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California governor threatens withholding of transportation funds in favor of housing

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A homeless man sits at his tent along the Interstate 110 freeway in downtown Los Angeles. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, outlined his plans in his proposed budget announced Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, to spend $1.75 billion on housing in a state that is woefully short on units and $500 million on homelessness. He's proposing to withhold state transportation dollars from local governments that won't build its share of housing, possibly setting up a budget fight with cities and counties. (Associated Press: RICHARD VOGEL)

By KATHLEEN RONAYNE and JANIE HAR

SACRAMENTO, Calif  — California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a $1.75 billion plan for housing Thursday and threatened to withhold transportation money from local governments that don’t build their fair share, declaring he’s not playing “small ball” on California’s crisis.

The new Democratic governor also proposed spending $500 million for regions to build emergency shelters, navigation centers and other supportive housing to battle the state’s growing number of homeless.

“Homelessness is not a local concern in a few big urban centers, it’s not just a regional concern in urban metros, it is a statewide concern,” Newsom said. “Everybody has an obligation to step up and step in and do their job.”

Newsom announced his plans as part of a $144 billion state budget proposal, his first major spending plan as governor. Legislators still have a say over the budget, which must be finalized by June.

Newsom is a former mayor of San Francisco, and he acknowledged that local leaders might not like the strings he’s attached to the housing budget. For example, the governor wants to tie transportation money from a recent hike in gas and vehicle taxes to more affordable housing.

“To me, transportation is housing, housing is transportation,” he said, adding that if local governments are “not hitting your goals, I don’t know why you’re getting the money.”

California is in the throes of a housing crisis, with far fewer units than needed to house the state’s nearly 40 million people and rising rents. Newsom wants to build 3.5 million new units, saying past goals weren’t ambitious enough. When housing is taken into account, California has the nation’s highest poverty rate, and it also has more homeless people than any other state.

The Democratic mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles, both cities dealing with visible homeless populations and high rents, welcomed leadership from the state. Mayors of larger cities have pleaded for help from Sacramento as they absorb fallout from the housing shortage.

But Darby Kernan of the California State Association of Counties said tying gas and vehicle fee hikes to housing money isn’t the right idea. Opponents of the fee hikes tried unsuccessfully to repeal them last November, and Kernan said her organization doesn’t want to give the public a reason to question the tax hike.

She also said withholding money from counties isn’t fair.

“We can do all of the steps there are to plan for units, but we don’t build the units,” she said” “That is private industry, and so threatening to withhold our critical transportation dollars for something we don’t actually do, that is concerning.”

Newsom also said he wants to streamline the review process for new homeless shelters under the California Environmental Quality Act, noting that the Legislature will waive the act’s requirements for flashier projects such as sports stadiums. Reforming the massive environmental law is a tricky political topic that Newsom’s indicated he wants to engage on.

“I know it’s also controversial, but seriously, if you can create CEQA waivers to expedite stadium projects, and we do all the time, we sure as hell should be able to do that for 130,000 souls that are out on the damn streets and sidewalks in this state,” he said.

Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, said the organization generally opposes “jamming” reviews through the court system. But she said that addressing homelessness doesn’t have the “luxury of time” that building a new sports stadium has.

The issues of housing and homelessness are deeply related in an expensive state where two-thirds of renters pay more than $1,500 a month for shelter, says Paul Tepper, executive director of the Western Center on Law And Poverty, which works on behalf of poor Californians.

In San Francisco and other similarly pricey California cities, renters can easily pay more than $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. Some low-wage workers sleep in their cars or mobile homes because they can’t afford anything near work.

“There is this enormous need for housing, and it is particularly acute for poor people,” Tepper said.

Har reported from San Francisco.

 

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The Nation

Big rig causes 100-year-old bridge to collapse in North Dakota

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This undated photo provided by Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department shows the overweight semi that caused the collapse of a small, historic bridge near Northwood, N.D. Authorities say the semi, with a trailer load of dry beans, was traveling on the 56-foot-long, restricted-weight bridge over the Goose River Monday. (Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department via AP)

NORTHWOOD, N.D. — Sheriff’s officials say an overweight semitrailer loaded with dried beans caused a more-than-century-old bridge to collapse in North Dakota.

