All You Have To Do Is Ask
Kathy Hamilton, a prominent Peninsula NIMBY, has a new post up at the Examiner attacking yours truly over a recent post in which I congratulated Caltrain, the California High Speed Rail Authority, and the US Department of Transportation for working together to bring funding for positive train control to the Peninsula.
Of course, that funding is for the much-maligned CBOSS form of PTC, which raised a lot of ire, and for good reason.
Instead of actually trying to engage me in a dialogue about the post – and several other issues – Hamilton went straight for the innuendo-laden attack. This was entirely unnecessary, but for reasons known only to herself, that’s the path she chose. Here are some excerpts:
First, for those of you who haven’t read the California High-Speed Rail Blog, let me tell you about it. It’s run by Robert Cruickshank. The site is affectionately known as Robert’s blog, not because he’s anybody’s best friend but because no one can spell or pronounce his last name.
Really? You’re going to open with that? Wow.
Cruickshank is actually a pretty easy name to pronounce. All you have to do is ask. She has my contact info – we actually had a very brief email conversation over the weekend – so there’s no excuse for her to wonder idly.
Further, all she has to do is ask about any of the other issues she raises:
Many have suspected this blog site, www.cahsrblog.com whose logo looks amazingly like the California High Speed Rail logo, might be funded by the High Speed Rail organization but proof positive has not surfaced.
Again, if she was so damn curious all she has to do is just ask me. I am in no way, shape, or form affiliated with the California High Speed Rail Authority. They haven’t given me a dime in funding. Nobody has. I pay this site’s hosting fees, which are minimal, out of my own pocket. If anyone ever wants to donate anything I ask that they fund the cause by giving to Californians For High Speed Rail. I serve on the board of that organization and was until January of this year its Chairman. They’re not funded by the Authority either.
“Proof positive has not surfaced…” that’s such a sleazy line. It’s the equivalent of “have you stopped beating your wife?” It presumes guilt and that the “proof” is out there waiting to be discovered, along with Atlantis and the contents of Al Capone’s vault.
Regardless of where Robert’s motivation comes from, he’s no doubt a good friend of the Authority since he gets scoop on the project early.
The Authority is full of very good people, but I don’t actually have very much interaction with them, and never really have. I’ve always thought of that as something of a weakness. I never did go out of my way to cultivate sources inside the Authority, have met its staff on a couple of occasions, exchange the occasional email, but that’s about it. Not out of any desire to keep my distance, or out of any dislike, but more out of my own inherent laziness. I’ve often felt I should actually be doing more to build relationships there, not less.
The overwhelming majority of what I write about here is based on publicly available info, and that is deliberate. I do that because I want to be able to have my writing be accessible to the broadest possible audience. I’m not a reporter or an investigator, I am an activist and an advocate. This blog exists to support and promote the HSR project, because when I started back in March 2008, barely anyone else was doing so.
That’s all prelude for Hamilton’s true purpose, which is to attack me for supposedly cheerleading the unpopular CBOSS:
The comments on the blog were very negative such as this one: “I’m sorry Robert but I have to strongly disagree with this. As we have stated multiple times why develop another custom system after custom system after custom system? Anyone who wants to save money would use an off the shelf system. Why spend $300 million on a new signal system vs. spending it on something more useful. It makes no sense to R&D your own signal system when there is a good standard out there.”
Another: “ Robert, your posts are becoming a little too, how should I say this. HSR cheerleader (y) if that’s a word. We all know this is bad news for HSR on the peninsula.”
Virtually all the other bloggers–including ardent supporters of high-speed rail-agreed that funding CBOSS is a bad idea.
Again, all Hamilton had to do is ask. I thought it was good news that the Authority helped bring funding to the Peninsula for PTC, but I have always been concerned about CBOSS and have agreed with many of the criticisms about it.
I’m not sure I agree that it is a portent of doom, as Hamilton seems to believe. But I also think that Clem Tillier’s criticisms of CBOSS are good ones and should be taken very seriously. If Hamilton thought I was cheerleading CBOSS – when nothing in my post from a few days ago indicated I had actually been making comments on the type of PTC that had been chosen – once again she could have just asked me.
Ultimately, the solution to the CBOSS issue isn’t to blow up the HSR project but to instead find ways to actually get Caltrain to think more sensibly about their long-term planning, and that involves supporting better cooperation between all parties with an interest in the Peninsula rail corridor. My post was designed to promote better cooperation, and the issues with CBOSS simply illustrate that need more clearly.
Instead what we have are a bunch of people fighting with each other, some of whom want all trains to go away, some of whom think the status quo is just fine (it isn’t) and some of whom recognize the need for rail to be improved and better integrated with the communities.
What do I think of Kathy Hamilton’s role in that situation? All she has to do is ask.