Steinberg: HSR Funds To Be Decided By July 1

May 16th, 2012 | Posted by

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has set a July 1 deadline for the State Senate to release the voter-approved high speed rail bond money so that construction can begin:

This time of the year in Sacramento typically finds June 15 looming large as the deadline for passing a state budget on time. This year, however, the Legislature has a second deadline to contend with as well.

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said Wednesday that he has set July 1 as the deadline for his house to appropriate $2.6 billion in bond funds for the proposed California High-Speed Rail. High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard said this week that July 1 is the date when the authority needs the bonds to be approved in order for it to move forward with the plan.

The high-speed rail project, of course, has been controversial across the state and in the Legislature. If the bond funds are not appropriated, the project would, for all purposes, stop dead in its tracks. Steinberg said he supports appropriating the funds but also wants to impose a schedule for making expenditures that’s conditional on certain benchmarks being met.

Steinberg said his office will be working on that over the next six weeks with an eye towards meeting the deadline on July 1. It remains to be seen whether the appropriation will garner the votes necessary to pass, although its generally thought it will, given that the project enjoys support among Democrats.

Steinberg has clearly heard the message from the Obama Administration that California cannot delay approving spending the HSR money without giving up the $3.5 billion in federal stimulus money for the project it has already been awarded. While some Senate Democrats such as Joe Simitian and Mark DeSaulnier have been trying to get the vote delayed, Steinberg knows that he is not in a position to cross the White House or the California Congressional delegation on this.

July 1 seems like a good date to have this resolved. June 15 is the deadline to pass a budget and with Prop 25 in place, you can bet the Legislature will have it done by then. That gives them 2 weeks to deal with the high speed rail funds, which should be pretty easy given that voters already made this decision for them in 2008.

Of course, we can bet that HSR opponents will be working as hard as they can to stop the project by getting the Legislature to vote against releasing the funds. HSR supporters have six weeks to make sure the Legislature does the right thing for California’s future and votes to start building high speed rail.

  1. morris brown
    May 17th, 2012 at 02:22

    This article which appeared with this July 1 date, points out a clear division within the Democratic majority, on this issue.

    Announced by DeSaulnier were three meetings to be held. This first one, just held on May 15, and two more, set for July 5th and July 6th. It is quite obvious the July 1st deadline is not going to be met, and the State Senate, regardless of what Steinberg is pushing, is not gong to let LaHood and the Governor dictate. Steinberg, on this issue, is being looked upon, by the Senate, as nothing but a puppet of Governor Brown.

    Hopefully there will be enough opposition among Democrats to stop this boondoggle now, before throwing $6 billion away on a stranded conventional set of tracks providing little real utility to anyone. That action would be the “right thing” for Californian and its future.

    Let me be clear, that is my hope; that is not what I expect to happen. In the end, the appropriation will be approved and only lawsuits will stop this project. On the legal front, they have tons of problems.

    Jack Reply:

    It is quite obvious the July 1st deadline will be met. Three dems cow-towing to NIMBY interest will not make a dent in the Majority, Senate, and President.

    Hopefully, there is enough support to accelerate construction and complete this project faster than anticipated.

    On the legal front; the authority has done their due diligence and is likely to be granted the exceptions from CEQA they desire.

    Do you wake at night Morris from the nightmares of trains whizzing by? (Or do the current noisy diesels wake you now?)

    You loose, you get nothing, good day sir!

    joe Reply:

    There’s no division in the majority – bills rarely pass on straight party line votes.

    House Minority, and Senate Leader and President want HSR – Gov wants HSR.

    Joe Simitian wants it all to go away so he can slide into a open house seat real-soon-now.

    VBobier Reply:

    IF HSR goes away cause Joe Simitian voted NO on it, then I doubt He’ll get any help or any good welcome as He’d be a pariah at best.

    DavidM Reply:

    I would suggest listening to the last hearing:

    It seems to me that Simitian would approve, if the Gov and Authority agree to certain timetables and goals attached. Simitian proposed it, and Steinberg gave it his blessing.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Could you specify where in the broadcast he mentions this? I looked for few minutes and I couldn’t find it.

    DavidM Reply:

    Around 4:40

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Still not sure what you are talking about even after watching the broadcast both before and after 4:40

    Tony d. Reply:

    Poor Morris…

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    Unfortunately the tea leaves aren’t so hard to read on this one: Steinberg set the date so that the Administration can reassign funds before the election. Moreover, the entire of California’s award won’t go away, just a portion of it if the Senate rejects the up or down vote.

    As far as litigation goes, that’s not the panacea you make it out to be…the best you could ever hope for is an injunction to prevent further expenditures which would look foolish after half the thing is build already….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Steinberg set the date so that the Administration can reassign funds before the election.

    Setting a date would be unecessary for that ~ simply omitting it from the budget passed mid-June would suffice to hand all the uncommitted funds back to the FRA to be re-allocated.

    What setting a date does is allow the Administration to give the State of California until that date to commit the funds, as opposed to immediately revoking the grant awards as soon as the budget is passed without the commitment by the state of funds to the project.

    jim Reply:

    If Congress is in session when the reallocation is done, there’s a risk that the funds newly deobligated from California will get tapped as payfors before they can be reobligated to (say) North Carolina or Illinois.

    Even before there’s a reallocation, if it becomes clear that there will be one, Congress can try to grab the funds to use as a payfor. Waiting until 1 July (when all good Congressmen and women will be home for the holiday) minimizes that risk.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Which makes it seem like July 1 was well picked ~ much past that and the temptation to take the money back, divvy it up, and announce it on the campaign trail would become very strong.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s entirely possible that the transportation bill will be done by July 1st as well, and giving California until then takes it away as a bargaining chip for the conference in DC.

    VBobier Reply:

    Sounds like a good move on the Chess board Jim…

    Nathanael Reply:

    NC and Illinois have all their ducks in a row, having done environmental clearances already for a bunch of unfunded projects, and may be able to get significant amounts of funds obligated within something like a week. (Most other states are not as well set up.)

  2. Jack
    May 17th, 2012 at 06:57

    Build, Baby, Build!

  3. lex luther
    May 17th, 2012 at 07:14


    Prevents Issuance of Future High-Speed Rail Bonds. Terminates High-Speed Rail Project. Initiative Statute.

    Summary Date: 05/16/12 | Circulation Deadline: 10/15/12 | Signatures Required: 504,760

    Doug LaMalfa and George Radanovich

    Prevents the issuance and sale of the remaining amount of high-speed rail bonds previously approved by the voters to initiate construction of a high-speed train system. Redirects any unspent high-speed rail bond proceeds from high-speed rail purposes to repay those outstanding bonds. Prevents the state from incurring additional debt or spending any federal, state or local funds for the high-speed rail project. Terminates all agreements entered into by the state for the high-speed rail project, except those agreements related to repaying outstanding bonds. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State debt-service savings of up to $709 million annually from not using state bond funds to support high-speed rail, depending on the actual reduction in bonds funds spent as a result of this measure and whether those bonds would have been sold as taxable or tax-exempt. Unknown reduction in state and local revenues due to a somewhat lower level of economic activity in the state over the next several years, resulting from a loss of matching funds from the federal government or private investors.

    lex luther Reply:

    in 2008, there were 5,428,052 registered republican voters. only 504,760 signatures needed to send this back to the ballot. If Less than if 10% of those republicans sign the petition, IT GOES BACK TO THE VOTERS THIS NOVEMBER

    joe Reply:

    Great!!!!! CAPS LOCK. Let’s hang outside the casinos and gather signatures.

    Back to the voters in Nov and the Vote for HSR is July – perfect timing.

    trentbridge Reply:

    Really? According to the California Secretary the deadline for qualifiying ballot measures is 6/28 for the November General Election. So my humble opinion is that this has almost zero chance of making the November ballot. Less than six weeks to gather 504,760 signatures of valid voters? I reality, you need about 750,000 actual signatures because not everyone that signs is a registered voter.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Isn’t that like the third or fourth one to get approved for signature gathering? Seems a waste of resources to split the effort like that.

    datacruncher Reply:

    If that initiative makes the ballot it would be likely for a 2014 election, not this year. “But, even with enough signatures, the initiative wouldn’t make it onto the ballot until 2014. Two years too late, right? Maybe not, says Radanovich; who calls his plan a deterrent.”

