Darrell Issa To Use HSR to Bash Obama Administration

Apr 10th, 2012 | Posted by

Darrell Issa, a Republican Congressman from San Diego County, has decided to launch a politically-motivated investigation into the high speed rail project:

Rep. Darrell Issa has launched a probe into the California high-speed rail project, asking for the preservation of documents that relate to federal funding for the project.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman outlined a range of concerns in a letter Monday addressed to newly installed California High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard. Those questions include whether the $3.9 billion in federal money the project has received has prevented work on other important transportation projects. Issa requested a specific accounting of that money.

Issa’s letter makes it obvious what’s behind this:

“CHSRA has earned high-profile support from the Obama Administration,” Issa wrote to Richard. “But this praise has yet to be matched with tangible results.”

Ever since Solyndra, a Bay Area solar power company that received federal loans, went bankrupt and became the subject of a right-wing manufactured scandal, Republicans have been searching for a “new Solyndra” that can make President Obama’s green energy push again look like wasteful spending. Issa is clearly hoping that California’s high speed rail project will fit that bill.

But it’s about more than perceptions of wasteful spending. Republicans also oppose things like passenger rail and clean energy for ideological reasons. They’ve attacked the Chevy Volt even though it is in high demand, and will attack high speed rail even though it is a proven global success in part because they do not believe it is acceptable for Americans to get around in a way that does not require pouring oil into a tank and lighting it on fire.

Given that this is an election year, crass partisan motivations are also at play here. Issa is trying to generate another possible scandal that can put President Obama, who is enjoying a lead in the polls over likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney, on the defensive.

Issa’s investigation may not produce the results he wants. Criticism of the HSR project isn’t new, and Issa’s letter doesn’t break any new ground. Critics have had so much success getting their points into the media that Issa risks falling on deaf ears unless he can find something truly new.

The investigation’s real impact may be on the debate over releasing the voter-approved high speed rail bond money in the state legislature. Democrats hold large majorities in the legislature, so Republican opposition isn’t a factor. But several Democrats in the State Senate, including Joe Simitian, Mark DeSaulnier, and Alan Lowenthal have made the same criticisms that Darrell Issa is making and have themselves questioned whether the legislature should authorize the funds.

With Issa now leading an attack on HSR that is clearly intended to undermine President Obama’s re-election bid, these Democrats will have to decide which side they’re on. Will they help Issa undermine President Obama? Or will they stand up for California, for the HSR project, and for their president by rejecting the flawed and false attacks on the project that they themselves have aided and abetted for years?

  1. jimsf
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:56

    Not only do we need to make sure Obama wins in November for a number of reasons, we need to make sure that he wins by a clear decisive margin and to make sure that dems take back some seats in the house. That means that all the whiney lefty babies who are mad at Obama because they didn’t get all the lefty stuff they wanted, need to suck it up and get out and vote like reasonable grown ups. If they don’t, and Obama wins with no clear mandate, and with no new seats in the house, or god forbid, the republicans gain even more power, then the blame will lie entirely on democrats who didn’t vote. The republicans are counting on that.

    nslander Reply:

    Please feel free stop hippie-punching at your earliest convenience. Its as divisive as left/right dualism, and even more insidious. But I’m sure it makes you feel good, punching a hippie and all.

    Just pretend this WH never authorized indefinite detention of American citizens. That will ensure your ability to dismiss every valid criticism as “whining”. Which is the most important thing.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, you can vote for Romney then, if you’d like. Be my guest.

    nslander Reply:

    Any criticism of The President = Vote for Romney. Nice.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Vote Cthulhu: Why Choose The Lesser of Two Evils?

    joe Reply:

    Agreed – Support isn’t STFU and pretend our moderately conservative president is aligned with “hippie” viewpoints. (What ever the hell that really means besides a reference to the 68 Chicago convention).

    Peter Reply:

    A lot of Democrats complaining about Obama had delusions that he wasn’t a politician but thought he was the Savior.

    Hell, he stated from the get-go that he was going to bomb Pakistan. Before he had even become the Democratic candidate! Have people forgotten all these things?

    Spokker Reply:

    Who knew that he was going to move as far right as he did?


    It’s amazing that so few people are waking up to the fact that there is no real difference besides tone between the Democratic candidate and the presumed Republican candidate.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The political class nowadays all belong to the same elite so it is understandable that their differences are superficial or puffed up. That was Murray’s observation: they only consort with each other and are isolated from the ordinary class.

    The GOP these days more or less adheres to the social mores and strictures of the Catholic Church, so more conservative and traditional than the urban Democratic Party.

    But it is curious that the Obama government is cherry-picking vices and has turned against the stoners in a newly-found anti-drug fervor. In that respect the real contrast now is with the Libertarian-libertines who would seem to advocate some form of open city. I dunno how far towards no laas or pure anarchy they would go.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Who knew? Probably Obama knew. I think he started to show he would go sideways before the election, which made me cynical. But now, my gosh, he’s gone far beyond what even I expected. I wonder what he was thinking when he decided to accept the Nobel Peace Prize? Was it one more prize for him, one more symbol that he was at the top of the ruling class? The Nobel Laureate, the Constitutional Law Professor. The progressives’ Great Hope.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Who knew? Anybody who read his policy proposals instead of getting lost in flights of rhetoric knew. It may be that lots of people who consider themselves progressive or vaguely left wing allowed themselves into being talked into a happy fantasy because its more emotionally satisfying for someone from the left or center left to work for a campaign while pretending that the candidate is center left than to do so with your eyes open to the fact that its a center right candidate bidding to preside over a center right administration …
    … but at the same time, if you also had a chance to catch up on the radical reactionary agenda for the country, voting for the center right candidate is not a difficult choice at all.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem is with issues on which Obama just caved inexplicably, or didn’t do enough, based on delusions of bipartisanship. The stimulus was too small, and the administration thought it best to err on the side of lowballing it. The climate bill went nowhere, because once Obama did in fact get bipartisan support, he had no idea how to cultivate it and ended up alienating Lindsey Graham.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If Romney’s polling declines now that Santorum has been forced out look for a third party protest candidacy. Paul-Palin?

    Peter Reply:

    Palin-Bachmann. That would be certain to win the female vote back away from Obama, right?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    You say this like there is something wrong with punching hippies…

    nslander Reply:

    I completely understand the appeal, but it’s a curious call for partisan solidarity.

    jimsf Reply:

    I was an street marching idealistic hippie when I was in my teens and 20s too. Then I grew up and learned about compromise. The fact is one of two people is going to win. The republican, or the democrat. Any so called “protest vote” or the failure to vote, will be ignored and rendered to the trash heap of irrelevance. That’s just a fact of life whether you like it or not. Its not about the lesser of two evils. Its about accepting a little reality and not cutting off your nose to spite your face ( or holding your breath till you turn blue) No one gets everything they want. So if you are presented two deals, you choose the one that best meets your needs, continue working towards the rest of things on your list. That applies to everything in life. The right absolutely banks on the apathy of the left in order to win elections. Much of the left is made up of younger people and poorer people, both of whom tend to shirk their responsibilities easily. A slim victory will only fuel the divide. Give the dems a mandate then stay in touch with them to make sure they take advantage of it.

    nslander Reply:

    Fair enough. I’ll address a couple of points w/o being too much of a ****.

    Some of this reinforces a frame that helps only Republicans, to wit: “Much of the left is made up of younger people and poorer people, both of whom tend to shirk their responsibilities easily”. This serves no useful purpose. Maybe if you were patronize these groups just a little bit more, they will become less irresponsible. No offense, but I have my doubts. Conservative think tanks must LOVE hearing liberals perpetuate the image of other liberals being disproportionately given to irresponsibility, political or otherwise.

    I’m also baffled by the eagerness with which many dismiss the very possibility some people are capable of holding opposing ideas in their minds at the same time, e.g., criticism of Presidential overreach AND voting decisions based, reluctantly, on political pragmatism. Mindlessly flogging those who express that opposition under the auspices of a Serious Adult Seasoned in Two Party political reality doesn’t mean its not demagoguery. If there’s any evidence that telling people to shut up and clap louder actually works, I’d love to see it. Also implicit in that assumption is that movement politics is pure fantasy and our political responsibilities are limited merely to voting D every 2 years.

