How Are California Voters Like Gilded Age Robber Barons?

Dec 20th, 2011 | Posted by

The California High Speed Rail project was repeatedly backed by the elected representatives of the people of California between 1996 and 2008. And in 2008 the voters themselves gave their approval to the project and $10 billion in bond money.

Yet according to the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters, that makes them the same as Gilded Age Robber Barons who tried to grab land from Kings County farmers in 1880, resulting in a shootout that killed 7 people:

It’s doubtful whether members of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, who voted this month to pursue an alternative route through Kings County for a north-south bullet train, have ever heard of the Mussel Slough Tragedy, even though it was a seminal event in the state’s history.

If they had, they might not have done what they did….

Greg Gatzka, a Kings County representative, told the committee that local residents had received “deplorable treatment,” that “impacts (on farmers) are not addressed,” and that CHSRA agents threaten to seize land by eminent domain if owners are not willing to sell….

The parallels between the events leading to the Mussel Slough Tragedy and today’s wrangling over the bullet train are uncanny. They settled the former with guns, while the latter will be fought out in Congress, the Legislature and the courts.

Uncanny parallels? That’s ridiculous. The uncanny parallels are actually to every other transportation project the state of California has built in the last 100 years, nearly all of which required use of private land in some fashion. The best parallel is to the construction of Interstate 5 and the California Aqueduct on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in the 1960s. That was a new transportation corridor 0 the freeway and aqueduct did not strictly follow Highway 33, and in many places deviates from it. And so it cut through numerous farms, a few of which I would guess were not willing sellers.

The construction of Interstate 5 did not destroy Kings County (or any of the other counties through which it passes). Nobody was shot over it. Even today, as Jarrett Mullen points out in an excellent post, major freeway projects are being proposed in Bakersfield that would cause substantial impacts to homes and yet there’s no sign of the kind of concerns that the HSR proposal has generated.

California High Speed Rail would also be owned by the state of California. Private investors might reap some of the profits, depending on the business model chosen. And while I’m not happy about that, it’s something I’m willing to live with if it helps get the project built, if it is tightly regulated, and if it is done in a way that does not undermine the system’s usefulness. That’s a very different situation than a bunch of railroad barons (including Leland Stanford) who wanted to screw farmers unfairly.

Dan Walters knows California government and politics quite well. He knows the difference between the Mussel Slough Tragedy and infrastructure projects like high speed rail. But since high speed rail is a key piece of building a sustainable 21st century California, he’s opposed to it. That’s his choice, just as it was Californians’ choice in 2008 to get moving and build high speed rail.

  1. Reality Check
    Dec 20th, 2011 at 22:51
    #1

    O/T: 80km (50mi) of 25kVAC electrification (and more!) for TGV for only €80m ($105m)
    Valence – Moirans line to be electrified
    RFF awards contract to upgrade Valence rail link

    VBobier Reply:

    Everything is different there, apples to oranges comparison as It were, that’s the reality…

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Moirans is a small mountain town. Its main industry is toys. It suffered badly when local firms outsourced fabrication to China but, two years ago, a German firm did exactly the opposite. It bought the abandoned plants and started re-sourcing from China to France, hiring the skilled workers French firms had laid off.
    With electrification Moirans will become part of the one-seat-ride league and its name will be on the TGV map.

  2. Reality Check
    Dec 20th, 2011 at 23:14
    #2

    O/T: HSR news from Turkey & Italy:
    ITALY SIGNS AGREEMENT ON HST BETWEEN TURIN AND LYON
    EIB loans €400m for Istanbul-Ankara high speed rail line

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Italy’s signature was delayed for years because of the opposition of the Italian branch of the Euro-Greens. “NO TAV” (no HSR) violent demonstrations were held in northern Italy. Photoshopped before/after montages were passed around, showing apocalyptic destruction. Politicians supporting the project were accused of taking bribes from an alleged multinational rail mafia. They really overdid it and have eventually lost all credibility.
    The line will include many tunnels, with lengths from 23 to 57km. They will be “bi-tube” to allow safe escape in case of a fire in one of the tubes. Trains will also transport trucks and the danger of one of them catching fire is not zero, as proved in Eurotunnel. In fact, one of the aims of the line is to remove trucks from the roads. Some alpine valleys, especially in France, no longer attract tourists because of the noise and diesel fumes. This explains why the Italian NO TAV movement has never had any following on the French side of the mountain.