    The move is really intended to 1) spend money to rally the conservative troops this year, and 2) try to scare off some construction companies if the project goes to bid by raising uncertainty in the minds of bidders.

    Two years in the future is a long time for voter attitudes to change. Getting construction started, a better economy and better state budget conditions, etc by the 2014 ballot would see less support for opponents.

    In some ways, if successful (which I doubt), it would be a replay of the Jerry Brown I era. When Brown and Gianturco shut down freeway building in the state, large swaths of ROW had already been purchased. Those ROWs sat unused for decades causing blight until freeways were built on them. But eventually the ROWs were used for the original purpose of freeways, nothing changed except the timing.

    Nathanael Reply:

    In contrast, ROW set aside for freeways was used for railroads after the freeway revolts in some other places…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you know any example other than Boston’s Southwest Corridor?

    Nathanael Reply:

    I did have a few other examples. I believe all the other examples were abroad.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Sadly, I failed to save the list in one place, so I’ll have to wait until I find them again… anyway, it wasn’t a long list, and none of the other ones I know about were in the US.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Sacramento’s light rail system uses some old freeway ROW.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Is that a canceled freeway, or just an existing freeway ROW?

  4. lex luther
    May 17th, 2012 at 07:55

    November yes…of 2014, NOT 2012. specifically designed to allow the construction to move ahead. Why? because cost over runs are expected, and when that happens public support for HSR will dwindle further, leading more to vote to kill HSR in 2014. if it is stopped, it will leave the unfinished rail project and tracks to nowhere as a permanent black eye on the democrats in CA, and if Obama wins, that will be attached to his legacy

    lex luther Reply:

    lets not forget that historically, less democrats vote in non-presidential election years, and republicans show up in force.

    2014 will be a date of anxiety for the pro HSR folks, unless of course HSR can be built without lawsuits or other delays, ballooning costs, and be constructed at a burn rate double than any other project in US history and get the more than 2/3 funding needed to complete the project from Anaheim to SF, and thats before it ever reaches SD or Sacto

    Jerry brown is making it tough on Dems. Pushing new taxes at the same time he is cutting courts, public safety, health and schools to reduce the deficit yet wants to spend billions on a train. that only gives ammo to the opposition when in 2014, republicans will ask the voters to choose between the train OR their childrens education, the train OR safer streets.

    Remember, this isnt about a train, its a battle for hearts and minds..

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Remember, this isnt about a train, its a battle for hearts and minds..

    And many of the propaganda strategies available for use by opponents to any big construction project will not be available once ground has been broken and works are progressing.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, they’ll resort to something else, like desperation…

    lex luther Reply:

    if delays or cost over runs take place, it will be made public,and whether its under construction or not, the state can be stopped from funding it, however if the feds continue to send money, it will keep going

    VBobier Reply:

    Who will stop It Yer highness?

    VBobier Reply:

    ER Lex, sorry, My bad.

    lex luther Reply:

    your highness? you really are a socialist arent you? move to the UK

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Do you think the UK is a place of socialists? What about Canada? The rest of Europe? Japan? What does it mean to be a socialist?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It ranges from abolition of private property in productive equipment to insisting that Wall Street traders should pay to have the shock absorbers checked before they drive the economy off a cliff.

    Given such a wide field, its easy to just make something up and pretend that’s the reality.

    VBobier Reply:

    I’d apologized Lex, But I guess Ya can’t read, maybe You need Prescription Glasses…

    I’m disabled, what’s Yer problem?

    VBobier Reply:

    In this state Republicans are also for High speed Rail, 3 of My relatives are for HSR and have ridden on HSR in France, Oh and their Republicans, I’m not, but I’m with My relatives on this. Bring it on Goofy.

    lex luther Reply:

    just like not all republicans are ANTI-HSR, not all dems are PRO-HSR

    one need only to look at the state senate and orange county to see that

    Eric Reply:

    What? there are democrats in Orange County?

    VBobier Reply:

    A 5th column, Repugs will start saying their being spied upon… ;)

    neville snark Reply:

    No those are DINOs.

    lex luther Reply:

    DINOs? according to who? you? So if they arent mindless jerry brown-ish drones who say yes to everything proposed by Queen Feinstein and King O, they are anti-obama declinist democrats in name only….

    of course that is only according to the ultra left critical mass commie liberals from the SF BAY/Portland/Seattle Glasnost movement.

    neville snark Reply:

    mmm, that was a joke… you are very active on this blog, aren’t you?

    Peter Reply:

    He’s as aggressive as Sobering Reality was and has the same lack of humor.

    thatbruce Reply:


    Much like the Tea Party, entities such as ‘Sobering Reality’, ‘lex luther’ etc seem to exist for the sole purpose of disrupting the conversation, rather than engaging in actual conversation. You can refute them all you want, prove them wrong on multiple occasions, and they’ll still spout the same LOUD and wrong things until they cross an arbitrary line of decent behavior in the sand and get themselves banned. Then another will appear.

    VBobier Reply:

    @ thatbruce: It’s probably the same person, just a change of name and email and there Ya go, whole new nutjob…

    lex luther Reply:

    @vbob, I bet that is what you wished, that its only one person out there opposed to HSR, but its millions now who are siding up against the project. IF it lands on the ballot in 2014 and your masters at the CHSRA screw it up with ballooning cost and delays, it will end your choo choo train to bakerfield as the voters will kill it

    VBobier Reply:

    @ lex: Caltrans is just about to reopen the Paramount Blvd bridge over the CA60 fwy which was closed in December 2011 cause a Gasoline Tanker exploded under it, the bridge had to be torn down and rebuilt, of course to modern standards and this was down very quickly, Oh and Caltrans is a Government agency, Not Privatized which would inflate costs to make insanely fat Profits…

    60 Freeway should reopen Saturday; work continues

    May 21st reopening of the Paramount Blvd bridge instead of in mid-June

    Nathanael Reply:

    Good God, lex, you don’t even know what Glasnost means, do you. Pathetic. Try looking it up in Wikipedia.

    lex luther Reply:

    I know what glasnost means and peristroika mean without looking it up, but funny that you had to look it up.

    that would explain why you dont understand why I wrote that.

    Jonathan Reply:

    of course that is only according to the ultra left critical mass commie liberals from the SF BAY/Portland/Seattle Glasnost movement.

    No, Lex. Anyone who wrote that, patently _does not_ understand what Glasnost means.

    VBobier Reply:

    Cost overruns also may not happen, if that happens, any revote will be torpedoed, and Yer favorite Battleship will be sunk.

    lex luther Reply:

    agreed. if everything goes perfect, it will take away argument and HSR will go on to be built,

    however it still needs federal funding to be completed, and there is no telling if we will have a new president yet or if the power in congress will shift or stay the same

    if power in congress stays the same, or if a new president in sworn in , or both, HSR federal funding will be in limbo, however only until a new dem majority and dem president come to power.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It doesn’t have to be perfect ~ it has to avoid being shockingly bad. If you opponents to the HSR in any way, shape or form have to gambling on it being so shockingly bad that California voters will vote to have construction already in progress brought to a halt, that is not an indication of being on the inside track to stopping it. Its more like one last long-odds gamble.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    The problem is that so far the track record is shockingly bad.

    Peter Reply:

    Meh, the prior Board was kind of crappy. The current one is a lot better.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The current Board is definitely an improvement.

    But I wouldn’t say the previous record is shockingly bad — I’ve *seen* shockingly bad. Central Subway in San Francisco == shockingly bad. The previous CAHSRA Board’s record was merely ordinarily bad.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Refusing to engineer out the optimal Bear Trap Canyon alignment(screw the Chandlers) is indeed “shockingly bad”. They are about as hopeless as any management or board people at either BART or Muni.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Look at it this way. If the absolute worst (in your opinion) version of the CAHSR plan is built, it will still be highly effective and useful, heavily used, extensible, and providing new connectivity.

