CAVE People Are Killing Progress

At a legislative hearing chaired by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, testimony included a comment that the BART system was created by a single Board of Supervisors’ vote in Contra Costa County.

How many people are against BART today? You can’t find them. And why do Santa Clara County residents have to fork over billions of dollars to get BART to San Jose now? It’s because some morons in San Jose in the 1960s and their sheepish leaders voted against being included in the system.

It was a huge and costly mistake for the rest of us.

Every major project has Citizens Against Virtually Everything (CAVE) people fighting against it. They hold up every good project, they hurt our economy, our progress and cost us money.

But how many times can these people be wrong before they simply go away?

Who among us would remove the Golden Gate Bridge, HP Pavilion, the Metcalf Energy Center in Coyote Valley, the McEnery Convention Center, the Fairmont, AT&T Park in San Francisco, Highway 85 and 87 and don’t forget that “freeway to nowhere,” Interstate 5?

The most recent CAVE people hail from the peninsula, and more than a few are from San Jose—yes, the same lineage that voted against bringing BART to San Mateo and Santa Clara now oppose high-speed rail. To hear them whine, this fast, quiet, non-polluting train would split their towns, ruin their view and provide unmitigated disaster to their humble hamlets.

Really? Has anybody noticed the 19th-century diesel train that spews pollution, is loud and noisy, has heavy train stock, kills unstable kids and adults and runs an operating deficit that is currently in their backyard?

These same people hail that system and expect the rest of us to subsidize it indefinitely.

But the fight goes on, as Gov. Jerry Brown said in a recent Los Angeles Times article referring to the CAVE people mentality. “It is part of the reason we can’t get anything done in this state,” he said.

Brown didn’t add, but could have, that if voters had embraced this technology when he proposed it the first time he was governor, in 1974, we would be way ahead of the rest of the world. But the Governor is too polite to say, “I told you so.”

I, on the other hand, don’t suffer any such restraint.

Rich Robinson is a political consultant and author of “The Shadow Candidate”.  He is currently under contract with the High-Speed Rail Authority.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


  1. Maybe if this dump of a city were on the right track , there wouldnt be so many haters.Maybe if we could stop the corruption in city hall , there wouldnt be so many haters.maybe if we werent being forced to vote ao an illegal ballot measure , there wouldnt be so many haters. Maybe if we werent giving away valuable real estate away @ a fraction of the cost…….to a BILLIONAIRE , there wouldnt be so many haters. maybe if the Mayor hadnt transferred RDA debt to the General Fund , there wouldnt be so many haters. Maybe if we had more jobs and Less Low-Income Housing , there wouldnt be so many haters.maybe if the City Manager truely did a “nation wide search” for top jobs ( instead of just picking who she wants) there might not be so many haters. the list of things wrong with city is long and disgusting. Maybe if we had enough public safety for the needs of this city, there might not be so many haters( lowest staffed public safety in the country all the while being the 10th largest city!)

  2. City of SJ spends BILLIONS at SJC… it has never made a dime.  It is fully subsidized, at hundreds of millions of dollars a year via the “Special” fund, separate from the underfunded General fund which is suspiciously in a state of “emergency.”

    Unsurprisingly, it’s still a money pit- with lowest number of traveler’s… again.  mayor Reed is still pro-SJC yet advocating aggressively to curb employee benefits instead.

    • For the San Jose Airport to even approach a financial secure posistion will require a tremendous increase in the number of flights.  Of course, this increase will destroy what little quality of life is left in this area.

      Move this albatross to Hollister.

  3. At some point this info needs to get to the citizens of SJ, instead of a few bloggers:

    Turn on any local news program, or read any local newspaper and you will likely find Mayor Reed pitching his pension reform plan as enthusiastically as Ron Popeil pitches his Chop-O-Matic on late night television.  Relentless in his pursuit, he is now waving next year’s projected budget deficit of $78-$115 million like a bloody shirt.

