Crucial Legislative Votes on Thursday and Friday

Jul 4th, 2012 | Posted by

The next two days will be critical for the survival of the California high speed rail project, currently under siege from Tea Party Democrats and Republicans who oppose economic growth and seek to destroy jobs in the state. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has announced that a Senate committee vote on the project will happen tomorrow and a floor vote will happen on Friday. Note that the Assembly’s support of the HSR project has never been in doubt.

Steinberg and Governor Jerry Brown have been working to round up votes to release the voter-approved bond money so that construction can begin and jobs can be created. The Sacramento Bee has details of the current proposal:

Draft bill language for initial funding of the project ties $5.8 billion for construction in the Central Valley – including $2.6 billion in rail bond funds and $3.2 billion from the federal government – to nearly $2 billion in funds to improve regional rail systems and connect them to high-speed rail….

Draft bill language would require the authority to outline financial risks of the project and produce a management plan “to ensure adequate oversight and management of contractors.” The bill would also require the authority to fill the positions of chief executive officer, risk manager, chief program manager and chief financial officer before awarding construction contracts.

The authority would be required within a year to provide an analysis of the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

This strikes me as a reasonable set of conditions. It should help sweeten the pot for key swing votes like Orange County Democrat Lou Correa, who sounds like he wants to vote yes:

Steinberg needs 21 “Yes” votes to get the high-speed rail appropriation out of the Senate, which means he could be looking to Orange County Sen. Lou Correa for help. Correa, Orange County’s only Democrat in the state Senate, said Tuesday that he doesn’t know how he is going to vote on the high-speed rail plan because he’s yet to see the actual legislative language. But he promised that he his vote would be based in large part on how many jobs it would create in California and Orange County.

“My vote will be contingent on the level of investment in Orange County,” Correa said….

Correa is looking to see what portion of the total investment will actually go towards Orange County projects.

“My goal throughout my legislative career has been to make sure Orange County taxpayers get their fair share,” he said.

Steinberg’s office has been engaged in a similar effort with key senators, circulating this document showing how HSR spending will affect certain important Senate districts.

I hope everyone has a restful 4th, because starting tomorrow, the pressure on the State Senate will have to be turned up as high as possible. Senators need to understand that California should move forward creating jobs in building badly needed sustainable infrastructure that addresses pollution and global warming, rather than follow the Tea Party down a foolish path of rejecting job growth, ignoring global warming, and killing rail projects. It’s no exaggeration to say that California’s future rides on the next two days. We cannot let up now. Tell your senators to vote for jobs, for the environment, and for high speed rail.

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  1. Paul Druce
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 15:03
    #1

    No LAUS run through tracks and just PTC? Looks like the state is shafting SoCal again.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So your complaint here is that Metrolink is looking like getting the funding for PTC that they’ve repeatedly asked to be funded in their share of connectivity funding?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    PTC is cheap. LAUS run through isn’t and has rather greater operational benefits.

    YESONHSR Reply:

    We cannot spend every single dime of the HSR bonds on this stuff thats not a core feature of true HSR..the LA run thru needs to be funded from a number of users/sources. At the rate we are going looking at this proposal there will only be 3.4-4 Billion of the bond left to connect LA-Valley-SF

    Peter Reply:

    Then lobby the Feds for matching funding and HSR bonds can fund up to half of it.

    “LAUS run through isn’t”

    Which is precisely why it’s not being funded as part of this.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    AFAIR, the PTC doesn’t exhaust the Metrolink connectivity funds. Under the MOU between SCAG and the CHSRA, the CHSRA commits to work toward (1) early release of the connectivity funds, (2) $1b in additional Prop1a bond funding on projects on the Prioritized Rail Improvement List (3) work to help land additional funding to complete the works on the PRIL. The PTC is (1).

    As far as the PRIL, it seems like they are still working through the candidate projects list. There’s a Project MOU before they bring a PRIL project forward for funding.

    This looks like another one of those wonderful damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenarios ~ if they don’t run roughshod over the MOU process and commit to funding the LAUS runthrough tracks now, before a project MOU is agreed to, you claim that Southern California has been screwed. If they do leapfrog the process, then CARRD will complain that they are not sticking to their established procedures.

    Donk Reply:

    I would love to have the run-thru track done too, but it would make sense to at least figure out what they are doing with Union Station before they build something that they would have to tear down later.

    Spokker Reply:

    I just hope we get something more out of PTC than preventing apparently pedophile engineers from texting young rail fans boys and running red signals, like the ability to operate relatively lighter DMUs or something.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    The 90mph section between San Juan and Santa Ana has apparently been raised to 110mph, so that’s a reasonable expectation for the rest of LOSSAN.

    jimsf Reply:

    Here’s the Surfliner plan.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Which includes PTC-North as an integral part of the plan.