    If the absolute best version of the Central Subway in San Francisco is built, it will have an overbuilt connection to a low-demand line (the T-Third), which adds no new connectivity; and it will have a one-stop shuttle from Chinatown to Market Street, which will be busy, but will be limited for “interchange’ use by the fact that the Market Street lines are already overcrowded; and for Market St. – Chinatown service, it will be redundant with the cable cars, let alone the buses And it can’t be extended in a sensible direction, either. It even makes it *harder* to build a Geary Subway, I believe.

    This is a big contrast.

    lex luther Reply:

    @syn, dont bother to debate nate, he is a san francisco ultra lib. the same types that occupy oakland, vandalize private property and go out attacking law enforcement with rocks and bottles in the name of oscar grant and snarl traffic with their militant bicycle rallies.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Hmm, I wouldn’t have thought it before, but I’m beginning to wonder if Lex is really a rail supporter, like the Texas girl who was on the Infrastructurist. She wound up being so extreme, I was beginning to think she was really a parody of the pro-car crowd, but at the same time, the pro-car, anti-rail crowd has had some really extreme members, so you never could tell for sure. Someone mentioned here that this was called Poe’s law, that the satire of extremists was hard to tell from real extremists, because the real extremists are so extremist. . .

    lex luther Reply:


    I am a rail supporter, when WE CAN AFFORD IT. thats what I have been trying to say the whole time, but nobody here cares about fiscal responsibility. California could go bankrupt and all the HSR supporters would just say lets borrow the money for rail, screw freeways, screw schools, screw seniors, screw law enforcement and public safety, screw everyone else EXCEPT HSR. as long as they have money for the train, NOTHING else matters.

    Lets just say I remain here to remind the people here that THERE is an opposing voice, because it seems as though people hear are deaf to reality. I am a lifelong democrat, however as a parent, I care not about my generation as much, but how we are affecting my childs generation and his own childrens generation. the debt that we pass down doesnt just magically disappear, and WITHOUT FEDERAL FUNDING, which brown and CHSRA are are expecting 2/3’s of the funds needed to fully build HSR to come from federal sources, brown and HSR proponents will just put it on state credit, further affecting schools and everything else.

    let the excuses come why schools dont matter and HSR does….

    Peter Reply:

    I challenge you to find a single person on this blog who thinks that HSR should be the one and only priority for California.

    Assuming that funding won’t materialize for the remainder of the project is simply short-sighted, especially because California’s entire risk at this point is the less-than $3 billion in bonds required to build the ICS.

    VBobier Reply:

    @ Lex: “when WE CAN AFFORD IT”? So on that basis with possibly Kitchen table math, You think this is not the time? So when is it time? Governments don’t get checks in like individuals, some comes in on a weekly basis, some Monthly, some Yearly, it just depends on the source, that’s what Governments and Small Businesses have in common. Population growth is happening according to the Census and land isn’t getting any cheaper, putting HSR off until later will only make buying the land up more expensive, Freeway and Airport will be prohibitive to do by then in most areas and You think HSR has Nimbys? Both Freeway and Airport expansion have much more and are legendary as they both take up more land than HSR, So do HSR now before the cost of land rises again and it will as land is the one thing that isn’t being made in California anymore. HSR is proven to get people swiftly from Point A to Point B in a short time and HSR will attract Tourist money as HSR is fast enough to allow people to go from place to place in a short time, while conventional Passenger Rail can’t really compete with airlines while HSR within a 450 mile or less route can and does, that’s a fact.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “I am a rail supporter, when WE CAN AFFORD IT. thats what I have been trying to say the whole time, but nobody here cares about fiscal responsibility.”

    My problem with that is that for 30 or 40 years I have never heard any of my political misrepresentatives say, at any time, that rail was affordable. Didn’t matter if the economy was up or down, didn’t matter if tax revenues were down from a slow business cycle or up from a lot of activity, didn’t matter that people died in wrecks, didn’t matter that the roads cost more than rail, didn’t matter that driving was becoming a chore instead of the joy it used to be, didn’t matter about air pollution or oil dependency, rail was never anything to spend money on.

    But roads? And new school buildings? And sports facilities? There was ALWAYS money for those. The road system in particular seems to get a free pass when it comes to being judged as cost effective.

    I had a county commissioner here tell me, “We can’t afford a rail system (this was in reference to a light rail line I tried to promote years ago), we can’t afford the road system.” My response to him was that was precisely why we needed to look at alternative ways to move people around. I just got brushed off.

    Another time, I gave a copy of that trolley paper I’ve mentioned to this same person, and he just threw it across the room.

    Another time, he challenged me, saying, “You believe in that rail line so much, why don’t you go into business with it and try to make a profit?” I replied to him, “All right, on one condition–you go into business to build and operate that new highway [under discussion at the time] as a private business, as a toll road.” He exploded with indignation, “You can’t do that!”

    The local populace eventually wised up and retired the arrogant fool, but his replacements are no better.

    lex luther Reply:

    @vbob. you are correct. land is about as cheap as it is going to get, and with home prices going up in Sacramento for the past 4 months straight, it may be a sign that valley property already bottomed out. and there is no telling when or if it will ever be this cheap again…..that is something to consider

    @dp. the only reason roads get a pass is because everybody uses it. even if your taking a train, you have to use a road to get there. so what your saying is we cant afford it, never have been able to but we really cant afford roads either but we still do it so lets do rail?

    from that, answer this. how about tax dollars funding sports stadiums? it could, like HSR , turn a profit. just like not everyone would use HSR, not everyone likes sports. both drive tourism and both can have positive effects on other local businesses due to increased foot traffic around the stadium or train station. truly both have alot in common. And you say we cant afford it now and never could afford it, so should all caution be thrown to the wind and just hand out money to any project that might help the economy?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Central Subway in San Francisco == shockingly bad.

    Remind me again who’s the driving force behind the Central Subway fraud?

    Oh yeah, the CHSRA lead consultant.

    Exact same ridership fraud. Exact same cost fraud. Exact same alternatives “analysis” fraud. Same rent-seeking. Same political pay-offs. Same characters. Same outcome.


    Nathanael Reply:

    The lead consultant is an enormous organization, and I could point to many perfectly competent things they’ve done when supervised properly. So, no, your guilt-by-association doesn’t follow.

    Consultants usually do what they’re paid to do. (Only the very best are willing to tell their customers that the customer is wrong.)

    In the case of the Central Subway, they were paid to design something absolutely ridiculous from the getgo, namely to build a one-station subway to Chinatown. The “purpose and need” statement pushed out from the City was designed to eliminate anything saner.

    In the case of CAHSR, they’re being paid to get something fast running from SF to LA through the Central Valley, along the path of least political resistance. That latter part is what accounts for most of the bad decisions, but the former part is actually useful.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If its up for a vote in 2014, after construction has begun, then all this preliminary toing and froing likely won’t count for much.

    And a weakness of the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt opposition strategy is that since it tends to seize on every little thing that seems likely to gain traction, and then exaggerates their significance, it can reduce the bar that the project has to clear in order for the critics to be seen as a bunch of Chicken Littles.

    VBobier Reply:

    Pretty much. Or crying wolf, do that enough and no one will care…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Obama will be re-elected in 2012; it’s a foregone conclusion due to the awfulness of Romney. (I guess the Supreme Court could steal the election again like they did in 2000.) I have no idea what will happen to Congress, though. We’re perfectly likely to see a Democratic House and a Republican Senate, because people are in a “throw the bums out” mood still.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    SCOTUS did not steal the election in 2000. There was a 7-2 decision that the recount, because there was no uniform standard for the recount between counties, violated the equal protection clause, and 5-4 that there was not a constitutionally valid way of doing the recount by the deadline, which was three days away. Can we stop with the Dolchstoß myth already?

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Supreme Court did steal the election in 2000. The 5-4 decision to issue a preliminary injunction prohibit Florida from counting its votes was based on the blatantly illegitimate claim that Bush’s “legitimacy” would be “clouded” if the votes were, you know, actually counted. That was the dead giveaway: they actually admitted that their goal was to make Bush President, and that discovering (for example) that Gore had actually won the election would be an obstruction to that.