    In his November Newsletter, before moving on to more important issues like gifting millions in city owned assets to the A’s, he quickly dismisses a pension reform proposal presented by 5 of the city’s unions, including police officers and firefighters, which could have saved San Jose taxpayers nearly a half billion dollars.

    To explain his decision, Mayor Reed indicates that the plan would provide zero immediate savings in the next fiscal year. This assertion is ridiculous on its face.

    Would police officers seriously be willing to move into another pension plan with a lesser benefit, requiring them to work an additional 5 years, give up their sick leave payouts and reduce their cost of living adjustments if it saved no money?

    Just one aspect of the plan, the POA’s offer to forgo arbitration on whether their 10% pay cut is one time (just for fiscal year 11/12) or ongoing, would have saved the city $30 million next year and every year going forward. Please click here and review the proposal for yourself.

    Additionally, the mayor has chosen to adopt new actuarial assumptions, which no other city or pension plan utilizes, that effectively make San Jose’s future deficit situation look worse. This is what he means in his November Newsletter when he says many of the savings in the union proposal were erased by, “changes in assumptions to reflect modern conditions.” The very mention of the term “actuarial assumptions” has probably put some of you to sleep. This is a complicated issue, which can easily confuse a casual observer, and the Mayor is using this complexity to his benefit. The facts are that the cutbacks are significant and the savings are huge.

    Why would he want to do this you ask? Mayor Reed made it clear long ago that he had no intention of negotiating any part of HIS pension proposal with employee groups. Whether we are talking about pension reforms, or the medical marijuana ordinance, our Mayor has an inability to compromise—his mantra of governance can be summed up as “my way or the highway.” While I find this mentality extremely troubling, his false characterization of our pension proposal is just beyond comprehension.

    Mayor Reed has repeatedly said he values city employees, but just has trouble paying for them.  Actions speak louder than words. All that City employees feel coming from this mayor is open contempt and disdain. I sure don’t feel valued based on the following section from Reed’s Pension “reform” ballot language:

    Section 9: Disability Retirements

    (a) An employee is considered “disabled” for the purposes of qualifying for a disability retirement, if all of the following is met:

    (i) An employee cannot do work that they did before; and

    (ii) It is determined that the employee cannot perform any other jobs described in the City’s classification plan because of his or her medical condition(s); and

    (iii) The employee’s disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

    In other words, according to Section 9 (a)(ii) of the Mayor’s plan, if a police officer is shot during a bank robbery and is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, she would not get a disability retirement as she might be able to wheel herself into the mail room to sort mail.

    That’s not reform Mayor Reed, that’s contempt for those who put their lives on the line to ensure the safety of your constituents.

    Mayor Reed has clearly adopted a win at all costs mentality over this issue, and has no problem sacrificing some truth here and there to achieve his imperious view of the greater good.  Sadly, the route the Mayor has chosen will result in long legal battles, which ultimately could see the city saving no money, all because Mayor Reed is unwilling to partner with the City’s employees to collaboratively find solutions.  Whether it’s a new brand of math bought in to make his case look stronger or direct misrepresentation of the facts, it’s all become business as usual for Mayor Reed.

  4. Yeah, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties really dried up economically in the aftermath of the No on BART vote.
    And oh my, what a Godsend that Arena has been! With all that extra revenue, San Jose’s conscientous and efficient government has really cleaned up the surrounding area, especially the now pristine, garbage and bum free Guadalupe River Park.
    And let’s not forget about our new City Hall to which many cave people were opposed. Just look at all the rent money the City’s raking in from the old City Hall!

    Yes indeed Rich. Even we knuckledragging, sloped forehead, brain the size of a walnut cavemen can see how throwing gigantic sums of money at public works projects- ANY public works projects, automatically leads to improved quality of life for all the people- not just the politically connected money grubbing opportunists who insinuate themselves into the political process so as to get a big slice of the taxpayer funded pie.

