in Atlanta found that each additional hour of time spent in a car each day was associated with a 6 percent increase in the chance of obesity.

"Commuting is a truly important predictor of obesity," Frank said.

In Australia, about 80 percent of working adults take a car to work every day - similar to the 86 percent figure in the U.S.

But many of those people don't have another option, said Sugiyama, who researches health risks in daily life.

"The message is, if possible try to avoid cars, but for many people that sort of choice isn't available," he said.

"It's the responsibility of government to provide public transport to and from work, and design neighborhoods where short walks are accessible to people," said Sugiyama. "But that's a long-term solution."

MoveLA conference tackles thorny issues: among them, should the threshold for future sales tax measures be lowered to 55 percent?

 http://thesource.metro.net/2013/02/04/movela-conference-tackles-thorny-issues-among-them-should-the-threshold-for-future-sales-tax-measures-be-lowered-to-55-percent/

By Steve Hymon, February 4, 2013

 

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

I spent a couple of hours at MoveLA’s annual conference at Union Station on Friday. As the group’s name implies, MoveLA — with financial help from Metro — is pushing for an expansion and acceleration of transit projects across Los Angeles County.

Three things I heard that I found intriguing and worth passing along to Source readers:

•County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky was one of many people calling for the threshold for sales tax ballot measures to be lowered from 66.7 percent (two-thirds) to 55 percent after Measure J lost in November with 66.1 percent of the vote.

Yaroslavsky said it’s a perversion of Prop 13 that general sales tax measures — that is, measures without a specific funding target (such as transportation or education) — only require a simple majority but measures with funding plans and goals must reach a much higher target of two-thirds.

Yaroslavsky also acknowledged that everyone knew ahead of time that Measure J needed 66.7 percent to win and that the campaign wasn’t perfect, nor did it help — in his view and in particular — that turnout was much lower in 2012 than in 2008 when Measure R secured 67.9 percent of the vote.

There is a bill pending in the state Legislature that would change the state Constitution to allow for a 55 percent threshold. If the Legislature approves it and the Governor signs it, the issue would then go to state voters. At this point, Metro doesn’t have any proposal to return to voters although the agency continues to pursue funding for project acceleration from Congress.

•There was a lot of talk, as would be expected, about development near transit stations. It’s pretty clear to me that this is still a very thorny issue in many parts of our region. Among the issues: how much density should be allowed, how much parking should be required at developments and what tools are best to preserve affordable housing near transit stations and areas that are gentrifying.

My three cents: It’s hard to get any affordable units built if the overall number of units allowed to be built is on the low side. Developers will simply walk away. And while I completely understand fears of gentrification, I also think it’s equally dangerous to keep redevelopment at bay because needed money and investment may simply go elsewhere.

•There was a brief conversation about using California cap-and-trade funds as a source of funding for mass transit. That’s an interesting notion, of course. But it depends on cap-and-trade raising some serious money and also state transit agencies firmly being able to quanitfy that their services are reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Comment to "Great Place to Build a Tunnel"

http://www.710studysanrafaelneighborhoodposts.com/2013/02/great-place-to-build-tunnel-normal-0.html

What is interesting is that all of the fault conversation seems to center on potential earthquakes and possible damage. The potential leakage of the contaminated Raymond Basin aquifer north of the Raymond fault into the San Gabriel Basin south of it is completely ignored. The fault acts a geological dam between the two.
What happens when you bore two 60’ diameter holes through it?

Harry


Something to do some research on.
710 Project Committee Recommends Caltrans & MTA Recirculate Draft 710 EIR Re Two Build Options Using New Assumptions/Updated Data And Include "Community Alternative 7" 

http://www.lbreport.com/news/feb13/710eir2.htm





Public speaks in crowded COG meeting room. Councilman James Johnson is seated at the Committee desk (white shirt, red tie). Photo by Laurie Angel
 

LB Councilman Johnson pushes for plan to use early action funds for pilot project to test zero-emission truck system in Port area; his motion fails for lack of a second; 710 consultant says engineering and funding aspects coming in report shortly

 (Feb. 3, 2013) -- At a meeting that drew an overflow crowd, the I-710 EIR/EIS Project Committee voted on Feb. 1 to recommend that the CA Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recirculate portions of a draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement to further evaluate modified versions of alternatives 6C and 6D (details below) as "build" alternatives to expand ("modernize") the I-710 freeway.



In mid-January, the I-710 Technical Advisory and Community Advisory Committees (TAC & CAC) cited new updated assumptions and updated data and studies, plus comments received to the draft EIR/EIS, in recommending recirculation of two build options: Alternative 6C modified (zero emission freight corridor + 10 gen'l purpose lanes) and 6D (refining Alternative 6C to provide zero emission freight corridor + 8 gen'l purpose lanes [but see Feb. 1 consultant comment re number of lanes in alternative 6D, noted below])

At the Jan. 31 meeting of the I-710 Project Committee, members voted without dissent to approve recirculation recommendations (details on those recommendations om memo cited in LBREPORT.com coverage click here).

However the 710 Project Committee went further on Jan. 31 by voting to include "Community Alternative 7" in the recirculation process. "Community Alternative 7" is a proposal by a coalition of groups that opposes widening the 710 freeway and supports a comprehensive public transit element, a committed zero emission freight corridor, a public-private partnership for an employer operated freight system, river improvements, a comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle element, and community benefits including expanded open space and other enhancements.

Long Beach Councilman James Johnson pressed to use early action funds to conduct a demonstration project of a zero-emissions catenary type system (using trolley-like overhead electrical wires to power trucks) for testing in the Port area (possibly Alameda Blvd., the TI Fwy, or Navy Way)...but his motion died for lack of a second, despite the presence on the Committee of Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Tom Fields.

Veteran North Long Beach neighborhood advocates Laurie Angel and Linda Ivers attended the 710 Committee meeting, held at the Gateway COG's Paramount HQ. Ms. Angel captured audio of salient parts of the meeting and both attendees conveyed information to LBREPORT.com about what took place.

Councilman Johnson argued that a pilot project would show at a cost of roughly $10 
million whether the electrified zero emissions technology would work before sinking much larger sums into building a 30 mile freight corridor and said he preferred to have the test done here in the Port area rather than on a test track in Germany (where designer Siemens is located).

Councilman Johnson moved to have staff come back to the 710 Committee at its next meeting with a plan on how a pilot project can move forward using early action funds to test zero emissions technology in the Port area for use on the 710 project...but there was no second. An unidentified speaker said he didn't see a need for a motion...and an MTA rep said the current process for early action projects is a recommendation from the Technical Advisory Committee, then recommends and if approved moves to the Project Committee for its support and then goes to the Metro Board. .

An unidentified voice [sounds like project consulant Jerry Wood] indicated that Siemens is working on a proposal, and working on a design for the 710 catenary sstem (overhead wires) and one issue is how to get the substantial electrical power needed for such a system to the Port. He indicated he would speak with funding partners and would return with a report at the next I-710 Project Committee meeting in a month or so.