    I didn’t need to “grow up an learn about compromise”. I’ve always known how to play ball, but I don’t think so highly of myself such that it qualifies me to coach others. Here’s how many times I’ve cut off my nose by either voting GOP or by not voting at all: Never. Zilch. This many times: 0. But why the f*** do I need to prove my D bona fides to you or anybody else?

    I just think so much of this is unnecessary. Anyway, I’m done with the thread-jack.

    jimsf Reply:

    2010 would not have happened if the people who bothered to vote in 2008 had bothered to vote in 2010. had those people came out like they did in 2008 we wouldn’t be in this ridiculous mess. The republicans are a threat to my livelihood and people who let them gain power don’t sit well with me basically.The left let the tea party walk away with all this power. now its gonna be a huge mess to clean up. I just don’t appreciate it thats all.

    nslander Reply:

    I feel ya.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    2010 would not have happened if the people who bothered to vote in 2008 had bothered to vote in 2010.

    Not exactly, Jim. In 2006 you had many of the Tea Party types staying home because they were unhappy with the Bush Administration’s tacit endorsement of amnesty for illegal aliens. In 2008, you had many of these types vote for Obama as a “post-partisan” figure combined with very high turnout among new voters…

    In 2010, however, your Tea Party vote went 99% Republican (which is consistent given that the establishment was all Democrats) AND the rotten economy and higher immigration enforcement pushed many Latino voters into the cellar. You are correct in assuming that turn out will be decisive for this election because it is so close, but the election is likely to be decided by working class women as opposed to Obama’s rank and file….

    flowmotion Reply:

    > but the election is likely to be decided by working class women

    Yes, but that’s how the presidential election always goes. (And the Dems know it, which is why they are never too concerned about their left flank.)

    Maybe someone should start a “Working Women for HSR” group

    Donk Reply:

    Speaking of women and HSR…I don’t personally know many women, if any, who really support HSR. Most women I know (family, friends, work colleagues etc) are lukewarm if not against HSR. The gist of what I have gotten from the discussions I have had about HSR with women is that there are other priorities that are way more important. I don’t mean to over-generalize here, just some observations…

    On the other hand, most men I talk to about HSR are either strongly for or against HSR – this usually simply comes down to whether they are Democrats or Republicans.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I do. Not counting people I know from the transit blogosphere, which is extremely male, there’s my urban planning grad ex, plus two Bay Area math people who told me about CAHSR without my bringing it up first.

    Andy M. Reply:

    There’s a lot of truth in this. many women care about social and societal things such as education and healthcare but can’t get excited about concrete and steel. Ditto with younger voters

    jimsf Reply:

    Maybe it depends on where you live. LA proper and the inner bay are different worlds. Once you leave those bubbles there’s a different scary world out here.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Not counting people I know from the transit blogosphere, which is extremely male ….

    Alon, the correct term is “sausage fest”.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Precisely, its silly to blame “lefties” for losing the election in 2010, given the low turn-out among the more moderate Democrats and Democratically leaning independents were discouraged from voting and among 2008 first time voters who hadn’t really understood that you always need to vote in the midterms or the radical reactionaries will find a way to roll back any progress that was made after a Presidential election.

    jimsf Reply:

    I blame them all. Including all my friends, none of whom vote because “it doesn’t matter” Most of them feel this way because they have had so little for so long, they don’t feel like part of society in general.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its harder to feel that state elections matter in California, where the Republicans only need 34% of the legislature to guarantee the government ineffectiveness they are aiming at. Lots of Buckeyes were in a state of mind of “my vote doesn’t matter” in 2010, but after only one year of one party Republican rule, we had a bigger turn-out in the odd-year election than we’ve had in many previous mid-term election.

    ant6n Reply:

    Well, maybe the hippies should start realizing that the democrats think they can freely move as far right as they want, as far as they stay left of the republicans, because democrats can assume every voter who’s left of them will vote democratic anyway.

    nslander Reply:

    Every American needs to realize that.

    James in PA Reply:

    When wandering off to either the far left or far right beware the temptation to build straw-men, preach to the choir, or the seduction of any of a multitude of utopian ideals along the lines of: ‘all would be well if only everybody does… ‘ Utopia fails when it requires that humans change to behave like reasonable adults and stop being selfish.

    Similarly communism was just another utopia. Which reminds me of when Yuri Zivago comes home a war hero to find the 99% have decided he does not deserve his own house.

    Sarah Palin has her own warped version of utopia. Utopia is a worthy goal, just don’t confuse it with reality. The hard part is to be able to identify it in its most subtle forms. I still hold out hope for an efficient HSR system in California but will settle for one that works.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    One doesn’t have to wander into the far left to be on Obama’s left flank ~ those of you who lived through the process have an easier time forgetting how far toward the extreme right wing the Overton Window has been successfully dragged over a successful half century effort to do just that, but I was outside of the US teaching in Australia for a decade, and living outside of the US media bubble for a decade and then coming back inside of it is quite a jolt.

    Part of that strategy has been to use the two-party system to bring things into the mainstream by first pulling the Republican party in that direction, until the modern moderate wing of the party is what used to by the conservative wing, and what used to be the moderate wing are now independents or Hedge Fund Democrats, like the two most recent Democratic presidents.

    jimsf Reply:

    but obama did get historic health care passed. Some of you may not think its a big deal because we didn’t get single payer, but the basics of the plan that include keeping kids on till 26, not being able to deny coverage for pre existing, and not being able to drop you because your condition costs too much….. those are huge deals. HUGE.unless you are one of those people you have know idea what a big deal that is.

    jimsf Reply:

    and he killed osama bin laden. just all in a days work I guess. Oh and he got rid of dont ask dont tell. these are all things I never thought id see happen. Its enough for me. Im not sure what else, besides infrastructure there is to make a big deal about. And infrastructure is the single most important issue and I hope that this is where he puts his focus in the second term.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Are you saying that you’ll accept anything the government does no matter what it is as long as he delivers on infrastructure, “don’t ask don’t tell,” and bin Laden? Is that it? No matter how much power the executive branch decides to acquire at the expense of personal liberty, no matter how many wars it will decide to launch, no matter how far it goes to suppress a truly open government?

    jimsf Reply:

    I don’t feel my liberty has been threatened. What I care about is quality of life. That means a good job with health care, a living wage, and a good retirement. That means safe inspected food, a good transportation system, and public safety and law enforcement.

    jimsf Reply:

    I don’t care what the rich do as long as someone makes sure they kick down enough to make sure the rest of us, have a decent infrastructure to use. (infrastructure in the broadest not narrowest sense)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Getting what was previously the Republican version of health care reform passed was indeed something …. nothing in it should have been a big deal, but given how thoroughly corrupted and dysfunctional our Federal government has become, converting the US health care system from a 55 private : 45 public system to a 50 private : 50 public system is not nothing.

    Which is the kind of thing which assures that if you get progressives out to vote for anybody downballot, when it comes to the Presidential race, they’ll likely vote for Obama. Better an effective center-right administration than an ineffective corporate tool happy to pander to radical reactionaries.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Hippies” (most of the people in question were never actually hippies, of course) have to realize as the radical reactionaries did back in the 60’s and 70’s that if you wait until the General Election, you’re stuck with the choices made by those who showed up for the primaries. Its amazing how many people on supposedly progressive sites can’t be bothered to think about politics until the mess media starts covering the general election fight, and after sitting idly by on the sidelines for the entire six months leading up to their state primaries, whine and complain in September or October about the choices made available to them by those who do participate.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and the last actual hippie wandered off to go sell real estate in a Sunbelt exurb a long time ago.
    When progressives do participate you get Joe Lieberman, I-CT.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The problem with hippie punching as an electoral strategy is that while it may impress beltway pundits, there’s not necessarily any electoral advantage to it.

    And, after all, Obama winning in a squeaker and Democrats taking back enough House seats to scare Republicans about pandering to the Take Everything Away party extremists would be more useful for getting things done than Obama winning in a landslide and the Republicans coming back to the House with their majority intact.

    If people to the left of Obama ~

    ~ and he leaves as much or more room to get by him on his left flank as to get by him on his right flank, which is why the radical reactionaries have to work so hard maintaining their fiction of him as a left wing radical ~

    ~ focus on getting some people elected to the House and Senate, and they turn up to vote on election day, its likely most of them are going to vote for Obama rather than Romney, and the few who don’t are going to be throwing their top of the ticket vote away on a third party, and are still doing more good working for and voting for someone down-ballot than if they stayed home.