  3. StevieB
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 03:56
    #3

    You could see Mussel Slough as a conflict between forces opposed to the railroad and those in favor which is glorified by muckraking journalists to justify their anti-railroad crusades. Parallels could be drawn between the high speed rail sides and crusading journalists as Dan Walters.

    joe Reply:

    It’s group histrionics.

    Let’s put it all on the table; their irrigation water, the price supports for dairy and other ag. subsidies.

    Then we ask the Kings County Supervisors about the land grabs on which State and Federal facilities were built and currently generate more personal income in Kings County than Ag. jobs.

    If they really think the world outside Kings Co. is awful, we should pull out of the County and let them farm without interference.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed, Leave them to rot and stew in their own juices…

  4. Donk
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 06:23
    #4

    OT @ Emma, continuing from prior thread: “if you want to create a system that ignore most of the SoCal population, that will never pay off, and that only provides a speed improvement by 10% go with LOSSAN. Of course I’m talking about LA-IE-SD.”

    This brings up a very interesting debate, in light of the recent developments on the CHSR project. Emma supports building the LA-IE-SD route first as Phase I and the rest of the route to SF essentially as a Phase II, since this hits the major population centers.

    But if they did end up building LA-SD first, how would it look? Where would you start? Here are some interesting questions:

    1. Would the public support sinking billions into completely new trackage when they could spend much less on upgrades to the existing LOSSAN corridor? Sure you would hit more population centers via IE, but the cost difference would be astronomical.

    2. Elizabeth made a good point a few days ago, saying something to the effect that reducing the mileage of the HSR route is one of the most obvious ways to make HSR competitive with car travel. Well the entire LA-IE-SD route fails that test if we are just talking about going from LA-SD.

    3. Would there be a IOS on the LA-IE-SD route? The most obvious IOS would be LA-IE. But we already have relatively descent conventional Metrolink service from LA-San Berdoo and Riverside, so wouldn’t it make more sense to start from SD-IE, and to connect to Metrolink as some propose to do in Palmdale and Livermore?

    4. What about overlays? Wouldn’t it make sense to run HSR on the Metrolink San Bernadino or 91 lines to save lots of $$$? But this would first require a major upgrade of the selected Metrolink line.

    5. NIMBYism is bad on LOSSAN from south OC to Del Mar. But it is probably going to be just as bad from Miramar area-Pacific Beach area. So is it really worth it to start off building a completely new $10B++ line via the IE if we are going to run into similar NIMBY problems?

    6. Based on all of this, it would seem to me that building out LOSSAN first (either non-electrified or electrified to Irvine) would be the most sensible starting point, then to upgrade the LA-IE Metrolink line(s), and THEN to start building the new IE-SD segment.

    7. The obvious problem with starting with the LA-SD or LA-IE-SD or Metrolink routes is that it becomes more of a “local” project in SoCal that NorCal and CV folks would not support. We would have to seek local funding and federal matching funds, which would be in competition with the greater CHSR project.

    StevieB Reply:

    Perhaps the Record of Decision Los Angeles to San Diego, California (LOSSAN) Proposed Rail Corridor Improvements will help with your hypothetical. The Los Angeles to San Diego HSR EIR is many years away. The political will for either is nonexistent.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I want to say that the proper alignment in and east of SoCal is LA-SD along the coast, LA-Phoenix along I-10, and LA-Vegas through Cajon (and not through the Tehachapis), which minimized branching. But doing LA-SD through the Inland Empire is optimal for SD-Vegas and SD-Phoenix.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I agree with the first part but not the rest:

    http://g.co/maps/bejgm

    One of the ways to make peace with the freight railroad is not to compete with them. Leaving Cajon and San Timeteo free and clear doesn’t mean the IE is off the map. Given the existence of Metrolink and Sprinter, you could *gasp* electrify Metrolink and connect passengers faster from the IE than Long Beach or Venice.