Councilman Johnson responded, "Let's work it out now...[so] we can move the technology along and I think in a way that makes 6D, 6C or 7 real, so we'll be able to show this is a feasible project that doesn't just work on paper or in Germany...but actually in the Port..."
Ultimately, Councilman Johnson's motion wasn't voted on...although (as indicated in the colloquy) further information about a zero emissions system is now expected at the next I-710 Project Committee meeting. To hear Councilman Johnson's motion and resulting colloquy/exchange at the Feb. 1 meeting, click here

Ms. Ivers tells LBREPORT.com that a project consultant who presented the TAC report told the Project Committee that in selecting modified versions of alternatives 6C and 6D for recirculation, 6D was included because it allows for further expansion of the general purpose lanes if it becomes necessary.

As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, consultant Wood told the LB City Council's I-710 Oversight Committee on Jan. 29 that only eight general purpose lanes -- not ten -- would be needed in Long Beach south of the 405 under a new set of assumptions that might include analysis of two proposed container transfer railyards (BNSF's SCIG and UP's ICTF, pending proposals that have drawn opposition from neighborhood groups). The initial I-710 draft EIR/EIS didn't assume/didn't analyze the effects on 710 truck traffic if the two rail facilities were built.
[Jan. 29 statement to LB Council Committee] Mr. Wood: We don't know right now, until the modeling is redone with a new set of assumptions -- that's why it says "up to 10 general purpose lanes" -- we don't know now with this new set of assumptions which might include a sensitivity analysis if the SCIG and ICTF go forward -- whether we need 10 general purpose lanes. I will tell you at the south end of the project, south of 405, we don't need 10 general purpose lanes, especially with this new set of assumptions. As you go further north you accumulate traffic, and the TAC was fairly comfortable with 8 general purpose lanes south of the 105. North of the 105, we're not sure. You just start building up as you go north.
Near the end of the Jan. 31 Project Committee meeting, consultant Wood (speaking on engineering matters) made reference to aspects of Alternative 7 and to a zero emissions catenary (trolley type/electrified truck) system...and indicated aspects of these items are currently being considered and would be discussed in a report to be brought to the Project Committee shortly. To hear his comments, click here.

The CAC/TAC memo indicates the recirculated draft EIR/EIS will include previously released portions of the draft regarding alternatives 5A, 6A, 6B and "no build" and [based on our reading of the memo text] those portions won't be updated as part of the recirculation process. Instead, an entire recirculated document -- including Caltrans/MTA responses to objections/issues raised by the public and the City of Long Beach regarding portions of the draft EIR/EIS that aren't slated for updating/revision in the recirculated document -- will be released 12 to 18 months from now.

Preparing the draft EIR/EIS for recirculation is expected to take from 12-18 months, Jack Joseph of the Gateway COG separate told LBREPORT.com on Feb. 1.

Ms. Angel says that the Jan 31 meeting crowd exceeded the 85 person capacity of a Gateway COG meeting room when roughly 120 people showed up to support Alternative 7. Ms. Angel said there were roughly 40 other attendees at the meeting consisting of committee members, officials and independent community advocates (like herself and Ms. Ivers).

Written material available to the public at the meeting was scanned by Ms. Angel and is linked here:
[Written material text] Five alternatives emerged from the alternatives development and screening process and were evaluated in the 1-710Draft EIR/EIS for the planning horizon year of 2035. These are:
  • No-Build
  • Alternative 5A - Modernize and improve 1-710with 1a-general purpose lanes only
  • Alternative 6A - Alternative 5A plus include a 4-lane freight corridor for conventional trucks
  • Alternative 6B - Alternative 5A plus include a 4-lane freight corridor for zero emission trucks with automated guidance
  • Alternative 6C - Alternative 5A plus include a tolled 4-lane freight corridor for zero emission trucks with automated guidance
After review and assessment of the comparative benefits, costs and impacts of the alternatives disclosed in the Draft EIRJEIS, along with careful consideration of the comments received on the Draft EIR/EIS, Caltrans, Metro and the Funding Partners have recommended that Alternative 6C Modified and Alternative 60 (a refinement of Alternative 6C that eliminates the feature to add general purpose lanes to 1-710) be assessed as the build alternatives in the RDEIR/SDEIS. In their comments on the Draft EIR/EIS, the Coalition on Environmental Health and Justice (CEHAJ) presented a new alternative for consideration, Community Alternative 7. [A table in the document compares the alternatives. To view the full handout, click here.)
Ms. Angel says the COG Board agreed to include early action projects in anticipation of the project including sound walls and other amenities, and indicated it would include a bike and pedestrian plans in the project.

Ms. Angel said that Signal Hill Councilman Larry Forester (Signal Hill's representative) twice emphasized hydrology issues (lacking in parts of Alternative 7, which show landscaping/terracing in parts of the L.A. river bed).

The 710 Project Committee's vote doesn't auotmatically recirculate the draft EIR/EIS; its vote is to recommend that Caltrans and MTA do so.

Developing...with further to follow on LBREPORT.com. 

¡Sí Se Pudo! - I-710 Communities Gain Momentum for Real Transportation Solutions

 http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/amartinez/si_se_pudo_i-710_communities_g.html

Adrian Martinez's Blog, February 1, 2013

 

There’s nothing like a raucous public hearing to get the blood pumping on a Thursday night.  Last night, I attended the Project Committee meeting for the I-170 expansion project.  The Project Committee is an advisory body to Caltrans, Gateway Cities Council of Governments, and LA Metro on the I-710 expansion project. The body is comprised of elected leaders and representatives from all up and down the corridor.

The I-710 expansion proposal is a potentially more than $6 billion highway projectthat seeks to add 6 additional lanes to the 8 lane highway that runs from Long Beach up to just southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The project mainly accommodates the massive amount of freight containers that travel via truck along this highway every day to and from our ports, but the agencies slipped in elements that would expand capacity for single-passenger automobiles through the addition of general purpose lanes.

The Coalition for Environmental Health & Justice has been engaged in this project for many years advocating for a more sustainable solution for this expansion project.  The Coalition worked with its community members and technical experts to develop Community Alternative 7, which is a better alternative compared to the ones that were studied in the environmental review for this project. 

Community Alternative 7 focuses on advancing zero emissions freight trucks and public transit, instead of adding lanes to accommodate single-passenger automobiles.  It also promotes making it safer to bike and walk in the corridor and advancing community benefits.  You can read more about Community Alternative 7 here.

Community Alternative 7 is a comprehensive, sensible package that allows the dramatic expansion of the freight industry desired by freight enthusiasts in the region, but also places a priority on what residents in the region need like safer facilities to walk and bike, enhanced public transit, and mitigation for the major impacts from the highway.  It is such a good solution that more than 120 people showed up last night to advocate that the Project Committee recommend putting it on the table as an option for this project.      

The Project Committee meeting got off to a tenuous start.  The venue only accommodated approximately 90 people.  With more than 120 people, the Coalition for Environmental Health & Justice (e.g. members of Communities for a Better Environment, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, and Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma) easily exceeded capacity for the hearing.  The meeting had to be paused because of these safety concerns.  A negotiation was brokered between representatives from Communities for a Better Environment and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and the Chair of the Project Committee to limit public testimony and rotate people in and out of the meeting.

