Alan Lowenthal’s Decision

Mar 6th, 2012 | Posted by

State Senator Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat, wants to go to Congress. He’s running in California’s 47th district, based in Long Beach. His fellow Democrats in Congress and President Obama support high speed rail. Tea Party Republicans in Congress are adamantly opposed to high speed rail and are working as hard as they can to defund it, in order to promote their ideological anti-rail agenda and deal President Obama a political blow.

That leaves just two options for Lowenthal were he to sit in Congress: he can vote with his fellow Democrats and the president to fund HSR or he can side with Tea Party Republicans against his fellow Democrats and the president and vote against HSR funding.

Lowenthal is faced with the same choice right now as a State Senator, as are all Democrats in the State Senate. Will they side with their president, their Congressional allies, and their governor or will they side with the Tea Party?

I asked that question here on the blog and at Calitics. But not everyone liked that question.

Last Friday, the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters took issue with my comments about Lowenthal in a column titled Both left and right in California want automatons in office. Walters’ argument is that I’m just being an unreasonable ideological extremist:

Liberal Democratic factions are just as adamant about enforcing their ideological dicta. Pity the Democratic politician who doesn’t endorse same-sex marriage, abortion rights, tax increases, animal rights or carbon reduction, to name a few of the left’s current shibboleths.

A case in point is a lengthy screed by Robert Cruickshank who writes for Calitics, a website by and for leftish activists, about Alan Lowenthal, a liberal Democratic state senator from Long Beach who’s running for Congress this year.

Cruikshank sees Lowenthal, one of the Legislature’s brainier and less robotic members, as an ideological traitor for failing to march in lock step with himself and other “progressives” about building a bullet train.

Actually, my beef with Lowenthal isn’t that he’s failing to march in lockstep. It’s that he is so consistently wrong about the project, repeatedly attacking it despite evidence showing his attacks are baseless. In fact, in the article Walters criticizes, I pointed out that Lowenthal cites a discredited Berkeley Transportation Institute in order to criticize the system’s ridership projections, but totally ignores the work of an independent peer review committee that found the ridership projections were sound. That’s just one example of many.

If Lowenthal actually had a legitimate point about the HSR project, I wouldn’t go after him the way I do. But he doesn’t. Instead he continues to make claims that are disproven or unproven in order to try and undermine the project. And he’s been doing it since 2009, soon after voters approved the project.

Walters is opposed to the HSR project too, and I’ve criticized him for it as well. So he is a natural defender of Lowenthal:

Lowenthal has, indeed, been a critic of the convoluted, often erroneous and oft-changed plans for the bullet train emitted by the California High-Speed Rail Authority – plans that are now being revised for the umpteenth time.

Of course, to Walters it’s actually a bad thing that the Authority is taking steps to address concerns and constantly improve the proposal. Had they sat and done nothing Walters would attack them for being unresponsive.

So if Lowenthal were going after the project on the basis of anything remotely resembling hard evidence, I might be more inclined to agree with Walters that Lowenthal is just trying to be a good legislator. But he’s not.

More importantly, given the politics of HSR – with Democrats, including President Obama and Governor Brown on one side and Tea Party Republicans on the other – Lowenthal is going to have to pick a side. There’s no other option. If Lowenthal votes against funding HSR in the legislature this year, it will be a victory for Tea Party Republicans like Doug LaMalfa and Jeff Denham and a defeat for Governor Brown, President Obama, and the California Congressional delegation that Lowenthal wants to join. There’s just no way around that political fact.

But Walters doesn’t want to deal with that reality. Instead he wants to attack me for pointing out that it exists:

But to Cruikshank, he’s a traitor to the cause, whatever that might be.

“So Lowenthal has a choice in front of him,” Cruikshank writes. “Will he side with Obama, Brown and congressional Democrats and vote to build high-speed rail in California in 2012? Or will he side with Tea Party Republicans and vote against high-speed rail?”

That sounds like radio shock jocks John and Ken threatening to put Republicans’ “heads on a pike” if they vote for tax increases.

Well, that actually is the choice before Lowenthal, whether Walters would like it to be the case or not. It’s kind of flattering to be compared to John & Ken – as much as I despise them, if I had a tenth of their influence I’d be happy – but that’s not really the issue.