    The Republicans know that they are in deep trouble in a high turn-out election, which is why they are working so hard to make it difficult for college students, poor people and the elderly to vote.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed, If there’s a Repugnican on the ballot oppose His or Her insane ass, Vote Democratic, nothing else will do, otherwise the future will be bleak for all…

    You think the weather is too warm now and that Spring was too early, Repugs will make It come earlier and Summer will be longer and the Economy will go into a 2nd Great Depression like under Herbert Hoover…

    So don’t be a Herbert

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That includes the Democratic primaries as well as the general election. We need more politicians like the New Dealers, not a modern version of Grover Cleveland’s Bourbon Democrats.

  2. Ben
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:11

    Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office found that the Republican’s favorite governor wasn’t entirely honest about the reasons why he canceled Hudson River tunnel.

    Report Disputes Christie’s Basis for Halting Tunnel

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just following the lead of the Governor of Florida who wasn’t quite honest with the Florida Supreme Court when it came to Florida HSR.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, Christie is a LIAR…

  3. Ben
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:14

    And let’s not forget this.

    A Businessman in Congress Helps His District and Himself

    thatbruce Reply:

    The article describes several earmarks that Issa made for works at locations within 5 miles of properties he owns (hard to avoid that given how many properties he owns) and directly in front of at least one location. Financial security for HSR in San Diego is assured, just find out which of his properties will be benefited by HSR there, and have him pursue the earmarks to benefit his properties.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    If that’s considered a sign of corruption, one wonders what to make of the vice chair of the board having numerous properties within a quarter mile o the selected Fresno stop…

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s also important to note that Issa would love to see the high speed rail project go down because it was a pet project of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Lest ye forget that Issa bankrolled the recall election in 2003 and tried ever so nicely to tell Ahhnold not to get in the race.

    Not that Mr. Car Thief (I mean Entrepreneur) has any love lost for Jerry Brown or Kamala Harris who is busy suing the daylights out of SANDAG….but still….

  4. unbrainwashed dem
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:18

    Politics aside, the CHSRA is failing at its job. It cannot under the law steer away from the mandates under which it got money from prop 1A. to do so is a violation of law and I dont care who does it, we cannot allow any government agency to side step laws. doing so is called corruption and to turn a blind eye to corruption (the author of this blog included) is to undermine your own argument that the naysayers and anti-HSR folks are being biased beacuse of politics. silence is acceptance and if you say nothing about breaking the law, then you support it and from what ive seen so far from pro HSR people is no mention of any conflicts of interest, or waste by the CHSRA, or the deviation from the mandates, or lack of funding. Instead the pro-HSR activists just point out other instances of waste by the GOP. you dont actually deal with the questions, you sidestep them. I am a democrat, been voting for 20 years and i do not support HSR at this time. Not when Brown cuts education, cuts public safety, cuts fire protection, cuts jobs, lets felons out of prison early, all for “cost reduction” but then says we need to spend billions on a train. i will choose school books over the train any day. as a parent its the responsible choice. some things matter more than political party affiliation and more than high paying tax payer funded jobs for the union workers. You attacking fellow democrats by saying they are helping Issa is a just because they arent giving blind support to HSR is a disgrace if you are even a real democrat or a DINO. Those democrats you denounce were having questions BEFORE Issa made any inquiry, so they arent helping Issa or the GOP, they are simply standing for principle. They have my support. You, Brown and the other blind brainwashed dems do not.

  5. unbrainwashed dem
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:39


    he wont win decisively. Romney is Obama-lite and will take alot of independents votes away from him. Im not even sure he will win this time. Against John Mcwar, it was obvious, but this time not so certain. Palin isnt there to make fun of, no joe the unplumber making a fool of himself, i doubt chris matthews will get tingles up his leg this time and nobody is saying “yes we can” anymore. its a new landscape. Obamas health care mandate will most likely get struck down, plus the economy is in the tank, theres the continued war in afghanistan, too big to fail bailouts for the banks, continued patriot act, the internet kill switch, easing assault weapons restrictions, raiding medical MJ shops, no immigration reform and deporting 8 times more illegals than dubya did isnt going to win him more support it actually drains his lefty support and moves them to stay home or vote green or libertarian party. Romney may just win.

  6. BMF from San Diego
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:44

    In San Diego, Darrel Issa is close to being considered the local village idiot among watchers of local politicians.

    I wonder what DC thinks of him.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Senile versions of local village idiots are responsible for CHSRA planning. With Van Ark gone there is no adult supervision left.

    I still find it hard to believe that BART is going to just swallow Ring the Bay getting whacked by Brown-Richard & co. They just might try to outlast Moonbeam.

    BMF from San Diego Reply:

    BART does not do the planning you constantly speak of. MTC does. BART will do the final fine tuning of an MTC selected corridor.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In the real world BART and MTC have been effectively synonymous. Ditto for BART and PB in the past. BART is a large institution, with input coming from various departments each with their parti pris, the highly politicized Board of Directors, and of course BART lawyers, lobbyists and the unions.

    Still BART policy consistently over the decades is redolent of a manifest destiny which targets the Peninsula as the missing jewel in the crown. The groundwork is laid both at the north and south ends.

    That’s why Richard’s coming down on the side of Caltrain is so incongruous and difficult to take at face value. My gut says the Peninsula wars are not over yet.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The current business plan and MOUs strengthen BART’s hand considerably. The “Northern California Unified Service” is a coup for BART.

    And it’s not manifest destiny: it’s more like reunification. Remember that all the counties were going to join but the San Mateo and Marin backed out. The Bay Area Rides Together….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The “Northern California Unified Service” is a coup for BART.

    In what way?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Currently, BART doesn’t have much of an argument for expansion trying to connect itself up with the San Joaquins, California Zephyr, and Altamont Corridor Express. Route thousands of more passengers through Livermore, Antioch, Santa Clara and Stockton and there will be nothing to stop them this time.

    Clem Reply:

    I share your apprehension.

  7. ant6n
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:58

    “Those questions include whether the $3.9 billion in federal money the project has received has prevented work on other important transportation projects.”
    Yes, if you spend money on A rather than B, then trivially you can claim that A prevented spending on B. There’s only a finite amount of total transportation funding available.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If someone who voted for the House Transport Bill was being consistent, they would applaud anything that prevented important transportation projects, because they clearly support the prevention of important transportation projects.

  8. Paulus Magnus
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 13:31

    They’ve attacked the Chevy Volt even though it is in high demand

    Lolwut? 2,289 vehicles sold in March is high demand? Yeah, GM took back the extra week of plant shutdown that they’d added due to low demand for the Volt, but that’s really not high demand. Your average Volt spends 46 days on the lot, cheap high MPG conventional or hybrids are the ones selling like hot cakes (Hyundai Elantra, 3 days on lot, Prius plug-in 4 days, Prius c 6 days).

    and will attack high speed rail even though it is a proven global success in part because they do not believe it is acceptable for Americans to get around in a way that does not require pouring oil into a tank and lighting it on fire.

    Well of course, napalm is the smell of VICTORY!

    More seriously, while it has been a global success (mostly, NS HiSpeed is reportedly losing a good deal of money), it’s worth paying attention to the fact that it’s been deployed so far in nations with a significant base of rail ridership already, typically including all modes, whereas CAHSR is essentially going in blind with essentially zero prior ridership as a percentage of total trips or even of air/rail. There are other issues worth considering as well, for instance the fact that Paris-Lyons had very few flights (~10-14 daily iirc) when the TGV was introduced, which is remarkably different from the LA-SF situation.

    And quite frankly I don’t know why anyone retains such a naive display of unbounded support for the Authority after the issues with the Grapevine report if nothing else.

    nslander Reply:

    Volt sales in March doubled from the previous month, coinciding with a subsidence of talk-radio noise.


    Now they are free to fling their frothy mixture at HSR.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    It’s still a crappy number of sales. Like I noted, it simply gt rid of the extended shut down from low demand. It is not a high demand vehicle.

    thatbruce Reply:

    More seriously, while it has been a global success (mostly, NS HiSpeed is reportedly losing a good deal of money)

    They gambled on the introduction of a new service (Fyra) and found that where that route overlapped with existing well-provisioned conventional rail over a short distance (Amsterdam to Rotterdam), they didn’t convert as many passengers to the premium service as they had hoped for. They’ve also had 3rd-party delays in the provision of new trainsets to operate all of their Fyra services, as well as signaling issues on the new piece of dedicated HS track to Belgium.

