Jeffrey Morales Picked as New CHSRA CEO

May 30th, 2012 | Posted by

Yesterday the California High Speed Rail Authority selected Jeffrey Morales as their new CEO, replacing Roelof van Ark. Morales served as Caltrans director under Governor Gray Davis, and has been working on the HSR project as a Senior Vice President for Parsons Brinckerhoff. Mike Rosenberg at the San Jose Mercury News has the best reporting on the new hire:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority board unanimously voted to hire Morales, 52, to fill its vacant top spot after a months-long search that spanned the globe. The board members’ pick was right under their noses: Morales has led the formation of the project’s business plan, which includes a vision to secure the remaining 80 percent of the $69 billion needed to build the rail line, as a consultant with the Sacramento construction management firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Rail insider

Morales was one of two finalists for the CEO job in 2010 and was the choice of at least some board members at the time. After he was passed over in favor of an engineer with high-speed rail experience, the rail agency took Morales up on his offer to consult — and gave him an office at its headquarters.

Morales has argued in staff meetings for more realistic and publicly appetizing goals, even unsuccessfully proposing a train that would run slightly slower than 220 mph to save money. His hire is the latest in a series of moves by the Brown administration to save the state’s biggest-ever public works project, including a recent $30 billion cost reduction, a faster start time for service and quicker investments to commuter lines in the Bay Area and Southern California.

I’m not exactly sure what “more realistic and publicly appetizing goals” means exactly, but there’s time to determine exactly what Morales has in mind. The key thing to me is that he is someone who is very familiar with the project and with state government, which is something the project needs right now.

Others agree:

The South Bay’s Rod Diridon, who helped recruit Morales as a project board member two years ago, said Morales is a good fit now that the project is more “political than technical.”

“He has a unique ability — without making a lot of noise, he never attracts attention to himself — (of) getting very difficult things done quickly,” Diridon said. “He’s inexhaustible. He works all the time. By that example, people around him are drawn into that kind of enthusiasm.”

And Dan Richard, chair of the CHSRA board, lauded Morales’ abilities:

“The problem here has been that high-speed rail for too long was this insular, separate, stand-alone organization, and I just don’t think you get things built in California that way,” Richard said. “We have to have somebody who cannot only manage internally but also forge and maintain and nourish those types of external relationships.”

That analysis seems right to me. Morales has the experience and relationships that can help guide the project through the Legislature this year and toward construction this fall.

As you would expect, HSR opponents found something to dislike about Morales:

“How can we expect this insider to provide an independent review of the project?” asked state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Rocklin, who is trying to get the project back on the ballot.

Critics also question whether Parsons Brinckerhoff has a conflict of interest because the firm helped bankroll the ballot measure that launched the project — and in return received a contract from the authority worth nearly $200 million.

LaMalfa is being ridiculous – the CEO’s job is to get the project built, not provide independent review. As to Parsons Brinckerhoff, there’s simply not that many companies that have experience with large projects like high speed rail. Had the Authority selected someone without the experience Morales brings, opponents would be complaining that the new CEO was inexperienced and therefore a bad fit.

The Authority made a smart and sensible move in picking Morales to be the new CEO, and I’m looking forward to see what he can get done.

  1. joe
    May 30th, 2012 at 19:59
    #1

    As to Parsons Brinckerhoff, there’s simply not that many companies that have experience with large projects like high speed rail.

    I’ve not seen one alternative vendor suggested by the critics or any specific law or conflict of interest charge levied. Many of the same critics of the contractor don’t support bringing expertise in-house by hiring government employees. Possibly this is Homeopathic infrastructure.

    The GAO is undertaking an investigation of HSR and Rep Issa’s committee is open for business. Critics have unique venues and opportunity to lodge multiple complaints.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I’ve not seen one alternative vendor suggested by the critics or any specific law or conflict of interest charge levied. Many of the same critics of the contractor don’t support bringing expertise in-house by hiring government employees.

    Design-Build-Operate contract. Voila, problem solved.

    joe Reply:

    Sure, legislate away the CEQA and other lawsuit risks and give the company eminent domain power like in Texas. A Canadian construction Co. is taking land without even the approval of the pipeline or permits. That will work.

    or we just buy a solution like this:

    Wanted: Somebody to build HSR with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we finish. Must bring your own weapons. I have never done this before. Safety not guaranteed.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Why bother “to lodge multiple complaints”? The Fix is in. The Machine cannot be touched. The juggernaut is launched.