No, the issue is whether Nancy Pelosi or David Axelrod will put Lowenthal’s head on a pike for helping boost the Tea Party Republicans by defunding California’s high speed rail project. Sorry Dan Walters, I’m just the messenger on this one.

That being said, I very much welcome Walters’ column – because it reinforces the point that Lowenthal is being pushed to pick sides. That’s a good narrative to build, as it makes it that much more difficult for Lowenthal to turn on his party and his president and undermine the HSR project.

  1. Neil Shea
    Mar 6th, 2012 at 21:06

    Thanks Robert, good work. You’re right, Walter’s column just raises the visibility of this question

  2. Tom McNamara
    Mar 6th, 2012 at 21:07

    That being said, I very much welcome Walters’ column – because it reinforces the point that Lowenthal is being pushed to pick sides. That’s a good narrative to build, as it makes it that much more difficult for Lowenthal to turn on his party and his president and undermine the HSR project.

    Robert, I don’t agree.

    The easiest way to run for Congress is to run against it.

    The narrative you want to build actually empowers Lowenthal making it look like he’s the deciding vote. It adds to the perception that the guy has some sort of incredible influence in the process, when that’s not really true.

    The more effective line of attack for candidates is one of inconsistency. Take Lowenthal’s prior actions and contrast them with his statements and hints about HSR. You want to take his platform and drive a bus through the gaps in it.

    Plus, remember that Pelosi, Obama, and Jon Stewart will hold their fire if Lowenthal does help the Tea Party. There is zero desire to have HSR be an election issue this year in Chicago. However the guy votes that’s the last we are going to hear about it until January 2013 when Rahm Emanuel and his steel toe boots pay him a visit in his new office….

    joe Reply:

    Plus, remember that Pelosi, Obama, and Jon Stewart will hold their fire if Lowenthal does help the Tea Party. There is zero desire to have HSR be an election issue this year in Chicago. However the guy votes that’s the last we are going to hear about it until January 2013 when Rahm Emanuel and his steel toe boots pay him a visit in his new office….

    WTF? Rahm is inconsequential.

    HSR isn’t congress. Congress is the GOP. Run against the GOP talking points which means run on a pro-transportation platform.

    Lowenthal’s words matter, speaking out against HSR isn’t good politics if he then votes for it – reluctantly. Lowenthal has power over HSR but so does the Democratic delegation from CA and they hold power that will determine where Lowenthal parks his Freshman ass.

    Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi didn’t win the House Speakership by being a push-over. She is the current whip – Lowenthal is going to run against HSR and then expect some plush committee seat ?

    StevieB Reply:

    The House Minority Whip is Congressman Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland. Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives.

    joe Reply:

    Yes – she’s her rival’s senior.

    Nancy was House Minority Whip from 2002 to 2003

  3. joe
    Mar 6th, 2012 at 21:16

    If elected Lowenthal has to ask House leadership for committee positions. That is where the power lies. He is at odds with Nancy’s HSR Project.

    If he is at odds with HSR, she isn’t going to put him on any useful committee so he can lecture her on the finer points of politics.

    Steny might be an natural ally against the incumbent California delegation and I think that’s just the kind of dumb-ass politics Lowenthal is capable of producing if elected to the House.

    Will Lowenthal side with Steny H. Hoyer (D – MD) for House leadership over the current Minority Leader and House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    More fruit loopery. Lowenthal and Pelosi are aligned in nearly every issue of substance.

    Only single-issue nutjobs like Cruickshank treat principled (and justified) disenchantment with the CHSRA-=PBQD trainwreck of uncontrolled pork as equivalent to Tea Party membership.

    There are bigger fish to fry.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Principled and justified disenchantment?

    That’s not the reason that he’s opposed. Hell that’s not even the reason CARRD is opposed. It’s that his constituency got left off the gravy train. Simitan and DeSaulnier (and OCTA) are in the same boat. They had a better deal under Schwarzenegger and are trying to posture and hold out for a “better deal” on their bills.

    Only question is if Lowenthal ends up like Paul Sunday trying to sell the Bandy Tract to Daniel Plainview at the end of “There Will Be Blood”…

    joe Reply:

    Single issue nut jobs – I can’t think of one person outside of say — hmmm…. who is a single issue nut job?