  2. Jack
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 15:37
    #2

    Its as good as done. Brown/Steinburg wouldn’t schedule this unless they had the votes.

    A victory for California;

    Build, Baby, Build!

  3. Mark
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 16:07
    #3

    How will Orange County get a dime of bookend funds when OCTA would not sign the MOU and that snake Will Kempton bashed the project in the peer review?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Simple: by coming around and signing the MOU once the political posturing comes to nought.

  4. morris brown
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 16:10
    #4

    The draft language for the appropriation bill has all kinds of PORK embedded.

    View at:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/99141846/Leg-Budget-Lang-120603

    Clearly some of what they want to appropriate and spend are illegal under Prop 1A.

    See Director Schenk getting $19,000,000 to study LA to San Diego —how far in the future is that? — 20 years or so!!

    Merced to Sacramento almost $30 million.

    Anything and everything to get Senators to vote yes.

    Yes, again more of the same from the Authority.

    I wonder if this is approved and in Nov., the Gov’s tax initiative fails, if there will be a recall of Brown? Lots of fodder for those who see this as nothing by an attempt by Brown to secure this as a legacy to his political life.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …when they don’t do the studies you want you whine they haven’t studied it enough. When they allocate money to study it you whine that they are allocating money for studies.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, morris is a real whiner…

    YESONHSR Reply:

    Brown did you not read the first part about NO funds can be used to build a 4track system..Now that of course is still not good enough??? And sorry this Nov’s election will be a big “blue” win here in Cali!!

    Neil Shea Reply:

    It says a dedicated 4-track system. 4 tracks in places is fine.

    Jack Reply:

    Lol this is nothing close to the Davis recall. Morris your delusional. It’s okay I’ll still buy you a beer on your first trip.

    Clem Reply:

    What’s more interesting is that Altamont gets $16 million of design funds, while San Jose to Merced isn’t even mentioned.

    What we have here is the necessary and unavoidable sausage-making. It’s ugly, but in the end it won’t be so bad. Morris, you should be glad that the modernization of Caltrain will finally be paid for with your state and federal tax dollars. If not, be at least as glad as you are for those extra lanes now being built on 101, paid for with your state and federal tax dollars.

    The Authority doesn’t really have a say here. The senate holds the purse strings and is calling the shots, giving the authority stuff that I’m not even sure they really wanted right away, like $1.1 billion in “bookend” funding.

    This is a huge milestone about to be passed.

    Peter Reply:

    That’s kind of big news with the San Jose-Merced funding. Are some members of the Legislature persuaded that the Authority should switch to Altamont perchance? It is a political decision, after all.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Didn’t Clem mention that they were accelerating San Jose – Merced work this year and next already, though?

    Plus, I’d be very surprised if Altamont came back from the dead. Since we are pouring money into CalTrain, we might as well take advantage of the ROW’s upgrades all the way down to Hollister….

    Plus, Altamont increases the BART parallel of trunking all the lines. If all roads lead to San Francisco, then the estimates for service on the Peninsula are conservative. The CalTrain would become the busiest passenger railway in the world.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    CalTrain ROW would become the busiest passenger railway in the world….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Lexington Ave Subway carries more than a million people a day. I’m sure there are lines in Tokyo that carry more.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    There are quite a few million passengers/day lines in Tokyo. Lines that are busier than that include the Ginza line (6.3 million / day) and the Yamanote line (3.7 million / day).

    [numbers from Wikipedia; insert disclaimer]

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Hmm, good thing I put in that disclaimer: I went and looked at the source document referenced from Wikipedia, and I think that 6.3 million/day figure is just wrong. That document gives about 2 million boardings+disembarkings per day for the Ginza line, which makes much more sense (as “million passengers per day” is pretty typical, and the Ginza line is not significantly different than other lines).

    swing hanger Reply:

    Miles, this may be of interest to you: the Tokyu Toyoko Line carries 1.114 million passengers on average every day, and this is a very typical line as you likely know.
    Source (Jpn. lang.)
    http://www.tokyu.co.jp/railway/railway/west/gaiyou/joukou.html

    quashlo Reply:

    This Wiki page gives a rundown of average daily ridership for most of the lines in Tōkyō (and the rest of Japan).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_rail_systems_in_Japan

    Of course, there are issues in how you define “lines”, especially when you’ve got a lot of branches or interlining, but according to that list, there’s quite a few lines in Tōkyō that have over a million riders a day, plus several more hovering around the 800,000 or 900,000 mark. Daily ridership data for JR East is not available, but that would add maybe 5-10 more lines with over a million riders a day.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This is ridership by station organized by line, rather than by line, but it gives rough estimates because you can add the suburban tails of some of the lines.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://www.mta.info/nyct/facts/ridership/ridership_sub.htm

    I’m not in the mood… Flushing Main Street has 60,000 fares paid on an average weekday.
    Add up the ridership at the stations in Queens only served by the 7.
    http://www.mta.info/nyct/facts/ridership/ridership_sub.htm

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @swing hanger
    The Toyoko line is “my line”… :]

    BrianR Reply:

    It looks like there will be plenty of time for Altamont to come back from the dead.