  5. I had a good laugh at this one. It would likely belong in the comics section of SJI rather than as a main post.

    I’ll bet Rich is sore from learning that the House GOP in DC killed off HSR funding in their 2012 Fiscal Year budget:

    As for high-speed rail here in California: it seems my NO vote on this issue (from lack of information on how the nearly $10 billion in bonds would be paid back) is looking wiser by the day. (For instance, it doesn’t say how much states sales taxes would have to increase to help pay back the bonds within 30 years.)

    Part of my own voting policy on these and other bond measures include reading the full ballot text of these measures. It excludes research by slick mailers, media sound bites, name recognition, or political party/corporate/non-profit affiliation.

    I challenge Rich or any HSR supporter to point out where in the ballot text of Prop. 1a in 2008 it specifically says how the bonds would be paid back:

    As for BART to Silicon Valley: long story short, you know something’s up when VTA suddenly asks for $900 million from the Feds when it originally wanted $750 million. Makes you wonder where VTA wants to spend the extra $150 million on (besides possibly additional consultants).

    One last note: no train (BART, conventional rail or otherwise) goes out and kills someone. Trains don’t swerve out of the way to avoid you. One has to place yourself on the tracks first. When was the last time you’ve heard of Caltrain (or VTA light rail) murder someone in their Los Gatos mansion?

  6. Its not so much CAVE – Citizens Against Virtually Anything.

    Its more CWJWDWIW – Citizens Who Just Won’t Do What I Want! Or really, what you are paid to tell people you want. Because you don’t really care – you are just a paid mouthpiece who likely would put up the same fight for a nuclear reactor in downtown San Jose, or whatever the highest bidder wants.

    Or are you in complete support of every project every proposed, including the original proposal to fill in much of the bay to create more land for development? Were the CAVE’ers on that development idea just getting in the way of progress for no good reason.

    If your idea to get this project done is to simply tell me to get out of the way, then I think your employer might need to spend less on your PR contract and a bit more on read outreach and discussion.

  7. The special interests that pay Mr. Robinson’s salary would love nothing more than residents to stay indoors, watch some television and leave all the decisions to the so-called experts.  Mr. Robinson’s shrill tone makes me wonder if he needs to find a new profession if he can no longer deal with residents being involved in the process.

  8. If bureaucrats and politicians could just make all decisions for us, they could create utopia!!!  And the rest of us could go on with our lives being happy little subjects.

  9. Why people do not like these projects. The wasted for example the Cities ball park plan. Pete Constants says the project will be funded with private money and the only offerend and option to to Wolff. He ignores the over $100,000,000 that is needed to improve the infrastructure for the project. They are riddled will abuse to feed the rich developers at the tax payers expense. So maybe Cavemen are just tired of giving away all their cave dollars to some Rich guy who believes in the policy of the haves should have more and more and more. Even though the Mayor and council do not feel redevelopment money is real money the tax payer wants to get something of value out of their tax dollar. Giving money to rich people who do not need it is not good use of tax dollars.

  10. DANGER Rich Robinson. DANGER!
    Persons of diverse political philosophy detected in area! For your own safety surround yourself with pretentious, dope smoking, Prius driving Democrats immediately!

  11. This just in – lobbyist slime oozes out from under a rock to give elitist lecture to broke taxpayers (aka cave people). 

    Sad to say that, much like our cave people predecessors – we don’t have any money either.

    But if you can get China to pay for your half-trillion dollar train then by all means.

  12. 1.  Rich Robinson was one of the architects behind Judy Nadler’s election as Mayor, and Nadler is respected by many people for ethics in government.

    2.  Robinson has worked for some of the most honest people in California.  Alan Cranston, Jim Beall, and John Vasconcellos.

    3.  Robinson puts it on the line many times, and that should be respected.

  13. > Rich Robinson is a political consultant and author of “The Shadow Candidate”.  He is currently under contract with the High-Speed Rail Authority.

    I don’t believe it.  No real political constultant would be so stupid as to insult the constituencies that he expects to vote for and fund his client’s projects.

    No business or agency would be so stupid as to hire a political consultant who insults and demeans the public that it wishes to support it’s project.

    Rich Robinson can’t possible be a real person.  Just some provocateur intent on annoying the entire internet.