After hearing very compelling testimony, Project Committee members from almost all the cities and agencies present at the meeting (e.g. Bell, Commerce, Lynwood, Paramount, Port of Long Beach, Long Beach, LA County, South Gate, Signal Hill, Bell Gardens, etc) supported analyzing Community Alternative 7.  There were only two voters who abstained (the California Department of Transportation and Southern California Association of Governments).  The Project Committee also recomended taking several environmentally destructive alternatives off the table.

After the vote, my coalition partners poured out of the building with lots of chants of “¡Sí Se Pudo!” going around.  There’s still a long way to go to make sure this project is done correctly. But, last night the community achieved a tremendous victory because our elected leaders really listened to what type of transportation project the community wants.          

Around Town: The future could be L.A.'s legacy of light rail

 http://www.lacanadaonline.com/opinion/tn-vsl-around-town-the-future-could-be-las-legacy-of-light-rail%2C0%2C3192832.story

By Anita S. Brenner, February 1, 2013

 If you’ve driven around Los Angeles lately, you’ve probably noticed the poor condition of the streets and highways. La Cañada Flintridge has better roads than L.A., but the local freeways — the 210 and the 2 — are just as battered and worn.

Ever since the 210 connected with the I-15, LCF has suffered through increased commercial truck traffic. The “truck lanes” are damaged and bumpy and we’ve seen some whopper collisions involving big rigs.

 Headed to Pasadena? Some folks choose the “back way” through Woodbury, or along Linda Vista, especially during rush hour. Noise pollution? Freeway noise hits most of LCF.

Those are just a couple of reasons why many locals are opposed to an underground tunnel connecting the 4.5-mile gap between the 710 and the 210.

In a letter to the MTA last September, Rep. Adam Schiff expressed his concerns. “While the project was originally estimated to cost approximately $1.5 billion, a 2011 study estimated it would cost $2.8 billion and now the Measure R extension expenditure plan believes it will cost $5.6 billion. How costly will it be in another year? Or two? Or 10?”

By some accounts, the tunnel connection would not be completed for at least a decade. Existing traffic congestion would not resolve with the tunnel proposal. Schiff proposed that we take the long view.

“I urge Metro to give full and serious consideration as to how funds for a tunnel project could be better spent. I suspect that for less than the actual cost of a tunnel, Metro would have the funds necessary to undertake all of the remaining options under consideration — combined. These options, transportation system management, bus rapid transit and light-rail would help move people in an environmentally friendly manner without disrupting our long-established neighborhoods.”

In December, MTA issued a report, “State Route 710 Study, Alternatives Analysis Report.” It lists five alternatives to close the 4.5-mile gap between the 710 and the 210: “no build,” traffic-management technology, bus, an underground freeway tunnel and several light rail alternatives.

The “no-build” would mean no additional building or infrastructure between Valley Boulevard and the 210. The traffic management technology would include incentives for ride sharing, such as HOV lanes. The bus option would include rapid bus lines between Montebello and Pasadena. The tunnel option would be the multibillion-dollar 10-year construction project to create an underground tunnel under South Pasadena and Pasadena.

The main argument in favor of closing the gap with the tunnel is that it will relieve traffic congestion. The arguments presented in opposition include earthquake risks, air pollution, disruption of local communities, increased truck traffic and initial cost estimates in the billions.

The most exciting alternative proposed in the MTA report are a group of light rail options — several light rail routes that would connect the Gold Line directly with either Cal State Los Angeles or East Los Angeles College.

We should adopt those light rail routes, and more.

Consider this: The planned Foothill Extension to the Gold Line will connect Claremont to East Pasadena.

Imagine this: It is January 2023. Your kids (or grandkids) grab a light rail at the entrance to the 2 Freeway on Foothill Boulevard, or take the escalator down to the light rail stop on the 210 at Memorial Park. From there, they go to the Claremont Colleges, Caltech, Cal State Los Angeles, UCLA, USC or the local airports, Burbank and LAX.

The light rail route would use the center dividers of existing freeways.

Want to grab a bite at L.A. Live? You could take the light rail.

Want to go to the beach? No more LCF beach bus, your kids grab the light rail from La Cañada to the beaches of their choice.

Flying to London? Take the Gold line to the airport.

Cocktails? Connect with the light rail to Musso & Frank Grill.

Our City Council issued a resolution opposing the tunnel plan. It’s a good position for our council to take, but we need more. We don’t maintain the freeways that we already have. Why spend billions on a system that does not include light rail connections between airports, high schools, colleges, and entertainment centers? Bring back L.A.'s once-glorious mass transit system.

Let's begin right here in La Cañada Flintridge with an all-freeway, center divider, light-rail proposal.

--

Commuting in the United States: 2009 --American Community Survey Reports

 Commuting In The United States: 2009 -- American Community Survey Reports


 http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acs-15.pdf


(20p. PDF : "At the national level, 5% of commuters used public transportation in 2009." More than 76% drive alone)
U.S. Census Bureau

CEO Art Leahy Guides MTA’s Transition to A Community Friendly Rail System

 http://www.lasentinel.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10397:ceo-art-leahy-guides-mta-s-transition-to-a-community-friendly-rail-system&catid=80:local&Itemid=170

By Kenneth Miller, February 1, 2013

 

 

Art Leahy

Metro Transportation Authority (MTA) CEO Art Leahy is used to being out and about in the neighborhood, so when the MTA boss visited the Los Angeles Sentinel offices on Crenshaw Blvd. to discuss the highly anticipated and often controversial Crenshaw rail project in an exclusive interview, Leahy was right at home.

After all, Leahy grew up in Los Angeles, went to school in the Los Angeles Unified School District attending Franklin High School and then East Los Angeles College before finishing up at Cal State Los Angeles.

A former bus operator in 1971, he drove the line, which now runs on MLK Blvd., but back then, it was Santa Barbara Boulevard, that ultimately trekked down Crenshaw going south to Hawthorne.

“We are all part of a tremendously vibrant place,” said Leahy.

“There are festivals that go on all over the county. There are Dodger games. There are USC games; there are museums in Exposition Park. There are all the things that happen up and down Los Angeles County…”

The Crenshaw/ LAX line, scheduled to be running in about five years, will quickly become part of a rapidly expanding network that provides access to those experiences.
It will begin at Crenshaw and Exposition, running through to 60th Street before it makes a right turn on Florence to go through Inglewood, ultimately ending at Aviation and Imperial. In the meantime, Leahy invites the community here to be a part of the process.

His bubbly excitement for both the company he runs and the city and county, which depends on MTA services, is real.

“We are redesigning the second biggest city in the country, maybe the tenth biggest in the world,” Leahy said in a recent interview at the Sentinel offices, where he talked about what the almost $1.5 billion project will mean for South L.A. and other communities along its proposed route.

“We’re going to be under construction for the next several years. During that time period, a lot of activity will be taking placing and the Metro staff will be working closely with the community throughout the process.”

The Metro team wants to answer any questions as best they can, although there is a limit to what they can reveal during what they call a “blackout” period.  At this time proposals have been submitted and will undergo rigorous review before a recommendation goes to the Metro board.