    Billions in infrastructure spending in a deep recession with rising gas prices in an election year. A signature issue that the GOP opposes.

    For Nancy’s district a new station and service — hey it’s a just a single issue. You’d have to a nut job to think the Dem Leader would care.

    And of course Lowenthal is principled! By implication The Dems are NOT principled.


    Alan knows the code: “CHSRA-=PBQD”

    VBobier Reply:

    The President of Iran, What’s his name? Ahmadinutjob…

    But then the Iranian Government says Death to Americans and says We all work for the CIA, there’s a bunch of Nutjobs there alright…

    synonymouse Reply:

    The cheerleaders who favor one party control of California government will have to deal with the inevitable consequences. Affluent individuals and corporations who traditionally have bankrolled lavishly the GOP will now be compelled to deal with the new gatekeeper, the Demo patronage machine. The Republicans will shortly become irrelevant in California and campaign contribution starved.

    With a steady and large stream of legal bribes pouring in from corporate interests Democratic pols like Lowenthal and will no longer have to depend on union money primarily. The movement toward the center and ideological “independance” and/or “moderation” will be palpable. The electorate has already soured on public employee union excesses so there will be a political gain from distancing from doctrinaire militants like Pelosi. The occupy movement is just a fringe numerically by comparison to independents and yuppies.

  4. morris brown
    Mar 6th, 2012 at 22:44

    LA Times:

    Borrowing costs for bullet train revised upward

    California now will have to allot more than $700 million a year to repay billions of dollars to build the high-speed rail system’s first phase, the nonpartisan legislative analyst’s office finds,0,4656422.story

    Of course it never seems to occur to Robert (and others) that the State just can’t afford this HSR project.

    And, I expect in the next day or so, Robert will start on a new rant against the LAO.

    BTW, Robert, you should worry about Simitian and DeSaulier along with Lowenthal.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Harvard now less expensive than Cal-State.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I knew the rabid opponents would jump all over this flawed reporting.

    Fact: The $700 million is based on a full sale of the $9B in HSR bonds. In the near-term, we will be selling only about 1/3 of the bonds.

    Fact: You can’t sell any bonds (minus the $950M for connecting rail) unless at least a 1:1 match of non-state funds are obtained. In otherwords, assuming the $700M number, you also have to assume that CA has obtained at least $9B in non-state matching funds. It should be noted that the matching funds would probably be far greater than $9B. So while it costs money to borrow, the huge amount of money CA will leverage from that borrowing that they won’t have to pay back will be a large net benefit to the states economy and budget.

    Of course these LAT reporters fail to mention any of this as they have proven themselves to be skewed in their reporting time after time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    $700 million on $9 billion is still a pretty shitty interest rate.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is why California should establish a Bank of California.

    Why is California paying high interest rates? Prop 13.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    The $700 million number is for both principal and interest.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    That’s still a shitty interest rate. It’s about 6.74%

    StevieB Reply:

    That would be higher than current rates. The LAO must be making assumptions that increase the interest rate.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The one-word answer: Stockton.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Stockton isn’t borrowing the money.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    “Stockton” is also a one-word answer to why California is building the HSR system. A nice town with a depressed economy. A little too far from Bay Area airports, people, and businesses. Not the shipping or manufacturing center it once was, but still blessed with good infrastructure and vacant land. High speed connections to the Bay Area, including SFO, could help turn things around.

    Mike Reply:

    Anybody seen this new LAO analysis? It doesn’t seem to be posted at the LAO website.

    Alan Reply:

    Another hack job by Ralph Vartabedian, one of the worst reporters I’ve ever seen (that, of course, is assuming that one expects a reporter to be an unbiased presenter of facts…).

    Of course, any story like that gets Morris’ pacemaker going again, so maybe there’s something to be said for it…

    thatbruce Reply:


    Of course it never seems to occur to Robert (and others) that the State just can’t afford this HSR project.

    From the article:

    The figure is higher than in the past — partly because of higher borrowing rates


    The 2008 ballot measure said borrowing $9.95 billion would cost the state $647 million annually. Now, the payments could reach $750 million annually, said analyst Brian Weatherford.