    Assuming by that time Caltrain is fully electrified; I still think it would be worth considering having San Jose HSR service use the Caltrain line between San Jose up to a wye just south of Redwood City connecting it with the Dumbarton crossing. If it turns out a dedicated San Jose line really is necessary then that could be built later. In the meantime it could be considered a temporary solution.

    I would assume it could use the same wye trackage originally proposed for Caltrain’s Dumbarton extension which was meant to have trains from the east bay heading both north and south after crossing the Dumbarton. HSR trains from San Jose could make the same south bay station stops as the Baby Bullet (Sunnyvale and Palo Alto) / bypass Redwood City on a wye / cross the Dumbarton and the next stop would be somewhere in the central valley. At least this option would serve as more of a feeder system and help increase ridership for a San Jose branch service.

    The Sunnyvale and Palo Alto stops should add a fair amount of ridership. They could experiment with all sort of weird service patterns since no risk in mucking up SF HSR service. Maybe even a south bay all-local which after Palo Alto makes it’s next stop at LAUPT. I know the predictable response to this is usually “people from San Jose can take BART to Fremont or Caltrain to RWC” but this is a hypothetical assumption direct service to San Jose would be maintained in future HSR plans (and CAHSRA backs off it’s draconian mega-sized station & parking lot requirements). I predict by the time this would happen Palo Alto would be strongly in support of HSR.

    Depending how tomorrow goes it might just have to be something we’ll need to revisit in 30 years. Hopefully it doesn’t get to that.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Clem

    The Senate is hardly calling the shots Clem. It is quite clear, the Authority with the claims that the Feds insist on the CV ICS be constructed first and be done now, are calling the shots.

    On the horizon is no further funding from the Feds, the result will be an orphaned $6 billion section of track, un-usable for anything except for AMTRAK.

    There is even more going on. The Legislative Analyst ruling on legality of provisions of the business plan and what can be funded with the Prop 1A funds is now released. How it will affect this appropriation and eventual disbursement of funds is yet to be vetted.

    The politics of the situation are what is behind the $1.1 billion in “bookend” funding; essentially a bribe for Senators to swallow the CV ICS $6 billion, because they can claim they are bringing in funds to their districts.

    Clem Reply:

    I’ll grant you that the Feds may be calling some shots. Not the Authority– they are not the puppeteers here, give me a break.

    Also, the legislative analyst doesn’t rule on the legality of anything. The courts do. There is no doubt that there will be many lawsuits, and the Attorney General’s office better beef up for the coming assault.

    Pass the popcorn.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Clearly some of what they want to appropriate and spend are illegal under Prop 1A.

    See Director Schenk getting $19,000,000 to study LA to San Diego —how far in the future is that? — 20 years or so!!

    Merced to Sacramento almost $30 million.

    Shouldn’t that be almost $30,000,000?

    So you are claiming that you have added up to the total advance studies and engineering and it exceeds the total amount allowed for that purpose under Prop1a? Or are you claiming that you skipped the sections of Prop1a that allows for that spending, and its only legal if and when you get around to reading that section?

    Bearing in mind that writing out all the zeros in $19m does not make it more than $19m.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ BruceMcF

    I don’t understand your comment. The appropriation being reqested has included

    $19,000,000 for LA to San Diego
    $30,000,000 for Merced to Sacramento. That is what I meant and that is indeed what I wrote.

    This is all new funding requested in the, about to be voted on, (Friday I understand), requested appropriation from Prop 1A (and FED as well funds)

    None of this for Phase 1.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What are the terms of Prop1a that in your mind makes it “illegal” to engage in those studies?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The studies are not a problem, it’s only the specific bookend projects that can’t be applied to HSR which are in jeopardy.

    Morris is getting himself confused again, just like he did with Prop 98 funding.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I was wondering how anybody in their right mind could read the text and find any basis for complaining about whatever studies appropriated by the State Legislature that fall within the general limit of the general overhead allotment.

    If Morris was not doing the analysis himself but was rather going second hand off of someone else’s argument that he had not understood very well, that would indeed explain where he was coming from.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Bruce, he doesn’t have to rational. When they do cheap simple studies the problem is that they haven’t studied it enough. When they spend money to study it enough it’s not being funded legally. If they funded it legally they would be wasting money on duplicative studies because they already had the cheap simple one.

    jonathan Reply:

    Morris Brown writes:

    […]
    See Director Schenk getting $19,000,000 to study LA to San Diego —how far in the future is that? — 20 years or so!!

