Friday, May 16, 2008

Son Of The TriTunnel Express

The Orange County Register, in an article by Ellyn Pak on Friday, reports that drilling in the Cleveland National Forest shows that it may be practical to bore a tunnel under the mountains b
etween Orange County and Riverside County to carry water from the Inland Empire to the near-coastal cities. It goes on to say that such further tests could determine if constructing a tunnel for vehicles is feasible.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, just think back a few years when the triple tunnel boondoggle called the Tri-Tunnel Express was being
foisted off on us as a way to resolve Orange County's air transportation problems. Yep, that's right - a series of tunnels to solve the congestion at John Wayne Airport!

In it's fina
l iteration before the web site was folded up and all mention of that fiasco ceased, it was proposing to drill three, count 'em, three 12 mile-long tunnels a couple thousand feet below the peak of Saddleback Mountain in which cars and trucks would matriculate between Orange and Riverside counties to a mythical new commercial airport at the old March Air Force Base. Then came the big "OOPS!" - someone forgot to ask Riverside County if they actually wanted a commercial airport at March! When that idea bombed the so-called planners of that project were scurrying around, trying to figure a way to make a sharp left turn mid-mountain to take the traffic to Ontario. That one didn't fly, either. (can't resist the pun)

One of the really fun parts of the Tri-Tunnel Express was the combination of elements in that project. It was planned to shuttle the aforementioned vehicular traffic through tunnels that also carried gasoline pipelines and a electrical transmission lines - through a mountain that has four active earthquake faults running through it! As I said a few years ago when it was first proposed, this is a sure recipe for disaster. A little shaking and slipping along the fault lin
es rupturing those gas lines and exposing the fuel to the handy ignition source along side and we'd be seeing Saddleback Peak launched toward Catalina Island!

Water lines - a way to actually make such a project feasible - were added late in the game. Hence, the evolution of this new scheme.

Adding to the joy of the old Tri-Tunnel Express scheme is the fact that the guys who were lining up to manage it are the same guys who gave us the 73 Toll Road, a project that's
hemorrhaging money like the proverbial stuck pig.

The Register
article talks about the 10-12 foot "water tunnel" costing between $680 million and $770 million and would take more than seven years to build. The Tri-Tunnel Express - in which each of the three tunnels was to be three times the size of this new proposal - was initially projected to cost around $3 billion, but that grew to $6 billion within a few months. That was a few years ago, so I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers were over $10 billion now. Don't expect this new project to be less than a billion - maybe two - by the time, if ever, the first shovel hits the dirt.


All this horsing around with pie-in-the-sky "solutions" is a huge waste of time and intellectua
l resources. We should be moving forward RIGHT NOW with plans to double-stack the existing right-of-way on the 91 Freeway and get serious about making Ortega Highway the high-speed traffic mover it should be. Expanding those roadways is faster, cheaper and much more practical than any tunnel project will ever be.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hoping for a Quorum, Expanding The Forum and Acosta Decorum

I hesitate t
o mention this for fear of jinxing another City Council Study Session. That being said, this afternoon the Costa Mesa City Council will attempt to hold another study session. The April session was canceled because they didn't have a quorum. Let's hope that at least three members show up today.


Once again, members of the Costa Mesa Police Department will attempt to present their ideas
on how to manage the gang problem in our city. The staff report is skimpy, to say the least, but I imagine their plans will include a prevention/intervention element to it in addition to the enforcement segment. Let's all hope the council will listen to them this time around and fund an intervention segment. Last year they blew it off, despite a very credible presentation by the Police Department about how essential a prevention/intervention element is to any successful gang control plan.


There are those in o
ur community that rant and rave about the gang problem in our city, yet completely reject what the Police Department feels is a very real threat - White Supremacist gangs. According to reports made previously, those gangs are vicious and clever. A sweep not too long ago throughout Orange County snatched up nearly 60 White Supremacist gang members - including 20 at 17 locations in Costa Mesa. Those thugs had put out "hits" on law enforcement members and prosecutors. They infiltrate financial institutions, steal sensitive personal information and use it to engage in identity theft crimes to finance their drug businesses. Since the police consistently present facts to back up their position, one can only assume those who reject the very existence of this threat must have a vested interest in it being ignored. I wonder what that might be? I also wonder why, to this very day, the elected leaders of this city - Allan Mansoor specifically - has still not mentioned that sweep and it's results. It's all the more curious because Mansoor is a member of the Orange County Sheriff's Department - a deputy who spends his work day hunkered down in the jail.

A couple new anonymous bloggers in town, CMTRUTH and CM WATCHTOWER, seem to be having an impact on our town. As we approach the campaign season it will be very interesting to see what positions they take on the candidates. What makes this campaign season especially interesting is the
speculation - fueled by his own not-to-veiled comment - that a guy who calls himself "Mr. U-Know-Who" might actually run for City Council. I've said repeatedly that I don't think that's going to happen - it would open him up to so much personal scrutiny and criticism that I doubt he could handle it. Heck, he has a tough time handling criticism now!

The Benito Acosta trials continue to reverberate through our city. In case you were wo
ndering, as of the end of March the civil trial - Acosta is suing the City of Costa Mesa for his arrest during a council meeting - the cost of defending that suit is over $136,000 according to sources at the law firm representing the city, Jones & Mayer. The criminal trial - the one that was dismissed - has also cost the city over $130,000, but Jones & Mayer is handling the appeal pro bono. I should hope so, since it was their error that caused the dismissal! So far that effort has cost them almost $20,000.

I don't k
now how most of you feel about this - I suspect I'll hear from a few of you - but it's my view that this whole thing never would have happened if then-mayor Allan Mansoor had used good judgment and let Acosta finish his presentation to the council that fateful night. I've watched the tapes of that event and agree that Acosta was rude, but the situation only got out of hand after Mansoor refused to let his supporters stand and be recognized - as he had permitted Minuteman Grand Pooba Jim Gilchrist's followers to do earlier - then cut Acosta off short of his alloted three minutes.


So far, Mansoor's bad judgment has cost the city over a quarter million dollars in legal fees and has the potential to dip deeply into the city coffers if the civil trial is found in Acosta's favor. The costs incurred so far could have funded a couple more police officers and a gang intervention element. All this to perpetuate and enhance the political future of an inept city councilman - a guy who has used the turmoil he created in Costa Mesa as a springboard to higher office. He's on the June ballot for a slot on the Orange County Republican Central Committee.

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