    Of course, the fact is that it was the criminal Supreme Court actions which clouded the legitimacy of Bush’s election. Minnesota showed how a country with an honest court system deals with elections in the recounts of the Franken race.

    And the “deadline” you refer to was not an actual legal or constitutional deadline for vote counting, it was merely the point after which the certification of Presidential electors was legally in the hands of the state legislature and Congress.

    The 5 criminals on the Supreme Court reinterpreted the deadline to mean something completely different in order to bolster their illegitimate scheme of election theft.

    Worse yet, the supposed “equal protection violation”? The 5 criminals were so ashamed about this claim that they claimed that the case was not a precedent (which is not actually possible under our legal system). Then they claimed that the “cure” for the equal protection violation was to issue a preliminary injunction to NOT COUNT VOTES, in violation of the constitution of Florida, the laws of Florida, the order from the Supreme Court of Florida, the official Constitutional procedures in both the federal Constitution — and by not counting votes, guaranteed that equal protection would be violated. So their argument was false on its face.

    I realize Republicans don’t like to admit that the Supreme Court stole the election, but facts are facts. The criminal ruling has been denounced by every legitimate legal scholar.

    Can we stop with the apologetics for the election theft? It was a theft. You are spreading lies in order to maintain the MYTH, yes MYTH, that it wasn’t a theft.

    Nathanael Reply:

    To make this even clearer:

    Using the reasoning of the Supreme Court majority (the criminals) for stopping the vote count, they could equally well have stopped the counting when Gore was ahead in order to avoid putting a “cloud” over the “legitimacy” of Gore’s election.

    Same damned reasoning. Just as *damned* criminal.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I am genuinely sorry that you have bought into any of the bullshit spread by the election thieves. It shows how easy it is for authoritarians to get people to believe anything.

    Suppose the order of the Supreme Court of Florida had been followed, and ALL the votes had been counted, in EVERY county. Who would have won? Well, Gore, though we didn’t know that at the time. Suppose that instead, seeing the difficulty in vote counting, the state legislature had voted to seat a slate of electors not based on the votes, but based on their best guess — this was legitimate — who would they have sent? Well, Bush electors. And then the Congress would have gotten to decide whether to accept that slate of electors, as the Constitution says — and Bush probably would have won.

    All that would have been confusing, but not illegitimate. What the Supreme Court of the United States actually did was illegitimate.

    lex luther Reply:

    HAHAHA. Conspiracy theory? what a shock! Fema death camps, fluoridated water, loose change, 9/11 was an inside job, SCOTUS stealing the election in 2000

    talk about getting people to believe anything, well look in the mirror

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Lex, don’t you think it was odd that the Supreme Court stopped the counting of ballots in an election? There are a lot of stains on this country’s record of jurisprudence: the line of decisions holding that a corporation is a ‘person,’ the Citizen’s United decision, and others. The decision Nathaniel is discussing is one of those stains. It has nothing to do with conspiracy theories and your effort to link it to things like fluoridated water, etc., is mindless. The surrounding facts are really not disputed. The one really essential fact is who received the larger number of votes, and it was that fact that a majority of the “Supreme” Court suppressed, to the detriment not only of this country but also to a lot of people around the world.

    lex luther Reply:

    it is a conspiracy theory because what your trying to say is on this decision, they worked in unison to keep Gore from office because he is the Democrat.

    so since SCOTUS is in on some secret right wing agenda, then why dont they overturn roe v wade? brown v education and jim crow? after all its more slanted to the right than it is to the left.

    SCOTUS is entrusted to remain objective, and they are the last word when it comes to law. thats the way it is.

    joe Reply:

    What secret?

    The SCOTUS’ ruling Bush vs Gore is a one of a kind ruling by their own admission – it is not a precedent.

    joe Reply:


    Highly controversial, the decision itself stated it could never be cited as precedent, causing critics to accuse the conservative majority of simply picking a winner rather than relying on sound jurisprudence. A group of media organizations conducted the Florida recount after Bush had been sworn in and determined that Gore might have won under certain types of recounts, but not under the type being used at the time Bush v. Gore was decided.[1][2]

    lex luther Reply:

    ok so then the recount model used at the time was flawed perhaps, and if so, SCOTUS made a decision based on that. you can only work with the tools you are given, so SCOTUS made the proper choice based on what they had to use at the time. perhaps if it were to happen now, they turnout would be different.

    but its done, and what would have been different after 9/11 which would have most likely happened anyways? al gore would have went to war in afghanistan, where we currently are still. iraq would have kept saddam, but really the world is better off without him or his sons who would have reigned after him.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    One of the scenarios is that that 9/11 would have not happened because the Gore Administration would have paid attention to the advisors who warned of an impending attack and stopped it.
    Or Al Qaeda would have decided to not carry out the attack because the Gore Adminstration would have stopped it. Or the Gore administration had disrupted Al Qaeda before they were able to acrry out the plan.

    Nathanael Reply:

    My point is that SCOTUS’s choice was grossly improper. There was an established procedure for the election. The Florida Supreme Court followed it.

    SCOTUS overruled the Florida Supreme Court and *stopped the legally required recount*, basically, because they were afraid that Bush might not win. They even *said* that that was the reason (that was all the stuff about being worried about a “cloud” over the “legitimacy” of Bush’s election).

    That’s not proper behavior. If they’d let Florida follow the previously established rules, that would have been proper (and yeah, Bush probably would have still become President).

    It’s also worth noting that before going to the Supreme Court, the Bush campaign flew in a bunch of provacateurs in order yell, scream, block doors, and generally intimidate and harass the vote counters in Miami — look up the “preppie riot”. This was, as far as we can tell, done in order to prevent the standard, normal, by-the-book recount from finishing before the various deadlines.

    Conspiracies exist, and when they do they’re usually in plain sight. Like this one. It shouldn’t be surprising that some people are willing to use threats, intimidation, and lawbreaking in order to gain power. It’s more surprising, and worrisome for the future of the US, that there were five persons on the Supreme Court willing to ignore the law in order to give power to their favored candidate.

    Of course, things as disgraceful as this have happened before in US history; the selection of “Rutherfraud B. Hayes”; the court just deciding on its own to declare that no black people could ever be citizens (which was contrary to all precedent) in the Dred Scott decision; etc.

    Pretending that these disgraces were actually proper, however, is a big big mistake.

    To follow up on adirondacker’s comment about a hypothetical Gore administration, consider the Presidential Daily Briefing “Al Qaeda Determined To Strike In US”. We know what Bush’s response was (“All right, you’ve covered your ass.” followed by ignoring it.) Would Gore’s response have been different? It would almost have to have been different, because Bush’s response was nuts!

    datacruncher Reply:

    First it was “this November”, then it was “November yes…of 2014, NOT 2012”

    Its all the same in your time dimension right?

  5. Tony d.
    May 17th, 2012 at 09:12

    Poor lex…

  6. Tom McNamara
    May 17th, 2012 at 12:03

    After being unable to understand Senator Lowenthal’s opposition for what has seemed like years, I found this article today which sheds some light on what he actually wants to do with the money:

    Siemens Proposes eHighway Technology for 710 Freeway

    Talk about a boondoogle…this would lessen pollution around air quality monitors at the ports but would do nothing for anyone else except those associated with the project. I hope Morris and company are paying attention, because this is the alternative to not investing in rail… different infrasturcture projects with varying degrees of utility…instead of “doing nothing”.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s nothing wrong with electric overhead for trucks, except that rail is far more foolproof and more efficient for all but local distributor traffic. Your point is well taken; there’s always a choice of different infrastructure, it’s never “doing nothing”.

  7. Donk
    May 17th, 2012 at 15:25

    This thing will go down in flames. When was the last time the CA legislature passed any kind of budget on time? I don’t know why everyone here is so positive.

    joe Reply:

    Prop 25 passed in 2010. Simple majority needed to pass a budget, not a super majority and possibly no pay if its late.