    Merced to Sacramento almost $30 million.

    Anything and everything to get Senators to vote yes.

    Yes, again more of the same from the Authority.

    Morris, what planet are you on? The Legislature wrote this bill, and if it passes, the Legislature will pass it. Not the CSHRA. What do the points you complain about have to do with the CSRHA?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Some planet that you can only reach by car

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah by way of the Red Limit Freeway no doubt…

  5. Elizabeth
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 17:47
    #5

    We’ve posted a leg counsel opinion on the spending, as well as a brief analysis on spending proposal
    http://www.calhsr.com/uncategorized/the-vote-on-hsr-funding-what-will-the-legislature-be-voting-on-and-is-it-legal/

    Jack Reply:

    All those words to assert your travel time agenda… and to cast FUD with no real substance.

    Has CARRD officially come out as against HSR; or do you still advocate HSR done right (in which right = NIMBY)…

    I would have so much more respect for your group if your actual agenda was to hold CHSRA accountable as opposed to defeating the project at all costs.

    This is not the first time CARRD has made ambiguous assertions… Be real; hold the Authority accountable with the goal of getting this project built.

    Joe Reply:

    Caltrain electrification is fully paid for in this agreement. Commuter and business interests along the Peninsula want Caltrain electrified. CARRD opposition would appear both selfish and petty.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Commuter and business interests along the Peninsula want Caltrain electrified

    Sure, Joe. Of course.

    That’s why they reallocated all the voter-approved regional and local sales tax and bridge toll and MTC-administered regional funding toPB’s Central Subway and PB’s BART extension to the SJ Flea Market.

    Those mighty “commuter and business interests” have done really really really really well in their lobbying and funding of Caltrain modernisation for the last 30 years, haven’t they? So powerful! I’m just swooning. Take me!

    Clem Reply:

    Let’s play the glass-is-half-empty game… how do you think the PB machine will grab back the $705 million earmarked for the electrification project?

    Note tepid support from the Authority chair:

    “The Legislature wanted to emphasize that this money would be there for (the Bay Area and Southern California). And they’re right,” said Dan Richard, appointed by Brown to lead the bullet-train project.

    I think this suggests that Richard, PB and co didn’t really have in mind to shower any money on Caltrain, but it was pushed on them by the legislature to get enough senators on board to keep the project alive. To claw this money back, I would suggest slow-walking the new peninsula EIR (the “blended” EIR into which the Caltrain electrification EIR is supposed to be rolled into and re-circulated) and letting it fester in court for as long as necessary, until Caltrain is done.

    The ultimate outcome would be Dumbarton HSR, with BART from Santa Clara to Redwood City and HSR + BART from Redwood City to Millbrae.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Your are probably correct, Clem, but BART remains a total piece of shit. An electrified Caltrain is vastly superior.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, luckily no one other than Clem seems to be suggesting replacing Caltrain with BART.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Unfortunately I doubt you are correct. Do the names Kopp, Heminger, Richard, Willie & Jerry Brown, the three DC crones ring any bells?

    BART has “assets” everywhere.

    Clem Reply:

    While I did suggest it, I absolutely do not endorse it. I have written extensively about the many ways that HSR + Caltrain could become far more than the sum of its parts, if compatibility issues are worked out to allow any train to use any track and access any platform.

    Perhaps the misunderstanding arises from the word “ultimate”. When I say “ultimate outcome” I mean “ultimate” in its conventional sense of “final”, not “best”.

    And I did state from the outset that I was playing devil’s advocate.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Interesting discussion. We’re talking about how the evil PB BART/Overspending Transit Industrial complex can subvert the will of the legislature and the common sense outcome to spend much more money and continue the BART ring-the-Bay aspiration?

    And/or we’re discussing how the Altamont advocates will subvert improved Caltrain service to make it slightly easier to select an Altamont alignment when and if we are actually building HSR tracks between Merced and SF?

    Or perhaps how CARRD will pivot to now being against Caltrain?

    This is not really something I had spent time thinking about. Reminds me almost of Synonomouse-type mind rays. I think purported influencers including the Nancy Pelosi, the counties of SF, SM & SC, the mayors of SF & SJ, the Bay Area Council and even the MTC all want the electrification to go forward. It will certainly be interesting if you are right.

    By contrast I am wondering how PB and the transit industrial complex will help tee up the next $10B of work spanning Tehachapi (or Tejon) with the support of much of SoCal including Villaraigosa, Gov. Brown, Nanci Pelosi, California’s senators, etc. This would be a much bigger prize for them.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Tehachapi Roundabout is SoCal’s evil equivalent of BART broad gauge. Nothing so exotic as mind-rays required – just good old payola, aka all the various and sundry types of “consideration”. The Post Office used that term in its description of what it defined as lotteries and gambling.

