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April 09, 2012

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Joe

Here's the best news all day:

By Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times
April 9, 2012, 5:52 p.m.

A congressional committee has launched a wide-ranging examination of the California high-speed rail project, including possible conflicts of interest and how the agency overseeing it plans to spend billions of dollars in federal assistance.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), notified the California High-Speed Authority about the review Monday and ordered the agency to preserve its documents and records of past communications.

Committee members say they want to ensure that tax dollars are being spent appropriately and check for possible conflicts of interest involving rail officials and contractors. They also plan to determine whether a large government commitment to the bullet train would siphon federal tax dollars away from other important transportation projects.

"California high-speed rail was sold to voters as a grand vision for tomorrow but in practice appears to be no different than countless other pork-barrel projects — driven more by political interests and consultant spending than valid cost-benefit analysis," Issa said. "Before more taxpayer money is sent to the rail authority, questions must be answered about mismanagement, conflicts of interest, route selection, ridership and other risks."

I happened to meet Darrell Issa a few weeks ago and I think the California High-Cost Rail Authority is finally staring into a bright interrogation light. Not a minute too soon.

U tubing around the railroad

Y'all might enjoy this video of the California chickens

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owOm6JDzDu8

jennifer

Remember this one?

http://www.theonion.com/video/obama-replaces-costly-highspeed-rail-plan-with-hig,18473/

fred

The Onion piece is funny but that youtube video is hands down the worst video I have seen on youtube. Whoever is responsible, don't quit your day job.

pat giorni

Great letter to the Daily Journal:
http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=opinions&title=OP-ED:%20Turning%20a%20D%20to%20an%20R&id=232414

OP-ED: Turning a D to an R
April 14, 2012, 05:00 AM By Russ Cohen

Will high-speed rail turn a die-hard Democrat into a card-carrying Republican?

If there were an instruction manual on how to convert a (D) to an (R) look to the California High-Speed Rail project and how it has caused a great divide along party lines.

Clearly, the discussions about the merits of the program have devolved from “let’s bring California into the future” to “let’s create jobs right now.”

Democrats have been hiding behind the mantra, let’s do high-speed rail right and Republicans have recognized that you can’t do it right if it will cause great harm not only to the environment, the economy and the state’s financial solvency but will saddle our children (and quite possibly their children) with insurmountable debt, more reductions to education funding and a rail system that didn’t alleviate the gridlock it was promised to eliminate.

Here’s my concern about all of this. I’m a Democrat. I always resented the fact that Republicans pigeonholed us as “spenders” and themselves as “fiscal conservatives.”

I always thought of myself, a former elected official, as someone who would look at the issue and judge it on its merits — especially if it were a land use issue or public works project. I didn’t let political ideologies bias my decision. That doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to high-speed rail and I don’t understand why party politics has become the line in the sand. But it has.

I recently asked a local Democratic leader why he supported high-speed rail despite the fact that every independent study of the project suggests that it is wrought with unanswered questions and is filled with risk. He simply said, “Because I’m a Democrat.” Did he really mean — the governor, a Democrat, supports high-speed rail whole-heartedly and, as a Democrat, he wasn’t going to go against him?

Here is my plea: I mean no ill will toward Republicans, but I don’t want to be one. I’d like to remain a Democrat, but I won’t be able to if the state’s dems insist on falling lock step behind the governor and play into the stereotype that we dems will spend federal dollars — boondoggle or not.

To all elected Democrats: Stop hat dancing around the let’s-do-it-right sombrero. If you want to justify going against the governor, simply wave the pages of his own Legislative Analyst’s report or his own peer review report or the UC Berkeley Transportation Institute report, all of which prove that this is a project that carries much more risk than reward. Remind him that this project does not resemble what many of his fellow Democrats approved in 2008 and that recent polls indicate they are no longer enamored with the concept now that they know the costs to their wallets and their quality of life. Don’t allocate another dime on this project — don’t even consider it.

Please save one Democrat from jumping on to the train headed for Republican headquarters and more importantly, save California from a long-lasting train wreck.


Russ Cohen, a concerned Peninsula resident, suggests you visit highspeedboondoggle.com for more on the issue.

jennifer

Worth a Read:

http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/04/14/high-speed-rail-is-mission-impossible/

jennifer

From Jeff Barker, former spokesperson for HSR:

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/14/4412906/is-high-speed-rail-the-transport.html

pat giorni

Two more in the Daily Journal today...........
http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=opinions&title=Letter:%20Dump%20high-speed%20rail&id=232928
Letter: Dump high-speed rail
April 23, 2012, 05:00 AM
Editor,

I fully support Russ Cohen’s April 14 guest perspective on California High-Speed Rail. High-speed rail has been studied by disinterested parties several times over and the conclusion is always the same. It is not economically feasible and, as Cohen says, it will seriously jeopardize the delivery of education, social services, and other important aspects of the state.

Nevertheless, it is astounding to see many California Democrat politicians continue to say, “I support high-speed rail because I am a Democrat.” I have the following suggestion for all those who think they should still support high-speed rail even if neighbors’ houses get bulldozed, houses that represent a lifetime of hard work and saving which they will not be able to recuperate. Listen to the words of President Obama delivered in the 2011 State of the Union address. The supreme Democrat leader said the following concerning how our country operates politically when compared to others:

“Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they build a railroad, no matter how many homes get bulldozed. If they don't want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn’t get written.”

Isn’t it ironic that the Democrats are ignoring the words of their most important representative uttered in the most important occasion? By ignoring all the studies and making light of the life devastation that the project will entail are these Democrats choosing to behave like leaders in totalitarian countries? What is a Democrat if he/she abandons the basic Democratic agenda? I concur with Russ Cohen. High-speed rail should be dumped now, period.

Jenny Lau

Burlingame

AND...
http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=opinions&title=Letter:%20Train%20wreck&id=232929

Letter: Train wreck
April 23, 2012, 05:00 AM
Editor,

Columnist Sue Lempert (“Dear Joe, Rich, Jerry and Leland” in the the April 16 edition of the Daily Journal), as you certainly know from your longtime appointment as MTC liaison to Caltrain’s Joint Powers Board, California High-Speed Rail and Caltrain’s electrification are two distinctly separate projects wed in a 2002 memorandum of understanding solely to capture any funding sources that would be mutually beneficial despite the apparent redundancy of service.

Further, though the smoking gun will never be daylighted, the 2008 Bay Area to Central Valley Program EIR (now under appeal for the second time) never seriously considered any route alternatives other than Pacheco Pass to use the Gilroy to San Francisco Caltrain right-of-way which had been offered free of ground lease or other financial remuneration.

It is completely disingenuous to state that “[legislators] hear mostly from people against high-speed rail and don’t care about Caltrain. Commuters are working people and don’t have the time to attend meetings or write letters to the editor. I attended such a meeting in Burlingame recently where the average age was 70-plus.”

Had you stayed for more than 25 minutes of the almost two-hour meeting, you would have heard no one rail against Caltrain electrification.

“Ironically, two cities who fought closing Caltrain stops in Burlingame and Atherton are now supporting the bill to kill high-speed rail when electrification could lead to reopening their stations” because they know that Caltrain’s capacity analysis study proves that their stations will not ever see weekday service resumption if HSR runs two to four trains per hour in both directions on shared track.

I am hoping Joe, Rich, Jerry and Leland can look themselves in the mirror if they do not stop this train wreck.


Pat Giorni

Burlingame

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