I question the timing of the “Fresno Works – as a site for rail facility” op-ed in the “Other Opinions” section of today’s Fresno Bee. Not only do I question why now, but why this venue?
Bids to acquire the maintenance hub were due to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Jan. 15th. It’s now Jan. 22nd. There is nothing more that can be done except to wait and hope that the Authority chooses Fresno County to be the site of the Central San Joaquin Valley based high-speed rail heavy maintenance yard. So I question the timing of this commentary. Not only this, but was this editorial intended for the Authority board to try to convince it that Fresno should be and is the preferred site, hands down? Or is the purpose of this opinion piece to try to convince the electorate that it is okay to use some of the monies from Fresno’s half-cent transportation sales tax measure – the Measure C extension, approved by voters in 2006 – to help fund the project, should this rail hub be built here? Or, is it a case of both of the above?
That Fresno County has created a campaign such as “Fresno Works” to, presumably, get voters excited and to try to get them behind the effort to bring to Fresno the facility, I would expect nothing less. Here, in today’s opinion piece, is some of what County supervisors Henry Perea and Susan Anderson wrote.
“Thanks to an unprecedented collaborative effort between county and city government, education, business and labor – an effort we’ve named Fresno Works – the California High Speed Rail Authority has in its hands a compelling document that details why this community is the best possible location for its heavy maintenance facility.”
That all such interested stakeholders have gone to such lengths to try to lure this endeavor here and to create such a high-profile campaign to achieve this end, all concerned are to be lauded and, here again, I would expect nothing less.
Moreover, “Fresno Works proposes a public process to consider the use of up to $25 million for the Authority to apply toward site acquisition, infrastructure, utilities and/or construction. If supported through the public process, this money could come from Measure C, the County’s self-help transportation sales tax.”
But this should not be the “end-all, be-all.”
Identifying sources for such funding other than Measure C sources should go without saying. But if it comes down to Measure C being the only available source from which to tap needed and necessary monies, then to keep the process a legitimate and transparent one, the bottom line here is that the public must be involved and have its say in the decision-making process because, after all, it was the public that approved the 2006 extension of Measure C in the first place. And, once again,…I would expect nothing less.
Perea and Anderson argue: “The beauty of using Measure C dollars is that the facility will create thousands of jobs for Fresno County residents, who in turn will spend locally and, thus, increase revenue for Measure C. It’s a win-win situation for all involved. Fresno Works.” If this is true and Fresno County is picked to be the recipient of the high-speed rail service hub, then if investors don’t start lining up by the score to get on board this opportunity, as it were, I would be absolutely baffled and shocked.
Let’s just hope there is this same kind of enthusiasm from investors when the time comes to step up to the plate and put up the dollars for the high-speed rail maintenance hub regardless of whether Fresno County reigns victorious in winning out over the other counties in contention for this very facility. And, if I didn’t already make myself clear, one more time,…
I would expect nothing less.