    Their other HS offerings, Thalys and ICE (Amsterdam to Frankfurt) seem to be financially intact.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Also note that the intended rolling stock has not been available (and I think it is just about now that the first units have been accepted). Therefore, they ran a replacement service over the HSR, with loco-hauled stock at maximum speed of 160 km/h (instead of 250 km/h for the intended rolling stock).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If they aren’t yet an Express HSR service, then we should given them a year operating at 200km/h or above before entering them down as the sole Express HSR service that doesn’t cover its operating costs. If Express HSR keeps expanding, someone is going to end up building a corridor that requires subsidy to run at the frequency that they desire, and they’re going to have to subsidize the service to get that frequency.

    After all, there isn’t a serious claim that all Rapid Rail systems cover their operating costs ~ some do, some don’t.

  9. Ben
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 14:18

    This is O/T but does anyone know how Amtrak counts the number of its passengers? We hear that only 30M passengers take Amtrak each year while there are 730M enplanements for aviation but I think this is greatly misleading for two reasons.

    First, if a passenger flies from LA to Boston via O’Hare, this counts as two enplanements if the passenger’s flight from O’Hare to Boston has a new flight number. Although I assume most Amtrak travel is point-to-point, does it count as two boardings if the passenger changes trains en-route to his/her destination?

    Second, travel on commuter rail to access Amtrak is not counted on an Amtrak trip. With aviation, there is extensive use of regional aircraft to feed passengers to larger hubs. Thus, if a rail passenger travels from New Haven to Penn Station on Metro North commuter rail and then takes Amtrak to DC, this is only one Amtrak trip. On the other hand, if a passenger flies from Akron to O’Hare on a regional aircraft and then a trunk route to LAX, this is counted as two separate enplanements. This likely significantly underestimates rail trips at the expense of other modes (while perhaps inflating the number of annual transit trips).

    Hence, the 30M Amtrak passengers vs. 730M air passengers is misleading.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    This is O/T but does anyone know how Amtrak counts the number of its passengers? We hear that only 30M passengers take Amtrak each year while there are 730M enplanements for aviation but I think this is greatly misleading for two reasons.

    Ticket collection and no it isn’t misleading. It provides the same boarding and trip information as airlines. Commuter rail is not Amtrak, but do feel free to count up commuter rail boardings alongside Amtrak for rail trips. It is still less than airline boardings, significantly so.

    Ben Reply:

    I understand that commuter rail isn’t the same as Amtrak but my point is valid– if we’re comparing the number of intercity trips by passenger rail versus aviation, we should have similar definitions of what we are comparing. Connecting passengers make up more than thirty percent of all aviation enplanements.

    Of course the number of intercity rail trips is still less than airline enplanements. This is exactly what you would expect when we have subsidized low-density suburban sprawl and highways for five decades at the expense of passenger rail and have spent more federal money on highways last year than we have spent on Amtrak during it’s forty year history combined. Approximately one-third of FAA’s annual roughly $15B budget comes from the general fund, two to three times what Amtrak receives every year.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But there are very few intra-metro enplanements, it still should be restricted to intercity connecting rail (to both Amtrak and to airports), not connections using local rail transport for intra-city transport. And is the number of intercity rail connections going to shift the needle?

    It actually might not be too hard to track down. Offhand, it seems like most routes that make non-Amtrak intercity travel even feasible would be in the Northeast, so if the operators of those routes break their ridership down appropriately, it could prove to be a relatively simply adjustment to make.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    4%? Sounds right to me.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you only look at O&D, it’s marginally less than 30 million vs. (I believe) 400 million. But so what? On average, Bill Gates and I have a net worth of $30 billion. Amtrak owns the airlines on the shorter-distance segments of the NEC (i.e. ones not going through New York), is mildly competitive on the medium-distance segments and on some corridors, such as New York-Albany and CV-SF, and doesn’t exist as serious transportation elsewhere.

    James in PA Reply:

    Que Adirondacker New England based rail response in 5,4,3,2,…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Adirondacks are in New York. The Berkshires, Green, etc are in New England.

    James in PA Reply:

    And Graton is on Arastadero Creek. I still remember freight deliveries to Ross Road Lumber and the cannery in Graton.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, you win the thread drift award.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Ah the scent of apples permeating everything during the season. Pity they’ve been ripping out the orchards to plant grapes. I wonder if the kiwi farm out along Green Valley Road is still there or if it’s succumbed too. And if they have paved over all the tracks in Sebastopol. Cousins have told me that Fiesta is now a Whole Foods. I hope Andy’s is still there….

    James in PA Reply:

    Ground zero for me. I grew up watching the short line operation in Sebastopol since Kindergarten. And have felt the pain of watching the line, as well as other short line rail in California wither and die. I understand it is now mostly hiking and biking trails. Was once electric and before that steam.
    Yes grapes. California ships wine by the truckload. But you can still buy Gravenstein applesauce in the store.

    I can’t wait for California to restore more rail connections along with HSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    AFAIK the P&SR line from Petaluma to Sebastopol was built as an electric interurban by the MnNear family in 1903. They sold it to the NWP in 1932, who then abandoned passenger service and then ripped down the wire in 1946.

    Michael Reply:

    Fiesta is still Fiesta They have an amazing BBQ/grilling operation in the parking lot. Whole Foods is downtown across from the original Safeway. The old Powerhouse for the P&SR has been various brewpubs for about a dozen years, the latest, very nice including a music venue, from Dean Biersch, the other half of Gordon-Biersch. Finally, Andy’s is still there and going strong.

    jimsf Reply:

    don’t forget the whites in new hampshire.

  10. Jack
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 15:13

    Well with Obama’s re-election assured (Christian Right is not going to vote for a Mormon, will not happen). Looks like we can count on more federal funding, rendering this investigation a waste of time.

    I can hardly wait for the groundbreaking!! Should we start planning the celebrations now?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Cronyism and corruption infest both parties. The more of a monopoly they have on power the worse the graft and sleaze, as per Lord Acton.

    What a pathetic election “card” to present: a smarter Blago vs. a dumber Bloomberg

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Republicans think cronyism and corruption infest all parties. It’s projection – they think all parties are like theirs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They would be correct in that projection.

    In Italy apparently all the political parties, from right to left, once they are in office set up sinecures and take care of their own. Corruption has become embedded in the fabric of the culture.

    Why don’t we just make the anointed in office for life functionaries living gods, like Caesar Augustus?

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Were Caesar the man charge now, Didiron Intergalactic couldn’t shake a stick at what he would have built …

    synonymouse Reply:

    viae, aquaducti et amphitheatra

    the pricey permanent path of Pelosiism:


    Neville Snark Reply:

    Do you think it’s possible to favour HSR (in California, in some form such as Altamont-Tejon) , even though you know it is playing into the hands of Pelosianna?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sure, ’cause Pelosi will not endorse Altamont-Tejon. She has no more clue than Moonbeam.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Either they are all powerful potentates with mind bending abilities or they are village idiots, they cant’ be both, take your pick.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Historically you will find all powerful potentates who were village idiots.

    Say Gaius, nicknamed Caligula. George III Donald Trump

    You don’t have to be a brainiac to be a ward-healer or influence peddler. Look at Willie Brown.

    Donk Reply:

    The only thing that can screw Obama are high gas prices. I love the campaign speech Romney gives about how Obama is to blame for the high gas prices. Same with how he talks about how many jobs were lost since Obama took office, like he was to blame for the job losses in 2009.

    Romney really sounds like a fool when he goes on the attack – people are going to get real tired of these lines when they have to hear them over and over again for the next 6 months.

    VBobier Reply:

    And now unemployment is down to 8.2%, so much for jobs lost…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The latest jobs numbers are not as good news as the previous three months ~ total employment is up 728,000 when seasonally adjusted it would be expected to be up 759,000, so there’s no sign of the double dip recession that the Republicans have been cheering for, but not a very robust recovery either.

    However, the sluggish recovery does mute the recessionary impact of a crude oil price shock, since the modest impact of a 20% increase in US crude oil production combined with the more substantial impact of a modest decline in consumption, which is a combination of economic activity remaining so far below capacity and some modest increases in consumption efficiency, means that our crude oil imports are down, and the fewer barrels we import, the smaller the recessionary impact of each $1 per barrel increase in crude oil prices.