One question in particular reverberating among residents here is whether or not there will be a stop at Leimert Park, where the line will pass through on its way to the South Bay.

“I believe that the MTA Board of Directors wants to do the station, however, the problem is that we only have a finite amount of money from Measure R to fund a number of projects,” said Leahy.

“However, Metro Board Members are doing everything they can to find additional funding to include a Leimert Park stop,” Leahy told the Sentinel.

Meanwhile, with a slowly rebounding economy, many South L.A. residents are also asking about jobs that the project will bring. While the Federal government does not allow the transit agency to indulge in hiring preferences, they have begun a project labor agreement (PLA) with unions here that will allow people in poor neighborhoods a fair shot at the transit job market.

“Whoever wins the bid (for the construction contract) will be responsible for hiring a jobs coordinator. The jobs coordinator will be tasked to find people who are eligible for the jobs and it is their responsibility to actively recruit, train, and make sure applicants are job ready,” said Miriam Scott Long of Metro, who visited the LA Sentinel along with Leahy.

“The agreement requires that forty percent of the labor hours will go to the people who meet the eligibility profile on a local and national basis; Metro’s Board of Directors deserves credit for this innovative approach. And the way the PLA contract is written, if the contractor does not comply, they will incur penalties,” said Long

“For people who are interested in working on this project and others, now is the time to be looking into pre apprenticeship training on projects,” she added.

Metro is also encouraging African American businesses to take advantage of the myriad of economic opportunities that are associated with this project.

“We expect that this new infrastructure will contribute significant economic development opportunities for the community that will have a positive transformation in this community for many years to come,” said Leahy.

Supervising the massive 10,000 staff at MTA is an enormous undertaking, but if you would listen to Leahy it is like working at the happiest place on earth.

He spoke about the advancements that MTA has made since he was bus operator and worked his way up to Chief Operating Officer (COO) and is now the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

“If you pause for a moment, in the last 20 years, this is why Metro is such a great place to work,” Leahy explained.

Elaborating more about the Crenshaw line, he stated, “When this line opens up there will be a connection to LAX, the Green line that will go to the South Bay and, of course, at some point to the east, connecting to the Expo Line, Culver City, and beyond.”

Leahy points to the Expo Line as being a model for what the Crenshaw project can do to enhance the community. “The Expo Line is just beautiful, it achieved all that we could anticipate, safety first and foremost of our customers, but also has been as asset to local businesses.”

Last year MTA purchased Union Station, which operates trains that take people to Riverside, Orange County, Palmdale, San Bernardino and Ventura. For their many advances, there are some stations that need vast improvements.

“If you go to the subway station on 5th and Hill, it’s terrible,” explained Leahy. “The escalator comes up and there’s a lot of nothing there. It’s in the middle of downtown and it’s not a pleasant place,” Leahy has vowed that he and MTA will fix this situation.

He concluded, “Our goal is to build a transit system which makes sense. I will also add that 
most of people who take trips are for work and school, but we have great potential to expand on that.”

Amtrak train jumps the track, derails near Union Station

 http://www.scpr.org/blogs/news/2013/02/03/12364/amtrak-train-jumps-track-derails-near-union-statio/

February 3, 2013


 


 Union Station, shown Jan. 17, 1998, in Los Angeles, is the last grand urban train station built in America and the only one on the West Coast.

Transit officials say minor rail delays occurred after an Amtrak train carrying no passengers derailed in Los Angeles.

In a brief statement, Amtrak said nobody was hurt when the northbound Coast Starlight train jumped the tracks shortly after 10:30 a.m. about a quarter mile east of Union Station. Amtrak described the train as "empty."

Tracks in that area are owned and operated by Metrolink, the local commuter rail agency that shares lines with Amtrak on the Los Angeles-San Diego rail corridor.

Metrolink spokeswoman Delana Gbenekama says two Metrolink trains to and from Los Angeles and Oceanside were delayed up to one hour.

Amtrak says its train to Oakland and Seattle scheduled to depart Union Station at 10:26 a.m. was running nearly two hours late.

Officials did not say what caused the train to derail.
6 Quirky Facts About the Gold Line Bridge

 http://www.lamag.com/citythink/citythinkblog/2013/02/01/6-quirky-facts-about-the-gold-line-bridge

By Sarah Parvini, February 1, 2013 





Photograph courtesy foothillextension.org


1. Artist-designer Andrew Leicester and the Construction Authority think of the bridge as a symbolic gateway to the San Gabriel Valley. “L.A. is all about freeways and bridges,” Leicester says. “There was a tremendous opportunity here.”

2. When he started his design research, Leicester looked at the history of travel in the area—places like Route 66 with its famous and memorable Americana architecture—for inspiration. “I made a point to talk to people,” he says. ”They have these anecdotes and myths and legends [about L.A.]. I pursued those stories to see if they had possibilities of visualizing in some way.”

3. The bridge’s baskets (there's one on each end) represent the Native Americans and the growth of agriculture as a catalyst to the San Gabriel Valley.

4. In keeping with the theme of San Gabriel’s natural history, the diamond back snake (which is native to California) regales the body of the bridge. The snake’s diamond-patterned skin is reflected on the sides of the carriageway, while the overpass’s design is intended to resemble its skeleton.

5. The bridge rises above an active earthquake fault. There was concern that if any of its components were “too moveable” or too tall, the bridge could buckle during an earthquake, so the bridge was constructed of one low-maintenance material: concrete. “At one point, there was water in the design scheme,” says Leicester.

6. Leicester and the Construction Authority hope to develop a mobile app that would allow users to manipulate the color of the bridge’s lights as they drive by at night or during the holidays. Think bright orange for Halloween or red for Valentine’s Day. "We want it to be a living thing that people can explore," he says.

Go to the website for more photos.

(With new info) Metro Releases Alternative Analysis Report On 710 Study

The five remaining alternatives will undergo further evaluations.

 http://egpnews.com/2013/01/metro-releases-alternative-analysis-report-on-710-study/

By Nancy Martinez, January 31, 2013

(Much of the article is a rehash of what has been posted before but some of it is new as well.)

Metro released the findings from its Alternative Analysis Report that was used to narrow down its list of routes meant to improve mobility and relieve congestion through the SR-710 gap between East/Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.

Last week community members attended an open house hosted by Metro and Caltrans to review the results obtained by the recently completed report, which compared 12 alternatives that were meant to relieve congestion in the study area bordered by the SR-2, I-10, I-210 and the 1-605 freeways.

Metro’s Executive Officer for the Highway Program, Frank Quoun, told EGP that after years of scoping efforts and feedback from the community Metro is ready to move forward to the next phase in the project.

‘We’ve been able to identify five that we think are good alternatives to move forward into the environmental document,” Quon said. “We want to make sure that [the public] understands there’s no decision made yet but what we want them to see is the five alternatives that will be considered.”
Through the Alternative Analysis Report each alternative was rated on how well it would fulfill the following objectives:

—Minimize travel time
—Improve connectivity and mobility
—Reduce congestion on the freeway system
—Reduce congestion on local street system
—Increase transit ridership
—Least impact on the environment and communities
—Consistency with regional plans and strategies
—Maximize cost-efficiency of public investments

Deborah Pracilio, a LSA consultant, told EGP the alternatives were rated based on how well they met each objective.