    The other harsh reality is that Orange County is basically Phoenix by the sea with Tucson bearing more than just a passing resemblance to San Diego. Only the land barons of synonymouse’s imagination want LA-PHX a straight shot.

    Emma Reply:

    If we want to learn lessons from Acela Express, we should avoid coastal routes unless they are much more profitable.

    We need to remember why LA-IE-SD was chosen in the first place. It is based on the Southern California population density: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/2565409/Southern-California-Population-Density. The EIR has to be done with or without political will. We need to build the system now, not 30 years from now because the population density will only continue to grow which means less space for construction and more NIMBY resistance.

    Making an EIR for the LA-IE-SD section might take some time, but it is a piece of a cake compared to making an EIR for a coastal rail line.

    LOSSAN needs to be upgraded independently from CHSR receiving money from the feds and Amtrak. The HSR-light network could operate at 90-110mph feeding to CHSRA in LA and SD. Of course that is assuming, CHSRA goes back to the original plan allowing HSR to terminate at UTC.

    Apparently, they scratched that decision thanks to SANDAG discouraging anything that could possibly be challenging: http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/152/232/2cc9af08-a139-4cec-9394-f6364fa2ebef.pdf

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    If you upgrade LOSSAN to 90-110mph across the line, you get the same travel time for LA-SD as the 220mph IE line at a far lower cost. It also allows for lower costs for constructing the Anaheim and Irvine segments since you don’t need to add nearly as much train capacity thanks to replacing slots already taken by the Surfliner rather than building in addition to them.

    The only advantage of the IE route is for Riverside and Temecula travel times to San Diego, but this is not a major transportation priority. San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, and Solano Beach are far more deserving and worthwhile areas to improve.

    As for NIMBYs and coastal EIR difficulties, those areas are already slated for other reasons to get tunnels, it’s a surmountable problem.

    Remember, current plans call for nearly the entire route to be tunnel from LAUS to Riverside and mostly viaduct from there on south. That is extraordinarily expensive and again, for very limited benefit.

    Emma Reply:

    Yes I have seen this in the proposals and I can’t believe it. There is probably 5% of the section at grade. Everything else is above grade with a few sections below grade. This is absolutely ridiculous.

    I guess you could do that and that way have the Anaheim extension become part of LA-SD. But then we would have to turn the former IE route into an extension to San Bernadino. We can’t afford to exclude the high density urban area along I-10 East of LA to San Bernadino.

    Donk Reply:

    Yeah, I don’t see the IE route ever getting built unless they use the Metrolink corridor and keep much of it at grade to keep costs down. But that will also slow down the overall travel time from LA-SD. Really the only viable route between LA-SD is LOSSAN.

    If you are going to going to build viaducts and tunnels between LA and SD, may as well make them count and put them where we really need them – a viaduct for run-thru tracks south of LAUS and a deep bore tunnel under Miramar hill at UTC. These are much more worthy than any viaduct or tunnel on the LA-IE-SD route, and will give you the most bang for the buck in terms of travel time improvements.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think you’re learning the wrong lesson from the Acela. The problem is not the coastal route; it’s that it’s run by Amtrak and regulated by the FRA. The coastal route is actually very good, because most of it is fairly straight and could support high speed (even very high speed, with a few curve modifications), and much of the rest has easy cutoffs.

    That said, the issue with LA-SD is different – there seem to be fewer good routes, and the coastal NIMBYism is a bigger problem.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    OT – Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines adds dozens of daily flights to short haul/small market destinations out of La Guardia Airport that certain high speed rail supporters claim the airlines have no interest in serving:

    http://www.delta.com/planning_reservations/deals_offers/fare_sales/lga_flights/index.jsp

    Nothing like having a made up argument with no basis in fact implode on you inside of a week.

