Online petitions! They're associated most often with topics like imperiled TV shows or the creation of new holidays, but in this crazy new world all bets are off, right? That's likely why Caltrain, a major transit agency that YOU'D THINK would have access to channels to work out federal funding, has instead been forced to launch an online petition to save their plan to electrify the system.
As you already know, at the urging of cantankerous California Republicans in Congress, last week President Trump's Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao halted a $674 million federal grant that was earmarked for the project of electrifying Caltrain — an essential piece in connecting the high-speed rail project between San Jose and San Francisco.
After a day of likely teeth gnashing and drywall punching, Caltrain came up with what appears to be a last-ditch effort to save the program: An online petition addressing the president, urging him to "Tell the FTA to approve funding for Caltrain electrification." Here's the full text of the petition, what was created on the White House's "We The People" platform:
You have said infrastructure and jobs will be a keystone of your administration. When you spoke with Silicon Valley leaders you praised their innovation and said "anything we can do to help this go along, we’re going to be there for you." In talks with Japanese Prime Minster Abe, he cited high speed rail as technology that could create prosperity and thousands of US jobs.
Shovel-ready transportation projects would put Americans to work in good manufacturing and infrastructure jobs. Caltrain Electrification would support over 9,600 Americans, not only in California, but in states including Utah, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Direct the FTA to approve the $647 million in funding for Caltrain electrification
The petition "needs 99,082 signatures by March 20, 2017 to get a response from the White House," the White House writes, and "once the petition reaches the required threshold, it will be put in a queue to be reviewed by the White House...When the White House responds, everyone who has signed the petition will get email from the White House to let you know that we’ve reviewed and responded to the petition."
"The White House plans to respond to each petition that crosses the current signature threshold" they write. "In some cases, the White House response might not address the facts of a particular matter to avoid the appearance of improper influence (such as in specific procurement, law enforcement or adjudicatory matters)." HAHA yeah they are pretty worried about that shit.
According to the We The People FAQ, the White House typically responds to petitions that make it past the signature threshold "within 60 days, however, depending on the topic and the overall volume of petitions from We the People, responses may be delayed."
The FAQ does not specify what format will be used to respond to a petition, but my money is on a 3 a.m. all-caps tweet ending, I perversely hope, in the now nauseatingly-iconic "SAD!" But now that they've dipped their toes in the wacky world on online cheerleading, perhaps Caltrain is preparing for the next logical step should they be denied by Dear Leader: a Caltrain Kickstarter.