Galgiani, Cogdill on same track with high-speed rail initiative

08/10/2008 3:03 AM

08/10/2008 3:07 AM

Budget bickering notwithstanding, sometimes Democrats and Republicans have nice things to say about one another.

Sen. Dave Cogdill of Modesto, the most stalwart of Republicans and the minority leader of the Senate, was positively pleasant about Cathleen Galgiani, the Assembly Democrat from Atwater. Their districts overlap, and so do many of their concerns.

Galgiani has taken a leadership role in trying to bring high-speed rail to California. She put together a legislative package to make crucial changes in the high-speed rail initiative that will go before voters in November. With those changes, the initiative has a chance; without them, it makes no sense. Her bill passed the Senate 27-17 and now goes back to the Assembly for what should be a formality.

"I want to commend ... Sen. Roy Ashburn and Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani for their efforts to amend and improve Proposition 1," wrote Cogdill in a news release. "This has been truly a bipartisan effort. These legislators worked tirelessly to improve the bond measure that is to be put before voters in November. ... With the passage of AB 3034, voters will now be able to cast a vote on a bond measure with better cost controls and fiscal accountability than in the original version of the High Speed Rail Bond."


Even if the Assembly passes the bill, as expected, the governor still must sign it before the changes in the initiative are made. Galgiani's hard work will be meaningless unless Gov. Schwarzenegger signs it by 5 p.m. Monday. Unfortunately, he has vowed not to sign any legislation until the state has a budget.

Drawing such lines in the legislative sand probably felt good for the governor, and it actually sounded like a good idea at the time. But it is intransigence that has gotten us to this point. We need less of it, not more.

Galgiani's bill will give voters a good option for high-speed rail in November. Gov. Schwarzenegger should make sure they get a chance to vote on it.

Speaking of intransigence, termed-out Nicole Parra of Hanford has taken a page from across the aisle and demanded that her fellow Democrats back a water bond or she will withhold her support for a budget deal.

A water bond is absolutely necessary for our state. If we're going to improve the Sacramento- San Joaquin Delta, keep people from getting thirsty, save salmon and hedge our bets against the ravages of climate change, we're going to need more water -- and that means building two new dams. We agree with her goal, but Parra is engaging in political blackmail -- the same kind being waged by the Republicans on budget issues. They're demanding that taxes neither be raised nor added to fill the $15 billion budget hole.

Forty days into a stalemate, we all can see how well that's working out.

Some people have not yet made up their minds about the prospect of a peripheral canal moving water around the delta. It might work if those dams are built; then again, it might not. While the governor and his water wonks believe it is the only way to save the delta, others wonder how you save a waterway by taking water out of it. Count Dino Cortopassi in that camp.

If the name's not familiar, you don't work for Stanislaus Foods. He owns half the company, which is based in downtown Modesto. He's also instrumental in providing funds for the Academic Decathlon in San Joaquin County.

Cortopassi declared water war on the governor Thursday when he purchased a full-page ad in the Stockton Record and declared the peripheral canal "Arnold Schwarzenegger's next broken promise."

Unfortunately, we've got a long list of broken things -- promises, budget, delta, water system ... and each one needs to be fixed.

Finally, is it too soon to start a "Draft Paris Hilton" movement? The celebutant's family was dismayed when Sen. John McCain used the professional party girl to paint Barack Obama as just another lightweight pretty face. After all, the Hiltons have donated to McCain's campaign. So young Paris produced a YouTube video in reply. It's a hoot. More importantly, it presents a more realistic solution to the nation's energy dilemma than either McCain or Obama has presented so far. How? By borrowing from both their positions.

Dunbar is the associate editor of The Bee. Contact him at or 578-2325.

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