    That increase, ~100 million in this case, in the 4 years between 2008 and now is going to affect all of the state’s recent bond proposals which haven’t been fully issued, such as:

    California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 2006 : 600 million
    Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, Port Security Bond Act of 2006 : 19,925 million
    Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006 : 2,850 million
    Education Facilities: Kindergarten- University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2006 : 10,416 million
    Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Bond Act of 2006 : 4,090 million
    Water Quality, Safety and Supply, Flood Control, Natural Resource Protection, Park Improvements : 5,388 million
    Children’s Hospital Bond Act : 980 million
    Veterans Bond Act of 2008 : 900 million
    and of course the
    Safe, Reliable, High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century : 9,950 million

    There’s a lot of information about the state’s budget and bond obligations at the Department of Finance. The state is able to pay for the bond obligations proposed in prop 1a, without unduly straining future budgets. The real question is how much track we’ll get for this.

  5. Peter Baldo
    Mar 7th, 2012 at 06:11

    Last year there was talk of a “National Infrastructure Bank”. That would be the place to borrow the money from. What became of that? Is it dead, or just not created yet?

    VBobier Reply:

    Repugnican Obstructionists in the US House of Representatives made sure that never came about & are trying to cut Amtrak by 25% & kill any NEW money for HSR for 5 Years, the US Senate has no intention of going along with the House on the NIB, Amtrak or HSR as the Senate has their own 2 Year Transportation bill that their working on.

  6. Sherri Wickham
    Mar 7th, 2012 at 07:15

    I found this site after reading the Dan Walters article. I have only paid passing interest to the rail debate, but I did a few searches on the internet and I can’t find anywhere that Lowenthal has said he is actually against high speed rail. Can someone point me to some articles or online material? As a Long Beach voter, I am curious.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Lowenthal hasn’t said he is actually against HSR. That’s Robert’s complaint. While saying he is supportive of HSR, Lowenthal’s actions actually have been detrimental to HSR, which is why Robert calls him out on this.

  7. Roger Christensen
    Mar 7th, 2012 at 09:59

    Our Republican leaders have ridiculed and killed it for now.

  8. John
    Mar 7th, 2012 at 10:29

    This blog is great! I love how Cruikshank completely discounts highly critical analysis from The Legislative Analyst”s Office, The State Auditor, and the actual independent Peer Review Committee and instead relies on a “independent” analysis by a group of individuals hand-picked by the HSR Authority for the express purpose of discounting yet another critical report by the Institute for Transporation Studies. It kind of reminds me of the climate change deniers. Who cares if 99% of the worlds climate scientists believe there is a manmade component to global warming, they have no idea what they are talking about because I have a report that says they are wrong!

    But the best part is that he Authority itself has admited there previous plans have been flawed! That is why they are currently revising it for the THIRD time. Hell, even they have more doubts about the project than Cruicshank.

    Also, Lowenthal has already been endorsed by the California Democratic Party, The LA Labor Fed and the Orange County Labor Fed. Pelosi’s constituents would benefit much more by an upgrade to urban rail then they would by a vanity project in the Central Valley, so if you think she would punish Lowenthal, I have a bridge to sell you. The political naivety exhibited by this group is awe inspiring. Keep up the good work!

    synonymouse Reply:

    “Pelosi’s constituents would benefit much more by an upgrade to urban rail then they would by a vanity project in the Central Valley”

    Precisely. As much contempt as I have for BART(and it is nearly infinite)redirecting the $8bil from the Ridiculous Roundabout at Tehachapi to Ring the Bay makes all the sense in the world, for all of California not just the Bay Area, including Nancy. The cost-benefit ratio, the utilization factor, would be vastly better for Ring the Bay than the Grand DeTour. What are you talking about thru bustling, metropolitan downtown Mojave and Tehachapi – 10 half empty trains a day?

    If you absolutely obsess on the Tehachapi nonsense then best to value engineer it all the way. Replace the Loop for the UP and divert all the freight on to it. It will have enough extra capacity to handle the 10 passengers trains a day to LA and a restored San Francisco Chief as well. Double stack heights all the way and raise the cantenary to accommodate. The Grand DeTour, as currently costed downward thru Value Engineering, will be way too slow to be competitive with air, or even auto, so not to worry about the extra minutes to make it freight useable.