  11. morris brown
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 15:45

    Robert writes:

    “Ever since Solyndra, a Bay Area solar power company that received federal loans, went bankrupt and became the subject of a right-wing manufactured scandal… “

    Boy Robert, the BS can sure flow from your computer. The Solyndra fiasco / scandal is purely the result of Obama and his administration — they created the scandal not any “right-wing” person or group. Pray tell how did any “right-wing” group have anything to do with funding that company? Please keep from trying to re-write history (again).

    This issue is certainly not about “undermining Obama” ; it most certainly is about the numerous conflicts of interest and curious activities that have plagued this project, even before 2008.

    Link to letter sent by Issa to Richard.


    Tony D. Reply:

    “The Solyndra fiasco / scandal”…THERE WAS NO @#$%& SOLYNDRA FIASCO/SCANDAL!! It all existed in the childish minds of the right-wing and Teahadist cult!!
    “numerous confilicts of interest and curious activities that have plagued this project”…WTF!? Again, only in the childish minds of the right-wing, Teahadists AND NIMBY’S!

    jimsf Reply:

    funny, with all the wackiness on the right, they actually have not come up with any real scandal to pin on obama so far.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Could an Obama win be a sure thing? I never say something is a sure thing, but here is a fellow who thinks Obama will win, barring several reversals in what he calls “keys” to a presidential election:




    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Of course, not everybody is convinced this is a sure thing, and for that matter, that includes me:


    But we do have a response, here:


    Robert’s spoken of “white knuckles” before; I’m going to have them for who knows how long now. . .

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its never a sure thing this far out, because the recovery is still a bit dicey, and a double dip between now and November could overcome the multiple advantages handed to the Obama campaign by the Republican primary season.

    There’s also always the chance that there’s a foreign policy crisis and Obama’s run of good results on that front comes to an end at the wrong time … but its mostly the economy. If there are one or two more fitful lurches in the recovery direction, the Obama campaign is on the inside track to re-election, but if there is a lurch in the other direction, it could shake things up in the favor of Etch-A-Sketch.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Was there a “scandal” with Solyndra? Maybe–and maybe not. . .



    Hmm, let’s see, how might this apply here?

    I think I might have an idea. . .

    Much of what drives technological change can be what happens to the competition. For instance, railroads turned to coal when wood became harder and more expensive to find. Ditto for kerosene in home lighting; this fossil fuel, also called “coal oil” or “rock oil” because it came from the ground, replaced whale oil as whales became harder to find, and thus more expensive to hunt. Note that the whales didn’t completely disappear, nor did the forests, they just became expensive enough that people were looking for alternatives.

    In rail, we could see this as a combination of oil getting too expensive, both for automotive and aviation use, combined with someone having the guts to shoot for electrification on a main line railroad, and even for passenger service (see the recent news on the FEC). Social changes (reduced desire for younger people to drive) enter into this, too. And of course, we have in rail superior levels of comfort, speed, and safety when compared to driving.

    For now, though, it’s that agonizing white-knuckle wait. . .

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Even an editorial that’s highly critical of the Obama administration says this isn’t a scandal as such–and somehow, to my mind, undermines its own arguments, i.e., noting that China is getting further ahead with its industrial policy than we are. Maybe unfettered capitalism has some faults, maybe some things we don’t have the time for the capitalists to figure things out. . .


    On we go:



    I don’t consider myself liberal–heck, I’m Catholic and I’m the most old-fashioned person I know, and I was even registered as a Republican for 10 years–but the current party of the Repugnant Ones can only be described as nuts. What else can you call them when, along with other things, two members at the state level in Alaska and Wisconsin (I think, I’d have to look it up to be sure) would not back resolutions congratulating the Girl Scouts for 100 years of service because they thought the GSofA was a promoter of liberal, lesbian, socialist society.

    Come on, the Girl Scouts? Sheesh!!

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed, the Repugnant Ones are Nuts, My Dad and Grandpa were Republicans, they would be aghast at the present day goings on, Dad said don’t be afraid of New Ideas or New foods, so I’m not, although on some Foods like Escargot I’ll pass.

    Alan Reply:

    The right-wing whines about Solyndra and tries to manufacture a scandal out of it, hoping that people will forget about Haliburton…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Hadn’t thought about Haliburton in a while, thanks for the reminder.

    And in turn, let us recall that Haliburton has moved its headquarters to Dubai; it’s no longer even a nominally American firm.

  12. joe
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 18:42


    TRENTON, N.J. — Independent congressional investigators are raising questions about why New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie scrapped the Hudson River rail tunnel project in 2010.


    April 10 (Bloomberg) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie inflated cost estimates in 2010 when he killed construction of a Hudson River rail tunnel, saying his state couldn’t afford it, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report.

    joe Reply:

    GAO inquiry may backfire on Issa. It sure did contradict Christies explanation. For apparently bogus political posturing, NJ lost an opportunity to reduce commuter congestion and foster economic growth.


    The GAO confirmed to The Hill it would look into reports that emerged last fall that the cost of building the line would increase from $33 billion to $98 billion at the request of both a group of Republicans that include Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and John Mica (R-Fla.) and a group of Democrats that includes Reps. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Corrine Brown (D-Fla.).

    “The work is just getting started so we don’t have an anticipated completion date as of yet,” a spokesman for the GAO said in an email. “Among the issues we plan to look at are how reliable are the rail authority’s estimates of the project’s construction cost and financing, their estimates of passenger traffic and revenues and the estimates of the project’s economic impacts.”

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Reading about the Hudson River tunnel plan, I was struck by how difficult and expensive it is to layer new infrastructure over, under, and around existing infrastructure. Not to mention all the compromises that are forced in design, and eventual performance and convenience.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    And yet, in Paris, in Hong Kong, in Zürich, in São Paulo, in Berlin, in Stockholm, in Seoul, in Barcelona, in Vienna, in Santiago, …

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … Stuttgart 21 on the other hand…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    By George, you’re right, yet again! No existing infrastructure in Stuttgart. None at all.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Compared to midtown Manhattan, not much. If Wikipedia is to be believed someplace between 4.5 billion Euros and 18.7.

  13. Reality Check
    Apr 10th, 2012 at 19:31

    Dianne Feinstein praises Jerry Brown’s high-speed rail plan

    Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/04/dianne-feinstein-praises-jerry-browns-high-speed-rail-plan.html#storylink=cpy

    Feinstein said Brown has “done the right thing” by focusing on a building a high-speed rail line down the center of the state that would then connect to high-population centers such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. That so-called “blended approach” would rely on some existing infrastructure in urban areas.

    “You’re really not going to bring, in my view, those high-speed trains into either population area,” she said.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Translation: PAMPA “nimbys” win; – cheerleaders – deal with it.

    jimsf Reply:

    No, the don’t win. Of course the high speed trains will run up the catrain row and into the transbay center. There just won’t be—for the time being mind you– a completely separate set of high speed tracks in addition to caltrain tracks. Instead there will be —for now — upgraded electrified higher speed (90-110-125?) caltrain tracks that will integrate caltrains trains and hsr trains in a blended schedule. There were never plans, even with two separate systems – to run anything above 125 up the caltrain row anyway. The only thing that has changed is that there will be a few sections with two tracks instead of four…. for the time being.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary this is not the CHSRA waiting out nimbys but nimbys waiting out the CHSRA. PAMPA is getting richer and more powerful every day.

    Wait until the taxpayers get a load of mostly empty hsr trains meandering up at the Loop:


    average 36 paying trains a day on single track. Roundabout hsr? – anyone’s guess knows how many losing trains a day.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    PAMPA’s influence isn’t really the strategic challenge that the NIMBYs face ~ rather, its maintaining influence in PAMPA once the HSR starts running.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is just so peripheral to the health of the CHSRA. As Clem has pointed out the Dumbarton provides another whole entree into the northern Peninsula.

    PAMPA accrues power every day whilst the CHSRA bleeds supporters.

    The mountain crossing is so much more central to hsr viability. Hopefully Issa(not at all one of my preferred pols)will have the unlikely smarts and moxie to blow open the Tehachapi scandal.

    Tejon is the central, direct, versatile punch-thru to the San Joaquin Valley. Whence you can proceed to the west, central, or even the east sides of the Valley Astounds me the foamers cannot grasp this.

    The key issue here is real estate values. The Tejon Ranch Co. understands their property alongside the Grapevine corridor is vastly more valuable than on the Tehachapi side. It doesn’t want to give up its best holdings cheap. Nor should it but it cannot impede use of a natural and virtually unique transport corridor.

