Mass Transit an Arduous Option

This was another column I submitted to the Highlander, but it did not make the cut.

Our campus is growing each year. Parking is one obvious factor that gets worse as the years go by. New buildings have taken away parking spaces close to campus where transportation hub number one becomes the de facto choice for parking. Not all of us utilize the mass transit system that helps to get motorists off the street. The loss of individual freedom in where you want to go is one reason why many individuals still keep on using their automobiles. We come to campus from many different places, but for those who do not live close to UC Riverside commuting with mass transit is not pretty. People who I have come across mention one word when one has to travel a long trip which is the Metrolink commuter rail system. Metrolink has done wonders for the people who wish to avoid the 91 freeway when commuting to Los Angeles or Orange County, but there is a strong bias for those suburbanites who could not afford living in those counties. Looking at the San Bernardino line which goes from San Bernardino to Los Angeles and the Riverside line which goes from Riverside to Los Angeles the trips are not evenly balanced throughout the day. This leads to some to consider the bus system, which also has it’s benefits and it’s flaws.

Mass transit has its benefits. You can unwind by reading your assignments for class and get them done by the time you get home. Environmentalists will also like the fact that Riverside Transit Agency uses Clean Natural Gas fuel. The bus stop is located near Lothian Hall or Banockburn placed near the campus compared to the majority who has to use the transportation hubs. Parking services will gladly sell students, staff and faculty the necessary passes from Metrolink and the Riverside Transit Agency. The problem with fixed route service is if you are not taking a direct connection to the destination you need to go to you may end up waiting for the difference between the other bus. You are able to attend over 75 percent of the classes on campus without the need for a car, but for some you may have to take your car to class or beg for the kindness of strangers for a ride back.
The way home is also a problem because the bus operators are not likely to make their destinations during the approximate time. Traffic congestion at night has made bus service intolerable for many. Route 16 from Moreno Valley going to Downtown Riverside on Iowa and University around 5:10pm has been consistently late ever since October 2001. Route 100, a freeway express route to San Bernardino operated by Omnitrans fluctuates like the lottery due to it’s use of the freeway. The 91 freeway makes up a significant portion of the route and during rush hour I have cringed when I have missed my connection due to bottle neck traffic.
The late bus unfortunately causes missed connections to the routes needed to finish the journey. Los Angeles County has a superior transportation operation that makes life easier without a car a better option. Unlike San Bernardino and Riverside County most of the routes in Los Angeles County have a better frequency interval that makes getting to your destination painless along with 24 hour service for a half dozen routes. Unfortunately Southern California is not New York City, a car is strongly recommended. If these inconveniences can be fixed for the rail and bus system then the university population would reconsider using their vehicles to lighten the loan on the roads. First, Metrolink needs to partner with neighboring mass transit agencies to consider bus routes to supplement service during off peak hours. Second, the Riverside Transit Agency should consider signal manipulation technology as demonstrated with the Los Angeles MTA in their Metro Rapid may be necessary for RTA’s high demand routes. If the agencies can do the above then mass transportation will become a positive option for all.

A New Affirmative Action

Originally Submitted for consideration for the Highlander back in January 2003. Since the Highlander does not have their archives of older articles, I am not aware if this was published.

As someone who would like to become an academic, I would support bringing forth Affirmative Action for ideological purposes only. The academic world is a left wing dominated institution, and it is time for a wider scope of ideologies to be represented on campus. We need instructors who are independent and who are willing to come out for a greater marketplace of ideas. As ideological minorities, we should play hardball with the left, but we should play by the rules. Just like the Fox News Channel in the classroom should be “I present, you decide”. As students, we should be explorers not revisionists. The university nor the professors should not force ideology or their worldview on the students. Thousands of young brains full of mush enter the hallowed halls of UC Riverside and we should not aim to convert them to the prevailing worldview.

The left wing follows an ideological dream land where they have an indifferent reaction to differing ideas. They may want to invite Maxine Waters to speak on campus, but they are not as eager to have black conservative economist Walter E. Williams to speak. The leadership on campus may worship on the altar of diversity making sure that we have a wide variety of students from their racial background, but we are already diverse in ethnicity. We need to focus on the next step on diversity where ideology becomes the new frontier. We already have MECHA, but why not encourage the formation of a chapter of the Riverside Young Americans for Freedom? It may be stereotypical to think that white people are the only right wing folks around, but opening up the campus to conservative ideology also benefits people no matter their gender, ethnicity or even sexual orientation because they can be right wing too.