    But in time all the liabilities, all the debits, all the money pits, all the endless subsidies will go to tsunami. $20bil blown on a freight route that can’t accommodate freight but maybe I’ll get to ride a resuscitated San Francisco Chief before I croak..

    According to foamer dogma, hsr infallibility and triumph guaranteed no matter how boondoggled or misconceived, Queretaro should not have happened. But it did.

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    YOu do know this is just a train right? Have you been watching syfy network again?

    synonymouse Reply:

    This is more than just a train, just as BART has become more than just a subway. It is now an institution, enjoying a quasi-monopoly. Other transit competition has gradually been eliminated, like AC Transit, and highway construction has been scaled down, with funding being shifted to subsidize BART, which has become a sacred cow, protected by politicians and organized labor.

    Tehachapi Stilt-A-Rail is another BART in the making, involving both contractual and implied liabilities. It will lose money – why would the deep pockets potential ticketholders want to be detoured to Fresno, Mojave and Palmdale to go from SF to LA? The celebrated “big dogs” don’t give a shit about hsr – they view it as inconsequential, irrelevant, the antithesis of urgent – otherwise they would be insisting the CHSRA return to the optimal route at Tejon. They just don’t give a shit whether it fails; it is just a make-work welfare project as far as they are concerned. It is just not important enough to them to “do it right”.

    But eventually the debt load has to take its toll. California will take on the aura of a failing state, in the Greek manner. Standard of living and quality of life is not just a matter of salary or hourly pay rate plus health and vacation benefits – it is also a function of embedded, unavoidable taxes, fees, tolls, etc. and restriction of personal freedom and choice via regulations and nanny laws. And the waste due to bad planning, corruption, influence peddling, fixing, and general incompetence is like adding on the costs of thousands of “no show jobs”. California will soon have the rep of the “sick man” of the US.

    And then you have the demarcation between public and private being erased. PB has become California’s Halliburton. First PB took over BART, Muni, Caltrans, now the CHSRA. PB has become part of a shadow government and Jerry the Vladimir Putin of Golden State crony capitalism.

    VBobier Reply:

    Well unless You can provide the name of a Company that has Rail Experience comparable to PB and a link, it’s PB that is needed, don’t like that or can’t provide a name and references? Too bad, so sad…

    Paul Druce Reply:

    SNCF, DB-Bahn, Trenitalia, JR-Everyone, Union Pacific, BNSF, etc.

    VBobier Reply:

    Hey Yer not coming to Synos aid are Ye? Please don’t help Him.

    Spokker Reply:

    Mr. Druce was correct, though.

    synonymouse Reply:

    My personal favorite would be whoever is doing the engineering at St. Gotthard plus Herrenknecht.

    Peter Reply:

    That would be AlpTransit Gotthard, a company owned by Swiss Railways.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The problem is that regardless of who the Authority employed, this entity would be still a contractor and there would be marginal oversight at best of the work product. Seemingly lost in your calculation is that Anglo-American law assumes that a contract provides all the legal and operational protection that a government entity needs.

    Parsons Brinckerhoff wants this project to succeed. Given the decline in use of third-rail technology, they have every motivation to make this project what BART arguably was supposed to be: the start of a next generation building program both nationally and internationally.

    Your Tejon diatribes overlook the fact that this very same firm was willing to risk all the marbles on a tube for BART in the 1960s as opposed to a bridge. DC’s Metro, MARTA, and even Miami’s Metrorail require nothing so ambitious.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART incorporated many accomplishments which were hailed by local railfans at the time(middle sixties)as forward-thinking. Broad gauge was not one of them. No one was happy with this other than SP and Bechtel knew it. Their arrogance was so blinding they could not be talked out a major and obvious error. No excuse whatsoever.

    As far as the tube goes what other choice remained? The bitter memory of the Bay Bridge-Key System, National City Lines fiasco was still fresh. The Bay Bridge trains had been limited to slow speeds and how could one mate a bridge with the Market Street subway, particularly with BART on the bottom-most level?

