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January 27, 2014

Comments

Anne

Well, well, well. Let's just think about this little quote from the governor

"determined by two Superior Court rulings untethered from the law"

Care to bet how many other little Superior and Supreme court rulings that are untethered from the law that Mr. Brown likes because they fit his notion of how things should go?

jennifer

I was trying to figure out if the contribution story was for real..... Did he appoint any of the judges?!? Here's a great synopsis of what has led up to this action, by Dan Walters from the Sac Bee--

http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/27/6106244/dan-walters-gov-brown-increasingly.html

Published: Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 - 4:49 pm

Desperate times, it’s been said, call for desperate measures.

The oft-quoted phrase originated with ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, who declared, “For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure, as to restriction, are most suitable…”

Gov. Jerry Brown, without uttering the words, has adopted it as his guiding credo to keep alive his bullet train project that otherwise would die a natural death.

Faced with a Sacramento judge’s insistence that the restrictive language of a 2008 ballot measure authorizing the project meant what it said, Brown has become increasingly desperate to begin constructing a small portion.

The state has not been able to sell voter-authorized bonds because of Judge Michael Kelly’s ruling. And it faces deadlines for using federal funds, as well as putting up the state’s share.

At first, the Brown-controlled High-Speed Rail Authority pooh-poohed the ruling and said it could easily comply.

However, it couldn’t, because it couldn’t say how it would finance a “useable segment” of the project, and Kelly evidently wasn’t buying its efforts to redefine the term as being just the short, unelectrified stretch in the San Joaquin Valley.

Then Brown said he wanted to use $250 million of “cap-and-trade” fees on business, meant to reduce carbon emissions, apparently to meet the deadline for putting up the state’s share of the project costs this spring without bond money. But that tactic has run into opposition in the Legislature and from its budget analyst, Mac Taylor, who says that it may be illegal.

Brown’s latest act of desperation occurred late Friday, when his administration asked the state Supreme Court to, in effect, seize the case from Kelly and accept the tortured logic on the project’s legality that Kelly has been unwilling to swallow.

It continues the assertion that Kelly rejected that since the Legislature had acted to appropriate the money, the “funding plan” that Kelly found inadequate “was moot,” no matter what the plain language of the bond issue said.

The simple fact is that there’s no way the project as presently constituted can meet the restrictions of the voter-approved bonds limits that were designed to protect taxpayers’ interests.

Voters were told that state financial exposure would be limited and that the federal government and private investors would put up most of the money. However, the feds have committed only a few billion dollars and there is absolutely nothing else on the horizon.

Meanwhile, the tiny approval margin of the bond issue has morphed into strong opposition in statewide polls as costs have escalated and project management has proven erratic.

It’s become Brown’s ego trip, rather than something that Californians want and need, and is more likely to make him a laughingstock in history books than to become a noteworthy legacy.

Peter Garrison

From SF Gate: 1/30/14: The state Supreme Court rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's request Wednesday to grant immediate review of a ruling against his administration's plan for first-stage funding of California's high-speed rail project.

While refusing to bypass a lower court and take up the case itself, however, the high court issued an unusual, unanimous order to the state appellate court in Sacramento to "expedite its consideration of this matter," with written arguments due by Feb. 1...

Joe

Well, out of the mouths of babes....the SacBee is reporting that our Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome has come out for spending the High-cost Rail money "elsewhere". When I was in the military, we referred to Lt. Colonels as "Light Colonels", sot he light governor is on the right track--pun intended. I'm afraid to look at where he thinks it should be spent, but it's a start!!!!!

jennifer

Wondering if he'll run against Brown !?!? That would be an interesting twist.

pat giorni

If the courts decide that it's illegal to spend the Prop 1A bond money on blended rail, what makes anyone think that the bonds can be assigned somewhere else?

hillsider

You'll never make a Democratic politician!!!

jennifer

Excerpt from Kathy Hamilton's Examiner piece, 2-24-'14-
http://www.examiner.com/article/high-speed-rail-gets-another-break-state-match-delayed

....Congressman Jeff Denhan, who received confirmation that the FRA had approved the Authority's requests for more lenient terms, believes the FRA has let California off the hook again on the schedule of matching funds. He considers the move, risky. He has put forward legislation in Congress to stop the funding for the California Project. Denham said this,

“The Federal Railroad Administration is protecting the Authority yet again and putting California taxpayers at greater risk,” said Rep. Denham. “It has long been clear that the Authority would be unable to provide the funds required in their grant agreement. In December 2012, the FRA changed their agreement to allow for a tapered match rather than the standard concurrent match. Now they’ve changed the agreement again. With billions in federal taxpayer dollars on the line, what changes are next from the FRA? The American people – and Californian taxpayers – deserve to see their money used responsibly.”

It seems the Authority has joined with the FRA as a partner in a political partnership to evade the enforcement of the Prop 1A laws, which were designed to protect Californians, and now protect all US citizens against an irresponsible project. So far the lower courts appear to be in line with the public and the plain language in the bond measure. But courts are not immune from the pressure of politics and one can only hope that the higher courts will allow the lower court decision to prevail despite the wishes of the Governor and even the President. If the FRA and the Authority are allowed to push forward with this project, it will be a win for politics over the rule of law.

Joe

Boy do I wish this guy would just retire already:

SACRAMENTO — The state Senate leader on Monday backed off an unpopular proposal for a so-called carbon tax on consumer fuels and instead wants to dedicate billions of dollars generated by California’s greenhouse gas reduction law to affordable housing, mass transit and high-speed rail.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said his willingness to pivot from a higher tax on gasoline, propane and other consumer fuels was driven by the need to fund environmentally friendly infrastructure projects while helping low-income Californians with housing. The Sacramento Democrat also threw his support behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal to help finance the $68 billion bullet train with money from the cap-and-trade fund that was established as part of the greenhouse gas law.

“I am a quick learner,” Steinberg said at a Capitol news conference surrounded by transit, housing and environmental advocates. “Unlike the last time, I am thrilled to stand with a broad coalition.”

Here is the rest if you care: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/wnews/2014-04-15/steinberg-backs-off-carbon-tax/1776425121519.html

And one has to admire how he weaves the fiction of "affordable housing" into the fuel tax and high-cost rail story. You know you are seeing hand-waving when that happens.

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