Universities are the place where we receive divergent views on the issues and policies that dominate the community today. It is only fair that we receive both sides of the story. As Highlanders we should not be known as African-Americans, Asians, Latinos or white people, but for what ideas we bring forth to the marketplace of ideas. Now is the time for us to be liberated from the mindless mush of identity politics. It is an insult to the undergraduate students on campus when our student government would rather focus protecting their racial identities from Regent Ward Connerly instead of protecting their constituents from massive fee hikes during the California budget crisis. Diversity should not be defined as becoming clones of the establishment where we have to think exactly like them to be diverse, but it is for us to become individuals.

Simon’s failure endemic of state GOP’s woes

Originally Published November 11, 2002 – UCR Highlander

One of the several columns I wrote for the college paper during my tenure as a student at UC Riverside where I graduated with a BA in Political Science in ‘03.

The California Republican Party is in a time of crisis after election day. The base was more motivated this year, but the swing voters were motivated to vote for incumbents and the Democratic Party as a whole.

Bill Simon came out in a stealth campaign in the March primary. Many observers expected former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan to easily win the Republican gubernatorial primary, but Simon motivated the fringe of the GOP to pull for him in a low voter turnout election. Gray Davis is still unpopular according to opinion polls; he never received higher than a 45 percent job approval rating this year.

Voters wanted better candidates this election cycle. Many Democrats and independents wanted to vote for Riordan, the man that Bush operative Karl Rove wanted to win the state for the president. Instead, thanks in large part to a Davis-funded $10 million hit campaign on Riordan before the March primary, the state GOP fielded a novice candidate who was running against a thirty-year plus veteran of politics. What did Bill Simon do right this election cycle?

Compared to 1998 Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren, Bill Simon got the base out to vote for him. The base is composed of the dedicated activists who are the lifeblood of its party. Simon got the values crowd, the gun rights people and the conservatives to come out for him. What did Bill Simon do so wrong that caused him to lose this year?

Simon first had the income tax scandal; Gray Davis pressured Simon to release his tax forms to see if Simon was hiding anything. Then, Simon had a lawsuit against him with one of his business dealings for $78 million in July that made voters think that Simon was an inept executive.

Even though the lawsuit was overturned, people still thought of that verdict. The recent stories on corporate fraud and greed made it a bad time for people in business to run for office because of the downturn in the economy. Political candidates know that in campaigning the first to define his or her opponent has an advantage in keeping that picture in the minds of voters until the election.

Bill Simon also alienated his base by trying to outreach to swing voters with the California Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of gay and lesbian Republicans and their allies.

The Log Cabin Republicans sent Bill Simon the group’s questionnaire, and Simon surprisingly said that he would sign a proclamation for Gay Pride Day and support domestic partner benefits. The news of this development infuriated the values community from Lou Sheldon to Randy Thomasson, and the base was devastated. Bill Simon then decided to close his bridge to the moderates and swing voters by disavowing that he ever did sign that questionnaire. Bill Simon had a chance to reach out to a wide audience, but he was stuck with his political bedfellows for times of good and bad.

A strategy that could help California Republicans in 2006 is examining how Linda Lingle, Mitt Romney and George Pataki won their respective gubernatorial elections in Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York, respectively.

These individuals courted everyone that made up their party and reached out to the other side to achieve victory in their states. Courting voters that want to ban abortion, legalize discrimination against homosexuals and own firearms without restrictions may bring hardcore members of the GOP to the polls, but it certainly does not enhance the turnout of independents and weak partisans. The idea of “Inclusion Wins” is only the first step towards Republican victory, but the next step is to also carry on the good fight.

Voters want substance, they do not want to hear the typical sound byte platitudes. California may be facing a horrific budget deficit, but there was no good argument to elect Bill Simon even though Gray Davis was the culprit of many of these financial troubles. Let the Democrats implode on their own problems.

Life in the Inland Valley