More Details Emerge on the Disastrous Plan B

Jun 27th, 2012 | Posted by

The battle is on in Sacramento over the future of the high speed rail project. For a good overview of the situation, see Damien Newton’s post at Streetsblog LA. We’ve learned some more details about the “Plan B” being pushed by State Senator Alan Lowenthal and other opponents of the high speed rail project:

According to rail advocates who have been briefed on the idea, Plan B’s top priorities include:

– A $2 billion tunnel through downtown San Francisco to bring commuter rail service — and, eventually the bullet train — into the city’s new Transbay Transit Center from the Caltrain station more than a mile away.

– $1.5 billion in Los Angeles-area rail improvements, including a redesign of Los Angeles Union Station’s rail access and construction of rail overpasses. Together, the projects would speed rail service for hundreds of Amtrak and Metrolink trains each day and end chronic traffic bottlenecks.

– A $1.5 billion San Joaquin Valley bullet train line between Fresno and Madera — but with no immediate connections to Merced or Bakersfield.

In a statement, Dan Richard, chairman of the state High-Speed Rail Authority, asserted that Plan B couldn’t be done.

“There are no legal, practical or contractual ways to move the money out of the Central Valley,” he wrote. “The Authority’s revised plan already makes major investments to rail across the state.”

The Central Valley spending would be tokenistic at best, just a few miles of track as a sop to the Valley while the rest of the money is siphoned off for other projects. It’s my understanding that the Obama Administration remains unwilling to support this proposal, meaning it jeopardizes the entire project since the federal government would pull its $3.3 billion in stimulus were the legislature to move in this direction.

Californians For High Speed Rail explained some of the reasons why “Plan B” is a bad plan:

“This idea for a so-called ‘Plan B’ is a non-starter. It has no realistic legitimacy due to federal restrictions that stipulate the creation of a robust full-speed high-speed rail infrastructure,” said Daniel Krause, executive director of Californians For High Speed Rail.

“The Plan B being floated would build a mere 28 miles of new track designated for high-speed rail, creating an orphan section of track in the Central Valley, killing all momentum toward building a true high-speed rail system. The current plan will build up to 130 miles of track, solidifying California’s commitment to true high-speed rail. It’s time to end the games and move forward on Governor Brown and the Authority’s plan to make high-speed rail a reality,” Krause added.

“While the individual bookend projects being considered have merit on their own, Californians for High-Speed Rail believes that accelerating these projects at the expense of building a huge section of true HSR track is a shortsighted and irresponsible strategy,” said Krause.

Of course, “Plan B” fits with Lowenthal’s long-held goal of destroying the SF-LA bullet train and taking the money for other pet projects in Southern California.

For a richly detailed discussion of Lowenthal’s actions in pushing Plan B, and more explanation of why it’s such a bad idea, I encourage readers to look at Bruce McF’s post titled Will Alan Lowenthal Kill or Save California HSR?:

So, if you want to push California closer to higher speed intercity passenger rail between SF and LA ~ if that is the goal ~ then the Initial Construction Segment helps get California there. It helps get California there whether California gets there along the direction contained in the CHSRA Business Plan, whether California postpones one or both of the expensive parts of the Express HSR corridor in favor or quicker incremental upgrades, or whether it shuts down the CHSRA and starts over almost from scratch.

But it only moves California in that direction if California takes the Federal funding presently on offer and breaks ground. If the California State Senate plays the game of plundering the Prop1a funds in pursuit of commuter rail upgrades, it seems very likely that the US Dept. of Transportation will simply shift the funds elsewhere, likely to a combination of Illinois and to one or more swing states.

The full post with worth reading, with solid analysis of where things currently stand.

The stakes are enormous. If you haven’t let your legislators know where you stand, visit and let them know you want true HSR and stimulus in California – and want Lowenthal’s attack on the HSR project to be stopped in its tracks.

  1. Richard Mlynarik
    Jun 27th, 2012 at 21:09

    Look, exactly the same class of mafiosi are going to get the money, whether it’s spend on a $2 billion (would be under $500 million in any other place in the galaxy, but America is Special!) 1 mile tunnel to the Big Bus Station in the Sky in SF, or whether the same $2 billion is spent on Special American viaducts in Bakersfield or San José or some other agricultural town.

    Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. Plan A, Plan B, or Plan Z: as long as the money flows, nobody who matters cares what gets built.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Richard Mlynarik

    Boy have you got that right. It is not about HSR and moving people at all; never has been.


    It is all about the money!

    Spokker Reply:

    One running theme I am seeing in the modern era is the illusion of choice. Plan A, Plan B, our political betters are going to ensure the proper path is taken. They are going to think it out, weigh the pros and cons, and do what’s right. Little do we know that the outcome has already been predetermined.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Your nihilism Richard, obscures the fact that Plan A included money for the TransBay Tunnel to the tune of $1.5 billion anyway. The Alamo is filling up precisely because they do care what gets built.