The 12 alternatives where then narrowed down to five that will continue on to a detailed Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), to further determine the environmental, social and economical impact each route would have as it tries to connect the SR-710 gap between Alhambra and Pasadena.

“Were going to do much more detailed engineering on each of the alternatives, were actually looking at incorporating some of the modes together so they are looking at some refinement,” said Pracilio.

The five alternatives that will be studied in the SR-710 EIR/EIS will include the no build option, the transportation system management/transportation demand management (TSM/TDM), the light rail transit alternative (LRT-4X), the bus rapid transit alternative (BRT-6X) and the freeway tunnel alternative (F-7X).

“We tried to pick the best bus rapid, the best light rail, the best freeway and the best highway and really the highway fell out because it wasn’t fulfilling the purpose and need,” said Pracilio.
According to Metro, freight traffic will be considered within the SR-710 EIR to determine the effects of truck travel to and from the ports to distribution centers and warehouses.

Rob McCann, President of LSA Associates Inc, a consulting firm hired by Metro that specializes in environmental, transportation, and planning services, told EGP that the firm was asked to gather information because there was so much public interest in the question of goods movement.

“There will be a discussion of truck traffic in each [alternative] and how it changes and will compare with one another,” McCann said. “There’s always going to be some trucks on any highway but on this project it’s not a high percentage.”

Charles Miller, a member of the No on 710 coalition told EGP he was happy to see Metro include the study on goods movement.

“That’s something that had been omitted from their public commentary but something we had really pressed hard with,” said Miller.

Loren Bloomberg, a traffic engineer, told EGP that a computer model used to predict traffic in Southern California through 2035 was used to analyze the alternatives to see how they hurt or helped traffic on surface streets and freeways. That same model will be used to analyze the five alternatives including their variations like tow versus non-tow or truck restrictions versus allowing trucks.

“As we refine it we get more details on it,” Bloomberg said. “The other refinement is we look into details of individual intersections.”

Supporters of the 710-freeway expansion like Harry Baldwin attended the open house to better understand the alternatives that Metro is looking at but also to help dispel rumors caused by this controversial expansion.

“There’s a lot of people that are hearing rumors in the neighborhood, some people have been here today and have found out these rumors are not true,” Baldwin told EGP. “We need to be able to move our traffic through the system as efficiently as possible and I think this is one of the major links in doing that.”

Baldwin told EGP some residents had heard rumors that their homes could be taken away, but after checking the routes that Metro is looking at for the five alternatives, some people discovered their homes would be safe from the construction.

Some of the attendees, however, were not reassured by the presentation when it comes to the cost of the project, which some claim will be billions of dollars more than Metro has claimed.

Miller, a resident of Los Angeles, told EGP that some questions and concerns have yet to be addressed by Metro.

“There are a number of reasons why I’m opposed, there are a number of concerns over inducing traffic into this area, there are health concerns but probably the number one concern I have is for L.A County taxpayers,” Miller said.

Some residents also felt that Metro has already set their mind on the tunnel route, one that Miller says would take away funds from other transportation services.

“It’s not just a financial risk for us being able to pay for it, but also for bus and transit that will just suck the money out of all of those [services] and deplete service in the area rather than enhance it,” he said.

The study has been funded by Measure R, which was approved by voters in 2008 to increase taxes by a half-cent to fund Los Angeles County transportation projects. Voters recently extended the tax trough 2040 that will provide $40 billion for transportation projects with $780 million for the SR-710 study and improvements.

Metro projects the release of the Draft EIR/EIS will be available by Spring 2014 and a final preferred alternative to be selected by Spring 2015.

 For more information about the SR-710 Study visit www.metro.net/sr710study.
S11 Raymond Fault Scenario M 6.5




I don't think many of us who live near (or on) the Raymond Fault have ever considered what would happen if there was a 6.5 quake on it. I wouldn't think that this study would have been done if a 6.5 on the Raymond Fault was not possible. The highest intensity that we have experienced in recent years has been a 5.0 and that was during a period when fault after fault in the area was letting loose.

ftp://ftp.consrv.ca.gov/pub/dmg/rgmp/CalEMA2009/Appendix%20A/S11%20Raymond%20Fault%20Scenario.pdf

Congestion Pricing's Enduring Public Perception Problem

 http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/02/congestion-pricings-enduring-public-perception-problem/4582/

Eric Jaffe, February 4, 2013

 

Congestion Pricing's Enduring Public Perception Problem


Over the past couple years the Capital Region Transportation Planning Board has hosted a series of public forums in metro Washington, D.C. (two in Virginia, two in Maryland, one in the District) to gauge local support for congestion strategies. A couple weeks ago, the board released its general conclusions [PDF]. As you might expect, pretty much everyone in the Beltway area considers traffic a major problem. When it comes to potential solutions, however, they're far less unified or convinced.

At each forum, attendees learned the extent of the region's congestion trouble and got a primer on three options for reducing it. The first idea was highway pricing: interstate toll lanes whose revenue would go toward better bus service in the corridor. The second was mileage pricing: a per-mile fee that could reduce traffic by charging more on the most congested roads. The third was standard congestion pricing: paying a fee to enter a high-traffic zone.

Option 1, highway pricing, got the most support. People liked that it was optional — you could still drive in non-toll lanes if you wanted — though they had some equity concerns. Option 2, a mileage system, got the least support, on account of seeming invasive and complicated. ("The phrase 'big brother' was repeated frequently," according to the board.) Option 3, congestion pricing, got considerable support, but many people remained doubtful it would actually work.

With or without knowing it, metro D.C. residents more or less echoed the standard reactions to these various proposals. The impact of H.O.T. lanes on low-income workers has long been a concern. Privacy issues are holding back V.M.T. programs in a general sense. Meanwhile congestion pricing has never made it in the United States — despite being the best hope for reducing traffic in the eyes of many experts — in part because people aren't convinced it makes a difference.

The funny thing about opposition to pricing programs is how quickly it dissolves in the face of success. In Stockholm, home to the world's most successful pricing zone, public opinion shifted from 70 percent opposed to 70 percent in favor in just a few years. Not only did people begin to love the program, they forget they were the same people who used to hate it.

What the Washington forums showed was that some of this initial doubt can be addressed through public education. When forum participants were asked how receptive they were to congestion programs, before the start of each session, only 39 percent thought they were reasonable ways to resolve the traffic problem. By the end of the session, however, that figure had jumped to nearly half. (Having said that, opposition also rose a bit from beginning to end.)

Transportation scholars are beginning to understand just how important public awareness is when it comes to congestion programs. A recent analysis of successful and unsuccessful pricing referenda around the world underscores this point. Uncertainty about the effectiveness of congestion pricing and a lack of information on the strategy were the two main reasons the public rejected losing ballots.

For that reason, the researchers who conducted this analysis (published in an upcoming issue of Transport Policy) recommend a two-step approach to gaining public support. First, present traffic forecasting models that explain the impact of congestion charges, and make them widely known. Second, implement a trial before the decision and give the public regular reports on its progress — especially signs of improved travel time.

