“Blacks cannot afford to be left standing at the station”
The price tag of building the high speed rail system in California has already gone up in cost from $39 billion to $98 billion and not one shovel has been put into the ground nor engine built to move the train. There is no doubt that in order to build such a system the taxpayers will have to foot the bill with private corporate partnerships and labor unions touting it will create jobs. There is also no doubt that it will put a jolt into the economy and provide another option of travel from southern to northern California with stops in between when completed. This is a mass undertaking that is going to take every ones cooperation and involvement if it is to go without a glitch or protest.
Now that we know who will pay, the next question is who will build the train and where? According to several reports, the Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese are the only ones sitting at the table ready to bid on the contracts to build the engines and everything related to the coaches that will carry the passengers. It will be a boom for them because the jobs will not be in America and they have experience by having a High Speed Rail System.
This problem is one that must be discussed before it becomes a major problem with the taxpayers who will shell out the money. It will become a major issue in the African American community where the unemployment rate is the highest and they receive the fewest business procurement opportunities.
Now the California Alliance for Jobs is one organization hoping this project success has as its Mission “to improve the livelihood of the men and women of California” and is made up of the following groups; Associated General Contractors of California, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 3, Engineering & Utility Contractors Association, Northern California District Council of Labors, Association of Engineers and Northern California Carpenters Regional Council.
In a news release of November 1, 2011, others that are supporting this are Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Jim Earp, Executive Director California for Jobs, Maureen Hays, Chair of High Speed Rail Task Force, Jim Wunderman CEO of Bay Area Council, Al Smith, Fresno Chamber of Commerce and Julian Canete, CEO of California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
So now we know who will pay and who will build or hope to build, and who is being ignored or left out of the process to gain any financial return on their investment of taxpayer’s dollars -- the African American community. All of the previous mentioned organizations and elected leaders are friends of the Black community but in their haste to get this project off the ground, have ignored to include any Black elected officials or organizations around the table for inclusion before policies are made and established. I know it is an oversight that I am happy to point out so it can be corrected. I suggest they consider contacting the president of the African American Elected Officials, Mayor John P. Shoals of the League of California Cities African American Caucus.
Many years ago, America imported people form China to help build the railroad tracks and now China is in a position to contract with America to build the trains that will roll over those tracks. That is the possibility when we do business with other countries. If the American government would contract with many Black American firms like they do with other countries, it would change the economic dynamic in the Black community towards a positive direction.
Now when it comes to riders, they have not finished all of the studies to determine that portion of the analysis. I am sure if they do not have enough riders they will then offer the poor and seniors government subsidized discounts to help keep it afloat.
One of the downfalls of the project might be if the trains are built in another country, it will prevent the continuation of follow up business when it comes to repairs and replacement of trains.
While the Black community should support this project, they should fight to have a seat at the table to project some financial benefits to correct the many problems that plague our community.
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