The new year is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. It's a time for hopes and dreams, which brings to mind some stories that are on our wish list for 2014:

SACRAMENTO -- In an effort to mollify high-speed rail critics while keeping his legacy intact, Gov. Jerry Brown has introduced a cost-cutting compromise that will reduce the scope of his pet project. Instead of stretching from San Francisco to San Diego as originally proposed, or even from San Francisco to Los Angeles, this version will cover just 43 miles, connecting Chowchilla and Turlock, with stops at Atwater and Merced.

"The concept is the same as before," Brown said, "but on a smaller scale and at a fraction of the cost. To those naysayers who are blind to progress, I say come to Turlock in 15 years and be prepared for the quickest trip you've ever made to Chowchilla."

OAKLAND -- A commercial airing on local TV this week will convey BART union workers' apologies for the chaos inflicted on commuters with two strikes that shut down the transit agency in 2013.

"Deep down, we knew our demands were outrageous," says a narrator, as a camera pans the workers who didn't call in sick, "and we knew every dollar would come out of your pockets. When we said management was responsible for forcing a strike, well, obviously that was nonsense. But put yourself in our place: If it was this easy to squeeze concessions from your boss, what would you do?

"This has been a message from your friends who operate the BART trains when it suits their purpose."

NEW YORK -- The National Procrastination Association plans to announce today -- or tomorrow, or maybe later -- that Caltrans has won its highest award for 2013 by coming in 10 years behind schedule in completing the east span of the Bay Bridge. The organization annually presents its "What, Me Hurry?" trophy to the group that excels at ignoring deadlines and trampling expectations.

"What sold us on the Bay Bridge," a representative said, "was not only its incredibly delayed completion, but the postponement of the celebration to mark the occasion. That shows a real dedication to the craft of procrastination."

WASHINGTON -- Tea party members, outraged at the government's lavish spending on entitlements, rallied around Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today in pledging their commitment to ending government waste.

"The government's tax-and-spend policies are an insult to patriotic Americans," Cruz harrumphed. "To demonstrate our disdain for federal subsidies, handouts and government intrusion in our lives, we hereby disavow all claims to Medicare and Social Security benefits."

Said one tea party member, "Wait a minute! We're doing what?"

SAN FRANCISCO -- PG&E surprised observers by announcing that it is withdrawing a requested rate increase for natural gas customers. A spokesman explained that company officials unexpectedly developed a conscience.

"When you get right down to it," he said, "that $4 billion we were fined for the San Bruno explosion was intended as a punishment for lax oversight of our operations. If we turn around and stick it to our customers to cover our costs, well, who's really being punished?"

Said a customer, "I can't believe this is true."

It isn't. This is a wish list.

Contact Tom Barnidge a tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com.