    California Proposition 25, the Majority Vote for the Legislature to Pass the Budget Act, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

    Proposition 25 ends the previous requirement in the state that two-thirds of the members of the California State Legislature had to vote in favor of the state’s budget in order for the budget to be enacted. Proposition 25 also requires state legislators to forfeit their pay in years where they have failed to pass a budget in a timely fashion.

    lex luther Reply:

    funny, because if you bother to read the article posted by Robert, it states that Steinberg has set a date for decision on HSR funds for july 1st, not june 15th, so NO it wont be in the budget that has to be passed on the 15th

    also expect pushback from some democratic senators who dont care what steinberg says. it may not be july 1st exactly

    Peter Reply:

    Hmmm, 3 Democratic Senators come to mind in particular likely want a delay. That leaves 22 Democrats versus 15 Republicans and potentially 3 Democrats. That’s still 22 – 18, and two further Democrats would have to oppose the bond funds in order to kill them, unless there’s some procedural mechanism to further delay the bond funds.

    VBobier Reply:

    And who knows, some Repubs might vote for the HSR Bonds… You never know.

  8. Reedman
    May 17th, 2012 at 16:03

    California’s Cap-and-trade tax starts this fall. CARB predicts it will increase electricity and gasoline prices 6%. Some politicians may think twice about a pro-HSR vote which makes them look like big spenders when the voters get angry at a tax increase just before the election.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Uhh, hate to break this to yah, but California voters already said yes to HSR back in 2008 (ever heard of Prop. 1A?). We’ve already instructed California pols to be “big (smart) spenders” on HSR; “smart” being the revised business plan of course. Sorry Reedman…

    joe Reply:

    Is CA going to revolt over cap and trade? We are the most energy efficient state per capita because CA recognizes the value in environmental preservation and energy efficiency investments.

    U.S. Per Capita Electricity Use By State In 2010

    1 Wyoming 564 15,475 27,457
    2 Kentucky 4,339 93,686 21,590
    3 District of Columbia 602 11,972 19,896

    48 New York 19,378 144,693 7,467
    49 Rhode Island 1,053 7,825 7,434
    50 Hawaii 1,360 10,016 7,363
    51 California 37,254 250,384 6,721

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Personally, I think the fact that they plan to charge (if I remember correctly) $25 per ton of CO2 is grounds for revolt. Get it up to $100 and come back to me – and even that might not be enough. A 6% rise in gas prices is less than today’s fluctuations, and much less than the rise since 2003, a rise that’s not yet induced enough shift away from driving or, within driving, away from more polluting cars.

    Nathanael Reply:

    While I agree with you, the cap-and-trade program will definitely spur investments in insulation, solar panels, LED lighting, and so forth; housing seems to respond faster than transportation to price changes, oddly enough.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Would it, really? $25 per t-CO2 is $0.025 per kWh coming from coal, and $0.013 per kWh coming from natural gas. It can induce some shift on the margin, and some conservation on the margin, but nothing big enough to reduce CA’s emissions to acceptable levels.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, maybe in the parts of California with no heating season it won’t make much of a difference.

    That little of a change would definitely be enough to influence people in the Northeast who currently heat their houses directly with fossil fuels, though; we’re already at an economic tipping point there.

    I would think in California it would be enough to induce some insulation, because air-conditioning a poorly insulated building uses a hell of a lot of kWh.

    Nathanael Reply:

    ‘Course the actual problem is that inducing people to insulate their houses and otherwise reduce waste will just make people use more energy for other things. What’s the name of that efficiency paradox?

    In the Northeast, however, a small increase in fossil fuel prices seems to be enough to switch a lot of people off of direct fossil fuel usage and onto electricity (well, or in the most rural areas, wood), which makes it at least easier to switch to renewable energy. I don’t know if there’s anything similar in California but probably only in areas with a significant heating season.

    wu ming Reply:

    if that efficiency paradox was real, californians wouldn’t have the lowest per capita energy use in the country. but that isn’t what has happened, as we’ve gotten efficient with electricity (and water) in this state, there have been real gains, and a gradual lessening of the correlation between energy use and economic growth (although only in a relative sense, and yeah it’s more complicated than just efficiency).

    joe Reply:

    Heating in legacy CA homes rivals a colder climate. The onstruction here is so drafty and built assuming cheap energy.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, the efficiency paradox is real — if it weren’t real, California would have reduced its energy useage a lot faster. It’s not the only thing going on though. And it seems like California is managing to “keep up”, with the ‘induced extra use’ being less than the amount saved through efficiency, which is pretty excellent.

    And of course nobody really minds if rooftop solar panels induce more energy usage. :-) The key point here is getting rid of fossil fuel dependence.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its the Jevons paradox, in which the increased efficiency in coal led to more coal heating and more coal used for steam power for both mills and rail traction and so the increased efficiency led to more use.

    There’s some people who seem to have latched onto the absurd idea that a Jevons paradox is the automatic result of any increase in efficiency. The confusion may be because there is a partial differential Jevons effect as a result of increased efficiency, in which the total reduction in consumption is rarely equal to the increased efficiency, due to the Jevons effect offsetting some of the gains … but for a Jevons paradox to apply, the Jevons effect has to totally outweigh the efficiency gains, so that the per person consumption of the resource increases as a consequence of the increased efficiency.

    That will happen under some circumstances, but the specific circumstances surrounding coal consumption in the 1800’s led to particularly strong Jevons effects and are by no means a “normal” case. For one thing, British cotton textiles had just reached a tipping point where they were less expensive in India than Indian cotton textiles, and India was the previous dominant cotton textile exporter, so the ongoing increasing in the efficiency in coal use was feeding an export boom. For another, one of the earliest uses of coal powered steam engines were to drive pumps to pump water from coal mines allowing the mines to go deeper, so greater efficiency in the use of coal directly made it cheaper to produce coal, so there was extra leverage from improved efficiency in coal steam engines.

    So there will be a bit of a Jevons effect from different technological improvements, but the strength of the Jevons effect varies, and there’s no reason to automatically assume that they are automatically greater than the efficiency gains.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Joe

    You could not be more correct in pointing out the incredibly crappy quality of California tract houses. They got away with 3/8″ siding – it might as well be cardboard.

    Instead of cap and trade they should force the municipalities to suspend permit fees on re-siding. My kids and I wanted to add more siding to our Condiotti piece of mierda in RoPo but the city fathers wanted fees that amounted to more than half the costs of the materials so we gave up on it. It is two-story and much harder to work on – there is a reason single floor detached houses are popular with buyers of humble means who have to do their own maintenance. It is much easier.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Two story houses are more energy efficient.

    joe Reply:


    1-story were so cheap to build – my old MtView neighborhood (Eichlers) had 1 floor plan repeated on both sides of the street. Massive single pane windows and a tar-paper roof with pea stone on top of plywood – no insulation. Squirrels running on the roof were loud. Zillow says they are selling for 820K. End of the last bubble in 1990 they were 250-280k. You can walk to The Google – which back then was a corn field.

    City fathers (Menlo Park for example) are addicted to fees from small construction (too small for the CEQA). It’s a big income source.

    If I were dictator I’d stimulate the economy with large tax credits (50% up to 15k total) for home repair and efficiency improvements for owners and landlords (with some cap). Basically a give away to get people working and fix inventory and reduce energy use. And soup for you.

    DavidM Reply:


    Most Eichlers these days have insulated foam roofs with reflective coatings. For example, check San Miguel park in Walnut Creek.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    We are the most energy efficient state per capita because CA recognizes the value in environmental preservation and energy efficiency investments.

    Partially. Climate plays a major factor as well of course.

    joe Reply:

    Look at the list.

    Close to CA at 48 is New York 19,378 144,693 7,467

    And the time series for CA shows us separating (better than other US states) because of the level use per person since the 70s – that’s not due to climate.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    So? Air conditioners have become more affordable, and their use has risen. Coastal California doesn’t need them as much.

    The question is how the inland parts of California – the Inland Empire and the CV – compare to the rest of the US.

    Matthew B Reply:

    I think I read somewhere that per capita carbon emissions are higher in San Francisco than they are in Riverside (not the same thing as electricity usage, I know). If your household budget is lower, you’re less likely to pay for things like air conditioning even if you live somewhere hotter.