    Emma Reply:

    Doesn’t matter. Nobody would fly the distance if they know that you could take a more convenient way that takes about the same time. TSA or not, that is the question.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    It only “doesn’t matter” when someone makes a claim that isn’t true then gets proven wrong.

    You clearly don’t understand why those flights exist in the first place and you’ll be left scratching your head if HSR is ever built when those flights continue.

    Ignorance is bliss I suppose.

    Emma Reply:

    No. It doesn’t matter because adding more flights won’t give Delta Air Lines any advantage. This is a desperate move and they will soon reverse that decision.
    It takes an hour to board and another hour to get your baggage. Even if the flight was only 30 min, traveling time would still add up to 2 hours and 30 minutes from NYC-DC.

    Acela Express needs 2h 40 min despite the fact that it is probably the slowest HSR line in the world and wouldn’t even qualify as HSR in Europe and East Asia. So you’re basically talking about a fancy commuter rail competing with air lines. And people would still take Acela over flying:
    -Free wifi
    -No TSA
    -Beautiful view
    -No G forces = less stressful
    -Stations are in Downtown and provide immediate connection to transit = no taxi fares

    The overwhelming majority of Californians would rather take HSR than to fly.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Desperate move? Soon reverse it?

    You have no idea what you are talking about. None at all.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Sobering Reality:

    Are you going to trumpet the matching news that US Airways will be reducing flights to/from LGA ? The increase in flights offered by Delta to LGA is only being made possible through a slot swap deal between Delta and US Airways, with Delta getting formerly US Airways slots at LGA, and US Airways getting formerly Delta slots at DCA.

    In other words, this is a rearrangement of existing flight capacity, adding some different destinations from LGA, and removing others.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @thatbruce:

    You might actually have a point if it wasn’t for the fact that slots are not route specific (except to Washington/Reagan Airport). Delta is free to use the La Guardia slots to any destination within the confines of the La Guardia Airport Perimeter Rule which limits the range on all flights out of the airport to a distance of 1,500-miles. Instead, they have opted to spend the vast majority of that newly acquired scare resource (landing and departure slots) on the very kind of short haul flying that some here have claimed the airlines no longer want to partake in because it is “unprofitable”. There are plently of much larger markets Delta could have opted to serve inside that radius.

    In this day and age, if a route can’t make money it gets dumped. The simple fact of the matter is that short haul flying is incredibly profitable for the airlines, and Delta’s schedule choices prove it. Any attempt to claim otherwise is patently false and demonstrates complete ignorance of air transportation economics.

  5. Andre Peretti
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 07:09
    #5

    Tours-Bordeaux LGV will cross some Bordeaux vineyards. The multinational funds that now own them can pay the best lawyers and block any project for ever. They have done it for highways but don’t seem to have problems with the LGV.
    French farmers learning on TV that their property is impacted would raise hell and create a very difficult situation for RFF. It has happened in the past and, fortunately, Parisian technocrats have learned their lesson.
    Now, landowners are contacted long before anything appears in the news. In fact, deals often precede the mandatory public meeting where the only discordant voices are hecklers sent over by Europe Ecologie.
    When dealing with farmers, RFF technicians team up with local agricultural engineers who understand farming problems and know exactly what can or can’t be done.
    The deals are not all about money. They may include creating access roads, upgrading irrigation canals and other operations a farmer couldn’t afford on his own, like levelling hillocks that stand in the tractors’ way.
    Of course, finding farmers who can benefit from a win/win deal will be much more difficult in California where most farmland has already been optimised, but has CHSRA even tried?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yes. The public relations hasn’t been great (with people hearing stuff from TV before getting their notices), but CHSRA has absolutely been spending its time discussing access roads, irrigation, and compensation for farmers. This is documented.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    In fact, deals often precede the mandatory public meeting

