Questions for Senator Alan Lowenthal
I have to admit that after reading Senator Alan Lowenthal´s op-ed I am unconvinced that he has actually answered the charges leveled in the original ModBee editorial. And I remain convinced that the evidence shows Sen. Lowenthal does not support the HSR project that a majority of Californians approved in November 2008.
If he wants to ensure transparency and responsibility in how the funds are used, he can do that without messing with how the funds are allocated – including but not limited to the Central Valley maintenance hub.
These are separate matters. But Sen. Lowenthal has chosen to conflate the two, using concerns about “fiscal responsibility” as his cover to gut the system as he has always intended to do.
Since June 2008 this blog has tracked Sen. Lowenthal´s desire to gut the HSR system by turning it into a method to fund merely incremental commuter rail improvements in the Bay Area and SoCal. Nothing in Sen. Lowenthal´s apologia disproves that conclusion about his intentions.
Sen. Lowenthal has shown himself to be quite willing to distort the situation and leave out relevant facts to make the CHSRA look bad. This includes his refusal to mention in the op-ed that the 2008 Business Plan was delayed because of the 2008 state budget crisis, which left the CHSRA without the funds to pay for the business plan.
The report from the Legislative Analysts Office that Sen. Lowenthal requested earlier this year provides further evidence of his desire to cut the Central Valley out from the overall project.
Using “fiscal responsibility” to attack HSR is an old game, as we have also tracked at this blog for quite some time. It is distressing to see Sen. Lowenthal playing that game in order to undermine the HSR project. If Sen. Lowenthal wanted to truly and effectively defend himself, he would answer the following questions (I will give him space on this blog to do so, and will post his replies unedited):
1. Does he support the HSR project as approved by voters in November 2008 – which specified a 220mph train to connect SF to Anaheim via the Central Valley?
2. Will he refuse to be a party to any efforts to tear the HSR system into pieces?
3. Will he admit that the 2008 Business Plan would have been produced on-time had he and his fellow Senators approved the state budget by the constitutionally mandated deadline of June 30?
4. Will he apply his “fiscal responsibility” goals to the Peninsula portion of the project, namely the efforts by a small group of NIMBYs to force the CHSRA to build an tunnel that will cost many more billions of dollars than the business plans currently anticipate for both the Peninsula section and the project as a whole?
5. Will he promise the people of California that his efforts to ensure “fiscal responsiblity” will not jeopardize the state´s chances at winning billions in federal stimulus funding this year for the HSR project?
6. Will he commit to lobbying Congress to pass a Transportation Bill that fully funds the HSR Strategic Plan, and will he acknowledge that this would be sufficient to fully fund the HSR project as laid out in Prop 1A?
We await the Senator´s response.