    Clem Reply:

    No it did not. It made promises of $1.5 billion but did not actually fund the $1.5 billion.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Mlynarik….Want is your plan for HSR??? I posted alone time ago for you and Robert to post it…yet nothing…I sure its about the same level as your lame “Resue Muni” idea…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The only problem is that there is Plan A or Plan A. There is no plan B. If California decides they don’t want to construct Plan A, California doesn’t get any money. The people of the Northeast and Illinois, maybe Michigan, Virginia or North Carolina will be grateful.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed, It’s either California spends the money on Plan A(130 miles of potential HSR starter RR tracks) or the money walks east…

  2. morris brown
    Jun 27th, 2012 at 21:38

    What is really amusing about Robert’s article and people now worrying about a Plan B, is that the Authority itself, at least Richard, has brought this all about.

    To win votes for his plan, he started all the talk about moving some Prop 1A funds to the “bookends” (originally $1 billion from Prop 1A for each end — matching funds to come from local sources).

    The game plan was that Senators in both the north and south would fall into line, since they were getting money for their districts.

    However, the Senators still wondered why are we spending $6 billion in the Central Valley? They didn’t have any say in that allotment. So they have gotten pro active and now want to reduce the CV funding by quite a bit.

    They also realize that California can’t fund this project without another $50 billion or so in Federal support.

    But as we now see, HSR in Washington DC is a dirty topic. Look at what has happened to FY11, and FY12 funding? No funding for HSR.

    The 2 year transportation bill, now being finished up in DC, has NO (zero) funding for HSR. In fact, tonight, Jeff Denham introduced an amendment that passed, that specifically said “California was not to divert any of the funds to HSR”. That is on top of the fact the bill itself has no funding for HSR.

    It is just silly to think that that California can fund this without Federal support.

    What is going on and has been for quite some time, are regional transportation agencies, realizing that HSR is going nowhere, are trying to claw away as much money from Prop 1A bonds as they can. Totally illegal, but that is the game being played.

    Spokker Reply:

    “But as we now see, HSR in Washington DC is a dirty topic. Look at what has happened to FY11, and FY12 funding? No funding for HSR.”

    But Morris, Republican obstructionism! We can’t step forward into the golden progressive age because Republicans are such meanies. Implying the country doesn’t vote for Republicans en masse to represent them and their ideals.

    This is always what I thought about the criticisms that Congress can’t come together and do anything. The question is always asked in a very vague way, so you get the perception that everyone is fed up with Congressional gridlock. Yet ask what Congress actually should do, and the country is as divided and chaotic as our legislative branch.

    If the people wanted compromise they would have voted for moderates.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Indeed. One of the problems we have right now is too many politicians living in an imaginary world of moderation. In 2008, people voted for Democrats to stomp on the Republicans… but the Democrats
    (particularly in the Senate) didn’t do it, so people reversed course in 2010. Probably will reverse course again in 2012.

    “Srong and wrong” will always win over half-measures in this country.

    Nathanael Reply:

    To be fair, however, Walker and Snyder in Wisconsin and Michigan were completely deceptive about their agendas, so in those cases, people did not deliberately vote for extremism, they got it because the politicians lied to them. I don’t think this is true in general though; Florida and New Jersey pretty much knew what they were getting.

    Spokker Reply:

    If Walker lied then why didn’t they recall him? The state basically said, yes, we actually do want this liar in office after all.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Spending 8:1 on ads allowed Walker to *keep* lying, to put it bluntly. His ad campaign focused on the claim that Walker had created lots and lots of jobs in Wisconsin.

    Well, actually, the unemployment rate went up. But whatever, ads work.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Put another way: when asked “who do you believe, the nice man from Madison Avenue or your own eyes?” a lof of people believe the nice man from Madison Avenue.

    It’s not a strategy which one can pull off forever, but one can pull it off for quite a while if one has a lot of money. I really expect Walker’s big-money backers to dump him sooner or later, though; he’s a terrible investment. In contrast, Rick Snyder, now Absolute Dictator of Michigan, was a very good investment, because he’s been very careful about only ticking off a few people at a time and neutralizing them before ticking off the next group.

    Spokker Reply:

    Please, if all elections are about is who spends the most money, then you might as well count the assets of each campaign, declare a winner, and skip voting entirely.

    I mean, are you saying that if Ron Paul could raise as much as an Obama or a Romney, that he would be the Republican nominee? No, no matter how much he raises, he’ll still have a support threshold of about 10% because people just plain don’t like him. And I say that as someone who voted for the guy.

    I think money certainly counts, but people vote for the candidate they want to support. They also fund the candidate they want to support. If Obama outspends Romney and wins, will you make the same claim?

    joe Reply:

    I think you recreated the basis for the 100 year old Montana State Law limiting money in elections.

    It’s rooted in actual experience – the state’s government was bought by powerful industrialists.

    flowmotion Reply:

    It was silly politics, putting the same guy back on the ballot made the Dems seem like petty “sore losers”. The biggest reason the GOP outspent them by gross amounts is that nobody outside of Wisconsin wanted anything to do with it. Note how Obama was nowhere to be seen.