    Quantum computing is proceeding apace – no need for mindrays when you have machines capable of realtime prediction of mob psychology. A brave new world for puppeteers, handlers, marketers.

    Clem Reply:

    It’s just some good-natured conspiracy theorizing. The electrification project has never been a darling of the Transit Industrial Complex because it involves purchasing a lot of pricey goods manufactured elsewhere, with no large-scale concrete pouring or local labor hours.

    Worse yet, it would prevent the massive concrete-pouring exercise that BART ring-the-bay would represent… its opportunity cost (in terms of profits to the transit industrial complex) is immense.

    This will come down to who owns and pushes the EIR process. If Caltrain owns it, it will move forward. If the CHSRA retains it, they get to do (or not do) whatever they like, no matter how much funding is allocated.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Transit Industrial Complex? – I think you have a winner there.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clem, you are almost making the argument for private owner-operator. If it thought it was time and good for the bottom line the UP would have no problem or hesitation to electrify. The less concrete poured, unlike any agency under the MTC, the happier the UP management would be.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    PB is the cement plant business? Bought a bunch of steel mills that make rebar we don’t know about?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I was wondering also about PB and concrete. They don’t get the revenue directly but they do get ~10% or whatever for the design work. I think they can get most of that for projects that include installing purchased electrical and signaling system, erecting steel support towers, etc.

    I would think design work is design work. It’s probably useful to separate pure economic mercenaries from wide-gauge religious evangelists (although they have often overlapped in recent decades). A new standard gauge bay tunnel could be a PB wet dream.

    About control of the EIR process, I’m trying to understand CHSRA’s interest in foot dragging. So far I think it was to avoid shrill Peninsula NIMBY arguing, but that dynamic changes quite a bit as Caltrain is improved.

    I suppose if they could buy these same votes (e.g. Simitian’s successor) again for the next big vote that might be one reason for delaying. But it’s hard to trade the same thing twice, and the next vote is probably about a Tehachapi crossing with different factions coming to the fore, perhaps even supported by a couple SoCal Repubs (e.g. to get more tourists to Anaheim).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

    Joe Reply:

    It is a “yes” or “no” vote Richard. Business and popular opinion favor Caltrain electification and the YES vote. It is that simple.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Popular opinion has less than nothing to do with it. “Business and popular option favor[ed] Caltrain electification” on every vote over the last 30 years. Is Caltrain electrified after 30 years? Does Caltrain run to the SF CBD after 30 years? Does BART run to Millbrae and will BART run to Santa Clara after 30 years? Does Highway 101 have more or fewer lane-miles than 30 years ago?

    Democracy! Teh will of teh peepels!

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Actually the people do have a fair amount to do with it. They like service with fully grade separations, electrified, frequent trains, with a smooth CWR ride. They don’t quite get that these things are all possible with standard gauge systems. And then unlike Caltrain it is well funded through its own tax base. So expansions to BART have been quite popular, and it has had momentum independent of any mendaciousness.

    BrianR Reply:

    Many times I get the impression a decent sized chunk of people in the bay area think BART invented the concept of electrified grade separated railways. At one time they may of even thought it would be a good idea if the NYC subway went broad gauge, added wall to wall carpeting and easily soiled cushy seating.

    jimsf Reply:

    BARt has put some new trial seats in some cars, comfy but easy to clean. they are very nice and the public is likely to approve them for the new fleet.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Hmm, I’m no expert on the NYC subway, but I’m sure I’ve ridden on a NYC subway car with cushy velour-covered (longitudinal) seating… seemed pretty clean too (the seats, not the rest of the subway!), to the best of my recollection.

    Such seats are almost universal in Japan too, though I suppose it may have a cultural advantage in terms of the percentage of the population that thinks it’s a good idea to piss on train seats…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Standard subway seating in New York is hard plastic seats. Sometimes the seating is nonstandard, but I do not recall ever seeing a cushioned seat on any train from the last 50 years. They sometimes bring into service older trains as a promotional museum run and those can have cushioned seats, but the regular trains do not.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @Alon
    The specific trip I remember it from was in 1988, I think (I’ve been to NYC since, but don’t seem to have noticed the subway seating on later trips…). It was a orange/gold color, I think.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The cushioned seats in the ancient cars were covered in rattan. Or faux rattan. The ones lit with incandescent lights.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    hey like service with fully grade separations, electrified, frequent trains, with a smooth CWR ride.

    Teh peeples voted for all that jive, in county sales tax and regional bridge toll plebiscites, and their “representatives” voted for it as part of legally binding Regional Transportation Plans.

    But somehow they didn’t get that on the SF Peninsula, no matter how hard they wish, or vote.