    • One should not infer statements no in evidence.  Most of the people in the Peninsula and San Jose support high speed rail.  I’m referring to a small minority of people who simply oppose everything all the time.

      Moreover I have no problems with sincere people who have questions or people such as Anna Eshoo, Joe Simitian and Rich Gordon who seek positive solutions to real problems. 

      That said, if HSR doesn’t get built because of the actions of the few, we will all pay a heavy price for their myopic views in the future—just as now we are paying for BART.  I also support BART to SJ.  Because it is only going to cost more later — build it now.

      • >  who seek positive solutions to real problems. . . .

        Your Richness:

        I am one of those who seeks positive solutions to real problems.

        Providing every California with an anti-gravity belt is a solution to California’s transportation problem that is as real as High Speed Rail, far more flexible, cheaper, could be built in less than thirty years, and won’t make California dependent upon China or giant foreign train manufacturing monopolies.

        AND no special interest group had to pay me to say this.

        I consider this idea just my way of giving back to society.

  14. It is easy to call people names CAVE, NIMBY, etc rather than address their valid concerns as our government is supposed to do in an open democratic manner not secretive heavily criticized High-Speed Rail Authority mis-management of mega-billion dollar project.

    So Rich, what names will you call Tea Party, Occupy movement and million of voters who believe we have special interest elitist government politicians with legalized bribery bought and paid for to influence special interest legislation and tax subsidies to wealthy and corporations

    What do you call politicians like Pelosi that use insider information or get special deals like her Visa stock to make millions profits that others if caught will go to jail and pay heavy fines ?

  15. Richie Robinson is a spoiled little kid. His hardworking, cash strapped parents simply can’t afford to buy him the deluxe toy train set that he wants. They try to explain their situation to him but he doesn’t care about things like income, debt, and living within your means. After all, he’s just a little kid and all he knows is that his friends in France and Washington DC have a deluxe toy train set and he wants one too. Now he’s throwing a temper tantrum.
    Not to worry. He’ll grow up someday.

  16. Paid political communication allows one to shape opinions and go further than any reputable journalist would sign on for (even making sleazy remarks and trying to smear someone by association with photos, images, quotes and the rest taken out of context.)

    Communications – manufactoring consent where peoples natural impulse is to question large expenditures and governments competence and ability is a fine art form.  We tend to approve education stuff, crime stuff, even sometimes infrastructure stuff like HSR from time to time, because at heart, we care about our community and its future, but we also have a sick feeling they’re gonna screw it up and screw us again like they’ve done so many times before at the ballot and in the legislature with bait and switch tactics.

    So the whole CAVE thing, spending public money on public goods and products is different than a private business.  In a free market, you build it and people will either buy/use the product or they’ll find an alternative and you loss is private.

    In spending on these public projects, what we often get is private profit built in for some elites and all the risk assumed by the public.  If it goes great, some people get more rich while we get to pay to use something built with tax dollars.  If it goes poorly, we still have to pay for it.  Isn’t it reasonable to be a little sceptical of that kind of racket?

  17. What a joke!

    This lobbyist wants to clutter up the skies of San Jose with tracks for a train that has no feasible means to turn a profit; whose economic model is so poor that the feds and private investors are standing far clear; whose time tables are faster than the bullet trains of France, Japan, and China; and whose purpose is to provide competition against the airlines that are still flying from our dead albatross of an airport.

    I forsee these high speed tracks in the sky as the 2020s equivalent of the uncompleted 280-680-101 interchange that cluttered our skies in the mid-70s: the famous “California Stonehenge” for those of us old enough to remember that era.  Maybe we can put one of those cable car-looking tourist buses on top of the tracks once HSR finally goes belly up and get a picture in National Geographic just like the original CA Stonehenge photo with the car on the top flyover. 

    The question before us is simple:  who do we think will more efficiently provide transportation between the Southland and San Jose:  Southwest Airlines or an agency of the State of California?  It’s a $100 billion bet, so we need to get it right.

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