    The Tejon scandal is simply a function of corruption and grotesque politically-mandated coverrup. Simply do the proper engineering study and let the truth of Tejon’s manifest superiority be documented and then let Tehachapi Roundabout be dictated by the Machine. The engineers will have done their job properly and the onus will be on Villa, Moonbeam, and the Chandlers.

    Peter Reply:

    Why not if he has a point? Don’t take or make internet disagreements personally. Unless the discussion devolves into insults.

    joe Reply:

    UP and BNSF have HSR expertise. I call bullshit.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    They have railroad building expertise. Building viaducts and laying track is not rocket science.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Any of the proven failuers — with records of failure to show — at PB have HSR expertise? I call double bullshit.

    But, as usual, you have no idea what you’re talking about and you’re missing the point.

    What’s nominally (nominally!) being delivered is a massive civil engineering megaproject, topped off by a thin but expensive but off-the-shelf layer of mechanical, electrical and control systems.

    (Of course what CHSRA is really delivering is a public-private wealth transfer of unprecedented, outside the military contractor world, scale.)

    What’s needed is experience in successful procurement of systems (note: no design of systems for “Unique American Conditions”) and successful and cost-effective and timely delivery of large civil engineering projects.

    That’s not too far removed from the sort of thing that the people who lay freight RR tracks do, except with a bigger role for not invented here systems procurement (SCADA, signalling, special trackwork, electrical, security, rolling stock) and with a little bit of station architecture every couple hundred km. They’re not the first people who spring to mind, and there’s no evidence that they wish to expand their in-house project delivery teams to undertake huge external projects, but they’re not outlandish suggestions. They do undertake and deliver projects based upon rigorous business case analysis, don’t piss away billions of Other People’s Money, ruthlessly control their spending (of their own money … funny how that works), and fire people when the fail.

    PB’s local clowns and mafiosi, of course, on the other hand, have a long and unbroken record of obscene cost blowouts, profitable change orders to the sky, years late, and inutile projects to answer for. Foremost: BART extensions.

    And again, you can thank Morales — and PB has shown its very profound gratitude to him over the last decade — for his considerable role in the State of California’s most recent multi billion dollar BART gift (Fremont to the San José Flea Market) to PB and friends.

    joe Reply:

    and there’s no evidence that they wish to expand their in-house project delivery teams to undertake huge external projects, but they’re not outlandish suggestions.

    But they are not interested in this easy money and profiteering. They instead

    undertake and deliver projects based upon rigorous business case analysis, don’t piss away billions of Other People’s Money, ruthlessly control their spending (of their own money

    Corporate Morality stops these competent companies from making shit load of money on the CAHSR Project. wow.

    BTW

    The GAO would be fascinated to interview you and document the mismanagement. They are reviewing management, ridership and business plan and the “clowns and mafioso” You and Paul Dyson and whomever.

    You can build a flip chart of Morales BART – whatever. You never make a specific accusation – never. All these laws and conflict to interest guidelines and you never actually specify the violation.

    Frightened of liable?

    Nathanael Reply:

    PB’s had plenty of experience with *successful* projects all over the world. And you can list them as easily as I can.

    They do what they’re paid to do, like most contractors, so if they’re paid to do a bad job they will. And they try to make as much money as possible, like most contractors, so you need to watch them like a hawk.

    *None of the alternative companies you could choose would be any better.* I’m rather fond of Arup’s work, but they’re capable of producing shoddy work if they’re asked to.

    Nathanael Reply:

    But if you want to criticize *Morales*… well, be my guest !! Competent oversight is important.

    synonymouse Reply:

    As is customary Richard has summed it up pretty damn well. He has to take the bad rap of pissing on the foamers’ parade but the truth hurts.

    The CHSRA plan and the one that a sensible hsr planner would advocate simply aren’t on theh same page, maybe not even in the same book. Just a couple of observations off the top:

    The UP is the most important rr in California. It behooves the State to kiss up, suck up, play nice with, whatever is necessary to be on good terms with the UP. The basal reality which makes the chances of some good coming out of this flagrant flirting is that the UP has a great vested interest in a healthy California, economically, socially and politically. The UP people also have to know that the Golden State not only spawns boffo stuff that makes us the butt of jokes nationwide but also new ideas that stick and often make a lot of money. So when California starts to bitch about stinky dirty diesels and grouse about electrification something is likely up. The UP is also in a position, if it takes a mind to, to help with hsr in the area of connectivity and, perish the thought, giving advice about schemes. Freight railroads have some experience with making money and remember they used to have passenger service. Beside California is too disorganized and too incompetent to adopt the hard-ass approach with the UP or any other rr. So just play nice and hope for a better relationship.