Telling people traffic can decrease is one thing. Showing them is much, much better.
CH2M Hill Contracting Violations

Posted on Facebook by Joe Cano: Mike Antonovich & his cabal of corporate conspirators on the MTA Executive Board is guilty of violations of proper disclosure of the firms they hire for public projects. He is guilty of colluding with the corporate vampires to feed off taxpayer hard earned money. Explain to the public CH2M Hill's record of misconduct & why they were hired to write the EIR on the 710 tunnel. Metro dismissed the the letter from the 'United People of El Sereno' in September of 2012. Now you will pay the price of that insult.


Metro finally getting its TAP act together

 http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2013/02/tap_zevweb.php

By Kevin Roderick, February 1, 2013

 tap-metro-zevweb.jpg

 

 

 Sometime this summer, the turnstile gates will close at Metro's train stations and riders really will be forced to pay the fare. But before that can happen, the agency is remaking the TAP card system that discouraged honest riders from paying up. According to ZevWeb, Metro is redesigning the confusing screen instructions for buying and loading TAP cards, and basically making over what the public sees. The "validators" that riders are supposed to tap with the TAP cards are also being relocated to where they are actually useful.

[Metro] is relocating “stand-alone validators”—which customers must touch with their TAP cards to legally board the train—at 24 stations. Those include the Wilshire/Vermont station, where passengers transferring between the Red and Purple lines must hop on an escalator or hike up and down 200-plus steps if they want to play by the rules and tap their cards before boarding.
“That was ridiculous. That was just not acceptable,” said David Sutton, Metro’s director of TAP operations. He said the sheriff’s department isn’t citing people in problematic areas—places where a customer has to “leave a rail platform, go upstairs, tap, come back down” in order to fulfill the law.
Sheriff's deputies wrote more than 69,000 violations last year, the vast majority for fare evasion.

Two Charts That Make The Case For More Infrastructure Spending

 http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/02/01/1530151/infrastructure-spending-charts/?mobile=nc

By Pat Garofalo, February 1, 2013

 The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs last month, which is not enough to quickly bring down the unemployment rate. At the same time, America faces a huge infrastructure gap that is going to cost it 3.5 million jobs over the next decade.

The obvious solution should be more infrastructure spending, especially considering that the U.S. can borrow at historically low rates. This would help address the twin problems of a deteriorating infrastructure and persistently high unemployment. As this chart from BLS shows, U.S. construction jobs are far below where they were a decade ago:

 
As Calculated Risk noted, public construction spending “is now 17% below the peak in March 2009 and at the lowest level since 2006.” This chart shows the year over year change in construction spending since 1994 (the yellow-ish line is public spending):
Study after study has shown that infrastructure spending has a huge return in terms of jobs and economic growth. According to Smart Growth America “every $1 billion in additional funds committed to highway projects between 2009 and 2010 produced 2.4 million job-hours.” As Kristina Costa and Adam Hersh noted, “the return on investment on transit projects was even higher, with 4.2 million job-hours produced by every $1 billion in investment.” Meanwhile, the San Francisco Federal Reserve found that “each dollar invested into infrastructure boosts state economies by at least two dollars.”

America's highway bill coming due

Experts agree that many states spent too much on building highways and too little on fixing them.

 http://www.pressherald.com/news/nationworld/americas-highway-bill-coming-due_2013-02-03.html



 Special-interest push for South Carolina interstate hits roadblock
 The U.S. highway system is crumbling physically and financially due to a politically driven road-building binge.
 

WASHINGTON - Oil-rich Texas has built more highways and bridges than any other state, but over the next two decades it will fall $170 billion short of what it needs to keep the sprawling network in good repair.


In California, transportation officials estimate that 60 percent of the state's roads and a quarter of its bridges need to be repaired or replaced, at a projected cost of $70 billion over a decade, some $52 billion more than the available funds.

North Carolina anticipates that it will fall short of keeping its highways in current condition by $22 billion over the next 30 years, and would need more than twice that amount to improve them.

America's highway system, once a symbol of freedom and mobility envied the world over, is crumbling physically and financially, the potentially disastrous consequence of a politically driven road-building binge.

President Obama, state transportation officials, civil engineers, road builders and business groups all say that the country needs to invest trillions of dollars in its infrastructure, yet there's little consensus on how to finance it or what the most pressing needs are.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the country needs $14 billion in additional federal funds each year just to maintain highways and $50 billion more to improve them.

There's no single cause of the financial squeeze, and federal data reveal only part of it. Some states have raised their own gasoline taxes to pay for highway construction and maintenance and to depend less on federal funding. Others haven't changed their gas taxes in years and rely on federal money to make up for it.

But federal government analysts, taxpayer advocates and transportation experts have warned for at least a decade that many states were spending too much on building highways and too little on fixing them, and that their maintenance costs would skyrocket if they didn't change course.

"We've engaged in a dangerous game of deferred maintenance," said Brian Taylor, a professor of urban planning and the director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Five years after an interstate highway bridge collapsed in Minnesota, killing 13 people and injuring 145, the country still has a bridge repair backlog of $65 billion, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

At a time when Congress is proposing significant budget cuts and tax increases have little support, states are canceling or scaling back highway projects. They're looking for private partners to help finance construction, and still coming up short. Motorists are discovering that the roads they thought were free are anything but.

Over the past four months, McClatchy Newspapers traced the extent and causes of yet another financial crisis that's developed below the radar of most Americans.

A review of government reports, an analysis of thousands of state and federal campaign donations, and interviews with dozens of current and former elected officials, watchdogs and transportation officials showed that there were a lot of hands on the wheel as the system veered off course.
For example:

The oldest parts of the interstate highway system have reached the end of their life cycle, including thousands of bridges dating to the 1960s, a potential threat to public safety and commerce demonstrated by the Minnesota bridge collapse.

The federal gasoline tax no longer covers the country's annual highway spending, but few leaders in Washington are willing to take on the political risk of increasing it, which forces states to borrow more money, raise tolls or ask their residents to approve new taxes.

Despite a ban on members of Congress "earmarking," or skimming money for pet projects back home, lawmakers and the special interests that bankroll their campaigns still exert outsized influence on where federal highway funding goes.

The Department of Transportation long ago ceded control over most highway decision-making to the states without well-defined national transportation goals, leaving a large portion of federal money up for grabs for those with the most clout.

Like the Roman Empire, "civilizations fall because they don't maintain their infrastructure," said David Burwell, the director of the climate and energy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

"Everybody likes to build things, but nobody likes to maintain them," he said. "We paid for them once. Why should we pay for them again?"

When Al Biehler became Pennsylvania's transportation secretary a decade ago, he found that the state had been spending more on expanding its highway system than it had on keeping it in good repair.

"If you don't put money into fixing things," Biehler said, "there will be more things to fix."

So he did the unthinkable: He put the brakes on some projects, risking the wrath of highway contractors and the state lawmakers who supported them.

"Projects that we knocked off the program, some of them weren't terrible projects," he said. "I just felt we couldn't afford them."