    So, Neil, just how do you suppose that can possibly be? For my part, I’m going to take some civics classes so I can learn about We the People and their God Given Right to CWR as enacted by the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches of The Great Republic.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Richard, I think you are perceiving the world monochromatically. Yes, we have gotten screwed somewhat with the lack of improvements to Caltrain and other standard-gauge rail while much more expensive and less well justified extensions of BART were built. (Yes, I agree with you.)

    But you see this as 100% due to corruption and malfeasance. My point is that a large factor is that BART is a known quantity hereabouts, with many of the attributes that state-of-the-art transit should have (electrified, grade separated, frequent service, displays telling you when the next train is coming, etc.) If you have lived in other developed parts of the world, or if you are a transportation expert, you would be much better able to visualize Caltrain and regional rail service also having all these attributes.

    So when voters say ‘I Want BART’ and when elected and appointed officials support BART extensions it is not 100% due to corruption and stupidity. And many of these people remain as leaders and neighbors in our communities with whom we need to work — not insult — to improve things going forward.

    If seeing things without shades of gray works for you, OK. But if you model human beings as logical machines who frequently disappoint you your interactions with them may prove less successful than if you cut them some slack.

    VBobier Reply:

    Let Me guess CARD will sue if the spending is approved?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    CARRD’s head will explode

    peninsula Reply:

    Elizabeth – this is important. The leg counsel assertion that a usable segment is not defined by AB3034, and therefore can be assumed to mean usable for regular diesel train service, is wrong. AB3034 DOES define Usable Segment:

    2704.01 contains all the definitions:
    A Usable Segment is a portion of a corridor. A CORRIDOR is defined as a portion of a HIGH SPEED TRAIN SYSTEM.

    (e) “High-speed train system” means a system with high-speed
    trains and includes, but is not limited to, the following components:
    right-of-way, track, power system, rolling stock, stations, and
    associated facilities.
    (f) “Corridor” means a portion of the high-speed train system as
    described in Section 2704.04.
    (g) “Usable segment” means a portion of a corridor that includes
    at least two stations.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It doesn’t say that all of those components have to erupt instantaneously between the two stations.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed, as that would be foolish.

    Clem Reply:

    The Big Bang model of HSR… can’t be done, which is why opponents want it done, so that it can’t be.

    peninsula Reply:

    Opponents didn’t write ab3034. One might ask why? or how reasonable? Or lament how limiting this requirement is – but I think you’ll have to go to the writers of the Prop 1A language for an answer to that. I can guess – and that would be because voter would only approve bond funding for true HSR, and not bond funding that could be stolen for any odd rail project. The fact is the language is now the law. So meet the requirements of the law or don’t qualify for the funds.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Judges on this planet will understand that it can’t simultaneously appear all at once and might disagree with your interpretation

    peninsula Reply:

    ‘it’ can’t simultaneously appear all at once. Correct. And AB3034 doesn’t require ‘it’ to all appear simultaneously all at once. AB3034 requires that they have a funding plan identifyies all funds for a a complete usable segment of high speed rail. Nothing in the funding request for the CV ‘construction segment’ , nor in any of the new 1.1B funding qualifies as a complete usable segment of HSR. (in fact the new 1.1B is even less qualified.)

    However, I do agree with you, that judges on this planet will decide.

    Clem Reply:

    No need to get all worked up about it then.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    AB3034:

    “Usable segment” means a portion of a corridor that includes
    at least two stations.

    peninsula:

    AB3034 requires that they have a funding plan identifyies all funds for a a complete usable segment of high speed rail.

    Adding “complete” to usable segment does not change the definition of usable segment from being a PORTION OF a corridor that includes at least two stations.

    peninsula Reply:

    The point is that the leg opinion stated the funding request for the CV ICS seems to qualify as a ‘usable segment” because ‘usable segment’ isn’t defined in AB3034, and so their opinion is – it can be a usable segment of anything.

    “Because the administration is seekjng construction funding only for the initial 130-mile segment, we now eKamine whether it would qualify under the requirements of the bond act as a “usable segment,”
    It could be argued that “usable segment” means that the segment is to be used by high-speed trains immediarely upon its completion. However, the word “usable” is not specifically defined.

    They are wrong. AB3034 DOES define Usable Segment, as a segment of a Corridor, Corridor is specifically defined as full fledged, complete HSR.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then why did they bother to put this in it?

    (3) the utility of those corridors or usable
    segments thereof for passenger train services other than the
    high-speed train service that will not result in any unreimbursed
    operating or maintenance cost to the authority

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Peninsula:

    What CARRD has posted, the Leg Counsel ruling, has in it an argument that “usable” is not defined and that therefore the 130 miles CV ICS can be seen as usable, since regualar passenger (and freight) trains can use it.

    It is a stupid interpation, which surely the courts will not accept, but this is what the Leg Counsel has produced.

    peninsula Reply:

    you and I are reading the same thing.

    Clem Reply:

    You or my reading of it doesn’t matter one iota. It’s a law. It will be interpreted by those with authority to interpret the law.

