The rail authority has been jamming ahead as rapidly as it can because its leaders were striving to break ground this September on the first phase of the project to hit the deadline for the $3 billion in stimulus funds from the feds.
The first stage would connect non-transit users in the Central Valley from Fresno to Bakersfield. It's notable that three Fresno City Council members raised a bunch of questions this week about impacts in their city, joining many farmers who have been dead set against the project.
The gift from the feds notwithstanding, the $100 billion boondoggle continues to receive bad news when any non-partisan agency examines its plans. The non-partisan legislative analyst reported this week that the cost of the bonds to repay the first phase of the project will be more than $700 million per yeara sharp increase over the original plan.
Given that the same office already is predicting that the governor's revenue assumptions again were way too rosy, it's more bad news for a state that faces drastic cuts in k-12 school funding if the governor's tax plan fails on the November ballot.
Throw in that only $10 billion has been identified for the $100 billion that currently is estimated to finish the project and it's fair to question the judgment of the politicians who continue to push this absurdity.
CHANGING GEARS to something much, much more pleasant.
I spent some time this week meeting with Jim and John Concannon, the father-son team at Concannon Vineyards in Livermore. Jim is a long-time friend, but it was the first time to chat with John since he returned to the family business a few years ago.
John started working at the winery when he was 12 years old, but then went off to school and worked in the medical device industry for 23 years before the vineyards called him back. The Concannon operation has changed significantly since The Wine Group bought the winery from a group including the Wente family several years ago.
The modern facility that opened a couple of years ago bottles many other labels that the privately held corporation owns. It's the second largest wine company in the world.
The big hit recently for Concannon was its Crimson and Clover, a red-wine blend built around its signature Petit Sirah. It celebrated the 50-year anniversary of Concannon's bottling of Petit as a varietal. The clover was included for the Irish heritage. The first year's production of 18,000 cases sold out in three months and they've since bottled more to keep up with the demand.
Concannon has produced wines for 128 years in a row since its founding in 1883 (the same year Wente Vineyards started) surviving Prohibition and the Depression by bottling sacramental wine.
Concannon celebrated its Irish heritage by venturing into spirits this year. Partnering with one of the three Irish distillers (Cooley), Concannon has released an Irish whiskey that received 93 points in one tasting.
I'm not that acquainted with Irish whiskey (scotch or bourbon are normal for me), but this is one fine sipping whiskey that I'd heartily recommend if you can find it.