    Secondly make the lowest possible subsidy the highest priority. That mean seizing every opportunity to make the project more efficient, with Tejon being the paradigm. What message are you sending when practically the first thing you thing you do is fall back to pissy-ass sucky second rate at the first sign of influence peddling. That’s how good schemes degenerate to boondoggle.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I think you mean “libel”.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Robert..you let this troll rant at will you edit me? and i just rejoined CAHSR

  2. Paul Druce
    May 30th, 2012 at 20:26
    #2

    Once again Robert continues his cheerleading mantra where nothing the Authority does could possibly be bad. Except, perhaps, to make money once in operation.

    joe Reply:

    cheer-leading vs advocacy – it’s all on which side you land. HSR supporters cheer-lead – HSR critics are advocates. Hey Paul, nice rail blog, you must be a reasoned advocate.

    rick rong Reply:

    The distinction between cheer-leading and advocacy is more than just “which side you land” on. There are supporters of HSR who provide meaningful information and thoughtful analysis, and others who fail to do so.

    Maybe another way of looking at it is in terms of intellectual honesty. There was an entire posting devoted to the Governor’s references to HSR during the ceremony to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. There was not a single substantive discussion of a more recent bridge project, the construction of the east span of the Bay Bridge. Cost overruns, questionable design, poor quality control, inexperienced contractors, and long delays in projected completion dates in a bridge project currently under construction are at least as meaningful in terms of the HSR project as a successful construction of a bridge 75 years ago. Yet apparently there was no mention of these more recent problems, all of which could affect the HSR project. That is cheerleading, whether you support HSR or not.

    joe Reply:

    There was not a single substantive discussion of a more recent bridge project, the construction of the east span of the Bay Bridge. Cost overruns, questionable design, poor quality control, inexperienced contractors, and long delays in projected completion dates in a bridge project currently under construction are at least as meaningful in terms of the HSR project as a successful construction of a bridge 75 years ago

    I think you are exactly wrong.

    The GG bridge was over budget. The Brooklyn bridge which I pointed to – was over budget and had faulty materials. There were deaths building the bridges. I think you critics of the blog failed to show how either project going over budge meant they were not worth building. It’s a silly argument in hindsight – Robert’s point and one not challenged by the critics – is these projects were worth building despite the flaws.

    Same for the Bay Bridge ….If you think the Bay Bridge is not worth the cost – we should not have it then make the argument.

    You instead want to argue over cost overruns for a yet to be started project. How do they apply? What’s the salient point Robert’s missing?

    And while you insist on the Bay Bridge as a role model, you ignore how current recession construction projects in CA, for infrastructure, are coming in under estimated bid.

    VBobier Reply:

    Well it’s mot like their going to stop HSR, their comments won’t do it and that petition is a joke without any real money backing it up and I don’t think they’ll get much in that area, their a bunch of stingy old nuts, once their dead of old age, they’ll be gone and HSR will be here, their idea of being over budget is spending even $0.01 total on HSR, If It weren’t PB, It would be someone else, as they don’t want it, so they scream and holler in a hopeless attempt at stopping HSR and changing peoples minds and that ain’t happening. Their idea is obstruct, obstruct and obstruct some more.

    rick rong Reply:

    Joe, you have an uncanny ability to misread and misinterpret what other people write.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In New York, all the recession has done is keep a lid on preexisting cost overruns.

    On the one hand, individual contracts for Second Avenue Subway are coming in at half the budget; I don’t know if California’s contractor selection issues are the same as those in New York (briefly, the process is so byzantine it turns away everyone who’s competent enough to land private-sector work), but if they are, it can expect similar results.

    But on the other hand, only a small percentage of the contracts have this benefit. SAS is not going to come in at half the original budget, or anywhere below the original budget. It’s just going to run over somewhat less than the FTA estimated; I think the current MTA estimate is $4.6 billion total, vs. $5.1 billion estimated by the FTA when the recession was just starting.