    If you try to go back to the original pre-value plan for the Tehachapi mountain crossing the figures will be astronomical – billions more again than the always faster Tejon punch-thru. An even worse cost-benefit ratio. And don’t worry about the reaction from LA and Fresno, who only want mostly quasi-BART’s mixed with a little Amtrak. Altogether kinda like a TEE. What they are really interested in is subsidized low commute fares. Freight could help to pay for that.

    Let’s take a more fanciful tack on the mountain crossing. Shift to your celebrated Chinese investors with $20bil just burning a hole in their pockets. Everything’s copacetic until their engineers and green visors take a look at the route map. They’ll see the dogleg and say something like: What the **** is this? CHSRA CEO or the like will respond something like: “We had to do that because some super-rich landowners wouldn’t sell out.” The Chinese would be thinking or actually saying something like: “Back home we would take care of this problem in 5 minutes.”

    JFH Reply:

    Do you have any evidence that the Tehachapi route will actually be so slow as to no longer remain competitive with auto traffic?

    Drive times according to Google, train times according to the HSRA crossing Tehachapi:
    2:03 DRIVING, 0:54 BY TRAIN from LAUS to Bakersfield
    3:44 DRIVING, 1:24 BY TRAIN from LAUS to Fresno
    4:37 DRIVING, 1:40 BY TRAIN from LAUS to Merced
    5:49 DRIVING, 2:09 BY TRAIN from LAUS to San Jose
    6:23 DRIVING, 2:38 BY TRAIN from LAUS to San Francisco
    6:26 DRIVING, 2:17 BY TRAIN from LAUS to Sacramento

    You constantly complain about the time that Tehachapi will waste riders, but I can’t imagine anybody choosing the still-longer drive times simply because the train could have been a bit faster had it not gone over Tehachapi.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tehachapi has serious issues. It is a detour to the east which adds many route miles, making it inherently more expensive than Tejon to construct, to operate, and to maintain. Add to that apparently there have emerged unanticipated technical problems which have inflated the original cost estimates. Thus you have introduced value engineering reducing the ambitiousness and in turn the costs of the original layout. We will in due course learn just how much slower and longer the value version will be.

    With Tejon just the opposite has been the case. Every look-see has been positive, with the recognition that a damn decent route that meets the seismic prerequirements is there. No need for drastic value engineering because the optimal route cost estimates are already lower than Tehachapi.

    Paradoxically this is the hangup. It looks too good for Tejon so it will not be studied. Thus we will not have the hard comparative figures you seek. It’s Chinatown, Jake.

    Alan Reply:

    The only naivete (correct spelling, BTW) is yours, John. The LAO’s report has been extensively debunked both on this blog and elsewhere. You accept it as Gospel because it supports what you want to believe. Same with the ITS studies.

    And if you think that Pelosi would warmly welcome Lowenthal if he goes anti-HSR, you’re a fool.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    California State Legislative Analyst or Robert Cruickshank and Dan Krause?
    Who to believe? Who to believe? My little head is spinning with the choices!

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Speaking as someone who has served in an equivalent role as the LAO analyst and who has former classmates who work and have worked at the LAO….

    Thronson had the tools (he’s a Texas alum) to discuss far more broadly than the approach published. For example, there’s no mention, zero, of the Perry Administration plans for the…

    “Trans Texas Corridor”. Say it again, “Trans Texas Corridor”.

    Hell when I was in Thronson’s shoes getting my masters in Cali-forn-i-aye I studied the Corridor’s business model.

    Oh and I did I forget that Thronson is now a “consultant” i.e. “paid staffer” for the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee which has among its fine peerage Mr. Mark DeSaulnier, Mr. Alan Lowenthal and Mr. Joe Simitian? I am afraid that PBQD doesn’t have a monopoly on pay-for-play….

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; the LAO is in over its head on this. There are a lot of things in railroading that are “different” from other businesses, among them an enormous up front cost for the infrastructure. This isn’t opening a restaurant or liquor store, or even an airline.