    James in PA Reply:

    San Francisco’s greater per-capita rate may be partly due to commuting daily workers and tourism.

    Washington D.C. and NYC have some amazing numbers.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “San Jose loses 5.6 percent of its population during the day.”

    Of course, Downtown San Jose – you know, the one that’s separated from Diridon Intergalactic by a freeway – gains population, and has a reasonable dense secondary employment cluster. It’s just that the parts the city annexed to have more population than SF lose population.

    joe Reply:

    And city hall is seeking ways like tax breaks (not my favorite) to encourage large residential development downtown.

    The city’s goal is to get 2,500 people living downtown. Four recent residential high-rise projects, including three condos and one that was converted to a rental, have attracted almost 800 people. Liccardo hopes three more apartment towers would add another 1,000.

    Offering developers a 50 percent reduction in construction taxes as well as a 50 percent reduction in park fees for multifamily units in downtown development makes lenders more confident, he said.

    “One hundred percent of nothing is nothing,” Liccardo noted. “I’m hopeful that 50 percent of something is quite a bit more.”

    After all, he and others say the city would reap 50 percent in construction taxes, instead of no taxes if the land remains undeveloped. And other taxes, from sales to property to utilities, would be generated by the people who ultimately move into the high rises.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    So, basically, SJ has high taxes and regulations on new multifamily residential construction, which it’s agreed to reduce in its infinite magnanimity.

    James in PA Reply:

    SF daily population increases 21.7% and Riverside increases 4.6%

    DC goes up 71.8% NYC is mixed because some of the commute is in the same city boundary.

    joe Reply:

    CA has been leading the nation for decades on environmental conservation and spends money and encourages citizens to buy energy efficient appliances with rebates.

    It is obvious to some that the energy efficiency savings are due to CA’s climate.

    wu ming Reply:

    more to the point is that AC units in CA, along with a bunch of other appliances, have gotten way more energy efficient in CA than they are in the rest of the country.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Energy Star appliances sold in Detroit are as energy efficient as the ones sold in Fresno.

    joe Reply:

    September 15, 2006
    By: Kevin Drum

    ENERGY….You may know this already, but the New York Times makes a point today about California’s dedication to efficiency and conservation:

    This is the state whose per capita energy consumption has been almost flat for 30 years, even as per capita consumption has risen 50 percent nationally.

    VBobier Reply:

    My Refrig and the Computer monitor here are both Energy Star as they save Me money on the electric bill as it does for others around CA.

    lex luther Reply:

    HAHAHA. California is “51st” in a country with “50” states? hahahahaha

    J. Wong Reply:

    I’m sure the list is including Puerto Rico, which although not a state, is often included in such lists. Duh.

    Donk Reply:

    DC is on the list.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Ah, yes, I see that DC happens to show up in the “top 3 / bottom 3” snippet from the list. Gosh, I’m happy I didn’t make fun of that list for “having 51 states” ~ that would have been egg on my face.

    joe Reply:

    Energy use per capita – we’re last! That’s .. uhh… a good thing.

    CA has a 1,5 trillion dollar economy and uses the least amount of energy per person – and we built a very car dependent infrastructure so there is room for improvement. I wonder how.

    Emma Reply:

    That’ a good thing actually. And I bet they counted DC as a “state”.

    Peter Reply:

    Your efforts to literally dismiss anything and everything that you may disagree with without any analysis does not help your credibility. As Emma said above, D.C. was in fact included ranked on the table, hence California is 51st on the table.

    VBobier Reply:

    They included DC which has 2 elected non-voting people in Congress, 1 in the House & 1 in the US Senate.

    Peter Reply:


    BruceMcF Reply:

    1 delegate at large to the House, often described as a non-voting member, which is for floor votes. However, the delegate votes on committees that she is a member of, so when the House forms into a Committee of the Whole, the delegate has an opportunity to vote.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m not sure if it’s clear, but this is just electricity, which means that heating generally isn’t included. This is why the Northeast does so well. New York is a relatively energy-efficient state, but it’s not that energy-efficient. Neither is Rhode Island.

    Peter Reply:

    Apparently, they are. Not sure what information went into this map, though.

    Nathanael Reply:

    They’re only putting a cap-and-trade limit on carbon emissions *for electricity production*? Not including other types of fuel burning?

    That’s a serious mistake, actually, as it discourages people from switching to electrical heating.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hell, it’s the sort of thing I’d expect the oil companies to come up with.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, wait, you mean that the *statistics* are only for electricity consumption. Gotcha.

    So the cap-and-trade system is sane?

    joe Reply:

    CA is 47th on total energy consumption – BTUs per year.

    So the suggestion CA will revolt over cap and trade is not consistent with the long term values CA has
    demonstrated in actual energy efficiency. We lead.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I did not expect RI to be this low. NY, sure, because the high heating costs are more than offset by low car use. But RI? Outside Providence, almost everyone has a car. Maybe they just drive shorter distances?

    VBobier Reply:

    I’m not so sure We’d revolt. Californians just don’t like high energy bills, My last bills were like so: $64.75[electricity] and $25.55[natural gas], We do like investing in what will benefit us though. Gas will be higher in the winter by about $20 a month, while electric will be maybe $20 lower in the winter, but this is just My place, a mobile home, which isn’t so mobile. There’s one I’d like to get a mortgage on that is on it’s own land with a concrete foundation, but I’m waiting for the USDA Rural section 502 program to get funded, so far it hasn’t and yeah I’d have to have money for moving saved up and for utility deposits of about $291.00. Oh and I think My PC uses a good amount of the juice here as it’s on 24/7 crunching numbers for Seti@Home, which is really just data from a large radio telescope in Puerto Rico, plus a few others that are due to come online soon, but then it’s an all volunteer and donation run thing, just to look for ET or for signs of ET and there’s a heck of a lot of sky to scan…

    Nathanael Reply:

    I suspect ND and LA are driven upwards by the oil&gas industry, which is notoriously wasteful.

    Wyoming — wow, that’s awful! What’s up with that?

  9. Spokker
    May 18th, 2012 at 08:41

    Off topic but what exactly happened to the Infrastructurist? Someone asked on their Facebook page but there was no response.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    They all got jobs elsewhere basically.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It shut down. They announced it before it happened.

    slackfarmer Reply:

    Yes, it was a said day.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They shut down a few months ago. I forget the timeline; if I remember correctly, it was a little after The Atlantic Cities started, and Eric Jaffe got a job there.

  10. Emma
    May 18th, 2012 at 10:56

    Every plan that is shovel-ready should get voter-approved bond money as soon as possible. I remember back when it was the plan to start construction by early 2012 or even late 2011. What happened to that?

    Nathanael Reply:

    CEQA and NEPA clearances.

    They take too long. One reason for this is that projects have been required to consider not just impact on the endangered species, pollution, drainage, and historical properties (they certainly should consider these impacts) but also impact on “parking”, “traffic” and similar nonsense, and analysis of this stuff takes forever.

    Jack Reply:

    To pile on; a small group of 2-3 people can disagree with the assessments and hold things up in court. I am looking forward to HSR getting an exclusion here.

    slackfarmer Reply:

    Don’t see how a state sponsored exclusion from CEQA helps with NEPA. CAHSR would need federal exclusion as well in order to cut down processing and legal challenge timeline.

    Peter Reply:

    Ah, but a CEQA exemption would remove the requirement to mitigate any significant effects.

    slackfarmer Reply:

    There’s no requirement under CEQA to mitigate impacts. The governing body can simply adopt a statement of overriding considerations.

    Peter Reply:

    Half-true. CEQA does allow for a Statement of Overriding Considerations, but only for those impcats that cannot reasonably be mitigated.

    Peter Reply:

    “impacts”, not “impcats”. I wonder what an “Impcat” would look like.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Use teh googles.

    Peter Reply:

    Hehehe, I actually looked for “impcat” images on google, but didn’t find anything funny. You beat me to it!

    Nathanael Reply:

    Just thought of another “NEPA-based lawsuits suck” example in NY.

    The *entire schedule* for the Second Avenue Subway was delayed for about six months by a group of annoying NIMBYs who didn’t want a subway station entrance in front of their little car drop-off loop! They had *no case whatsoever*, but the court hearings caused a six-month delay in issuing the contract which was on the critical path.