    And on the third hand, the Bay Bridge Eastern Span replacement went about 9 times over budget. This is not something that can be fixed with a recession that won’t last forever. (And, for political reasons, the faster the US recovers from it, the more likely it is to get additional federal funds.)

    Miles Bader Reply:

    hmm, actually it is a pretty nice blog…

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    You know you are, right? The blogosphere.

    That’s like expecting to find objective and even handed analysis on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. Come on, now.

  3. lex luther
    May 30th, 2012 at 21:04
    #3

    another six-figure plub job going to a agency jumping politician, just like jerry

  4. D. P. Lubic
    May 30th, 2012 at 22:12
    #4

    Off topic, but just found it–more commentary on the double-standard for rail vs. road projects, in this case from Fresno:

    http://stopandmove.blogspot.com/2012/05/why-is-fresno-bee-being-so-critical-of.html

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And also in the sort-of double standard theme: the Republicans want the military to continue using conventional fuel sources, even though those fuel sources have limitations and costs for the military:

    http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/05/30/492327/republicans-military-clean-energy/

    nick Reply:

    maybe they are worried that there wont be as much need for the military if we had more alternatives to oil ! and the fact that some republicans are involved in the oil industry could be another reason if i was being cynical ! but i leave that up to synonymouse !

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The thing is, the actual military is all enthusiastic for alternative fuel sources… it’s yet another bizarre case of ostensibly “pro-military” politicians acting in opposition to what the military itself wants.

    I suppose it’s important to distinguish between the “military” and the “military industrial complex” (the latter including all the various defense contractors etc). The interests of these two often conflict, and I think politicians in reality tend to be more beholden to the latter than the former…

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Republican Party is owned outright by Big Oil.

    And they don’t give a damn about the military. Republican politicians shaft the troops as often as they can, as nastily as they can. The military is just a useful prop for them. They like foreign invasions, though.

    Michael Reply:

    That may be the most relevant post ever posted for issues in the valley. Thanks.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Thanks to you as well, but all it is, is sometimes I get lucky. . .

    JJJ Reply:

    I think this blog should pay more attention to the weekly HSR articles.

    Heres last week’s article:
    Forestieres in dark on how high-speed rail would affect Underground Gardens
    http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/05/22/2847089/forestieres-in-dark-on-rail-plans.html

    So the article is fair in that it notes that HSR won’t destroy anything. In fact, it’s the construction of the Shaw avenue overpass that COULD possibly affect the site….a project Fresno would build anyway (with measure C money). And by “affect the site” they mean “end street parking on Shaw”. Major news right?

    But it doesn’t matter, when you lead with something like that, people who suck at reading immediately react like this…

    Letter to the editor, a few days later

    “Everyone in the San Joaquin Valley should make it a “must see” before it is destroyed. I hope the Historic Preservation Commission and city officials will do all they can to save this amazing treasure.”
    http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/05/29/2853639/save-underground-gardens.html

    Spokker Reply:

    Without knowing anything about these fabled underground gardens in Fresno, I bet few people ever visit them, the place barely makes any money, and they owner will make bank with this controversy as locals are convinced to see it (and shell out $14) before it’s “destroyed.”

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    I have childhood 1950s memories of signage along the 99 encouraging me the visit the home of The Human Mole. JJJ is right, HSR will impact none of this.
    I think the closure of the Golden State between Belmont and Olive a good idea. I must say I have going to miss the lovely Belmont Circle which is sort of a visual gateway to Roeding Park. I believe it will be the beginning of elevaton?

    DavidM Reply:

    Correct, Spokker. Read the comments, they’re quite funny. It seems the locals are either dismissive or disdainful of this “treasure” and its owners. I’ve seen it on TV and it looks unusual, but not weird enough to attact attention.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    This is one of the places featured on “California’s Gold with Huell Howser”….

    Spokker Reply:

    Amazing!

    Look at this!

    Hey Lou get a load of this plant!

