Sunday, August 24, 2008

Arrested Development: NIMBY's On The Loose

Arrested Development: NIMBYs on The Loose

The only NIMBY that doesn't piss me off.

As much as I would love to talk about the tv show, this blog isn't about that. I'm still holding out hope that I'll be on the film's production. No, this is about another stop in progress. And as a public transportation advocate with self-diagnosed Asperger's, I have learned quite a bit about NIMBYs and the boondoggles they protest against. Today I'll teach you what I know about these important issues the way people used to learn from each other during the early days of the Internet.

"NIMBY" stands for Not In My BackYard, though it's often confused with the lesser known meaning, Not In My Butt You jerk, first coined by my ex-girlfriend on an awkward Valentine's Day. NIMBYs are self-important middle class cretins who wish to preserve the status quo at the expense of progress. NIMBYs are usually middle class because poor people have no rights and upper class folk rarely live near live railroad tracks. And if they do, they probably own the railroad.

Anything that gets in the way of driving their kid to soccer practice, such as a trolley line or an S&M dungeon, is called a "boondoggle" by NIMBYs. NIMBYs don't live in cities, they live in "communities". They often depict public works projects as evil monstrosities infecting their humble little towns with noise, pollution, and cooties.

NIMBYs will often complain that there aren't enough prisons, but then scream bloody murder when one is built in their town. NIMBYs will often complain about traffic and then threaten protests when a rail line is planned to be built nearby. NIMBYs will often complain about the lack of safe, reliable porno shops, but then file lawsuits when one opens in their kid's school.

NIMBYs don't know what they want, but when they get it, they howl.

Because the word boondoggle is thrown around far too often and the word NIMBY not nearly enough, I have decided to highlight some high-profile projects and set the record straight. Is it a boondoggle or is it NIMBYism? You just might find out in today's update, but probably not!

The Big Dig

The Central Artery/Tunnel Project in Boston, otherwise known as the "Big Dig" to those wishing to save the time and effort it takes to speak the words Central Artery slash Tunnel Project, has become the national whipping boy for corrupt public works projects.

All public works projects are corrupt to some degree, but these guys just went too far. It's like when you cheat on your taxes or your spouse. It's okay in moderation, but blows up in your face when your wife finds out you've been cheating on some other woman's tax return. No wait. That's not right at all.

Envisioned as a way to relieve traffic on Boston's crowded highways, the "Big Dig" quickly turned into a sticky situation for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Hey Romney, you could learn something here.

Among the allegations charged was that the concrete used in the project was just oatmeal mixed with bubblegum. Thousands of leaks were discovered by a bunch of trouble making nerds from MIT. Subsequent investigations found that subcontractors were using apes to do utility relocation and that the apes left banana peels all over the damn place which resulted in a three day strike by the sanitation commission. The apes were released back into the custody of the Transportation Security Administration and went back to work.

Rarrr! I am the concrete God. You go splat now! Rarrr!!!

Big Dig bitching reached a threshold when a concrete ceiling tile fell from a tunnel and killed some woman. The tunnel was declared a crime scene and the criminal investigation revealed that free flowing vehicular traffic angers the concrete Gods and a woman had to be sacrificed to appease them.

Of course, few Boston commuters, if any, are refusing to use the new infrastructure in protest of any wrongdoing by Bechtel and Parsons Brinckerhoff, the firms in charge of designing and building whatever the hell they were put in charge to build (some kind of elevator?). Traffic has improved immensely in the Boston area and the fact that the thing is even useful at all saves the Big Dig from full boondoggle status.

That's why the Big Dig only gets four floating heads of Mitt Romney out of five.

Boondoggle Rating:

California High Speed Rail

In what is likely to become the biggest struggle in the history of public works projects in California, high speed rail will finally go to the voters this November after it was taken off the ballot in 2004 and 2006 by an actor we voted to be governor.