    The California recall election worked because a very popular moderate figure was on the ballot. If the goal was to re-elect Dan Lungren, it would have crashed and burned as well.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But as we now see, HSR in Washington DC is a dirty topic. Look at what has happened to FY11, and FY12 funding? No funding for HSR.

    That smells like arriving at a conclusion decided in advance. Between current Republican politics, focused on the need to deny Obama symbolic talking points, and the current politics of states that are building HSR corridors, where its much easier to build support for additional work once the current work is in use, this is a “keep your powder dry” period for strong HSR supporters in Congress.

    There is no basis for project the current position forward to 2017, especially as the demographics continues to move against the HSR opponents.

    Spokker Reply:

    What do you mean specifically by demographics?

    synonymouse Reply:

    By demographics he means the disappearance of the people who won WWII. In politically correct parlance one could describe it as the end of the middle class.

    The Supreme Court’s decision comes as no surprise. They all get their checks from the guvmint so they are not about to limit its power over the masses. The enabler behind mandated health coverage is not the right to tax. That’s spin. The power comes from the right to conscript and to declare martial law, which neither the right nor the left want to jettison. Both want to be able to legally set up concentration camps; they only differ as to who is going to be put in them.

    Interesting items in the press: Mexico ready to reinstate PRI one party dictatorship and most Americans are ok with a space alien invasion. Ok with me if they eat politicians and transport professionals first.

    Hey if the cheerleaders hate Plan B how could it be that bad?

    Spokker Reply:

    Oh, the middle class is completely fucked under the ACA. They will basically be squeezed out of existence.

    joe Reply:

    We’re fucked completely – mandated health coverage so everyone’s getting care and no way to exclude preexisting conditions – how am I going to afford health care if we can’t throw money-sucking sick people out of the system?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    At the moment we don’t exclude treatment for pre-existing conditions, we just wait until they are as expensive to treat as possible and then treat them in the Emergency Room.

    Given that we pay roughly twice as much as the rest of the industrialized world for not better health outcomes, its remotely possible that waiting to treat pre-existing conditions until they are as expensive to treat as possible is not the most efficient approach.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You can get treated almost anywhere. Being reimbursed for it on the other hand….

    Spokker Reply:


    I understand that compelling more people to buy health insurance is supposed to lower premiums, in theory. Getting more healthy people into the system and paying premiums is supposed to support those that do get sick.

    But there are a whole host of other provisions that would be expected to increase premiums, such as covering pre-existing conditions, allowing dependents to stay on your plan until 26, ending lifetime caps, etc. So the net effect is… what? Time will tell.

    And what the net effect is is going to make a big difference in the context of whether it will be more costly to pay the premiums or the breathing tax.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So the richest country in the world should just let sick people dies because your taxes might go up. How Christian of you.

    joe Reply:

    The net effect of insuring pre-existing conditions is you can afford to get sick and stay insured.

    The larger and healthier the insurance pool, the more cost is spread out. When you get older, you still can afford insurance.

    Spokker Reply:

    “How Christian of you.”

    I’m an atheist.

    Spokker Reply:

    Joe, I don’t dispute that. But there are others things in the law that could increase premiums. So at the end of the day, what is the net effect?,0,2484724.story?page=1

    My fear is that people will find a way around the mandate, and take advantage of the pre-existing condition rule to get health care when they are sick. I can see a situation where some of the millions of unemployed 20-something college grads lack insurance because they can’t afford it and still live at home. But when they do get sick, their parents will go ahead and pay for the insurance, the 20-something will get the treatment, and then drop the insurance if and when they are cured.

    I’m still researching how such a thing would be prevented.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If they are unemployed 20 somethings, then before the mandatory expansion of medicaid was struck down and the expansion of medicaid made optional state by state, they would have been covered under medicaid. Its those making over 1.5x the poverty line who qualify for subsidized premiums that the mandate targets.

    To the extent that the mandate fails to get people in the middle three fifths of the income ladder who lack health insurance today to buy health insurance, it will indeed be responsible for perpetuating the same increase in premiums that their lack of health insurance causes today. To the extent that either the mandate or the more affordable health care made available by community rating and the premium subsidies get people who can afford health insurance to obtain health insurance, who would otherwise have gambled on going without, it will slow the growth in premiums.

    Compared to an excellent system, the results may well be disappointing. But the alternative available is not an excellent system, its the rasmshackle accident that is the system we already had.

    joe Reply:

    BruceMcF -. Try getting chemo at the emergency room.
    You get stabilized and sent out the door. That’s emergency room treatment.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I’ve never had the pleasure, but my brother’s cancer was found while he was being stabilized after a traffic accident. It remains more expensive to be stabilized after a stroke or a heart attack than to have high blood pressure detected and managed. Preventative care is cheaper in the long run.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The aging and reduction in share of the electorate of the Silent Generation versus the increase in share of the electorate of the Millenials, and the increase in representation of non-white voters in the electorate.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So many extraneous and ephemeral labels.