    JJJ Reply:

    Ive lived here for two years and never visited…. a combination of high price + sucky hours and a reputation that the family doesnt give a crap, its just an easy payday.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Amazing that they found something in Fresno that wouldn’t be improved by destruction …

  5. D. P. Lubic
    May 31st, 2012 at 00:44
    #5

    Old news, but something I hadn’t seen–Fox complaining about “socialist” Muppets:

    http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201112020036

    http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201112050025

    From the comments, first link:

    “I agree kabniel. I mean, c’mon, they’e going after the Muppets as “enemes of capitalism”? Oh please. And they are all bent out of shape because a rich guy is the villain? I suppose they should hate Charles Dickens for writing “A Christmas Carol.” Why make the uber-rich Scrooge the bad guy? Why did Dickens hate successful people? And what about the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”? They made a villian out of poor old banker Potter! Oh the humanity! Why can’t Hollywood make a decent movie about a super rich oil executive hero fighting against some evil dirt-poor homeless person?”

    I say, Fox and the Republicans look sillier by the day. . .I don’t know how they do it, but it must take a special talent and a lot of work!!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I partially retract what I just said. I had seen the story before, and part of the broadcast before, but not all of it. Seeing all of it confirms what I said above.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The right-wing propagandists running Faux News probably do hate Charles Dickens, and I’m *sure* they hate _That’s A Wonderful Life_.

    “Reality has passed satire.”

    Nathanael Reply:

    Um, “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I have this weird brain that will make strange connections when it hears something. In this case, with the Republicans making themselves look sillier all the time, it is Edgar Bergen (on radio in the old “Chase & Sanborn Hour”) with Charley McCarthy’s hayseed cousin, Mortimer Snerd:

    From Jack Benny (a guest on the Bergen show): “Mortimer, how did you get so stupid?”

    Mortimer: “Well, I got a good deal and I couldn’t turn it down.”

    This was a running gag on the show, the same question often coming from Bergen. Another response could be, “It wasn’t easy, I had to go to night school.”

    Another variation was, “It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.”

    At least Mortimer Snerd was lovable in a goofy way; can’t say the same of the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump of late. . .

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_GO0Q9VKVbM8/S0GurtvrEBI/AAAAAAAAFrs/M82YXCHlIg4/s400/PICT0031.JPG

  6. Prideaux
    May 31st, 2012 at 08:14
    #6

    I’d imagine that many commenters have an issue with regulatory capture in other areas of government. Why not here? PB is now in full control of a project built with others’ money, and that ought to be concerning.

    DavidM Reply:

    Not exactly, the Authority board has the final say on contracts, budgets, etc.

    rick rong Reply:

    Having the “final say” is meaningless unless the board spends the time to independently examine what its contractors are doing and knows how to analyze the information. That is why the small size of the staff has been a problem in terms of exercising oversight over authority contractors.

    VBobier Reply:

    Then We need more Tax money from the Rich, Oh that’s right, Repugs won’t allow that, they hate stronger Government…

  7. Jack
    May 31st, 2012 at 13:02
    #7

    So, this should mean that PB is out of the running for building this thing right. Just like we couldn’t hire that PR agency because a friends secretary had lunch that one time with some staffer who smelled Arnie’s cigar smoke?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    PB isn’t a civil engineering (bulldozers and rebar) contractor. They have friends who are, though.

    Don’t worry about them: there is billions of “design” (to Unique American Standards) and “project oversight” and “project management” to come, with no cost controls, no need to deliver, no accountability, no oversight, no drop-dead dates, no outside interference, and no competition.

    Michael Reply:

    Cough…
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/constructionandproperty/6201973/Balfour-Beatty-swoops-on-Parsons-Brinckerhoff-for-626m.html

    VBobier Reply:

    Nice link.

    Parsons is owned entirely by its employees and the deal will represent a significant pay-out for 4,750 stakeholders.

    Overall, Parsons employs roughly 12,650 staff and in the year to October 31, 2008 its revenues were $2.34bn.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …no cost controls, no need to deliver, no accountability, no oversight, no drop-dead dates, no outside interference, and no competition.

    That’s not their fault. It’s the responsibility of the people who hired them to put those kind of things into the contract.

    joe Reply:

    There’s GAO audit of the project so clip and save the criticisms and compare to the GAO audit. And remember, any legal resident can contact the GAO and provide copies of their x-files of evidence.

