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April 03, 2013

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Joe

This Mercury News/Times editorial lays it out--again. I love the "we told you so part"....too bad they didn't tell their readers BEFORE the voting as I did:

http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_22942114/mercury-news-editorial

Mercury News editorial: Jerry Brown's legacy will be high-speed rail to nowhere

It may be impolite to say we told you so. But we told you so.

Planning costs for California's ill-advised high-speed rail project already are nearly $100 million more than anticipated, based on Wednesday's story by Mercury News reporter Mike Rosenberg. Much of that is going to consultants and to raises for employees.

So we have taken the liberty of designing the plaque for Gov. Jerry Brown's monument to himself.

Of course, if Brown recognizes the looming peril and stops the runaway cost engine in time to avoid disaster -- hey, it's still just on paper. We'll be happy to tear it up.

We thought high-speed rail looked like a reasonable deal at its original price, around $69 billion. But things got out of control -- and it's taxpayers who'll find themselves tied to the tracks down the line. We think the cost ultimately will double.

Money doesn't seem to matter to the governor when it comes to high-speed rail, however. Brown seems bent on producing public works on a par with his famous father, former Gov. Pat Brown.

It brings to mind auto pioneer Henry Ford and his son Edsel. They too worked in the same business, and Edsel struggled to live up to the accomplishments of his father. He was by some measures successful, just as Brown in some ways has been right for this time in California. But Edsel Ford's name will forever be linked with failure because of the colossal flop of the much-hyped line of automobiles that
posthumously bore his name.

We think high-speed rail will be Jerry Brown's Edsel.

It is a semi-fast train to nowhere that will either collapse under the weight of its own ridiculous assumptions for ridership and private financing, or it will bleed money from the state's general fund for generations at the expense of schools, health care, public safety and the social service safety net.

In 2008, voters approved $9 billion in bonds toward construction of a high-speed rail system that would connect the Bay Area with Los Angeles and ultimately stretch to Sacramento and San Diego. At the time, we thought it was the right thing to do.

Then the recession hit, and bad management at the High-Speed Rail Authority took a toll. The nature of the project changed. Cost predictions skyrocketed, and service to Sacramento and San Diego is gone.

When Brown was elected governor in 2010, he could have called a timeout and traveled the reasonable road back to the voters, who had approved a very different project at a lower cost and clearly had since turned against the plan. He did the opposite.

While lecturing us about the need to see "the Big Picture," Brown painted anyone who questioned the concept, plan or cost of his monument as either small-minded or obstructionist. He hired political operative Dan Richard, a former BART director and PG&E executive, to ram the bond sale authorization through the Legislature and used the full weight of his office to pressure lawmakers, as his father had done for earlier projects.

But instead of a world-class university system or a visionary water-delivery system -- just part of the Pat Brown legacy -- Jerry Brown's name will be forever linked to a train to nowhere.

We'll donate the plaque. No charge.

pat giorni

How quickly we forget....
>

...when the Bond Measure was passed, the price-tag was $48B.

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