According to the National Center for Pavement Preservation, a research lab for road-building materials at the Michigan State University engineering school, every dollar spent to maintain a road in the first 15 years of its life saves $6 to $14 in maintenance costs after 20 years.

The Federal Highway Administration doesn't require states to put money into repairing roads before building new ones.

Pennsylvania was spending about as much of its federal funding on expansion as it was on maintenance in 2004, according to federal data reviewed by McClatchy. By 2011, the state was spending about four times as much on repairs, and it was still struggling to keep up.

The Pennsylvania State Transportation Advisory Committee reported in 2010 that the state needed an additional $2.1 billion a year to properly maintain its highways and bridges.

"More than half of our bridges have reached their intended life-span date," said Barry LePatner, a New York construction lawyer who's cataloged nearly 8,000 of the nation's most troublesome spans. "Without maintenance money, cost of repair equals cost of replacement after a certain period of time."

Some budget watchdogs were encouraged that the most recent federal transportation bill, MAP-21, which Congress approved last summer, pushes states to develop performance standards for federal highway spending that result in the greatest improvement to roads and bridges.

But it's too soon to know whether the measures will have any impact, and the legislation expires at the end of next year. Meanwhile, states face tough choices. Emil Frankel, who was assistant secretary for transportation policy under President George W. Bush and is a former Connecticut transportation commissioner, said the country needed to establish priorities.

"Thirty years ago, 'like it' might have been good enough," said Frankel, who's now a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research center in Washington. " 'We'll do it because we like it.' We can't afford to do that anymore."

It's been 20 years since Congress raised the gasoline tax. The 18.4-cents-a-gallon tax has lost a third of its buying power to inflation and rising construction costs.

The tax feeds the federal Highway Trust Fund, which long has paid for part of highway building and repairs in all 50 states.

The fund used to carry a surplus, but lawmakers have bailed it out since 2008 by tapping the Treasury for $50 billion.

Editorial: Investing in Infrastructure

 http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=31168&t=Editorial-Investing-in-Infrastructure

February 4, 2013

 While Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) isn’t the only legislator to recognize the problems with the fund, his open mind inspires hope that Congress is finally ready to give a number of ideas a good, hard look.


American Trucking Associations continues to believe that raising the federal fuel tax is still the best and least complicated fix. But it has been hard to get Congress or the White House to even consider it, because of the stigma attached to raising any tax lately.


“Everything needs to be on the table,” Shuster told Transport Topics last week during an interview. He said he “is willing to discuss anything” that can meet the nation’s need for expanding and repairing its transportation infrastructure.

And we’re glad to hear it.

Shuster said he believes it’s imperative that the United States maintain the best transportation network in the world in order to remain competitive in world markets.

He specifically cited China as a country that is investing big-time in its roads, bridges, ports and airports as it moves to expand its exports.

It’s gratifying to hear from the new chairman that he not only recognizes the importance of infrastructure investment but also that he’s willing to make the hard choices necessary to find the money needed to make it happen.

And his approach to invite all interested parties to the table to champion their suggestions might just be what we need to get sufficient momentum to push a major infrastructure plan through Congress.


Shuster said he’s hoping to make his efforts bipartisan. Coupled with some statements from the White House about the need to strengthen our infrastructure, perhaps the day is coming when the national leadership can get a consensus so that we can move forward.

A recent study from the American Society of Civil Engineers stated that a $157 billion U.S. investment in infrastructure over the next eight years would yield $3.1 trillion in gross domestic product and $1.1 trillion in foreign trade and would create 3.5 million jobs.

That study helps quantify the importance of maintaining and expanding our transportation network.

Rep. Shuster, we’ve got our fingers crossed that your efforts are successful.

 

The PUSD Circus: The More Likely Reasons Why Measure TT Funds Vanished

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/
 February 4, 2013 





 I'm gearing up for tomorrow night's 6:30 PM "Special Joint Meeting - Sierra Madre City Council - Pasadena Unified School District" down at City Hall, which will take place in the nearly haunted environs of the Council Chambers (click here). Or, as it says on the portal page of the City of Sierra Madre website where they list such events, "Council Meeting Joint with PUSD." Which I guess is their advice about what you will need to attend this thing. Where would I be without these guys? I'd probably have to get a dog or something.

There are, as I know you're aware, many things that need to be discussed. And, with the exception of two City Councilmembers, most everyone up at the dais will be doing all they can to make sure these items are not discussed in too much depth. After all, the folks running the PUSD are not all that big on resident awareness, it is not how they do business. How else can you explain their need to steal our 2013 Board of Ed vote, or the endless and poorly explained delays in building the Middle School? In the minds of these folks your ignorance is their bliss. They are, to mix metaphors, the $350 million dollar bond issue elephant in the room that wants to fly under the radar. Trust me, the last person in the world they want to hear from is you.

The missing Measure TT money is definitely on the PUSD's "no fly" list for tomorrow evening. This matter is, as you know, currently "under investigation." A convenient process that permits the relevant shenaniganeers to piously proclaim that the matter cannot be discussed at this time because it is, of course, under investigation. Which means they won't talk about it.

We have seen this kind of investigation/cover-up operation put into action here in Sierra Madre with the Bob Matheson child porn case, the EVG gas station skimming scandal and, of course, Johnny Harabedian's police in uniform campaign postcard. Trust me, none of these matters will ever see the light of day. Investigations of this type being the metaphorical cave where transparency crawls off to die a very grim and lonely death.

Last December 8 I wrote something about Larry Wilson's memories of a previous scandal involving another looted PUSD bond issue, Measure Y. Larry's column was called "Going to school on construction bond rip-offs" (click here). Reposted today in a tasteful light blue, this is how it went:

In a strong column published in today's Pasadena Star News, Larry Wilson reminds us about the last time bond money was going out the backdoor at the Pasadena Unified School District. The bond measure back then was Measure Y, and yes, a significant amount of it got stolen. Apparently just like Measure TT bond moneys have been stolen now. Here is what Larry has to say:

As we reported in 2008: "Pasadena police Friday blamed shoddy bookkeeping and lack of oversight by the school district in administering the projects funded by Measure Y ... `Nobody was checking, nothing was being done,' Pasadena police detective Lt. John Dewar said. "There was no paper trail verifying work was being done. ... From the beginning of the investigation, police `found some serious issues with lack of control and oversight,' Dewar added. `There was no audit to check what was done,' he said. `The thieves got in and took the money."'


Even one of the suspects in the alleged failure to perform work at Washington said the accounting and the entire project was chaos: "Peterson said Wednesday he was the `13th project manager. Everybody else either went nuts or walked off the project,' which he described as `pandemonium."'


Things got so bad back then that the District Attorney refused to prosecute the culprits who took off with all of that Measure Y bond money. Why? Because the PUSD didn't have the paper work necessary to prove that they had actually cut any checks to these guys.


Who knows? Maybe it is deja vu all over again. But then there is also this. If you are taxed without having any representation, does it still matter if later on the money gets stolen?


Whenever I feel the need to get a handle on things I cannot figure out on my own (which is more often than you might think), I go to my file of Wise Friends for a tutorial on the matter at hand. There are quite a few folks in this file, and they talk to me mostly because they trust me to leave their names out of it. There are good reasons for that. People do have to work, right?

