Monday, August 21, 2006

Pombo Transforms Himself Into Mr. Transportation

Richard Pombo spent last week focused on his new passion: the traffic woes of his district. Now that he’s in a remarkably tight race to hold onto his House seat, suddenly he’s “Mr. Transportation.” You may recall that last month I wrote about Richard Pombo’s lack of interest in working to provide solutions to the nightmares faced by commuters living in CA-11.
The Pleasanton Weekly had this to say:
"Transportation is the No. 1 issue wherever he goes in his extensive district," said Nicole Taylor Philbin, Pombo's press secretary.
So what is Richard Pombo doing about it?
Pombo is currently on leave from the Transportation Committee, Philbin said, while serving as the chairman of the House Resources Committee […]

Philbin said a priority for Pombo as chairman of the Resources Committee is to protect property owners by revamping the Endangered Species Act.
So Pombo, who is actually a member of the powerful House Transportation Committee and thus uniquely positioned to bring vital federal transportation dollars to his district, has taken a leave of absence so that he can focus all his energies on his work at the House Resources Committee. Of course, the fact that he just happens to be raking in ungodly amounts of money from mining, timber and big oil for his campaign is just a side benefit to his passion for eviscerating environmental laws.
But now that it's August and he realizes that only 35% of the voters in his district have indicated they would be willing to vote for him in November, he’s decided that it might be a good idea to pretend to be interested in their problems for the next 78 days. So meet the new Richard Pombo:
Incidentally, Pombo’s pollsters clearly have gotten through to him about issues his constituents care about with the November election looming. We quoted him as saying it’s [transportation] the top issue.

The U.S. mail last week delivered an official mailing from his congressional office that was all about transportation and funding. His pet project, doing necessary reforms to the Endangered Species Act, wasn’t mentioned.
Speaking of that mailer, the folks over at Nobody Could Have Predicted provided this copy of the flyer:

Funny, isn’t it, how much it resembles a piece of campaign literature. Of course, Richard Pombo has never been bashful about abusing his franking privileges and letting the taxpayers pick up the tab for overtly political mailings. But I digress.

On the heels of this mass mailing, Pombo scheduled a dog-and-pony show last Thursday where he brought out the Acting Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino to meet with local officials and witness first-hand the gridlocked traffic on I-580/I-205 (now, according to the SF Chron, the second and third worst commutes in the Bay Area). But the local reporters weren’t as impressed as Pombo might have hoped with his recent conversion to traffic detail. Lisa Vorderbrueggen had this to say:
GOP Rep. Richard Pombo's tour Thursday with Acting U.S. Transportation Secretary Maria Cino and regional transportation leaders carried the distinct scent of politics.

Pombo, who faces Democrat Jerry McNerney in November, touted a four-point I-580 congestion relief platform that not only calls for new highways but offers strategies not often associated with Republicans: Higher investment in mass transit and carpool lanes.

"I was pretty shocked to hear him say it out loud," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, also a Republican. "He even said the word 'taxes,' when he talked about how the counties are taxing themselves for transportation projects."

McNerney, a Pleasanton energy engineer, offered a more pointed observation.

"If I was in Pombo's shoes, I would try to make myself look like transportation is my priority, too," he said. "But he's been in office for almost 14 years, and we haven't seen much from him."
Well, isn’t that the truth. Pombo’s mailer touted his accomplishments — the fact that he brought $75 million in federal transportation earmarks to the district in the 2005 Transportation Bill. However, nearly 1/3 of that $75 million went to fund the now infamous studies for building “Pombo’s Folly,” two brand-new freeways that would cost billions to build and, just coincidentally, would turn Pombo family agricultural land into prime commercial real estate.

Whenever you hear a claim like that — “I brought $75 million in transportation funding to the district” — don’t you kind of wonder what the REAL story is? In the case of the 2005 Transportation Bill, the Associated Press broke down the data, rating each California county by the number of federal dollars it actually received and then extrapolating a per capita spending rate and ranking the counties in order. Number one was Kern County, with $727 million; number two was San Francisco, with $314 million. San Joaquin County was a lowly 32nd out of 58 counties; Alameda was 33rd. Considering that they are represented by one of the most powerful men in Congress, one who, if he cared enough to show up, sits on the House Transportation Committee, that is a pretty poor showing. That’s why it’s simultaneously shocking and sad that Richard Pombo is out there desperately running as “Mr. Transportation.”


Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

The 205 Freeway was built around 1965, Tracy only had 6,000 people.Lathrop only had 3,900 Manteca had about 23,000 livermore had 25,000 and most worked at the Rad Lab. There was no Wesson Ranch, there was moutain house. Dublin had 12,000 Pleasanton had 21,000 San Ramon had 15,000. Danville 13,000 Those totals then were 118,000 in 1965. Today those cities total 524,000, not including the traffic that travel from outside the area to commute to work. These figures are without Stockton, Lodi,and a few small towns like Morgan Hill, Escalon , Ripon. Nothing has been done on the 205 in over 40 years, Pombo has been in office close to 14 years and he has done nothing. Now he wants to invent himself as a leader of progress, balonga? It's a gimmick to get re-elected. I really hope the people in those areas understand what is happening. Those affordable homes that Pombo and his crew from the Tracy City Council, help develope are sinking in value, because there is no jobs and the freeways are tied up. People can't get on the freeway to visit their families just in a 26 mile ride to Dublin. On any day from any time it's almost 1.5 hours to travel that distance, and you are taking your life in your hands. What is are leader doing now besides helping the developers and the oil companies raising the price of fuel, Homes and goods and services.
Vote this Pombo out.
Vote Mc Nerney for a change.

Tom Benigno

7:40 AM, August 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, can you guys post how much the other congressional reps. from the bay area brought home for transp. projects?

2:27 PM, August 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Expanding freeways and highways is one of the biggest wastes of money around. Mostly what it does is make the construction industry happy and increase driving and pollution and sprawl and crashes a lot. One of the few smart ways to address congestion is to charge people to drive in congested locations. It works, it costs very little money, it does no environmental harm!

2:28 PM, August 21, 2006  
Anonymous JohnMac said...

I think the point is that Pombo has done nothing, nil, nada, zip about the tranportation congestion. And now, when his a$$ is on the line, he starts to propose new highways, as if this is and has been a serious priority for him. Not only is this duplitious of itself, it feeds into his policies of using more and more energy, so he can make a stronger case for drilling ANWR and the coastal areas. Or more 100s of miles of Artic pipeline. A twofer. He's Pulling a Pombo.

Your idea of conservation is, of course, a good one - but not one that Pombo would have any use for. Maybe the McNerney campaign will pick it up, but they already have so much to beat up on Pombo for that the plate is pretty full already.

6:10 PM, August 21, 2006  
Anonymous Clean Air said...

Come on folks, wise up! Pombo's just pimping for the road builders and the real estate speculators. We do not need more roads...we need fewer people. Even if we all drove electric cars we'd have to generate the electricity and that would pollute our Earth Mother. Scratching more scars across her face in the name of "progress" is a fool's game. The only way to get people to get out of their cars and onto the bus is huge traffic jams. The gridlock is thus the solution to our problems. When people get fed up enough, they'll just demand better bus service. The commute will also stop people from moving over here and destroying our environment. I expect "more roads" crap from Pombo, but I sure don't understand why so many are criticizing him for doing ENOUGH. In my book, he's done plenty of damage already. Rock on.

7:35 PM, August 21, 2006  
Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

Hey yo-anonymous: If freeways are a waste of money then build a ramp to board the commute on the battle ship Iowa. Leaving from Stockton to the bay area daily, Captain Pombo on deck, free rides for his staff members. Ding, Fogliani,and the rest of the gang. Free burritos supplied by Alex Spano's. If we the people are to spend $4.00 per gallon of gas we had better have something like an auto bond to get to and from. Other wise lower the gas to 19 cents per gallon for wasting our presious time.

No one is paying attention.

Tommy Bananas

7:43 PM, August 21, 2006  

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