  8. Reality Check
    May 31st, 2012 at 14:17
    #8

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker & Republicans screwed over Talgo

    “… the State of Wisconsin has chosen to terminate two contracts it signed with Talgo nearly three years ago. [Talgo] has put almost three years of work into a project to build and maintain trains in a warehouse in Milwaukee’s 30th Street Corridor, the long-dormant industrial area Gov. Scott Walker has pledged to help revive with a new, $100 million dollar plan. Yet his administration will kill the only viable company now operating there, Talgo.”

    Spokker Reply:

    Why is Talgo trying so hard? They U.S. site reeks of desperation in the face of insurmountable odds.

    Spokker Reply:

    Their U.S. site…

    joe Reply:

    How’s Europe doing? No so well.

    Talgo is motivated by access to the US market – opportunity to sell trains and services to the underdeveloped US market. They are like a 1990′s US IT company getting kick around by the Chinese gov’t but trying to get into the market.

    Talgo misread Walker – he’s a radical and fighter, not a builder. Currently he needs money from the Kochs (Oil interests and anti-rail) for immediate survival:He has 6 figure legal defense fund (criminal) and faces a recall.

    I bet Talgo moves to IL.

    Spokker Reply:

    “How’s Europe doing? No so well.”

    When you put it that way, okay, I see why Talgo is here.

    VBobier Reply:

    Talgo leaves & the voters find out He caused Talgo to go elsewhere along with precious Jobs, they’ll crucify Him I’d think…

    Nathanael Reply:

    “He has 6 figure legal defense fund (criminal) and faces a recall. ”

    The so-called “John Doe probe” (John Doe is generally believed to be Scott Walker) has been truly impressive; it was investigating use of government money, time, and equipment to campaign for Republicans in Walker’s office when he was County Exec of Milwaukee, but it accidentally uncovered a Walker employee who was a pedophile with child pornography on the office computer who was trying to lure teenage girls over the Internet, and another Walker employee who ran a fake fundraiser for “veterans” and then took the money himself.

    Those two are going to prison. They agreed to testify against Walker *without* getting immunity, in exchange for shorter sentences. There are a bunch of other people who have been given immunity by the FBI to testify against Walker (excuse me, I mean “Doe” — the FBI still hasn’t admitted that Walker is the target).

    The Koch Brothers and related interests are throwing money into a giant airwave-blanketing blitz so that Walker can survive the recall, and his buddies are also pouring money into his legal defense fund. There’s no way he’ll survive; he was really a bad investment on the Koch Brothers’ part.

    joe Reply:

    Interesting. I am unfamiliar with the current facts on his liability – I think it’s unclear.

    Still Walker needs 3rd party money ASAP. If accused, he will need a boat load of cash to defend himself – guilty or not.

    Koch is about all he has to count on right now. He can’t buck the party either. The Gov is in a weakened position.

    Nathanael Reply:

    In some ways, the John Doe probe is a slam-dunk; they’ve already proved that great masses of illegal activity was going on right under Walker’s nose. They’re constructing an air-tight case, though, since they have to prove that Walker personally knew about what was going on under his nose — you can expect that he will claim that he had no idea, no idea at all, about what any of his aides were doing in his office under his supervision. That’s what they usually claim.

    Matthew Reply:

    I was under the impression that Walker is the front-runner currently.

    Silly me, reading poll results.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, he might win the recall election. That’ll just buy him time before he’s indicted and goes to prison, that was my point.

    Peter Reply:

    Can you pardon yourself as a Governor, I wonder? Rhetorical question…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In Wisconsin, the answer just might be yes.

    Nathanael Reply:

    For reference, I said Walker was a bad investment (which he was)… for contrast, the DeVoses seem to have gotten their money’s worth out of Rick Snyder.

    Of course, Snyder also had the sense to take the money for the trains. He’s a builder, not a fanatic.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Talgo’s been selling quite well to the states of Washington and Oregon. The *previous*, sane, governor of Wisconsin courted them, so they put their factory there. Then the criminal lunatic Walker got elected.

    Yeah, Talgo may move to Illinois. Or Washington State may get clever and they may move there.

    joe Reply:

    Gov Quinn in 2010 makes a play for Talgo.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/11/pat-quinn-invites-wiscons_n_782240.html

  9. California Taxpayer
    May 31st, 2012 at 17:35
    #9

    palo alto rail plan

    joe Reply:

    The HSR’s alignment was inserted by the commission.