    What does it tell you about the future of Sin City when Adelson is sending so much of his fortune overseas?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If the HSR comes in through Dumbarton, then PAMPA NIMBY’s will instead get rolled on some of those HSR running through to San Jose. If they dither away their time of greatest leverage, then they are on track to minor footnote status.

    However, you do raise a vital point that Tejon gives you the versatility of putting the HSR both where you’d want to put an intercity passenger rail corridor and where you wouldn’t. I believe that you should stress this more heavily in the week ahead.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    One thing you can say for “NIMBYs”: they generally have some sort of rough understanding of just where their back yards might be, as opposed to the dimmer sort of blog commenter who can’t every quite seem to grasp that, say, it is Milpitas, not Atherton, that lies between Fremont and San José, The Capital of Silicon Valley.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Depends on which way they decide to get from Fremont to San Jose doesn’t it?
    If they decide to go directly south they will be going through Milpitas. If they decide to go west over the shiny new bridge they’ll have to go through Atherton. There’s always the option of “they have BART to Fremont or Caltrain to Redwood City, that’s good enough.”

    Clem Reply:

    That’s not even a choice. BART would be faster than west-bay rail, and east-bay rail would be faster than BART. The notion of reaching San Jose from Fremont via Menlo Park doesn’t even need to be considered, although it is often raised as a straw man.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Sure, ~ if “they” decide to get off the main corridor in Fremont instead of at the Caltrain Peninsula, then it’ll be southeast bay NIMBY’s opposed to that alignment who’ll get rolled.

    @RM ~ I see what you did there ~ you expressed scorn in an argument ad hominem in order to distract attention from your shifting the question at hand to an issue where you are convinced of your own personal brilliance. Clever. But please don’t share that technique with anyone else, or else sooner or later there will be thousands of people using it on the internet.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The notion of reaching San Jose from Fremont via Menlo Park doesn’t even need to be considered

    So those great big thundering herds of commuters that will be using the Dumbarton Bridge won’t be going south? All of them will be going north? Or are they going to turn the Dumbarton commuter trains at Sana Clara? Everything south of Redwood City running local on the two tracks so you can interweave the Dumbarton commuter trains and the San Francisco commuter trains all headed towards San Jose?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    BART would be faster than west-bay rail, and east-bay rail would be faster than BART.

    And as we have seen, the fastest alignment independent of other factors, is always chosen … ?

    The certainty that they will choose what you view as the right alignment to get to Silicon Valley and San Jose is contradicted by your certainty that they chose the wrong alignment to get from the central valley to San Francisco.

    Anyway, with the two existing east bay alignments about 50% and 40% more efficient than the existing west-bay alignments, likely fastest to downtown San Jose. Not faster to Stanford, for instance.

    Tony D. Reply:

    “PAMPA accrues power every day whilst the CHSRA bleeds supporters.” LOL! That was a good one! Please explain that “fact” in detail Mitt Romney…I mean, syno!

    jimsf Reply:

    once people in the pampa mt view and rwc area are able within 15 minutes of an hsr station and able to board a train with departures every 30 minutes that will deliver them to within 30 minutes of the majority of the states population, in busniess and first class comfort with a little pre planning and zero hassle, the nimbies will be irrelevant.

    jimsf Reply:

    and if a merced to socal segment goes into revenue operation before connecting to the bay area…. you can be sure the bay area will demand service immediately up to and including voting to tax themselves to get it.

    J. Wong Reply:

    No one will ride the trains? Really, @syn, that’s a pretty stupid claim. Actually, wait until NIMBY’s see HSR trains running on the Peninsula, or wait, was that Caltrain? They mostly won’t notice the distinction, and when grade separations and 4 track is proposed for better service of both Caltrain and HSR, everyone will be in favor.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    4 track is proposed for better service of both Caltrain and HSR

    Not by anybody — anybody — at Caltrain, CHSRA or of their consultants.

    The quad tracking is purely for HSR Flight Level Zero Airline.

    There is zero benefit to Caltrain (or to anybody except those paid to “plan” and build this inutile bullshit.)

    Caltrain plans (“plans”) to operate only local and skip-stop service, forever, with no Caltrain ever overtaking any other Caltrain, and no Caltrain running any route other than SF to SJ. One train following after another, from one end of the line to the other. Futuristic!

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals, on the job.

    If anybody tells you that triple-tracking or quad-tracking is for the benefit of Caltrain, Caltrain riders, or Peninsula residents then that person is simply lying.

    (Things didn’t and don’t have to be that retarded way, of course. Strategic passing tracks could be of immense benefit to regional service, as anybody with a room temperature IQ would know. But it’s not going to be that way if any of America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals are in any way involved.)

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Reality Check

    What an amazing statement from Senator Feinstein.

    “You’re really not going to bring, in my view, those high-speed trains into either population area,” she said.

    Is she now going to extract the $400 million that she ws respoinsible for granting to the TBT from ARRA HSR funds?

    joe Reply:


    Clem Reply:

    I think she speaks of high-speed rail (as many people do in California) as a conflation of tracks and trains. See frequent references to “the rail” in current affairs. Most people’s minds are blown when you tell them that a high-speed train can actually leave the high-speed tracks and use regular old tracks… Hence the great suspicion about the “blended” idea.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Well, to be fair, this was originally presented to the public as an all-or-nothing proposition.

    Donk Reply:

    Maglev is the all-or-nothing of all-or-nothing propositions. Thank god Maglev got shitcanned, with Harry Reid dumping Vegas Maglev and SCAG pulling the plug on SCAGLEV a couple months ago.

    -US Maglev-

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART is also every bit as all or nothing as maglev. Totally stand alone, walled off operation. Intentionally.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    NO she is speaking of those 140 year old tracks that you and ever other PA Nimby moved next to as a means to arrive in the CITY of SAN FRANCISCO…We also own those tracks..dear arrogant Menlo/PA

  14. StevieB
    Apr 11th, 2012 at 00:27

    A California State Senate report determines that monies to repay the High Speed Rail bonds need not come from the General Fund so do not compete with other uses such as education.

    a staff report from the state Senate’s Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review implies that repayment of the already-authorized bonds doesn’t have to burden the state budget nearly as much as some have complained.
    Current estimates place the yearly bond repayment burden at about $700 million, although the actual amounts will vary according to the rating of California bonds at the time these are sold. Of course, it will be several years before all the voter-approved state bonds are sold, and repayment amounts will be lower until then.
    But the Senate report notes that $915 million yearly in truck weight fees is available right now for debt service on transportation bonds. If the Legislature wants, it could use all that money for these bonds without touching the rest of the general fund budget.
    But it will never need all the truck money, which the report notes has never been ticketed solely for road maintenance — a common misconception.

    Thomas D. Elias presents financial information mentioned in federal hearings by the State Legislative Analyst but which I have not before seen in print. The Mercury News article“Doses of reality put high-speed rail project back on track” is very upbeat.

    VBobier Reply:

    Sounds good to Me, I like this idea as It keeps HSR/T away from the General Fund.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Woo-hoo! It’s happening. The Legislature will authorize sale of bonds and disbursement to the Authority this year. The initiative petition to counter Prop 1A will not make the ballot in 2012, and likely not even in 2014, by which time construction will be underway.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    One of the interesting things about the article is how it begins and how it ends. Not that you can believe whatever you read in the papers, but consider the following two statements, with emphasis added:

    “It’s beginning to look like California will get bullet trains after all, but IT WON’T BE quite as grandiose a system as what the California High-Speed Rail Authority at first wanted or WHAT VOTERS APPROVED IN THE 2008 PROPOSITION 1-A.”

    “All of which leaves high speed rail just about where it should be at this time: free to proceed if legislators let it, UNLESS LAWSUITS SOMEHOW STOP IT — AND SO FOR THERE ARE NONE LOOKING POTENT ENOUGH TO DO THAT.”

    Maybe what he means is that none of the existing lawsuits address the deviation he describes between the new plan and “what votes approved in . . . Proposition 1-A.” Of course, maybe he’s wrong about the new plan not being what voters approved in 2008. I don’t know. The plans keep changing and it’s hard to keep up with them.

    jimsf Reply:

    What the voters approved in prop 1a is still going to happen. the blended plan just gets service started sooner rather than later. Its not like once the blended approach starts running that no more improvements will be made. Of course upgrades will continue and eventually we will have a full hsr system. Teh blended approach just gets initial construction started and makes initial operation possible sooner and cheaper rather than waiting for full build out.

