BERKELEY RIDGE- Construction on the QLine 7 train extension to Berkeley Ridge came to a halt today, as federal funds going to QUARTA’s expansion have been reallocated effective immediately. President Rosenthal and the Freedemian Legislature passed the Graham Emergency Recovery Act today at a special session. The bill takes funding away from transit and roadway expansions in other states temporarily and puts that money towards housing and transportation projects in Graham City.
It is common knowledge among Freedemians that Graham City is in very sorry shape. Entire square kilometers of once-beautiful buildings have been entirely abandoned. Elevated subway lines have been condemned, some even demolished. Some roads have potholes several lanes wide. The city has lost more residents than the entire population of Franklinsburgh over the last three decades. Tourism and trade have all but died, taking the city with it. Unemployment is over 30%. Power Outages happen almost daily and crime rates are the highest in the country.
The situation has gotten so bad that on Thursday, President Rosenthal and current Graham City Mayor, Jennifer Felderman, announced that the federal government would be taking over the city. Currently Graham City is solely under federal control, and on Monday it is expected to officially become an “emergency territory”, meaning it will temporarily no longer be part of Graham state and will be almost an emergency site where the government is attempting to help it recover. This comes after findings of corruption among several high level officials in the state of Graham, including current state executive Andrew Carmichael. An investigation has forced him to shut down his campaign for reelection.
The provision for emergency territories has been generally accepted since 1936, when the government had to take over a small region in Henshaw after an accident left a large portion contaminated with toxic waste. In fact, this was a large part of the reasoning behind President Doofenschmidt’s Tri-State Plan in the late 1940s. However, no situation has ever been bad enough since then to require its use until now.
President Rosenthal called the plan surrounding the bill the “New Start Deal”. The plan creates several Graham-based agencies and programs, such as the Building and Infrastructure Restoration Agency (BIRA), the New Development for Graham Agency (NDGA) and the Off the Streets, Off to Work Program (OTSOTW) in hopes of creating jobs, reducing crime, and rebuilding the city at the same time. BIRA gives local men and women jobs renovating and restoring old buildings, fixing roads, working on power infrastructure, and cleaning up debris from newly demolished buildings. NDGA puts more people to work building new government-owned developments like affordable housing and new office and commercial space for new companies moving in. (The developments will be sold to private owners once the city has recovered enough to do so.) The Off the Streets, Off to Work program offers youth just out of school basic jobs assisting in other agencies. On top of this large incentives have been given for large companies to choose to move in and help with the effort, such as lower taxes.
President Rosenthal has stated she and the Freedemian Legislature hope to turn the city back over to Graham State by June, and that with the programs still going full force they hope to see some positive changes in Graham by 2017 and they hope to see the city back on its feet by 2019.
Most people have absolutely no problem supporting Graham City, even if that means reallocating funds and losing federal funding for some projects. Still, many wish this had been gone about a different way. Nearly 80% support helping Graham, and nearly 64% support the New Start Deal, yet only 10% support the Graham Emergency Recovery Act.
“I support the idea of taking federal funds from QUARTA and other successful programs for a while to help Graham. After all, we’re doing well enough here in Quentinsburgh that even just state funding can help fund the rest of our transit expansion. Most of the big stuff here is done. Graham needs it way more than we do. I just wish we had been given prior notice,” QUARTA planner Geneva Patterson said in an interview with PWN. “So many plans that perhaps could have been done without any federal money were started with federal money and are now in an awkward limbo as we struggle to catch up using state and local funds. It’s definitely doable, just a lot harder done retroactively and it could lead to several projects here and elsewhere being suspended for months.”
But Patterson was not bitter.
“All that federal money that was going towards new lines and freeways in other Freedemian cities can all be funneled into Graham now. I’m hopeful that this will make a large difference.”