    I wonder if more awareness of the quantum uncertainty principle is starting to trickle down and influence the behavior of the masses. If you believe in causality you try to make things happen logically and if you don’t …

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Not a single one of those labels is ephemeral. As far as arguing whether or not they are salient, random spouting off on the quantum uncertainty principle is certainly one approach. It seems to be in the “Chewbacca Defense” family of argument.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and he forgot about the black helicopters and the Nancy Pelosi mind rays again.

    Spokker Reply:

    I’ll give you racist black voters, 99% of whom who will vote Obama no matter what he does, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that Latinos will vote blindly vote Democrat. Not *all* of them are on welfare and/or in government jobs.

    Never mind the numerous non-whites I saw at the Ron Paul rallies. I guess it depends on who it helps when someone votes for Gary Johnson.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    As opposed to black people, all of whom are on welfare?

    Spokker Reply:

    Either on welfare or work at the post office.

    But that’s beside the point. I don’t care who blacks vote for, but don’t send me a Democratic mailer because I have a certain last name.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Or maybe they send you a mailer because their demographic analysts have determined you’re a swing voter.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or they sent it to him because they sent it to everybody.

    VBobier Reply:

    How do You know? Any facts to back that up with?? Like from the GAO in Washington DC???

    synonymouse Reply:

    Whose welfare checks your fearless leaders Antonovich and Villa want to turn over to Las Vegas casinos with help from California taxpayers at large. But the clueless poor rubes on welfare or soical security, no matter the ethnicity, do get the scenic tour via Palmdale.

    Spokker Reply:

    I’m with you, syn. I have fully turned to the dark side. Sick of HSR. Sick of all the special interest groups. Sick of of everybody and their problems. Sick of all the advocates and their solutions that never work, yet they keep trying the same thing over and over again, always getting the same shitty results.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You know I worked for 40 years in the P.O. and was in the union the whole time. And the union was right when it said don’t vote for Republicans if you want to keep your job. But we got a little better pay but nothing like the California prison guards or the bureaucrats in the UC system. So they cut the janitors but don’t touch the Chancellors.

    The Democratic Party is not what it used to be when West Virginia dems boycott the convention. W.V. is where John Kennedy started his campaign.

    We are now like Italy(or the Chicago machine)where the politicians of all stripes get into office and immediately set up sinecures for themselves. They are all smarter, presumbbly, Blagos.

    Look at dumb Jerry. He and Richard cut a rotten deal with the Chandlers to scuttle Tejon. It avails them nothing because you know the Tejon Ranch Co. is still anti-hsr. Jerry thinks we are stupid – he gives the state employees a 5% cut this year and a 3%+ raise next year, conveniently after the election.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you find it all so distasteful why do you keep coming back here to read and post?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I’m not sure where synon found time to work for the post office for 40 years given his extension experience working for PG and E and BART on the SFO extension.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Welfare queens don’t have enough time or money to go to Las Vegas, they are too busy carting lobster and steak home in their Cadillac.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Who the hell still voluntarily drives a Caddy today? If I were a welfare queen, I’d get a BMW.

    Spokker Reply:

    Or just lots of chocolate.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are no BMWs on the planet where welfare queens live. Studly ‘Murcan made cars only. One where arriviste welfare queens drive Packards.

    StevieB Reply:

    Many upstanding Americans drive Cadillac. Mitt Romney says his wife owns three.

    VBobier Reply:

    No such thing, Welfare Queens were made up by Repugs, they never existed…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Victor, one welfare queen did in fact exist. She engaged in elaborate fraud to create multiple identities to get money. Reagan pointed to her as a reason to cut welfare. In an alternate universe, he also pointed to bank fraud as a reason to cap executive salaries, military contractor fraud as a reason to cut the defense budget, and oil company bribery as a reason to nationalize all natural resources.

    Spokker Reply:

    Today, Reagan’s welfare queen meme is an excuse not to think about the economics of welfare, including how it might incentivize and/or institutionalize poverty.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And yet here you are telling us that welfare recipients are lazy bums who buy chocolate and wear fancier shoes than you approve of.

    Spokker Reply:

    It’s pushback against the other myth that everyone in poverty is an innocent victim of an unjust system who works 12 minimum wage jobs and must cross the Sahara to get to a freakin’ Safeway.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandparents recently, and I really wonder if they would have gotten as far as they did had they been born in the modern era, where they would not be incentivized to work as hard as they did to get what they earned. When they were alive, I was too young to really appreciate who they were and what they did.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    She engaged in elaborate fraud to create multiple identities to get money.

    She should have just gone to work on Wall Street. You make more money and when you defraud people you get more bonus money.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You need to know the right people or to have gone to the right school to work on Wall Street. They won’t take just anyone off the street.

    Also, Sweden and Norway have way more income mobility than the US. But it’s more fun to think that the rich deserve to be obscenely wealthy and any other situation is communism.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I guess it depends on who it helps when someone votes for Gary Johnson.

