March 12, 2005

Gov. Moonbeam Sticks His Nose Out of the Teapot

There's been some discussion in our local rag, the Orange County Register, about the need to build more highways, as opposed, say, to light rail, which the libertarian Register despises. Who should emerge after a column criticized him but Governor Moonbeam itself, Jerry Brown, now improbably Mayor of Oakland. Moonbeam improbably claims to have been a master builder:

Assemblyman Ray Haynes' column, "Governor gridlock" [California Focus, Opinion, Feb. 16], claims that California came to a "grinding halt" and "stopped improving its existing freeway system" during the eight years I was governor. Nothing could be further from the truth.

During that remarkable period in California history - 1975 through 1982 - our state, with only 10 percent of America's population, produced one out of every four jobs in the nation and 102 miles of new freeway. That's nearly three times the amount of freeway miles added during the combined gubernatorial tenures of George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson.

Haynes also ignores the fact that as the number of freeway miles increases, so does the cost of maintenance. During my administration, we made sure that sufficient sums were spent to keep our roads in top shape. The big problem then was that gas tax revenues became totally insufficient to fund all the projects people wanted. What was true then is even truer today.

Haynes is fooling himself and his constituents if he thinks our roads can be maintained and freeways expanded without raising the gas tax. If he can convince businessmen to build - at their expense - new toll roads, let's hear the proposal. And, while he is at it, please check in with the voters to find out how much they are willing to pay - either in taxes or tolls or both.

As for planning nightmares, let the Terminator in Sacramento break those boxes and get things moving. What Southern California needs is not cheesy political rhetoric but courage and wise action on the part of the governor and the Legislature.

The man who gave us the late unlamented Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird was in fact a complete bust as governor.

On the transportation front, how well I remember agonizing and interminable trips on the choked Santa Monica Freeway, out of which Gov. Moonbeam and his horrid highway chief, Adriana Gianturco, carved a "diamond lane" a.k.a. "HOV" or "High Occupancy Vehicle" lane. This lamebrained exercise clogged the freeway for months, all day and all night, until the public outcry finally forced a change.

This lamebrained scheme emerged full-grown out of the New Age ideology espoused by Gov. Brown and his acolytes. Force asceticism on the people. Solve perceived problems by punishing the hard-working and the law-abiding. Have it in for the passenger car and the lone driver? Make driving impossible! Concerned about gun crime? Forbid the law-abiding to defend themselves!

These were the apostles of slow growth and no growth, of "small is beautiful" and a swarm of other crackpot nostrums. It was in this era that the sad decline of our public life began in earnest.

Jerry Brown was a moonbat then, and he's a moonbat now, notwithstanding his attempts to rewrite history.

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