SIGNS OF OUR TIMES: Politics over Principle/Beware the ‘Light’ in Light Rail

The fix is in on the Scottsdale City Council. Subtitled: Money Talks, Principles Walk. Advocates of the homosexual agenda have apparently flipped the upcoming vote of enough council members to pass the radical and unneeded “bathroom bill.” One council member is approaching what could be her third term — along with the accompanying pension, if elected. A leftist council member pushing for the bathroom bill promised her campaign cash if she goes along. Getting re-elected is more important than doing the right thing. The fix is in.

More on Scottsdale’s bathroom bill … Council members received 98 letters about the bathroom bill. They say six letters, in opposition, from the public were “over the top.” And this proves Scottsdale is NOT a welcoming city to homosexuals. Therefore the bathroom bill is needed, say they! Who knew? That Scottsdale, of all places with its vibrant arts community, is “not” a “welcoming” community? One would think homosexual activists would have descended on the city en masse long before it got to the writing of six letters, and — aided by their left-stream media lemmings — would have stampeded the city into a bathroom bill before all this supposed hate had built up. The fix is in.

Who’s to say homosexual advocates didn’t write those letters? Homosexuals have been exposed for numerous fake hate crime allegations across the country. And who’s to say what is and what isn’t “over the top”? Let’s see these letters, council members. Release them to the public. The fix is in.

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Speaking of homosexual advocates. They are shopping for victims up and down Arizona. They are calling churches and Christian schools. “We’re lesbians. Can we enroll our kid in your youth class … in your school?” The hoped-for answer is a no. That would set the grounds for legal complaints of sexual discrimination and put a big chill on the right of Christians to actually act on their convictions. This is part of an organized campaign to create a climate of fear, to push Christian organizations to compromise. Under the threat of the legal hammer. Advocacy groups will come out with a claim that 80 percent of churches and Christian schools are bigoted organizations and strict new laws must be passed on local and state levels to stop this. Tax exemptions must be revoked. Accreditations must be removed.

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Just looking at financials for Valley Metro Rail for the years 2012 and 2013. And talk about UPSIDE DOWN! Hoooly sub-sa-deeeeeeeeees, Batman!

For both years, operating revenues were: $31 million. Operating expenses were … brace yourself: $76 million, for both years. OUCH!!! CRUNCH!!! What a hit!

And out of the $31 million in revenue, just $12.7 million came from fares in 2013 and $11.9 million from fares in 2012.

The bulk of the revenue came from member city contributions and grants. Nothing like burdening the backs of taxpayers with a losing proposition.

But wait a minute. City contributions and grant money comes from somewhere. It comes from you. It is taken out of the hands of taxpayers. To call this “income” is misleading. Member city contributions and grants should actually be posted to the expense side of the ledger.

More accurately, Valley Metro Rail should report revenue of $12.7 million in 2013 and $11.9 million in 2012 … AND … $94 million in expenses for 2013 and $95 million in expenses in 2012. That’s the truth of the matter from YOUR perspective.

In an average week in 2013, light rail moved 101,000 people. At a cost of $1.46 million. With fare revenue of $236,000. That’s an unacceptable “return on investment” of 1:6. $1 taken in for every $6 spent. And that’s on you; you are footing the bill.

This is just what the skeptics warned us about a decade ago: that light rail would not be a wise financial investment. It’s subsidies on steroids. The “light” in light rail stands for precious little to show for a huge price tag strapped around the taxpayers’ necks.

Voters: next time, wise up! Don’t be taken in by promises of blue skies.

Senate Bill would Block Sanctuary Cities Laws

The Center for Immigration Studies has published an analysis of Senate Bill 2146, the “Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect American Act” introduced by Senator David Vitter. This sanctuary legislation is designed to block state or local governments from enacting or continuing sanctuary laws or policies that protect aliens from the reach of federal immigration authorities, most especially with regard to aliens arrested and convicted for criminal offenses.

Recent data reveals an estimated 1,000 criminal aliens a month are being released due to sanctuary policies, making congressional action imperative. The bill seeks to incentivize state and local governments to cooperate with federal authorities by continuing existing grants to those which exchange information and comply with detainers; cutting federal funding to sanctuary governments which refuse to cooperate, that is then distributed to jurisdictions that do cooperate; and by providing immunity to officers when engaging in cooperative efforts, including complying with detainers or providing information.

View the entire report here.

“The Obama Administration refuses to deal with the sanctuary problem, which has led to crimes such as the murder of Kate Steinle by a five-times-deported illegal-alien felon,” said Dan Cadman, a Center fellow and author of the report. “This bill addresses the sanctuary policies which result in thousands of criminal aliens being released into our communities to reoffend. Unfortunately, it is not as comprehensive as the Davis-Oliver Act, which would deal with the sanctuary policies and the administration’s deliberate suppression of enforcement.”

Lite Rail a Trainwreck, Derails Rationale for Prop 104

The contention that light rail is a good investment because “it serves nearly as many people as SR 51” is a ludicrous distortion of reality.

Even if we allow for the absurd comparison of the ridership for the ENTIRE light rail system to be compared with this single freeway we can observe that SR 51 carries over 150,000 vehicles per day at its busiest point near the junction with I-10 to over 80,000 at its least busy point near the outer loop. This is 100 percent more than the  touted 43,000 riders per day for all light rail routes combined.

Light rail is, and forever will be, a tiny contributor to the region’s mobility. Its less than 100 million passenger miles per year pales in comparison to the Phoenix freeways’ 11 billion vehicle miles of travel and the street system’s 30 billion vehicle miles of travel. Yet, Prop 104’s allocation of funds plans to spend only 7 percent of the revenues on roads–3 percent to add lanes and 4 percent to remove lanes to make way for bike paths, pedestrians, and light rail trains.

In contrast, Prop 104 plans to spend 40 percent of the revenues on a light rail system that will accommodate only three-tenths of one-percent of travel. This is an unbalanced allocation that compels the 99 percent who drive to heavily subsidize the less than 1 percent who use rail transit. Lest we think that these subsidies to light rail are aimed at helping the poor, Valley Metro boasts that rail is attracting more higher income riders.

Here’s the deal: if Prop 104 passes or if it voted down–either way–99 percent of travel in the city will continue to take place in automobiles. Light rail will play an insignificant role in how people move about the community. Is this insignificant impact worth taking on all the burdens of deficits, debt, and higher taxes that Prop 104 will impose?

John Semmens, retired transportation economist
Chandler

Taxpayer Watchdog Group: YES on Phoenix Proposition 487

By Tom Jenney, President
Americans for Prosperity, Arizona Chapter

YES on City of Phoenix Proposition 487 –– Prop 487 would solve the City’s nearly $1.5 billion unfunded pension liability problem by moving new employees to a plan similar to the 401k plans that are common in the private sector.   Prop 487 would fix the City’s scandalous $190 million pension spiking problem by limiting the excess pension benefits given to current employees.