    His colleagues also greeted the study with enthusiasm, though Commissioner Samir Tuma asked whether some of the recommendations could be more concrete. The commission also approved the environmental analysis for the study, though it made several additions, including one that explicitly states the city’s rejection of an elevated rail alignment in Palo Alto.
    ..
    Irvin Dawid, a Sierra Club member who served on the task force, said he hopes the report leads Palo Alto to pursue major transportation projects that the city could be proud of. He urged the city to “think big.”

    The “think big” is important – PA can leverage the HSR project to improve the city near the rail corridor.

    It is going to require cooperation.

    Their powerful Senator is termed out in November. He’s got one chance to kill the project with a “no” vote but I don’t see how total obstruction gets PA a trench or stops the project once approved.
    We’ve seen how Gov. Brown dealt with OC.

    CARRD’s complained about costs so what’s the rational for the free upgrade in CARRD’s backyard? Property prices?

    Also the report finds there is NO way to improve E-W crossings without taking property. Another issue CARD brings up but apparently it’s needed for the benefit of the community.

  10. Reality Check
    May 31st, 2012 at 17:37
    #10

    New vision for Caltrain corridor in Palo Alto speeds ahead
    Planning and Transportation Commission unanimously endorses study that calls for new rail crossings, better east-west connections

    The report, which the City Council commissioned in 2010, was sparked by California’s proposed high-speed rail project at a time when the council and many in the community at large worried about the implications of the new system, which is slated to use the Caltrain tracks. The council, which officially opposes the proposed high-speed rail system, decided to pursue the study to articulate Palo Alto’s own vision for the Caltrain corridor.

    But even though the planned high-speed-rail system prompted the report, the study’s scope extends far beyond the controversial $68 billion project. Though the study promotes a below-grade design for high-speed rail, its devotes much of its substance to other issues relating to the Caltrain corridor, including unsafe rail crossings, poor east-west connections and inadequate assets near the railroad tracks.

  11. Reality Check
    May 31st, 2012 at 17:45
    #11

    New York State moves to get rid of obsolete, costly Amtrak [Turboliners]

    It was part of a $185 million plan to speed up train travel between Albany and New York City.

    Unfortunately, hope for the project far exceeded reality.

    Project backers quickly found the [Turboliner] trains had an unfortunate tendency to overheat, just to mention on of several problems.

    “These are turbo engines not used anywhere else in the Amtrak system,” said Director of State Operations Howard Glaser. “They just didn’t work well. They ran at very high temperatures. They were prone to fires and as I mentioned, the air conditioning didn’t work so you couldn’t even deliver a good experience for the customer in the train.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Your first link leads back to this topic.
    The Turboliners have been for sale for years.
    They did speed up service. Their best time was 15 minutes faster than today’s schedule… when they ran…

    Reality Check Reply:

    Sorry about the bad link. These should be better (the first one has lots of photos and a video):

    Grand dream turns to rust
    State to sell [Turboliner] trains bought for high-speed project

    For Sale: 4 Weedy, Rusty Relics of a Doomed Rail Project

    New York State moves to get rid of obsolete, costly Amtrak [Turboliners]

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Turboliners were a goofy, poorly thought out idea *in the 1970s*. The NYS government of the time thought they could speed up the trains without improving the tracks or electrifying them, which was, frankly, stupid.

    They’ve been for sale for decades now. The thing is, nobody wants to buy them, because they were a bad idea in the first place. I think the Amtrak-NY-Rohr lawsuits over them were settled recently, which is probably why they’re advertising them for sale again.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Correction: the idiotic Pataki administration government of NYS in the 1990s thought that reviving the 1970s Turboliners was a good idea. They found out they were wrong very quickly.

  12. Elizabeth
    Jun 1st, 2012 at 00:33
    #12

    We had previously raised the issue that we didn’t think the Authority’s assertions that the blended system would be just as fast as the full system made any sense. Now it turns out the Authority’s assertions were just… assertions. From the work we have done on ridership,the single most important factor in market share is travel time.

    Read about the efforts to get some substantiation of the Authority’s claims here:
    http://www.calhsr.com/business-plan/the-blended-system-can-deliver-2-hour-40-minute-travel-times-fact-or-fantasy/

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