    I suspect such deals might be illegal in California. It would be easy for politically connected landowners to take advantage.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Signing a deal before the whole public hearing process is completed is also illegal in France. These preliminary deals are just informal arrangements which may be turned into contracts if the project survives the public debate phase. They allow RFF to plan the route through properties whose owners are willing to sell. The original ROW is more than 1km wide and has to be narrowed to 40m after all public debates have been held. When the project has obtained permission to proceed then contracts are signed.
    RFF can’t plan the ROW if it doesn’t know which farmers are willing to sell. There is so much jurisprudence protecting agricultural property that no one, not even the army, will risk a lawsuit against farmers. The shepherds on the Larzac plateau commemorate each year their victory over the army which was denied the right to take their pastures.

  6. synonymouse
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 12:01
    #6

    Move on over brt, prt, maglev, monorail, Skybus and all other sundry Jetsons gadgetbahns, doodlebugs be the new transit fad:

    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20111220/ARTICLES/111229956/1036/news?Title=SMART-sells-191-million-in-construction-bonds

  7. Reality Check
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 14:17
    #7

    The SF Chronicle ran another anti-HSR cartoon today:
    Dec 21: He doesn’t want a train set anymore

    Some other recent ones:
    Dec 9: Things that seemed like a good idea at the time
    Nov 24: So what do we have to be thankful for, again?

    joe Reply:

    Funny, I had not seen any of the editorial cartoons.

    On October 26, 2009, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported that the Chronicle had suffered a 25.8% drop in circulation for the six-month period ending September 2009, to 251,782 subscribers, the largest percentage drop in circulation of any major newspaper in the United States.[17] The Chronicle publisher, Frank Vega, said in response that the drop was expected as the paper moved to a business model that focused less on advertising, and hence less on high numbers of subscribers, and more on increased subscription fees. The paper claimed that the new strategy had produced significantly improved financial results.

    Hearst strategy seems to really on subscriptions by legacy readers who pay more; crazy kids with phoney-thingys can get lost. Same ones who auto industry reporters acknowledge are less interested in cars and more interested in public transportation.

    As of March 2011, Daily circulation is down to 235,350 and Sunday 292,459.

  8. D. P. Lubic
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 17:35
    #8

    “Hearst strategy seems to [bet] really on subscriptions by legacy readers who pay more; crazy kids with phoney-thingys can get lost. Same ones who auto industry reporters acknowledge are less interested in cars and more interested in public transportation.”–Joe

    Is it me, or does it seem that Hearst is sacrificing its future for current revenue?

    Perhaps Hearst thinks the time to get out is now, while the getting’s good?

  9. morris brown
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 18:27
    #9

    The SJ Mercury has jumped on the fraudulent job claims of the Authority.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/california-high-speed-rail/ci_19596026

    In the article Mr. Rossi is quoted:


    Michael Rossi, Brown’s jobs czar and another project board member, said “there was no plan to mislead anyone by manipulating the numbers.”

    Just who do you think you are kidding Mr. Rossi.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I think this quote from CARRD’s Elizabeth Alexis pretty well sums up the thrust of the story (provocatively entitled Most California high-speed rail jobs too good to be true):

    “Job-years and jobs are like apples and Twinkies, they’re not even in the same food group,” said Elizabeth Alexis, a Palo Alto analyst who testified before Congress about the project last week. “It’s not accurate, and it’s misleading; (most of the) people who thought they’re getting jobs are not getting jobs.”

    joe Reply:

    Palo Alto Menlo Park residents mocking transient jobs like construction doesn’t surprise me.

    CARRD attacked the ridership model using socio-economic arguments. Bakersfield to too poor to use HSR. The city doesn’t have air service to SF.