    Clem Reply:

    Your or my, sorry

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Elizabeth:

    They have taken a completely unrelated bill, gutted the language and replaced it with a funding appropriation for high speed rail and various conditions on the expenditures.

    Is the above comment from the CARRD website seeking to cast doubt on the occasional legislative practice of entirely replacing the contents of a bill with something else, or only to do so when CHSR funding is involved?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    We are process people so no, we are not big fans of gut and amend for anything. It is both a breakdown in democratic process and makes a mockery of the rules. If you don’t like the rules change them.

    The complaint is not about HSR specifically but it is a process that many people may not be aware of and may be confused when they look up the bill which was about social services until yesterday.

    Peter Reply:

    Who cares? Why does this matter?

    jonathan Reply:

    Elizabeth, please. we’re not illiterate. We do not have attention spans shorter than a paragraph.
    Please don’t treat us as if we were.

    The Legislature can and does amend the law, following constitutional democratic legislative processes. Which part of that do you object to as both a breakdown in democratic process and makes a mockery of the rules. If you don’t like the rules change them.

    Is it only democratic outcomes which you don’t like, which make a mockery of the rules??

  6. jimsf
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 18:02
    #6

    Fernando Santillan: Young voters speak out for high-speed rail

    Jack Reply:

    Build, Baby, Build!! :-)

    VBobier Reply:

    Seconded, build, build, build!

    jimsf Reply:

    can sign a petition here We should help them out..

    jimsf Reply:

    here

    VBobier Reply:

    Petition? Where? 4 pages and there isn’t one there.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yer link is broke Jimsf…

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    They seem astro-turfy to me, personally.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Interesting editorial, and a very interesting back-and-forth in the following comments.

    From the editorial itself:

    “The alternative to high-speed rail is to perpetuate our traffic problems and continue the unsustainable and costly practice of adding more lanes to our freeways. Eventually, even this solution will prove incapable of handling the growth in our population. Knowing that doing nothing is not an option, and that continuing along the same path will end up costing more (both financially and environmentally), it would be a mistake to not invest in high-speed rail to create jobs at a time when unemployment is high, and while we still have access to federal funds to do so.”

    From the comments:

    “Oh great, another UC Young Democrat claiming his generation is going to pay for the HSR. I will believe that when I see college graduates actually getting jobs and not having to move back in with mom and dad.

    “It’s a great idea, but not now and not when the state is broke.”–Fred Fargo

    “If the analytical abilities of these young voters is any indication of the return CA has gotten on its ‘investment’ in education, CA cannot afford to take funding away from education. If they actually think high speed rail would, save money, create thousands of jobs, connect Californians'”like never before’ (huh?), provide an alternative to high fuel prices, reduce greenhouse gases, improve air quality and efficiently move people, they need more math, science, and logic classes.

    “And, if they actually believe that money allocated for transportation can only be used for transportation, they could also use more history courses and civics courses.”–John Dough

    “The author would have more credibility if he specified where we could find the money in the current budget, or propose a funding source. Note there are no numbers in the column.”–CalNative1

    “You don’t understand, numbers and money don’t mean a thing, it isn’t their money. Sacramento has taught them well.”–Flamo

    “Maybe Mr. Santillan is just hung up on Choo-Choos from his not-so-distant youth experiences…..”–Erod 1944 (Hmm, a possible birth date? If so, the generational pattern fits again.)

    “You know, I see a lot of comments on here about the personal character of Mr. Santillan, of which I’m sure none of you are personally acquainted. Attacking the messenger with baseless ad hominem tactics doesn’t change the fact that California’s population continues to grow, and that we will need to make some kind of investment in our infrastructure to handle increased demand. Criticisms based on cost and debt rarely, if ever, acknowledge this, and instead pretend as if the death of high-speed rail will eliminate spending on intercity transportation.

    “This simply isn’t true. Doing nothing isn’t an option. The choice is between more freeways, highways and runways (many of which cannot be built due to logistical constraints), *or* highways, freeways and runways where they are most desperately needed *and* high-speed rail. And when you consider that high-speed rail can be built with less money and carry more passengers than a freeway, it seems like high-speed rail is a natural choice (not a ‘Utopia’ as Flamo’s mis-characterization of the argument goes).

    “No one wants to take away your car or *gasp* make you take public transit and then walk. We’re just talking about giving future generations a choice. It may not make sense for you individually, but it does make sense for California as a whole.