And there is one person in particular who is extremely well connected with the stuff we are discussing today. Nobody who will talk to me has her depth of knowledge on the topic. She is also very patient and generous, two qualities that are important when working with The Tattler. However, since this wise friend makes a living in the relevant fields, her identity here must remain strictly QT. Don't even ask. Here is how our e-mail exchange went:

Wise Friend: I had a front row seat to that thing, having worked for one of the (xxxxxxxxx) and knew the Citizen Oversight Committee people very well. The OC for Measure Y tried to hold the Board accountable for their inability to manage the contract of the big state CM that ran the operation into the ground (Vanir), but were not able to do much about it. The oversight committee for TT is just a bunch of foxes in the hen house, the bad players left over from Y.

The Mod: Can you say who the bad players are? Maybe we can create a PUSD Rogue's Gallery.

Wise Friend: First off the bat, it's more the system that's run from Sacramento through some big school Construction CM firms and State agencies that's the corruption network that Larry Wilson is talking about. The guys who are "in the business" will lobby for specific subcontracts and work behind closed doors in lining up the subcontractors, because they're embedded in labor relations. That's what that whole business is about. They'll be able to sway enough folks on the committee to go their way 80% of the time, which is all it takes.

People don't understand this business, and the contractors always play it this way. None of those guys works that hard for free. They all "owe" to the folks in Sacramento that run the game. You can't really beat the Sacramento School Industrial Complex, it's all wired together with labor contracts up and down the state and various school CM firms that are embedded in CASH.

http://www.cashnet.org/leadership/index.html

Note the connection to the State Allocation Board (Bond money)
http://www.cashnet.org/news/index.esiml

Talk about war games. Bond underwriters, lawyers, financing companies, laws out of Sacramento that forbid USD's from hiring their own contractors for construction if Bond monies are used, via DSA, which qualifies every inspector assigned to each school project (required). This is the agency that does architecture plan reviews and enforces supply chain specifications for all products used in the schools, which was the part I've had to deal with. Lots of political games around campus design and funding at the start. They're the ADA enforcement as well.

http://www.dgs.ca.gov/Default.aspx?alias=www.dgs.ca.gov/dsa

Started out as the Field Act and evolved from there
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Act

It's just MASSIVE statewide, bigger than the regionals like SCAG and SGVCOG

Harry Hallenbeck, former CA State Architect, VP Vanir CM -  coordinates with Charles Bryant

Donalee Hallenbeck, his wife, at  Lionakis Beaumont Design Group in Sacramento who is on many of the committees that develop School Bond initiatives that direct funding to the contractors. Both of them big players in CASH, which is the entity responsible for creating the "portables" program and funding that screwed up the schools for decades, but made plenty of money for the portable facility sector.

You'll find similar structures behind all of the four below, which will never be disclosed, but is an embedded statewide labor network of school contractor connections.

So now they're on the committee that's supposed to watch for this stuff. They'll just bury it and get the "right" contracts approved. Game's over. The reason the Measure TT passed is because of the Hallenbecks right behind Fatheree, writing it up and getting it passed by the voters. Very tight club. Repeat for every school district in the State ...

Here's the TT Bond website
http://measurett.org/

Pasadena Weekly Endorsement of the measure
http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/measuring_up/6540/

And so now this entire "octopus" wants to get into housing on school sites? I'm sure the game is all rigged by now. They write the rules.

Here is the original list of people appointed from among 50 applicants for the Measure TT School Bond Oversight Committee.

Arthur Aviles.  A disaster assistance specialist for Los Angeles County; general contractor
Gregory Barna.  Assistant Picture Editor, CBS/Paramount
Joanna Bauer.  Adjunct Faculty, Kaplan University
Charles Bryant.  Architect; Contractor with school expertise
Carolyn Carlburg.  Chief Executive Officer of the AIDS Research Alliance of America; Attorney
Michael D'Antuono.  Vice President, Capital Improvement Programs, National Construction Alliance, labor relations expert
Carolyn Ellner.  Dean Emeritus, California State University, Northridge; Chair, League of Women Voters
George Fatheree.  Real Estate Attorney, former Chief Operating Officer, California Charter Schools Association
Jonathan Fuhrman.  Retired business manager.
Kenneth Hargreaves Jr.  Senior Director, Design and Construction, California Institute of Technology
Paul Hunt. Manager, Regulatory Finance and Economics, Southern California Edison
Lee Johnson. Research Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
James Kossler. Former President, Pasadena City College
Joel Sheldon. Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, A.C. Vroman Inc.

New appointees are here. Don't know any of them except Ed Barnum, who is an advocate for the community and was on the Measure Y Oversight Committee and an original white hat who knows where ALL the bodies are buried.
http://measurett.org/boc/

All stuff I doubt you will hear any Board of Education members bringing up tomorrow night from the dais. Including revelations about building low income housing on PUSD school sites, which is their next act of insanity. Something that, in my humble opinion, is probably a contributing factor in the endless delays at the Middle School. They just aren't ready to roll that particular product out for us yet.

What you will hear, for the most part, will be dumbed down and bromidic nonsense made up for parents, resident taxpayers and other people they have little respect or liking for. A list that includes most everyone.

Nor do I expect the Mayor or the Mayor Pro Tem to weigh in on much of this, either. But that is most likely because they just don't know very much. They're just on hand to make affirmative noises on the relevant issues because that is what they've been told to do. Oh, and go to any related buffets.

Why Do Local Governments Keep Swiping Your Money?

Today's Wise Friend included a link to an article with her e-mails from Rick Cole. Rick is a former Mayor of Pasadena, and now more profitably serves the people as the City Manager of Ventura. Here is a bit of what Rick has to say (click here):

There is no end to these scandals, but for some reason no one makes the connection between ongoing abuses and shelves of thick reports done over the years pointing out the fiscal lunacy of having 6,500 units of “local” government in California.

No, that’s not a typo. California has 58 counties, 482 cities, 72 community college districts, 1,131 school districts, and a whopping 4,779 “special districts.” The latter provide a bewildering array of specialized services–from treating sewage to operating libraries, running airports, and spraying for mosquitoes.

I’m not sure whether the “Coliseum Commission” is included in this staggering total. Its governing structure is even worse: it’s a hybrid run jointly by the State, County of Los Angeles, and City of Los Angeles. In the task of keeping an 88-year-old stadium solvent without booking concerts that lead to the deaths of 15-year-old girls from drug overdoses, Coliseum overseers have failed spectacularly.

Are you really surprised?

Of course, the Coliseum scandal will continue to spawn headlines, and we’ll exorcise some symbolic demons. New management will “clean up” abuses. The Commission will again fade from public scrutiny. And then something else will happen. When unsupervised civil servants work with showbiz and sports promoters, what else should you expect?

What’s far more disturbing than these infuriating, but essentially petty, thefts is that our 6,500 units of government in California are charged with important public functions. They are as invisible as the water and sewer pipes and gas lines beneath our streets, and no one notices them, including the press, unless they develop into giant sinkholes, erupt in stinking scandal, or blow up in our faces.

More info on this PUSD visit with our City Council tomorrow.