    Psychiatric workers.

    Spokker Reply:

    Considering that people are celebrating becoming slaves to corporations and government today, I’d say the whole country needs an evaluation.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Oh please. There are certainly major flaws with Obamacare, especially the HHS mandates, but hardly anything remotely resembling slavery.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Bah, kept forgetting to change my name on my phone.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    As the great intellectual Ben Shapiro says, today’s decision is the worst since Dred Scott.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought the worst decision was Roe v. Wade.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep uncaring people that have no empathy for others need to see a psychiatrist, as their a danger to society…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Not *all* of them are on welfare and/or in government jobs.

    People can support a range of actions by government without either working for government are depending on government transfers.

    On the partisan tribalism, blind adherence to one or the other party is the point at issue ~ the policy is served equally well if not better if both parties compete on which can implement it more competently. A number of times in our history one or another party has re-oriented itself to cope with a changing social terrain.

    Spokker Reply:


  3. Drunk Engineer
    Jun 27th, 2012 at 22:01

    The Plan B being floated would build a mere 28 miles of new track designated for high-speed rail, creating an orphan section of track in the Central Valley.

    So Plan “A” is better because it builds 130 miles of CV orphan track?

    VBobier Reply:

    LIAR! That 130 miles in the CV is connected at either end, as this has been stated before, so I guess you’ve heard of the BNSF & Warren Buffett?

    morris brown Reply:

    Hardly a LIAR.

    In case you have forgotten, Prop 1A was for HSR. HSR to be electrified. The 130 miles is not electrified and is not to be be built, as you seem to think, to provide more track for AMTRAK.

    In the eyes of PB, Plan “A” better. Costs a whole lot more and makes for a good cash flow.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Electrification is always postponed until the last possible moment because of the problem of electrical wire theft. Therefore the entire project is being planned in this order, with no electrification until the entire section can be turned on. Which means not until electric trains are on order.

    The 130 mile segment will be used to provide more track for Amtrak until the electric trains arrive. This is confirmed.

    So, basically, you’re still full of shit.

    Spokker Reply:

    Where the hell are we, South Africa?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In 2008, some cities (I think Philadelphia?) had trouble with manhole cover theft, the raw materials were that expensive.

    Spokker Reply:

    The Bay Area too,

    but is it that bad that we aren’t electrifying railroads until the very last minute?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Let’s be realistic. There’s no point in electrifying if you don’t have electric trains to run, and no point in electrifying short sections and forcing change of train, change of traction, or some sort of super expensive hybrid. Furthermore, electrification is the sort of repetitive industrial process that is best done in quantity and for long periods. It works out much cheaper to wire up a few hundred miles as a single project than to keep stopping and starting. Maybe this is one aspect of this project that will be done right.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In Caltrain’s case, it would be the full line, and they could just buy something off the shelf.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m almost sure catenary wire is special order, not the kind of thing the manufacturers keep in stock in large quantities.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Maybe that’s why they want to put everything on stilts – harder to get to the copper. Pathetic – third world conditions aren’t conducive to hsr.

    A private, straight shot down the Racetrack makes the most sense – pretty hard to get to the wire down the fenced median of I-5 or in Tejon tunnels.

    JFH Reply:

    It happened in Lakewood, CO (metro Denver) too. Wire was stolen from the West Corridor line before being turned on. The best form of security against wire theft might just be running electricity through it. Of course it doesn’t make sense to run electricity through the wire unless the electricity is going to be used (in a manner other than theft-prevention), so why should any part of the central valley be wired for electricity until the whole thing is ready to be?

    flowmotion Reply:

    And a $6 Billion Amtrak line is really not going to excite many people. Better pray that additional IOS funding is coming.

    blankslate Reply:

    LIAR! That 130 miles in the CV is connected at either end

    Will it be connected at the Bakersfield end? When?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yup, it will be connected at the Bakersfield end to the BNSF corridor, which it will use to complete the run to the Bakersfield Amtrak station.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Whether or not the statement that the track is “orphan” track in the sense evidently meant ~ in terms of hosting an Express HSR system ~ that will be determined in the future, so its not a lie so much as a prediction that may or may not come true.

    Its the actual Express HSR alignment least likely to be orphaned, and the likelihood of it being orphaned is, of course, exaggerated by opponents, but the likelihood is of course not zero. Which is why calling the “orphan HSR corridor” a lie is going a bit overboard.

    If you want something closer to a sure thing, the sure thing is to not to try to build an HSR corridor at all, but to spend down the Prop1a money. That is even more likely to kill the HSR project than leaving the Prop1a authorization in place with $8.1b available to be fund spending on an Express HSR corridor sometimes in the future.

  4. VBobier
    Jun 27th, 2012 at 22:25



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    The Governor signed the spending plan following final action by the Legislature earlier today on the remaining 21 budget trailer bills that comprised the overall budget agreement that the Governor reached with Democratic legislative leaders Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (Democrat – Sacramento, 6th State Senate District) and Assembly Speaker John Perez (Democrat – Los Angeles, 46th Assembly District) last week. The Legislature will be sending over the next two weeks the budget trailer bills it passed on June 15th and June 27th (with possible exception of one trailer bill).

