This from the Austinist and Ryan Pollack.
Includes a link to StimulusWatch.org where you can comment on local proposals.
How about some tech input?
Well, I'd rather see some money spent to help out the tech job market rather than more money wasted on the white elephant rail line that most people don't even want.
If we could decide how to spend $$$ to help the tech job market out, how would we best do it?
Most of the projects proposed in Austin -- like most other locations -- deal with infrastructure. Some streets & roads, a lot of water; energy, airport, public safety, schools, and transit are all on the list.
These are things that, in theory, should help provide the base for new growth in whatever business, industry, or sector people decide to pursue.
Schools and education should play with high tech goals. Having water and a way to get back and forth to work are more general.
Transportation -- especially for chip makers and others who produce shrink-wrap products is critical infrastructure.
Energy -- having enough, controlling costs, and commercial solar should play in high-tech as well. More solar in City of Austin applications should keep taxes lower.
I do not see anything about seed money, grants, or other direct stimulus proposed. That might be on a different list ;~)
Here's the Austin list: http://tinyurl.com/cv6gu5
William W. (Woody) Williams
Senior Project Manager
Software & IT Governance
Some of the things on the list look like good infrastructure investments, others look like wasteful pork-barrel. Unfortunately if you asked 100 people to sort the list based on that you'd probably get back 100 different answers.
If they're going to spend money at all, I assert they should fund initiatives that are already working, even if (especially if) they're in the private sector. However, government funds companies that can't stay afloat by themselves thanks to bad decisions...and yet they won't fund churches that are doing a great job helping the poor and homeless in the community only because somebody is bent out of shape that they worship God. How backwards.
They should fund retraining programs.
I want to see all of the software people able to learn new nuances of their trade so that they become more employable.
In addition to retraining of underemployed or unemployed engineers and software people, lets promote the creation of a high speed rail line from San Antonio to Austin (or Austin to San Antonio if you wish). There is no logical reason other than petty politics that high-speed monorail service cannot go right down the center of I-35. None...nada! Except of course there are all of the politicians who would rather turn I-35 into a toll road.
Of course there are some residual political and social bias issues to deal with, but imagine...get on at Congress St. (or other local stops north...stop in Buda and Kyle, San Marcos, New Braunfels and end up at a junction point of I-35 and I-410, with bus service to anywhere else.
My own very personal opinion is that it is time to stop thinking about San Antonio and Austin as separate and distinct countries. The urban sprawl will soon take care of erasing that anyway, so why not get ahead of it?
Monorail? Are you serious?
While I agree that we should build high-speed commuter rail service and that such rail lines should run down the center of freeways (removing the need for dangerous railway "grade crossings" while providing high visibility to motorists -- better advertising than any), there are too many problems with monorails.
Standard gauge railroad is a known commodity, and as such can be implemented safely and with great economies of scale. (Disclosure: I've spent years developing railroad equipment.) It's also more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly than any other mode of transportation, with the possible exception of boats, where available.
Ideally, I'd like to see Texas spanned by north-south and east-west high-speed rail lines. (In addition to offering passenger service, I'd also want to add postal and light parcel service.) I think such trains could reach speeds of 200 MPH and easily connect at least 80% of the Texas population.
I also think that AmTrak is so mismanaged that it could never do it, and should probably end its operations west of the Mississippi and loose its federal funding.
Isn't there now a plan in the works to link Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio with commuter rail?
I doubt that I was serious about a monorail. I don't know much about railroads. The point is down the center of I-35.
Disclosure: The closest experience I've had with railroads was my old Lionel train set when I was growing up, and of course, my experiences riding on the Long Island Railroad (ultra-horrible) when I was living there.
There is "talk" about the San Antonio to Austin rail line. Talk.
Great point, Matt.
Tax payer funding for outreach programs provided by religous organizations has insurmountable issues because some (but not all) require or "strongly encourage" participants to worship, accept some religous tenant or belief, or otherwise sign up. It's a case of "bad apples" as it so often becomes.
Well, the point was that government tends to fund things that aren't working, and not fund what already does (or attempt to duplicate it as a government program).
I like rail and support it -- mostly based on experience elsewhere.
I lived, for example, in Chicago for 9 months. It was my first "big city" experience as a young man other than Dallas or Houston. By the time I left, I couldn't imagine going downtown or travelling between Chicago and the northern suburbs except by rail. I sold my car after being there 2 months and didn't buy another one until the week before I left.
A few years ago I had a project that involved a customer in the DC area, a prime vendor in Boston, and hardware / firmware production in Germany. Especially in Germany, I relied entirely on the excellent rail transit system. It was cheap, clean, and extensive.
These systems move people, empower people, and enable commerce. Good stuff.
Rail service, especially if it is a new system should be great. I was used to the Long Island RR that had many antiquated infrastructure components and often had breakdowns in the A/C systems. DC has a great system.
And... that's a good point. We not only need the mandate and funding to create new systems but also the foresight and funding to maintain and replace them in the future. A lesson we could learn from the interstate highway system and its current dishevel.
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