    EISes are a good thing, but something has to be done to prevent the nuisance lawsuits associated with them. And I do specifically mean the nuisance ones, the ones by people who are claiming that their precious car traffic will be slightly disrupted by the presence of pedestrians, insane stuff like that. It needs to be impossible to get preliminary injunctions on such a ludicrous basis.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    If some agency or some consultant is making some sort of announcement or proclamation about when things are going to be done but doesn’t consider “CEQA and NEPA clearances”, as our project management expert suggests might be the case with the World’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals of CHSRA=PBQD, then, well, … somebody’s lying.

    We were all ready to start shoving dirt around yesterday with our revved-up studly job-producing front end loaders, but then we learned that NEPA and CEQA had just been enacted … in 1969 and 1970. Sneaky greenie bastards!

    Nathanael Reply:

    Richard, as I say, the problem is not the basic NEPA clearances, but all the cruft which has been added on to it over the years. Look at a 1970s NEPA-compliant EIS, then compare it to a modern one, just for fun. Look how much of the modern one has *absolutely nothing to do with* environmental protection.

    Re-engineering to deal with endangered species, pollution, or drainage generally goes quickly. Dealing with a bunch of people demanding free parking and grade separations to protect “LOS whatever” road traffic is a whole ‘nother matter; the demands are potentially endless and it’s mainly determined by political considerations.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The old ones had nothing to do with environmental protection, either. State DOTs just wrote whatever they thought would get the highway approved, and ignored pollution, induced traffic, etc. to the best of their abilities.

    Nathanael Reply:

    True. I’m actually of the opinion that NEPA was a scam by Richard Nixon to write a bureaucrat-employment act instead of writing real environmental laws. He gave in the next year and passed the Clean Air Act, which is what I think of as a “real” environmental law.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know. I thought that this was a direct result of freeway revolts. The government tried to pass some rules requiring more community involvement, not on any theory of consensus but rather as an attempt to mollify people who opposed freeway construction. In the late 50s they came up with the 3 Cs, and then finally they went with environmental impact studies.

    Nathanael Reply:

    For some specific examples, look at the Lakewood Sounder extension and the “Point Defiance Bypass”, which have been delayed for several years beyond the rest of the projects authorized at the same time, due largely to a NIMBY explosion. The result is that the EISes are now being made excruciatingly detailed about all manner of things which have, really, nothing to do with the environment.

    Nathanael Reply:

    …but anyway, you want a second reason for the delays? Current funding rules. It’s become very rare to do what happened fairly often in the old days, namely authorizing and appropriating “such sums as are necessary” for a project — when you’re doing a $100 million project and you have $99 million, you’ll often see the people running the project waiting while they try to round up $1 million.

    Now, some form of appropriations limitation is useful to prevent sheer graft, but funding has gotten kind of chintzy in a lot of places. This doesn’t apply to CAHSR, but it’s hit many smaller projects.

    Having too many agencies in the pot can also slow things down and is the reason why Englewood Flyover hasn’t gone to bid yet in Illinois. Every change needs, I believe, six separate agencies to sign off on it (might be eight).

    Nathanael Reply:

    …though now that I think about it, the delays on CAHSR *are* of the “bad funding” type. If the bond issuance had been authorized last year, construction would have started already.

  11. D. P. Lubic
    May 18th, 2012 at 19:36

    More comments on the “competition,” with a more proper name, “robot cars:”

    From Austin, thoughts on a robocar “apocalypse:”

    This guy thinks robot cars will make rail obsolete, and seems to hint that this technology could even finally replace freight rail:

    Here’s a fellow who says robot cars will still have some of the disadvantages of their manually-controlled counterparts:

    And finally, thoughts on how robot cars may reduce the need for parking space (but I wonder how much gasoline or other energy–and road capacity–they will consume while cruising about):

    Nathanael Reply:

    If robot cars actually become legal and accepted by people, then we will also be able to build robot trains without grade separations. (At least it’ll be a really easy political fight if we can point to the robot cars.)

    That’ll make high speed rail one hell of a lot cheaper to build. Rail’s massive advantages will then be even clearer.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I am still quite sure that robot cars will spark the usual hysteria about who to blame if there’s a crash, and will therefore be totally illegal after the first one fails to steer itself properly (perhaps in a deep fog, at night, on a slippery road, or something) and hits something.

    Even if they’re safer than human drivers, they won’t be accepted until they’re 10 times safer or 100 times safer. There’s a cognitive bias which almost everyone has which most of the people discussing robot cars are ignoring — the bias which causes people to worry less about things if they know who to blame for them.

    joe Reply:

    Magus Robot Fighter.

    Moore’s law is going to get the cost of the tech hardware down but someone has to write and certify the software. Look at the cost per line for civilian aircraft.

    There are 100+ of millions of lines of code in advanced hybrids.
    Such complexity brings with it reliability issues. IBM claims that approximately 50 percent of car warranty costs are now related to electronics and their embedded software, costing automakers in the United States around $350 and European automakers 250 per vehicle in 2005.

    Noe make that code safety critical and see the cost per SLOC jump.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I should’a read more comic books:,_Robot_Fighter

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Nathanael, you might be interested in this essay on a proposed robot streetcar, from the British site, Light Rail Transit Association, or LRTA:

    I think this has possibilities because one of the inherent advantages of a rail car is that it is self-guiding. All you have to do is program it and sensor it to go and stop; no steering or guiding sensing needed, no swerving action needed, either. Sounds like a much simpler task than a self-driving car, even with having to deal with pedestrians, and of course even simpler if on a grade-separated line. How many subway lines today run essentially as automated systems? I know about at least BART, the Washington Metro, and the Lindenwold line–and the last one dates to the early 1960s!

    LRTA home page, for reference:

    synonymouse Reply:

    Amalgamated, TWU, BLE, UTU will oppose any driverless concepts, as at Oakland Airport.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, duh. You can still use driverless systems for new-build lines, though; and eventually you can have all the old drivers become ‘guards’ and finally eliminate them as they retire. This is the approach taken, very slowly, in the UK.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The most interesting comments–and the most as well–come from the Salon article about robot cars making rail obsolete:

    “The problem, Mr. LInd, is that you’re trying to sell the idea of building infrastructure to “progressives,” on the grounds that it is they who like spending government money the most. What you’re forgetting is that the same people are opposed, on religious grounds, to building anything other than those dinky “shovel ready” street repaving projects that we have already forgotten we spent money on. I have already started seeing the term “industrial wind” in the latest set of anti-human Environmentalist screeds.

    “We’ll build those grand projects of yours not because “progressives” will push for them, but when we get to shoot their lawyers.”–A Gore

    “Thank you for making the point about robocars and other revolutions obtained by bringing the transportation infrastructure into the information age. It’s been a battle in California to bring starry-eyed train lovers to their senses about the high-speed rail boondoggle.”–wbswhav (Where do people come up with these names?)

    “The essay provides food for thought — essentially a rehashing of the dangers of a top-down, command economy — but this part is absurd:

    “‘artificially rigging markets in favor of renewable energy by methods like cap-and-trade and renewable energy standards that force working-class consumers, via utility, to buy expensive power from uneconomical wind, solar or biofuel sources.’

    “The problem is that the markets are ALREADY artificially rigged in favor of fossil fuels. Cap-and-trade and carbon taxes are means by which society attempts to recapture some of the costs shifted onto the public at large by carbon fuel makers and users. Exxon doesn’t care about, nor does it pay for, pollution, congestion, sprawl, climate change, etc. Dirty coal power plant operators in Ohio do not care about acid rain or smog in Maryland. Cap-and-trade and carbon taxes are means of accounting for some of these invisible costs currently being borne by others.

    “Any talk about the folly of distorting markets with regard to energy consumption is just meaningless so long as there is no accounting for the destruction of the commons and the freeloading and cost-shifting of the fossil fuel industry.”–Rocket 88 (Well, at least I know where this guy got his name, which tells me he likes classic postwar cars.)

    “‘The problem is that the markets are ALREADY artificially rigged in favor of fossil fuels.’

