HSR at the Democratic Convention
So I spent the weekend up in San José at the California Democratic Party Convention. It was my first convention and a great experience overall. And in between some of the official meetings, I got a chance to talk to some present and future Democratic elected officials about high speed rail and our state’s energy future.
As you saw above, I spoke with Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who has taken a strong leadership role on this issue. We had a good conversation about high speed rail, and she told me about her recent trip to Japan to tour the Shinkansen. She pointed out the Japanese trains’ phenomenal on-time record – averaging within six seconds of the scheduled time – and mentioned the Spanish AVE trains’ guarantee of a full trip refund if the train runs more than 5 minutes behind schedule (which rarely happens). She has a clear grasp of the necessity and the value of the project, and is a very good public advocate for what is too often seen as an “esoteric” idea. Fiona Ma is definitely one of our most important allies in the Legislature on high speed rail.
This morning I met with Debbie Cook, who is running for Congress down in Orange County, challenging right-wing incumbent Dana Rohrabacher. Debbie Cook is the mayor of Huntington Beach, and she is also active in the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO), perhaps the world’s leading group of experts and activists dealing with our looming energy crisis – she is planning their September meeting up in Sacramento. Debbie Cook made it clear that one of the driving forces behind her campaign will be sustainable transportation – Orange County, like the rest of the state, remains dependent on oil-based transportation systems, and she did a great job of explaining why that must change. Her candidacy for Congress will help give this state a much greater awareness of peak oil, and will also help spotlight another advocate of high speed rail.
HSR did not otherwise have a very high profile at the convention, which was mostly focused on endorsement fights, the presidential campaign, and the usual schmoozing. But it was good to encounter these two Democratic officeholders who will be likely playing important roles in our high speed rail campaign this year.
Many of my fellow bloggers, especially those from Southern California, expressed the wish that we had high speed rail up and running. The San José stop will be just one mile from the convention center, connected to it by the VTA’s light rail line, and HSR would have made it a lot easier for folks to travel to and from the convention. Especially on a Sunday afternoon, exhausted from the weekend’s revelry.