    The nearly $93 billion State general fund spending plan for the 2012-2013 State Budget year that begins July 1, 2012 includes $8 billion in spending cuts and savings, $5.9 billion in revenues (tied to the Governor’s November temporary tax increase ballot measure), and $2.3 billion in other solutions to close the projected budget deficit of over $16 billion.

    The budget plan, while passed on time for the second year in a row, hinges on voters approving in November the Governor’s temporary tax increase ballot measure. If they don’t, automatic additional new spending cuts of over $6 billion will go into effect January 1, 2013, largely impacting education – but $50 million in new cuts in State general fund spending would hit the developmental services budget, an amount that grows to $100 million in State general fund spending cuts for the 2013-2014 State Budget year and each budget year after that. Recent polls showed support for the measure falling.

    While the spending cuts in many programs were not as deep as in 2011 or in previous years before that – many programs still were hard hit by on-going reductions, or new cuts on top of those, and policy changes impacting especially CalWORKS, Healthy Families, and Medi-Cal. In-Home Supportive Services, developmental services were hit with reductions – though smaller than in 2011 or what the Governor originally proposed this year.

    As previously reported this afternoon, the California Legislature completed this afternoon final action on all of the remaining budget trailer bills, passing all 21 bills including controversial bills dealing with community redevelopment funds, the Governor’s Coordinated Care Initiative including major changes to the structure of In-Home Supportive Services statewide, and reductions and changes to the CalWORKS and Healthy Families programs.

    Those bills, plus six previous trailer bills passed by the Legislature on June 15th, will head to the Governor for approval. Those six bills previously passed deal with developmental services, Medi-Cal and public health other health programs, transportation, mental health community-based services, transportation and general government.


    The State’s budget plan is contained in several bills: the main budget bill that contains basically spending totals and some language on how some of that spending is to be made; and two dozen or so budget related bills – called budget trailer bills (because those bills follow or trail the main budget bill) that contain changes in State law needed to implement policy changes and reductions that the main budget numbers are based on.


    PREVIOUS ACTION 06/15/2012: PASSED State Senate by vote of 23 to 16. PASSED Assembly by vote of 50 to 25. Sent to Governor at 3:30 PM.
    LATEST ACTION 06/ 27/2012: SIGNED by the Governor.


    BILL COPY – 06/15/2012 ENROLLED PDF VERSION (736 Pages):

    VBobier Reply:


    SACRAMENTO, CA (CDCAN) [Last updated 06/27/2012 09:48 PM] – With only hours away from the deadline to approve or veto the main budget bill that the Legislature passed and sent to him on June 15th, Governor Brown, as expected, signed AB 1464 late this evening. The Governor did not make available a list of the line item vetoes, which he is expected to released tomorrow.

    The Governor signed the spending plan following final action by the Legislature earlier today on the remaining 21 budget trailer bills that comprised the overall budget agreement that the Governor reached with Democratic legislative leaders Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (Democrat – Sacramento, 6th State Senate District) and Assembly Speaker John Perez (Democrat – Los Angeles, 46th Assembly District) last week. The Legislature will be sending over the next two weeks the budget trailer bills it passed on June 15th and June 27th (with possible exception of one trailer bill).

  5. jimsf
    Jun 27th, 2012 at 23:24

    This is all a big crock of shit conjured up by weak, pandering, politicians who are only worried about their own careers. This is just a bunch of crap designed to kill the project while stealing the money. Californians need to get rid of these do nothing waste of oxygen, vision-less politicians and and agencies and bring back the great state of days gone by. Weak weak weak bunch of crap.

    There is nothing complicated about building a rail system. nothing radical about it. Nothing new about it. Yet here we sit as a state completely unable to get the simplest, most basic form of infrastructure off the ground.

    Welcome to California, the “New Mississippi”

    good job sacramento. good job.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Welcome back. Did your bosses finally relent and let you post?

    jimsf Reply:

    No. I was posting under a different name which I found ridiculous and grew tired of. It wasn’t my boss, it was some Sacramento bureaucrat who didn’t like my opinion.

    What’s so lame about this plan b, isn’t just the pandering politicians who proposed it, but the fact that the people who are in charge of getting this project done, are so weak and incompetent as to let things get to this point.

    This project was a simple no brainer infrastructure project that the feds and people supported, now, years later its a complete mess. Californians have always supported infrastructure and transportation without batting an eye but this gaggle of goons, and I have to finally agree with Richard M here, has no idea what they are doing. They have squandered public support.

    The plan is a good plan, I agree with the route and station choices in both phases one and two. The handling of early opposition, nimbys and farmers, was botched. That opposition should have been quelled immediately.