    The CV is the wrong type of people. HSR would wasted on them. These are people who have Twinkie jobs.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    “Jobs” was one of the arguments for the BART Oakland-Airport connector project. Counting the actual number of jobs created is difficult, but the numbers don’t seem that impressive:

    The agency offers one measure: total construction hours. Over the last year, according to BART connector project manager Tom Dunscombe, the connector used 33,469 construction hours, which equates to 22 full-time jobs.

    peninsula Reply:

    This is a fabulously arrogant quote from CHSRA:

    “The bottom line is, if you’re unemployed, you don’t care if it’s jobs or job-years.”

    REally? So the millions of unemployed and downtrodden in the Central Valley who are being promised ONE MILLION JOBS don’t really care if there’s only SIXTY THOUSAND TEMPORARY JOBS, and ONLY FOUR THOUSAND permanent jobs? REally no difference at all to the unemployed????!!! (There might be a difference when the line for jobs is 1 MIllion people long, and they have to turn 940,000 people away.)

    I wonder if there’s any difference to the cities and counties who’s ECONOMIC BASE are going to take permanent hits in the obliteration of their downtowns, schools, residential and commercial and farming base for the sake of ONE MILLION JOBS create (fake jobs…. woops we really meant 60K, just a shortcut, no biggie.)

    Someone now needs to go to jail. Fraud to the voters, Fraud to the State Legislature, Fraud to the Feds for ARRA grants. FRAUD FRAUD FRAUD in every direction you turn.

    (And by the way, if they like this, they’re going to LOVE the $40/gallon gas assumptions in the ridership model. I hope that issue is soon to get some serious airtime too – maybe the federal audit investigation…)

    joe Reply:

    This is a fabulously arrogant quote from CHSRA:

    “The bottom line is, if you’re unemployed, you don’t care if it’s jobs or job-years.”

    REally?

    Really!

    More examples that there many NIMBY peninsula residents are unabashed sociopaths.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Okay, so let’s say it is announced that a certain project, if it moves forward, “will generate 1,000 jobs, so you, being unemployed, join the line of jobseekers. You got there early, and there are just 100 people standing in front of you. But the guy in front of you gets the last job, and when you ask, “what about me?” and “what about the 1,000 jobs?” you are told, well, it’s really 100 jobs that will last 10 years. Do you suppose you would care then that what they were talking about was job-years instead of jobs?

    And even if you weren’t unemployed and weren’t seeking employment, but you were a voter and a tax-payer, and you were led to believe that this hypothetical project would generate “1,000 jobs,” wouldn’t it matter to you if you found out it was “job-years” and not “jobs”? Well, I suppose you wouldn’t be as upset as you might be if the number of “jobs” really was based on “construction hours” or “job months.”

    Mr. Richard had it right when he said, “”It’s absolutely fair that we should be more disciplined about that going forward.” That is an acknowledgment that things haven’t been done quite the way they should have been.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    “To the extent that we use jobs, it’s been as a short-hand (for years of employment). It’s an easier way,” said Dan Richard, who Brown appointed to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board controlling the project.”

    Apparently Mr. Richard acknowledges the gist of the Mercury article.

    What I would like to know is when was the “One million jobs” claim first made, when, and by whom. Does anyone happen to know?

    It is interesting that under the heading “Jobs,” the “Fact Sheet” for the draft 2012 Business Plan does implicitly acknowledge that there is a difference between “jobs” and “job-years”:

    “Construction of the initial Central Valley section is expected to generate 100,000 direct and indirect jobs over five years, an average of 20,000 jobs annually. Direct and indirect jobs to build all of Phase 1 are estimated at 1.2 million to 1.4 million over 20 years, an average of approximately 65,000 jobs annually. The Phase 1 system will generate 4,500 permanent operations and maintenance jobs.”

    But then it goes on to say: “An estimated 100,000 to 450,000 new statewide permanent jobs not related to HSR are expected by 2040.” Are these “jobs” or “job-years”? If they are “permanent” jobs then the number of years would be infinite, so it must refer to “jobs” and not to “job-years.”