    It doesn’t help matters that the true costs of other transportation choices, namely the road system, have been badly understated and masked. Most people don’t know this–some even want to deny it–and I would say that includes the people in the LAO.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Damn straight. The State of California knows nothing about financing massive infrastructure projects with low payback rates and huge upfront costs.

    Nothing at all.

    At all.

    Water. Sewer. Power. Highways. Universities. Schools. Canals. Hospitals. Bridges. Dams. Tunnels.. Streets. Jails. Just like opening a restaurant or liquor store!

    Are you fucking insane?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Check my second paragraph, please.

    Brsk Reply:

    Tell me, which of those had the LAO office do the project financing?

    Oh, none of the above? Exactly, people at the variously agencies that did those projects know about financing massive infrastructure projects with low payback rates and huge upfront costs. Not the LAO, which is used to one year annual budget cycles.

    Hell the LAO can’t even read Prop 1A and realize that it is legally impossible the sell $9 billion in bonds will only $3.8 billion in Federal matching funds. If that isn’t the height of incompetence what is?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Got me there! We should have Cruikshank tell the legislature what to do, rather than have paid, professional and generally well-respected staff do independent research and analysis. Screw that! How many zeroes should we put after the “1” on this check? Are eleven enough, or should we just leave the number blank and you can fill it in later?

    And no, I don’t believe or claim the office is anything like infallible, or on a pedestal above all outside influence. But dear God, just listen to what you nutjobs are claiming about an widely respected agency with a good track record. They only know about financing restaurants and liquor stores! They’ve been discredited on so there!

    joe Reply:

    A full dose of straw-man bullshit.

    It’s Coke or Pepsi – the LAO or Robert.

    Governor Brown disagrees the LAO report’s recommendations and findings. Obviously that is irrelevant – it is all about Robert and his blog.

    HSR savvy members of the legislature are livid and demanded the LAO explain who they spoke to when constructing their inaccurate report.

    The Peer Review, the DOT all have conflicting findings and and views about the ridership and funding.

    So CAHSRBLOG – leave poor Britney and The LAO Professionals aloooneee!!!

    Hilarious from a man who can’t stop disparaging any and every government and contractor associated with rail and public transportation.

  9. John
    Mar 7th, 2012 at 15:14

    Alan, thanks for the spelling correction!, you missed a couple though, like “there” for “their”. Oops! I feel so stupid!. Name me ONE other objective source that has debunked any of the reports. Cruickshank is paid for by the unions that want to build this project, he is hardly objective. By the way, Lowenthal has never once said that he is anti-HSR. In fact, he has consistently said the exact opposite.

    On the Pelosi front, she will be fighting to keep her leadership position with the House Democratic Caucus. She will be in no position to alienate any new potential votes, especially with Hoyer breathing down her neck. The joke is on you brother.

    Peter Reply:

    I’m curious where you get the notion that Robert gets paid by anyone for his advocacy of the project.

    As for Lowenthal, ever hear of a concern troll? “I completely support X in general. But not X in any specific shape or form.”

    John Reply:

    I made it up! Kind of like how the proponents of HSR have made up Lowenthal’s opposition to HSR. In fact , Lowenthal has stated on numerous occasions, in both print and in committee hearings that he very specifically supports many aspects of the project, He has questioned other aspects of the project. Apparently, the HSR Authority has listened, since they are currently working on their THIRD business plan.

    The problem is you can only see what you want to see. I’ve heard it referred to as “living in the bubble”. Anything less than unquestioned and total loyalty to a cause or issue is seen as treason. You people are pathetic and you do nothing to contribute towards a solution.

    So, is Robert being paid for his advocacy?

    StevieB Reply:

    Is Lowenthal being paid in campaign contributions for his opposition?

    John Reply:

    According to the FEC website, most of his contributions come from organized labor. Are they against the project?

    joe Reply:


    Alan Lowenthal is a politician. It’s okay to call them out for duplicitous talk and behavior.

    He’s for HSR but against this specific project. Awesome how that works out. It looks like he’s playing both side but noooo. We are living in a bubble. pathetic and do nothing for contributing for a solution.

    Being PRO HSR and against this HSR project is serious and sensible and the perfect blend of compromise.