    Further Ive seen zero public outreach in the form of informational campaigns or ads to educated the public on the projects benefits… something that should have been easy to do since the public fully understood the benefits to begin with having supported the project at the ballot box.

    The media, journalists, reporters, most of whom don’t the difference like unchecked parakeets repeating each other about things they don’t understand.

    Meanwhile a jealous nation watches California, always eager to see us fail so they can say, “oh that fruity california….”

    Great job.

    VBobier Reply:

    Good to see Ya back Jim. As to public outreach, the Legislature is partly to blame for that by keeping the CHSRA funding & staff lower than needed… As to handling of the nimbys and such couldn’t agree more, it was botched.

    jimsf Reply:

    HSR much like obamacare, suffers from an onslaught of negative media attacks and a complete vacuum where there truth and the benefits should be advertised.

    nick Reply:

    jimsf – it is very similar here in the uk with our proposed hsr line – hs2. the media is mostly against it although there are exceptions. there exists a similar vacuum with many myths and untruths repeated over and over again.

    VBobier Reply:

    I’ll bet Queen Elizabeth the 2nd is for HSR for Her subjects.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Queen Elizabeth goes to great lengths to avoid publicly commenting on political issues. Only her advisors and the prime ministers know for sure what she thinks.

    However, she is an old Tory, of the kind who passed the Poor Laws, and is said to have been a moderating influence on Thatcher. So she is probably supportive of more government investment in great national prestige projects.

    VBobier Reply:

    She seems like someone that’s likeable, My family wasn’t always Americans, but then I don’t know why they came here in 1850 from Canada after being there for 30 years. Tory doesn’t mean much over here, the only reference I can draw upon is those who were loyalists during the American Revolution were called Tories, but I doubt that’s what Tory in the UK is. In any case I wish HSR for the UK well, as We’ll both need plenty of good luck against the nimbys.

    VBobier Reply:

    Never mind, I found the wiki on Tory… King and Country, sounds good.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Tories today are the Conservative Party. But the Queen’s kind of Toryism is pre-Thatcherist, which means more emphasis on conservative religious values and maybe also the British Empire and less on dog-eat-dog capitalism.

    VBobier Reply:


  6. Spokker
    Jun 28th, 2012 at 01:46

    The opening scene of The Newsroom is off-topic but pro-click.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Aaron Sorkin is like David Simon without the talent, and with a lot more sexism. (And Simon himself isn’t exactly Gloria Steinem, as everyone who’s seen the evacuation scene in season 5 of The Wire can tell you.)

    Spokker Reply:

    If Sorkin is into sexism then I better watch more of his shows.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re a lot less funny or rebellious than you think you are.

    synonymouse Reply:

    harsh – you could apply the same dismissal to Moonbeam.

    Spokker Reply:

    How hard did you cry when the Unfair Campaign was rejected by the vast majority of the Internet. Outside of pozzed liberal progressive anti-white, anti-male circles, you have very few friends, Alon.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I have no idea what the Unfair Campaign is. I reserve the right not to have heard of every single thing.

    And wasn’t the charge last time that I had too many friends whereas you were brave enough not to have friends but to say what you thought? Or something?

    Spokker Reply:

    You’re missing out, then. White privilege tried to go mainstream, and it flopped big time. Even some non-whites thought it was condescending to them.

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s condescending to Me and to My family…

    VBobier Reply:

    What am I then? I’m of French/Irish/English descent, You don’t speak for all persons of European ancestry, no more than I do…

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t speak for anyone but myself. But groups like La Raza, MECHA, the freakin’ Democratic party, etc., seem to think they speak for me.

  7. Reality Check
    Jun 28th, 2012 at 12:11

    Video from Financial Times. Check out the 15m (49+ foot) shovel nose on the E5 series train:
    Japan’s high speed trains race ahead

    jimsf Reply:

    meanwhile we clunkety clunk along.

    VBobier Reply:


  8. J. Wong
    Jun 28th, 2012 at 14:46

    Is the world going to end since ACA was deemed constitutional?

    Is the world going to end if the Calif. Legislature approves disbursal of funds for the ICS?

    (And yes, I believe the answer is “no”.)

    joe Reply:

    But it’s 2012!

    The ACA ruling is a victory for the President.

    He’s more than willing to show he’s bold, tough and fair minded by standing up CA if the Senate decides to push Plan B and re-purpose money despite repeated warnings.

    Obama will be resolute and move the Federal funds to swing states.

    His campaign may even send Alan Lowenthal and thank you note for being a unwilling but useful tool.

    Spokker Reply:

    Haha it’s just a fucking football game for you. Get some perspective someday, will ya?

    joe Reply:

    No, it’s very serious and important.

    The political reality is the Administration ACA is upheld. They have more to gain by standing up to the Senate Dems and moving the money to a swing state.

    Rather than worry, his political advisor – maybe Axelrod – will happily use Plan B as an opportunity to push back and move the money to a swing state – fairly simple.