If Proposition 1 passes it would provide nine billion dollars for the construction of a high speed rail line from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco. And we're not talking some phony baloney Acela Express bullshit. This train will hit speeds of 220 miles per hour in California's Central Valley. Unpleasant illegal immigrant farm workers are but a blur at such speeds.

But you can't plan a rail project in California without hearing wails from NIMBY scum. Concentrated NIMBY opposition has already surfaced in the communities of Menlo Park and Atherton, where the Bay Area's Caltrain corridor may be widened to accommodate high speed trains.

An example of mass transit in California.

Officials there plan to join a lawsuit in order to invalidate what is called an environmental impact report and call a do-over, which would add millions of dollars and wasted time to an already expensive project. And NIMBYs wonder why these things go over-budget so often.

Not to be outdone by the NIMBYs in Menlo Park, the California High Speed Rail Authority, the braindead politicians put in charge of overseeing the rail line, is doing their damnedest to kill the project as well.

Long criticized for releasing overstated ridership figures and understated construction cost figures, the authority has decided to award the contract for the project to Parsons Brinkerhoff, the very same firm partly responsible for the Big Dig debacle.

Does anyone at the CHSRA read the newspaper or what? Eh, maybe it's not so bad a choice. Besides, every second chance begins with a first step. If you want respect, you've got to take it. After all, life doesn't hold tryouts. Backstabbing. Spotlight-grabbing. Secret-blabbing. An engineering firm's life is all that.

The NIMBYs don't get it. The city council says forget it. The supporters who voted it in now regret it. But does California High Speed Rail got game? Bet on it. Bring it on, this Fall.

That's why California High Speed Rail gets two California State Senator Tom McClintocks out of five. Look, taxes are going to go up anyway. We might as well get a cool train out of it. You don't want your tax dollars going towards fixing the states debts, right? Vote yes on Prop 1! If you don't live in California, just go back to quietly talking about us behind our backs you Northeastern bastards.

Boondoggle Rating:

Bridge to Nowhere

As if this update wasn't img-timeline enough, have you guys heard about this BRIDGE TO NOWHERE? Not the cool one in Azusa that I always rant and rave about. I'm talking about the one in Alaska. Yeah, they wanted to build a bridge almost as long as the Golden Gate in order to serve a population of 8000. Holy cow! What a barrel of pork!

I guess when it comes to Ted Steven's pet project, we're all sort of NIMBYs. I mean, Alaska is kind of America's backyard right? Or is that Canada? You know what, forget I said anything.

Anyway, it gets my highest boondoggle rating ever, five disembodied heads of Senator Ted Stevens out of five.

Boondoggle Rating:

Subway to the Sea

Hi, I'm Sally Struthers. I'm here today to plead with you to help support a transit project in dire need of some love. Have a look at this amputated leg of the Los Angeles subway.

In its infancy, this little subway was attacked by NIMBYs who didn't want colored folk coming into the westside of Los Angeles. They disguised their intentions to kill the subway as concerns about methane gas pockets or dinosaur farts or whatever. They passed measures to ban the use of tax money to fund subway construction and effectively starved this poor subway almost to death.

For only pennies a day you can help this subway reach Santa Monica as God intended.

Okay, enough Sally Struthers nonsense. There's a time and a place for everything but now isn't it. Frankly, the Los Angeles Purple Line extension to Santa Monica is quite possibly the most important public transportation project in the history of ever.

Ridership would be 600 billion boardings per year and even the woolly mammoth bones under the La Brea Tar Pits would use it. White people might even ride it, which is an experimental new concept for mass transit in Los Angeles.

Because of the importance of this project I can only muster up one Zev Yaroslavsky, the politician who is credited with killing the subway, out of five.

Boondoggle rating:

So now you know a littl more about these NIMBY's. If you ever want to hear their whales live, turn on KCRW on any Tuesday night and you'll hear them bitch and complain about everything from hobos sleeping at the bus stop to pissing away millions on over hyped and destructive events like this years GLOW event. With your help, you to can stop these progress stoppers from keeping us stuck in the stone age.

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