Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday Must Read: Obama’s Poll Numbers Soar; CSU May Become Unaffordable

Robert Gammon —  Wed, May 11, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. That Osama bin Laden/long-form birth certificate thing is workin’ for President Obama. According to the latest Associated Press poll, his job approval rating has soared to 60 percent, up from 43 percent in a Gallup poll in late April. It’s also been a very bad past few weeks for onetime Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. Since Obama released his long-form birth certificate, and then pawned Trump at the White House correspondent’s dinner, the reality TV star’s poll numbers have nosedived. Mr. Comb-Over went from first place to fifth and now is only favored by 8 percent of Republicans — tied with libertarian wing-nut Ron Paul.

2. California State University, once a place where middle- and low-income students could go for a decent education, is rapidly turning into just another college system for the well-to-do. According to the Chron, CSU is looking at raising fees by another 32 percent thanks to Republicans’ refusal to put tax measures on the ballot. Tuition could jump to $6,450 next spring.

3. Governor Jerry Brown is finally getting the message about that ill-advised plan for a peripheral canal around the Delta. The SacBee reports that the administration has basically abandoned a proposal to build two giant tunnels around the Delta in order to send more freshwater south for desert farming and SoCal swimming pools. The Big Dig ould have cost at least $13 billion.

4. We don’t like saying “I told you so,” (okay, yes we do), but that super-expensive toll lane on I-680 in Sunol has turned out to be a boondoggle. The Trib reports that commute times in the area have actually increased slightly since the $37.6 million project was completed. That’s precisely what we reported would happen two years ago. Now, let’s hope that regional transportation planners get smart and kill their ridiculous plan to turn all Bay Area carpool lanes into toll lanes.

5. Speaking of boondoggles, it looks like we’re stuck with the $500 million Oakland airport connector, a train that is supposed to whisk passengers from BART to the airport at a staggering 25 mph. The Chron reports that it would be just too expensive to kill the project now. That’s the problem with boondoggles, once you start to build them, it becomes too costly to stop.

6. Is California’s high-speed rail proposal a boondoggle, too? Republicans certainly think so, and the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office now has some serious doubts about the project as well, the Chron reports. We’re not sure yet, but the LAO makes a good point when it argues that the first part of the train shouldn’t be in the Central Valley where no one will use it. It makes far more sense to build a section that people will actually ride on.

7. We know that electric and plug-in-hybrid vehicles are good for the environment, but turns out they're good for taxpayers, too. The American Lung Association estimates that Californians would save $6 billion a year in fuel and health costs if the state requires more green vehicles by 2017, the Fresno Bee reports. Oh yeah, cleaner burning cars will save lives, too — about four hundred a year, the association estimates.

8. And maybe BART should hold off on buying those new train cars with clean seats until this Oscar Grant lawsuit plays out. The Trib reports that a federal judge yesterday green-lighted the case to trial where a jury will decide exactly how much the transit agency will have to pay Grant’s family for having their loved one shot in the back while lying face down.

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