    Why is this so hard for people to grasp?
    highway 99 was started with a bond in 1910. They are still upgrading it. They didnt wait until 2012 to do the whole thing at once.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    What you say may be true, although I doubt that whatever bonds were issued to finance initial construction of Highway 99 and later improvements had the kind of restrictions associated with Prop 1A and the $9 billion in bonds that it provides. I don’t think that distinction should be too hard to grasp.

    jimsf Reply:

    But when the dust settles, most of us, at least everyone I know, understands how things actually happen… its always a long drawn out step by step political process. It just surprises me when people act all “oh no the sky is falling” over everything. We are still waiting for a 4th bore for teh caldecott tunnel. We still don’t have a “southern crossing” (mission bay 280 to alameda 880) bart was two decades from idea to construction, the states freeway system is ever evolving, the golden gate bridge went through all kinds of design and political hell, I mean its just the way things are done. How can anyone not know that?

    Tony D. Reply:

    Way to give Mr. Wrong the slapdown Jim! This is awesome news! Oh, and the NIMBY’s, naysayers continue to weep…

  15. Nadia
    Apr 11th, 2012 at 10:36

    O/T for those following the Business Plan, Rita Wespi of CARRD has been pestering the Authority to release the back up documents for the Business Plan (which are referenced throughout the document) since last week to no avail.

    Yesterday we posted the following: http://www.calhsr.com/uncategorized/latest-business-plan-wheres-the-beef/ – making it clear that NOT posting these document is a real problem from a process standpoint.

    This morning – the documents were finally posted – less than 24 hours before the board vote.

    Those looking closely will note that the Ridership document was completed YESTERDAY as noted by the date on the document and it is marked DRAFT! That document alone is 250 pages. There are a total of 10 new documents posted.

    Happy Reading

    Peter Reply:


    Due process is all about what you are required to do, not what some people think it would be nice for you to do.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    She didn’t say “due process.” She said “process.” There is a difference.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Want choo choo! Safe choo choo made of soft rubber stamps! Choo choo now! WANT!

    Peter Reply:


    Tony D. Reply:

    You’ll either by pushing up daisies or forgetting everything/everyone when this train is up and running on the Peninsula; why do you even care?! Oh well, continue with you childish rants if you please. (they’re actually quite humorous)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Got the memo, Tony D.! So … not living to see useful improved regional and inter-regional transportation service is now a good thing. But during the not-yet-dead phase, be paying taxes that go into the pockets of people who aren’t improving anything, and living in a constantly degrading environment, but I shouldn’t “care” about that because one day I will in fact be dead. By extension, the longer they do less than nothing, the less to care about. Do I have that right? Your ideas are intriguing to me and …

    Tony D. Reply:

    Well, based on this latest incoherent post R.M., it appears your well into the “forgetting everything/everyone” phase of life (modernized Caltrain/blended HSR = paying taxes you don’t like and a constantly degrading environment?). I’m sorry…and I’ll leave you alone (for now).

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Tony, maybe you should get someone to explain it to you. Richard’s post is quite clear. He may say it in a unique way, but it is easy for most people to understand. Not all, obviously, but most.

    Joe Reply:

    Send your newsletter to the GAO.

    The GAO is reviewing the project and you have first hand knowledege that billions ate being wasted on HSR corruption, incompetence and cronyism.

    You would have to be a major chichen shit to let this golden opportunity you pass up.
    Once in a lifetime vindication.

    Peter Reply:

    Ok, then how about


    The term ‘Process’ is vague enough that it can mean anything she wants it to mean.

    I hazarded a guess at what she wanted to say, even if it wasn’t completely correct in terms of legal terminology.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Instead of hazarding a guess, which can leave a person with egg on his face, try taking a look at the link Nadia posted. For the benefit of those who don’t know how to click on links, here is an excerpt that sums up CARRD’s concerns. They are worth considering:

    “This plan is going to a board vote in less than 48 hours, yet presumably board members – and certainly the public – do not have access to these important additional materials. Without them it is impossible to accurately evaluate the Business Plan. We reiterate our concern about the board voting on a multi-billion dollar project without access to supporting information. It is difficult to have confidence in their vote under these conditions.

    “There is also the obvious transparency problem of not making these materials available to the public in a timely manner. CARRD has repeatedly made this request to you and to the Chair and select board members, and cc’d our state reps. It is troublesome that we find ourselves continuously in this role of asking for a minimum level of transparency that should need no prodding. The board’s rushed vote with incomplete data is equally disturbing. ”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What part of “draft” are you having difficulty understanding? The D part? The R part? maybe it’s the AFT part? Drafts get revised. If they weren’t expecting to revise it they wouldn’t have called it a draft.
    It’s the starting point of a discussion not the end.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The way things actually work in the real world.

    1. Staff produces a Fraft XXX out of a hat a day before a “public” meeting.

    2. Engaged and probing Board approves staff proposal after detailed scrutiny with a unanimous vote. Once again!

    3. Staff — just following orders! — untick the “print with the overlaid word `draft’ ” option in their document processing system.

    4. Draft XXX is now XXX. It was perfect to begin with, but now it’s even more perfect. America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals are vindicated once again!

    5. Thank you for your Participation in the Open Public Process. Your contributions are valuable to us.

    joe Reply:



    Shit or get off the pot so to speak.

    File a complaint. The GAO is waiting. Darrell Isssa wants YOU! Finally – someone is listening!!

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Joe

    How do I sign LaMalfa’s petition?

    Nadia Reply:

    Yes, I’m aware it is a draft. The draft plan is based on data. This data is referenced throughout the document. This data, which substantiates their plan to commit billions of dollars to a plan AND which is different from the data for the plan released only 6 months ago, was unavailable until this morning.

    This means: 1) The public – and groups like CARRD, who actually read the numbers and verify the calculations supporting their conclusions and plans, have no access to the information.
    2) The board members, who presumably want to really understand the details in-depth before voting on a multi-billion dollar project, also, don’t have access to this information – and thus are voting on this with no real in-depth knowledge
    3) For an agency that is supposed to be working on improving their transparency and accessibility – NOT posting these documents is a major step backwards which undermines their work.

    Joe Reply:

    The CAHSRA is not going away and any substancial issues are relevant the day after the meeting as they are before.

    This is an issue over process and implication that the material is embargoed from review.

    I urge CARRD to directly contact the GAO with any and all concerns since the plan is under GAO review. You can even level charges that the CAHSRA is not transparent and accessible.

    Let us once snd for all settle the phoney baloney accusations.
    I also suggest CARRD explain the congressional testimoney the project is 100 miles too long. The GAO is waiting.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Richard, Design, Announce, Defend is well known around the world. Since California is so exceptional I’m sure none of the solutions people have come up with to counteract Decide, Announce, Defend would work.

    Nadia the process has been refined over the past forty years of legislation and litigation. If you don’t like it, get the laws changed. But then spreading FUD is so much easier and more fun.

    Yes, I’m aware it is a draft. The draft plan is based on data. This data is referenced throughout the document. This data, which substantiates their plan to commit billions of dollars to a plan AND which is different from the data for the plan released only 6 months ago, was unavailable until this morning.

    And six months ago your complaint was that the data was flawed. So the big old mean nasty Authority went out out and got new, presumably better data. It’s absolutely awful that they did what you wanted them to do.

    This means: 1) The public – and groups like CARRD, who actually read the numbers and verify the calculations supporting their conclusions and plans, have no access to the information.

    Yes you do, they released it this morning. Unless I’m reading “until this morning” incorrectly.

    2) The board members, who presumably want to really understand the details in-depth before voting on a multi-billion dollar project, also, don’t have access to this information – and thus are voting on this with no real in-depth knowledge

    They don’t need in depth knowledge to accept a draft document. Draft documents are subject to changes. They will have time to study them, ask questions, make changes and someday accept a final document, which will be, in theory, somewhat different than the draft. If the process is was Richard describes having information isn’t going to help much.

    3) For an agency that is supposed to be working on improving their transparency and accessibility – NOT posting these documents is a major step backwards which undermines their work.

    They posted them this morning. Unless I’m reading “until this morning” incorrectly.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nadia, remind us again how long a state agency has to collect documents and deliver them when a request is made.