    The Business Plan itself contains the following explanatory footnote: “The estimates of jobs in this 2012 Business Plan are presented in job-years. One job-year is the equivalent of one person working a full-time job for one year. For example, a full-time job that lasts 20 years generates 20 job-years.” (Page 2-30, or PDF p. 62.)

    The footnote is not attached to the following statement made earlier (at p. ES-4, or PDF p. 10): “. . . moving forward with initial construction of the system, starting in the Central Valley will generate approximately 100,000 jobs for people who need them most.” This statement leaves the impression that 100,000 people who need jobs the most will be put to work more or less at the same time.

    Business Plan Fact Sheet: http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/152/302/6e05bd66-4317-46df-9891-4aea706fae01.pdf

    Draft Business Plan: http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/152/302/c7912c84-0180-4ded-b27e-d8e6aab2a9a1.pdf

  10. Reality Check
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 18:43
    #10

    McCarthy requests federal high-speed rail audit

    Rep. Kevin McCarthy joined 11 other Republican members of the House this week in requesting a federal audit of California’s high-speed rail project.

    Monday’s letter asks the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, to dig into the $98 billion project’s “viability and questionable ridership and costs projections.”

    McCarthy, the Bakersfield Republican and House whip who has become one of the project’s biggest skeptics in Washington, D.C., proposed the same kind of study as part of a bill he introduced Oct. 7 to freeze federal spending on the project, which is supposed to begin construction in the Central Valley late next year.

    The chairman [Tom Umberg] of the rail project’s governing board welcomed the proposed audit as “more than appropriate.”

    Meanwhile, in other news: Visalia officials back off rail grant

    Visalia officials retreated Tuesday on a high-speed rail station planning grant, telling Kings County supervisors they should have met with local officials before applying for it. […]

    The Visalia City Council was set Monday night to approve the TCAG grant application. But after a sizable group of Kings County residents protested at the meeting, the council voted to put the grant application on hold until Jan. 17 and have more discussions with Kings County.
    On Tuesday, Visalia and Tulare County officials promised more cooperation.

    “Hopefully, this will start a dialogue between our two counties,” Olmos said.

    Peter Vanderpool, a Tulare County supervisor, said TCAG would suspend any action on a rail station planning grant until a conversation with Kings County officials can take place.

    “It wasn’t the most responsible thing to move forward without even speaking to Kings County,” Vanderpool said. “However, we want to make sure we have a seat at the table if [high-speed rail] gets built.”

  11. Emma
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 20:36
    #11

    off topic but interesting. Apparently, there is a new scheme among us: Ethical oil.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SjZlqbDudI

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Did you check out the following comments? Talk about a boatload of people seeing the real problem, and calling the oil biz on it! Yahoo!!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’ve had this up before, but it seems like a good time to take another look at why we need to get off oil, no matter where it comes from:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0–Q9_KmAY

  12. peninsula
    Dec 21st, 2011 at 21:31
    #12

    From CHSRA’s Website right now: Vision and Scope:

    Economic Impact:
    *High-speed rail means tens of thousands of good, family-supporting jobs for California — jobs not just to build the trains and the train line, but also jobs to operate and maintain it. And there’s more — hundreds more jobs will be created for suppliers, restaurants and other businesses along the route.
    *As many as 100,000 construction-related jobs each year that the system is being built
    *The potential for 450,000 permanent new jobs statewide created by the economic growth high-speed rail will generate over the next 25 years

    peninsula Reply:

    Nancy Pelosi: California High-Speed Rail is On Track
    The State Column | Staff | Friday, December 16, 2011

    “Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s hearing on California high-speed rail.

    “California continues to lead the nation in developing America’s first true high-speed rail system, which will link California from Los Angeles to San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center. The Rail Authority’s recent business plan lays out a responsive, responsible, and realistic path forward. The facts are clear: over one million good-paying jobs will be created…”

    Read more: http://www.thestatecolumn.com/california/nancy-pelosi-california-high-speed-rail-is-on-track/#ixzz1hEtLNNzK

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