    “But you know, if Lind covered that in his article it would detract from his “you starry-eyed liberals are so off target” meme. You know, the one he’s always pushing; his fundamental shtick. By ignoring the current, oil-favoring regulatory + tax environment, the massive sunk costs in petroleum production infrastructure, our massive military presence in oil-producing regions for reasons of energy security…… he can pretend that the present situation is a natural, organic one. That it is the result of purely pragmatic economic decisions and an unfettered free market.

    “Kind of like in Narnia. Or Middle Earth. It’s MAGIC.”–Fluffy (Ugh, why would you pick a name like that?)

    “What a load of nonsense.

    “‘more thoughtful environmentalists have welcomed natural gas…’ Like who?

    “A national high speed rail system is out of reach, but creating a system of truck only highways and tunnels is within reach? Are you kidding me?

    “People buy SUVs only to protect themselves from large trucks and not from other cars? Really?

    “This whole article is just, stupid.”–Jay Partyka

    “Right now, we cannot even get the Repubs to allow money for highway maintenance, yet you somehow believe that they will go along with the investment for large scale robo car implementation along with replacement of the current highway system with smart highways. You seem to recognize the financial problems with implementing high speed rail but don’t see an issue for the “cars that drive themselves”. There is a large infrastructure project that has been blocked that would need to take place prior to robo cars, and that is the need to overhaul the energy grid. For cars that are driving themselves intelligently, the problem also arises about what you do with the people that want to drive in their own idiosyncratic stupid way. You will have tons of cars reacting to smart road based rules, while cars on manual are speeding, cutting smart cars off and driving up the brim while there is heavy traffic.

    “High speed trains would provide a reduction in air traffic for destinations less then 400 miles. Subway and elevated trains cut down on the need for driving with in a city. Having lived in Chicago and New York it was a marvel not needing to have a car. The true futuristic version of traveling infrastructure needs to provide easy access to travel within and between cities. My rule of thumb is that if you can’t get them to reasonably fix potholes, how will you get them to build and maintain a smart highway?????”–Cubster

    This last one, at least to me, sounds like a younger person, part of the generational shift we have spoken of at times. So do a number of the others.

    It’s still strange that the people who write against rail, and those who also support it, rarely speak of how nice train travel can be; personally, even if my car could drive itself, it would still be uncomfortable for a trip of more than a couple of hours. In a train, as readers here know, you aren’t always constrained to a seat. Good trains, at least with runs over a certain amount of time, can carry amenities with them, such as food-service cars (although I doubt the traditional full diner will come back), better seats than in your car, restrooms, lounges, and other goodies, including a nice view of the passing scenery.

    Another point not mentioned in the article is that trains can be much faster than cars, even with a top speed only in the 110 to 125 mph range, and they can do so economically as well as safely. This is because most cars have a higher wind resistance factor than a long, skinny train, and for most cars, this wind resistance starts to go up drastically above 60 mph or so. I can testify on occasions where I had to drive “aggressively” in certain “emergency”situations (in reality, running later than I should have been), fuel consumption went up markedly. This was noticeable both where you could drive consistently at a high rate of speed–i.e., on an interstate–and was most notable on a curving mountain road, where I was alternately standing on the brake pedal, then on the accelerator pedal, sometimes even using plenty of power on downhill stretches to accelerate rapidly. That particular trip, with more than an hour of driving like that, probably increased fuel consumption by at least 25%, more likely more, but only shortened the trip time by a few minutes, and was physically exhausting, too. It was a lesson both in showing how taking chances was unnecessary, and uneconomic, too.

  12. lex luther
    May 19th, 2012 at 07:17

    SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Brown backs bullet train while cutting cash to welfare moms
    (2 pages)

    Peter Reply:

    Excellent false choice in the headline.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The paper had help, Simitian kept on saying at the hearing last week that “one dollar spent on something is another dollar not spent on something else” and that “bonds are not free money”.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    With such an excellent understanding of the difference between consumption and investment, he’ll do well when he retires and goes into the private sector.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Simitian isn’t going to retire and join the private sector…he’s going to take his fat state pension and be a night host on KQED.

    joe Reply:

    Or see if he can slide into an open Congressional seat.

    His district is probably in the best shape economically for all of CA. He can afford to do nothing and sit on his butt. Of course the district is congested and worsening but Joe’s going to be just fine.

    Next Caller.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Boy. Simitian doesn’t understand economics, either.

    California should, honestly, be printing money right now. Brown doesn’t think big enough to do that, but that’s what California should be doing.

    So should the US, of course. But Obama doesn’t think big enough to do that either.

    We need the Greenback Party back…

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    WEll this is a good headline. It shows that sacramento is finally going to put money into investing in california instead of giving handouts to deadbeats. This should make republicans pretty happy.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB and Palmdale are deadbeats too.

    And by placing an embargo on hsr passing thru Tejon Ranch Co. property at Bear Trap Canyon Brown is giving the Chandlers what amounts to a handout as well.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I still don’t get the relationship between Tejon and the Chandlers. Wouldn’t developers WANT HSR access to their land if they intended to build on it? The political pressure against Tejon (as opposed to being for Palmdale) comes more from the Stewart Resnicks of the world who control the Kern Valley Water Bank and want to send that stuff to Los Angeles for EXISTING homes, not new ones…

    synonymouse Reply:

    According to the PB engineering report they got nothing but snarls from the Tejon Ranch Co. whenever they approached them about an hsr crossing, mostly in tunnel. Santa Clarita was hostile too. It is an extreme nimby attitude, based on the unfortunate conviction that rail always lowers the value of high-end property and much more obdurate than in PAMPA, where despite what the foamers claim there is hardly anyone who wants Caltrain to pack up and go. Except of course for the BART partisans, who I am sure are ready to pounce on Ring the Bay if the CHSRA implodes.

    It appears that there may be essentially one of the Quantm routes which stands out as the best, fastest and cheapest. All I am asking is for a thorough study of it absent any vetoes from the Tejon Ranch. California voters deserve a fair comparison. I assert Tejon will enable an hsr that will require the least subsidy and will be the most satisfactory and useful over the years. Van Ark had identified the potential – why not follow the expert advice we paid good money for? Besides Bear Trap Canyon hsr is the highest and best use of what amounts to a very small piece of property. Same applies to Santa Clarita.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I think that Tejon is a good project once you daisy-chain all the cities together using the first alignment to add capacity going north and south. (Eventually SF-Vegas and LA-Vegas traffic will put a lot of pressure on Palmdale). But I think the political reality is that as long as Harry Reid is Senate President he and the Los Angeles Congressional delegation want the “detour” as proposed.

    And furthermore, because Metrolink isn’t electrified and there’s no money to accomplish it, co-opting the ROW from Sylmar to Lancaster isn’t a half bad idea from a cost savings standpoint. It’s exactly the same thing in the Bay Area with CalTrain.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Sylmar – Lancaster is not exactly the same thing as the Bay Area with Caltrain. It’s a very slow, low capacity piece of railroad entirely inappropriate for a 21st century passenger service. You’ll save a lot of cost but enjoy zero revenue!

    Peter Reply:

    Yeah, maybe in 100 years when the line is saturated, they will start investigating building a second main line through Tejon within the following 50 years.

  13. lex luther
    May 19th, 2012 at 07:37

    DESERT XPRESS HSR wants 5.5 billion federal loan and says they are closest to construction

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    Can’t wait to ride it. I don’t like vegas, but I’d go just for this.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And if you have to foreclose on a reneged loan is the property worth $5.5 bil at auction?

    VBobier Reply:

    It won’t stop in or near Barstow CA, so why bother…

    Peter Reply:

    Because Barstow isn’t worth stopping in?

    lex luther Reply:

    barstow is the hood

    VBobier Reply:

    How would You know? You’ve probably never been to Barstow CA, I go there a lot.

  14. joe
    May 19th, 2012 at 19:47

    About a hundred billion spent in Afghanistan in fiscal 2011. Money well spent, obviously.

    Still that California SUPERTRAIN is a horrible boondoggle, given that’d it cost that much over a period of many many many years.

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