    John Reply:

    Actually Joe, Lowenthal has never said any such thing. In FACT, he has said the EXACT opposite. How do I know? I asked him. Because actually, unlike any of you lemmings, I actually picked up the phone and called his office. Shocking right?I actually asked him himself! Holy Shit, what a concept. His problem is with the Feds demanding we start the project in the Central Valley. He wants flexability from the feds to spend the money in a way that will actually build a usable segment. The feds have committed $3 billion and we have to match it. Now, never mind that the original application for ARRA funding never required a match, Schwarzenegger added it as a sweetener. So now, even though the Feds have only offered $3 billion, we must match their money to build a track that will never be used. Lowenthal told me he is fine with the Feds spending their money where they see fit. He wants to spend the California money connecting Bakersfield with LA and the Bay Area to the Central Valley.

    I love how you let slip your against compromise. You ARE THE TEABAGGER friend. Please don’t let your hate define you

    J. Wong Reply:

    Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me that when push-comes-to-shove that Lowenthal ends up voting for the Prop 1A funds.

    And as for as “track that will never be used”, no way will there be HSR in California without the Central Valley segment. So the only conclusion one can make from your statement is that you believe HSR will never be built in California. So taking money purposed for HSR and using it building a “usable segment” is fraud. Do you support fraud?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    “never be used” thats a TEABAGGER talk…and you must live in Lowenthals district because the times I called they do not respond to people outside the district..

  10. Paulus Magnus
    Mar 7th, 2012 at 15:21

    Off topic:

    I’m going through Amtrak’s arrival time since their January 9 schedule change in order to have an OTP using the same definition as Metrolink and Coaster when I noticed that there seemed to be an awful lot of schedule padding between Solano Beach and San Diego (leading to several 10 minute late trains arriving early). The schedule padding between SOL and SAN is so egregious that the scheduled time is longer than that of Coaster, which has 1-2 additional stops in between.

    DanM Reply:

    Most of that is probably due to the single-track from Solana Beach through Del Mar until you get into Carmel Valley. It’s quite a long ways and its common to see trains sitting for awhile waiting for another train to come through … in the evening there’s usually one freight train and quite a few more on the weekends. (I’m a resident)

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Coaster runs the same route, there is no reason for it to have a faster scheduled time than Amtrak.

    NorCalRailFan Reply:

    My guess is because Amtrak’s standard of OTP is up to 10 minutes late while the commuters probably have a five minute period. Does anyone know what Coaster and/or Metrolink’s standard is?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    It’s five minutes (I actually just did a blog post examining Amtrak if held to the same standard) and OTP standard shouldn’t result in that much padding.

  11. GoGregorio
    Mar 7th, 2012 at 15:58

    This sure is a great propaganda blog you’re running here. I can’t wait until you start push-poling!

    nslander Reply:

    Please feel free to read something else.

    GoGregorio Reply:

    Thanks, I appreciate it! I used to read every entry on this blog in order to keep up with the latest news of this project, but now I just stop by to see if there’s anything of use in the comments. This “either you want HSR exactly as planned and be an active cheerleader for it, or you’re anti-American and should have your freedom of speech taken away because you don’t love every thing about this project” attitude is really off-putting. You don’t win people to your side by being inflexible and rabidly attacking anyone who questions you.

    At this point, you’ve got the lemmings. Try reasoned arguments, or even, hey, calling for a bit of change within the Authority/to the project, to get convince others.

  12. Nadia
    Mar 7th, 2012 at 17:42

    Fresno council members question high-speed rail’s effects on businesses, taxes

    Read more here:

  13. trentbridge
    Mar 7th, 2012 at 20:32

    State Senator Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat – if elected to Congress should do what he’s told to do. Don’t give me some niave crap about letting him think about issues! His campaign will be paid for largely by unions and other interest groups and concerned voters who want him to do what they paid for him to do. HSR is official policy of the Democrats and President – if he wants to run as an independent and use his own money then good luck to him. Otherwise he should do what he’s sent to Washington to do. We deserve the politics that our money has paid for! If you don’t agree then tell the Supreme Court to reverse its decision on SuperPacs. Money rules America not voters. Look how Romney is using money to blast Santorum – is that fair?

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