Grand Forks County sheriff’s officials say the bridge over the Goose River near Northwood collapsed Monday afternoon. Photos show the wooden and iron span buckling under the weight of the vehicle. The bridge is partly submerged in the water.

Police said a 2005 Peterbilt semi-truck was driving on the bridge when the structure reportedly crumpled beneath it, causing the trailer to hangover the west abutment.

The 56-foot-long bridge was built in 1906 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It has a 14 ton weight restriction. Sheriff’s officials say the semitrailer was 29 tons over that limit.

The driver, who was not injured, faces an $11,400 overload fine.

Officials say it will cost up to $1 million to replace the bridge.

It was not immediately clear if weight-limit signs were posted, and police said the incident was still under investigation

Northwood is about 200 miles northeast of Bismarck.

 

 

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Business

Women In Trucking names its 2019 top woman-owned businesses

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Angela Eliacostas is the founder and owner of AGT Global Logistics, one of the companies the Women In Trucking Association has named its 2019 Top Women-Owned Businesses in Transportation. (Courtesy: Women in Trucking)

PLOVER, Wisc. —  The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has announced its annual list of the “Top Woman-Owned Businesses in Transportation.”

The names of the companies being recognized in 2019 were released in the latest edition of Redefining the Road, the official magazine of WIT.

WIT created the list was created to recognize women in leadership and encourage more women to become proactive leaders in their organizations and even start their own businesses, WIT president and CEO Ellen Voie said. The program supports WIT’s overall mission “To encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize the obstacles they face.”

Entrepreneurship is a viable means of economic self-sufficiency, and many women are choosing an enterprise connected to transportation to be part of their career aspirations, according to Brian Everett, publisher of Redefining the Road.

Companies considered for the recognition must meet criteria that includes majority ownership by a woman, financial stability and growth, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Each company was nominated and chosen based upon business success and accomplishments, including those related to gender diversity.

This year’s list includes companies from a diverse range of business sectors in the commercial freight transportation marketplace, including motor carriers, third-party logistics companies and original equipment manufacturers.

Companies named to the 2019 “Top Woman-Owned Businesses” list and their primary female business owners are:

  • Bennett International Group; Marcia G. Taylor, CEO
  • Kenco Logistics; Jane Kennedy Greene, chairwoman
  • London Auto Truck Center; Donna Childers, vice president
  • Rihm Family Companies; Kari Rihm, president and CEO
  • Veriha Trucking, Inc.; Karen Smerchek, president
  • Rush Trucking Corp.; Andra Rush, CEO
  • Aria Logistics; Arelis Gutierrez, CEO
  • Lodgewood Enterprises; Arlene Gagne, president
  • S-2international, LLC; Jennifer Mead, CEO
  • International Express Trucking; Karen Duff, president and CEO
  • Brenny Transportation, Inc.; Joyce Brenny, CEO and founder
  • Knichel Logistics; Kristy Knichel, CEO
  • Garner Trucking; Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, CEO
  • LYNC Logistics; Cindy Lee, president
  • Ontario Truck Training Academy; Yvette Lagrois, president
  • AGT Global Logistics; Angela Eliacostas, owner and founder
  • Powersource Transportation; (Barb Bakos, president
  • LaunchIt Public Relations; Susan Fall, president
  • United Federal Logistics, Inc.; Jennifer Behnke, president
  • BCP Transportation; Nancy Spelsberg, Ardis Jourdan, Kristie Rozinski
  • Ladybird Logistics Ltd.; Felicia Payin Marfo, managing director
  • DGT Trucking; Donna G. Sleasman, owner
  • RFX Inc.; Kimberly Welby, president and CEO)

These companies will be recognized during a special program at the Women In Trucking Accelerate! Conference & Expo, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Dallas. For more information, visit WomenInTrucking.org.

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The Nation

Can you say oversized load!

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That is big!

 

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