    Spokker Reply:

    Further, anyone who gloats over the so-called victories of either Democrats or Republicans are the real tools. We are screwed either way.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Only those of us who have secure employment. The rest of us care about stimulus issues (you know, the ones that the goldbugs you vote for deny even exist).

    Spokker Reply:

    I was ass deep in stimulus support several years ago. I can look back at my posts on this very blog where I was pimping high speed rail and stimulus and everything in between. Long story short, reality hit me like a brick.

    Look, I was raised Catholic but I wasn’t stupid enough to blindly follow the faith the sillier the stories seemed to get, not to mention the massive corruption within the church. Since that’s the way I think, I don’t see why it’s a virtue to keep worshiping at the foot of the stimulus fairy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sorry, but no. Krugman and DeLong said from the start that the stimulus was not enough and there was going to be high unemployment. In late ’08 and early ’09 Krugman computed the correct amount of stimulus as about $1.2 trillion, and Christy Romer proposed I believe $1.8. Paul et al said there would be hyperinflation instead. One of those factions was right; the other was wrong on everything except the most basic “We won’t recover” bit.

    Spokker Reply:

    Once more, with feeling!

    joe Reply:

    Apparently Economics is a supernatural belief.

    Clarke’s Third Law.
    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The “stimulus fairy”:

    (1) businesses that do not have sufficient demand to fully employ their productive equipment will produce more if they have more orders to produce.

    (2) How much more depends on how big the orders are compared to their idle capacity.

    We ran a stimulus about 1/4 the gap between current production and full employment, and economic activity increased a bit and unemployment dropped a bit. We started cutting back state and local spending faster than federal spending rose, and the growth in economic activity slowed down. Just exactly as the “stimulus fairy” model predicts: when more stuff is bought, economy speeds up, when less stuff is bought, economy slow down.

    Australia ran a stimulus that was a much bigger share of the gap, and with the forewarning that a downturn was heading their way, started running it as the global financial crisis was getting underway, and they avoided having a recession altogether. Just as the “stimulus fairy” predicts.

    You certainly did not expect that spending a peak of $250b into a $1,000b+ shortfall and against the headwind of ongoing reductions in state and local spending was going all on its own to “jump start” the economy and completely eliminate the effect of the biggest financial crisis to hit the US since the Stock Market collapses and the series of bank runs of the first three and a half years of the Great Depression?

    That would be a “stimulus fairy”: expecting it to somehow magically have two or three times the effect that spending $250b in a year normally has.

  9. Reality Check
    Jun 28th, 2012 at 17:38

    A high-speed rail dream unrealized
    America’s vision of replicating Europe’s flashy, high speed trains is quickly fading as many obstacles stand in the way.

    The federal high-speed rail (HSR) program lately championed by politicians and administrators in the other Washington is fading into history. In his remarks at the March 15 launch of a $22.7-million seismic-upgrade project at Seattle’s King Street Station, Federal Railroad Administration chief Joseph Szabo spoke instead about “high-performance rail.” The transportation funding bill currently in the Senate makes the same emendation in referring to the measure’s meager appropriation, $100 million, for passenger rail enhancements. Some experts are meanwhile using the term “higher-speed rail,” downgrading the once-regnant HSR by interposing a lowly r, giving us HrSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you want hsr do not select the longer, slower, more expensive, more controversial route. You’ve got a “free”way, use it.

    HrSR courtesy of Villa Antonovich, and Brown.

  10. Reality Check
    Jun 28th, 2012 at 17:56

    Here’s (apparently) an exclusive that ran in today’s Palo Alto Daily Post (not available on-line):

    Rail Bonds vote delayed till July 5

    By Kristen Peters
    Daily Post Staff Writer

    A vote on whether to put $2.7 billion in voter-approved bonds toward the first phases of the state’s high-speed rail project appears to have been delayed until after Independence Day.

    State Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, told the Post yesterday that although state legislators had planned on taking a month-long recess July 3, the vote could delay their adjournment.

    “A number of issues haven’t been resolved yet,” Hill said, lamenting that a bill outlining the state’s budget framework has been approved, but the details haven’t.

    Hill said that the bill would be rolled into what’s called a trailer bill, which outlines the specifics of which projects or departments state money is spent on. The vote is slated for July 5.

    “I think most people know how they’re going to vote,” Hill said.

    In May, the Post reported that an LA Times poll found that 55% of voters want to see the high-speed rail bond issue that was approved in 2008 back on the ballot, and 59% say they would now vote against it.

    Since the $9 billion borrowing plan was passed, the projected cost of the train between Los Angeles and San Francisco has nearly doubled. The rail project is expected to cost at least $68 billion.

    According to Hill, the trailer bill is currently being amended by the state Senate. Hill’s amendments to the bill included that the bond money be spent on a two-track system and the electrification of Caltrain, a Peninsula commuter rail line with which the train will share tracks.

    Jack Reply:


    Can they pass this and then Brown line-item veto this BS?

    VBobier Reply:

    Brown could blue pencil or do a line item veto if He so chooses, so plan B if It were there could wind up being a dead duck and an override is not likely to happen.

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