    Peter Reply:

    They get 10 days to make a determination whether the request seeks copies of disclosable public records.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So is “Last week” less than ten days? If it is why have they been pestering?
    Ah the smell of FUD in the afternoon!

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Maybe, adirondacker, because they would like a meaningful opportunity to review the documents before the meeting so that they, and other members of the public, will have a chance to make meaningful comment.

    Nadia Reply:

    In this case, the laws of Bagley-Keene govern what the Authority must release for their board meetings (this isn’t treated like a FOIA request).

    The law states: “When materials are provided to a majority of the body either before or during the meeting, they must also be made available to the public without delay, unless the confidentiality of such materials is otherwise protected.”

    So – if the board had already received them – they should be made public otherwise it is a Bagley-Keene violation. If they didn’t – they have a hell of a lot of reading to do – which is probably why Richard Mlynarik is mentioning rubber stamps

    Tony D. Reply:

    You people at CAARD are really, really, really beginning to REACH now. I guess that’s all you got left. One of these days you people should really look in the eyes of Peninsula folks <40 years of age (especially the children); perhaps you'll then find yourself asking "what the hell am I doing?"

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Tony D.:

    Read what Nadia has written. Essentially, she has correctly pointed out that referenced materials, which should have been made available around the same time as the business plan, weren’t made available until just now.

    Even for those who are gung-ho boosters of the project (as Richard puts it, choo-choo!), the fact that the underpinnings to the business plan either weren’t released to the public at the same time as the business plan, or worse, weren’t completed until now, should be cause for alarm.

    If you’re going to bash CARRD, try to differentiate between watchdog-like activity, and thinly-disguised NIMBYism.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Like I said, a complete reach. “Now that this project is looking more real and garnering increased support, lets look for technicalities to try and stop this thing! The hell with the people!”

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    This conversation is mind boggling and exposes people for what they are. CARRD shakes loose the remainder of the Business Plan documents, posted where the public can see them, and the crowd throws stones. Tony d & others – have you read any of the docs? Or do you view those in search of facts rather than blind faith blasphemous. Deniers!

    How dare CARRD ask the Authority to embarrass themselves by posting their docs!

    Now let’s have a hearty conversation about the word ‘draft’ so we can avoid discussing the business plan or what’s in those docs.

    Peter Reply:

    Uhhh, you do realize that these documents were going to be posted anyway, right? They always post these documents just before the Board meeting, or sometimes a day or so later. Giving CARRD the credit is REALLY reaching.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Uhhhhhh, do you realize what the problem is with posting them “just before the Board meeting”?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No I don’t understand what the problem is with posting a draft document just before the meeting where they accept the draft document, is held.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Evidently you don’t understand the role public comment is supposed to play. It is legally required, at least in California, if not where you live. And public comment may just end up being used to let people vent while they are essentially ignored, as probably happens, but it is meant to be a way for the public to have meaningful input into the process.

    The draft document may very well be approved at that meeting and if that happens it is no longer a “draft,” it is the final and operative document. In order for anyone to be able to intelligently offer comment as to what he thinks the board should do, he needs to have reasonable access to that document. Having that document posted just before the meeting does not give anyone meaningful access to the document, in which case “public comment” is rendered meaningless.

    Joe Reply:

    Watchdog activity is too generous. CARRD has a right to make demands on CAHSRA. It is not a watchdog, implying nefarious and rubber stamp inuendo is pure political Spin and speculation.

    Peter Reply:

    Cool, so CARRD is back to accusing the Authority of violating laws without proof?

    Peter Reply:

    By the way, Nadia, not that you don’t know this, but “DRAFT” means it hasn’t been officially adopted by the Authority yet. Every page of the business plan is branded that way, too.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Look, I understand that people with legal expertise can come up with all sorts of interpretations, but there is a basic point some people may be missing, and it is rooted in common sense. Whether it is stamped “draft” or not, and particularly in the case of a project as big as this one, getting information out to the public sooner rather than at the last minute is a good thing. As for the business plan, if the draft is being presented for board approval, then it is in the final form to be reviewed by the board, subject to changes the board might make at the meeting, at which the public has a right to comment. Consequently, they should have the opportunity to see what it is the board will be evaluating so that they can comment on it.

    Mac Reply:

    THANK YOU NADIA AND RICK……….it IS simple common sense. Why is THAT so hard to grasp?

    Joe Reply:

    Sorry but draft material changes and CARRD in particular has used changes to disparage the project.

    Common sense tells me local nimbys want to disparage HSR, not see draft material to help/watch dog in the broader public interest.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Okay, let me try it this way. Let’s say a “draft” document is posted publicly the day before the meeting, and that at that meeting the board will be approving it as presented or with some modifications. Let’s also say the background information is being posted at the same time, and that the materials consist of a significant number of pages. Finally, let’s assume you are interested in the subject matter and would like to communicate with the board or its staff and make comment on the documents and you want to encourage the board to take a certain action, whether it is to approve the draft as presented or to change it in a certain way or to delay acting on it. Whatever. How do you manage to do that intelligently if you don’t have access to it until just before the meeting? Or do you even care?

    As “thatBruce” put it very nicely, “If you’re going to bash CARRD, try to differentiate between watchdog-like activity, and thinly-disguised NIMBYism.”

    Peter Reply:

    They do take comments outside of Board meetings. Make a phone call. Send an email. Write a letter. They are actually surprisingly responsive. I’ve never had a problem getting information from them. I also don’t expect them to act as if my question or comment is the most important thing in the world, so I don’t expect a response that day, or even the next day.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    When does one make comment? After the decision has been made? You are confusing getting some sort of response from the agency with the ability to make public comment at the meeting, during consideration of the item, and before a decision is made. I think the latter is the issue Nadia is raising.

    Peter Reply:

    Send them an email before the board meeting tomorrow as a public comment.

    I know the difference between making a comment and getting info, I was just using the latter as an example of how you can reach them. I should have left it out, because it confused the issue.

    joe Reply:

    Contact the California High-Speed Rail Authority
    To submit a question, comment or request to the Authority, please use the form below.


    Operators are standing by.

    joe Reply:

    Let me try this … WTF is so special about comments made at a meeting as opposed to another time?

    Being locked out? Let me help…here are some venues:

    And the GAO is looking at the Business Plan right now.

    WTF do accusations of sandbagging reference material before a meeting have to do with actually commenting on the yet-to-be named problems? Who is silenced?

    You can even file a complaint about the CAHSRA process.

    Maybe another CARRD member can testify before Congress – again. Like somehow someone is being suppressed. Congressional testimony, a GAO investigation and Congressional Chairman of the gov Oversight Committee.


    Jon Reply:

    Wow, they really have nixed LA – Anaheim. The cost changes document specifies that $510m will be available for grade separations to to improve Amtrak and Metrolink, and that’s it.

  16. Brandi
    Apr 11th, 2012 at 12:17

    Darrel Issa is a fraud. He complains about waste while wasting tons of government time and money in useless politically motivated investigations.

    joe Reply:

    I welcome his opposition.

    It galvanizes the mushy Pols who want to have it both ways: support rail but still court the hot-headed NIMBY voters.

    Remember, ISSA gave us the “birth control controversy” that resulted in the massive blowback; Rush losing his advertisers and defection of women voters from the GOP.

  17. Reedman
    Apr 11th, 2012 at 13:48

    Northern California Train News

    (04-11) 09:19 PDT SAN LEANDRO — A 77-year-old Oakland woman died Tuesday night when her daughter accidentally drove their Toyota Prius onto railroad tracks in San Leandro and a freight train plowed into the car, police said.

    Pei Chuan Haung’s 56-year-old daughter escaped from the car before the train hit it and tried to save her mother, but failed, authorities said.

    The daughter was driving east on Williams Street when she made a right turn onto the tracks that parallel San Leandro Boulevard, Sobek said. It was raining at the time, and the woman apparently thought she was turning onto a street, police said.

    The Prius became stuck on the tracks. The daughter fled the car and tried to get her mother out, but couldn’t, Sobek said.

    The southbound train crashed into the Prius, killing Haung and pushing the car about a quarter-mile. The daughter’s name was not released.

    swing hanger Reply:

    How is this relevant to high speed rail?

  18. lexluth
    Apr 11th, 2012 at 16:12



  19. lexluth
    Apr 11th, 2012 at 19:43

    democrat senators decide to put the brakes on fast tracking high speed rail…

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