    “The estimated debt service on the bonds is $230 million per year, or about $6.50 per person per year. I’m sure you paid more than that in sales taxes on your last trip to Costco. And yes, transportation dollars can only be spent on transportation (see proposition 22 in 2010), so the argument that high-speed rail will take funding from ‘the children’ and their education (which many seem to think is a pointless brain-washing exercise) is not only false, it’s misguided and uninformed.”–geezba

    “Finally someone in here makes sense. Cheers to you. As for the rest of you, enjoy playing ‘politician’ and bashing young educated people. Odds are living in the central valley you’re a bunch of high school drop outs anyways… Perhaps still a little too hung up on your now all-to-distant ‘I wanna be president someday’ childhood fantasies.–Lance Fulfer

    A number of things stand out about these comments. One, I can’t help but feel that we are seeing the generational pattern again, younger people for, older people against (actually “in between” 60 to 90, which is effectively older now with so relatively few 90+ people in the population). Another is that outside of cost commentary, the “against” crowd is far more insulting–reflecting fear, perhaps? Finally, except for “geezba,” the supporters seem to be using real names; the against crowd mostly uses fake names in this case. The lone exception is Ricardo Paredes, and interestingly, although he is not convinced of the value of HSR, he is also the only member of this “against” crowd who seems to be polite in his opposition.

    Interesting patterns, indeed. . .

    Spokker Reply:

    You cannot determine that anyone posting online is using a real or fake name without knowing them personally or doing some investigative work.

    Just because some guy’s name is Brock Windsor on Facebook, that doesn’t mean it’s his name. People routinely use fake information on Facebook to protect themselves. I never use my real birth date or location on web sites either.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That’s true, but it’s also true that except for “geezba,” all the supporters’ names look “real,” and except for Ricardo Paredes, all the detractors’ names are obviously fake.

    Just an interesting pattern, that’s all. . .wonder if it means the supporters are more naive, using either real names or names that look real, while the detractors are more cynical? If that’s so, why would it be so? OK, I’ll admit I’m probably over-analyzing this. . .

    Oh, for me, the name is real, but you’ll notice I’m only using initials; I guess I could be found if someone wanted to do so, but they might have to put in a bit of work for it. I also wonder why they would bother.

    Spokker Reply:

    If California conservatives on the Internet are more likely to use pseudonyms than liberals, it’s probably because they don’t want to get in trouble with their boss/family if and when they attack any sacred cows.

    If you live in California and oppose extravagant spending, affirmative action, illegal immigration, fair pay act and other things, you’d rather avoid ridiculous accusations of racism, classism and sexism that may hurt your ability to make a living in real life.

    I mean, to give one example, I believe in equality of opportunity, but I hate all the pride stuff. Pride in race, pride in being a woman, pride in homosexuality, whatever, and I think it’s okay to criticize as well as praise culture (white culture, Hispanic culture, gay culture, Arab culture, etc.) when applicable. I don’t believe there is a wage gap and I don’t think we *need* more women in tech no more than we need more men in psychology. I think those gaps are the results of the individual decisions that consenting adult men and women make.

    Since, in California, diversity is our strength and any gap is a problem waiting to be fixed, expressing those beliefs can cause problems. So if I want to work in California, I need to keep that shit on the downlow as much as I can. And it’s probably the same for a lot of others.

    Now more than ever, one of the most prominent progressive strategies is to go after the livelihoods of those who say controversial things. It seems like every week we are hearing about a prominent figure who lost their job due to something they said, from lowly radio hosts to NBA stars. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s happening to everyday ordinary workers.

    Spokker Reply:

    Not NBA stars, they get fined. I meant to write scientists.

    Spokker Reply:

    This is only anecdotal, but I know of people who use fake real names in order to maintain anonymity but still have the benefits of making people think you are using your real name.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That’s undoubtedly true–although I bet it can cause embarrassment for another person who may have a real name that matches the fake one!

    I have some relatives who have goofy information on Facebook. One of them is a 12-year old kid who has added 10 years to his age, another at the same age says of his marital status that “he is in a relationship.” Kids these days. . .

    Spokker Reply:

    “That’s undoubtedly true–although I bet it can cause embarrassment for another person who may have a real name that matches the fake one!”

    It depends on how common the name is. If you have a common name there is a lot of plausible deniability. But it doesn’t help to put your headshot next to everything you write.

    However, the worst thing you could do on the Internet as far as your career goes is to post photographs of yourself smoking weed at last weekend’s orgy, unless you’re a rock star or something.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The trick is to use your fake name along with the pictures.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Why not just assume that anybody will read what you post at some point, including those whom you might wish not to read it? That would be to use a little bit of something called discretion. That way, you don’t look like a fool for running for Congress or something while you also have photos out there suggesting you’re a flasher, like what was that guy–oh, I should have remembered him easier, his name was Anthony Weiner. . .

    How did my country wind up with people in positions like that who are so stupid? Even Mortimer Snerd would be puzzled to answer that one.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Edgar Bergen: Mortimer, how did you get to be so stupid?

    Mortimer Snerd: Oh, just a natural talent, I guess.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Why not just assume that anybody will read what you post at some point, including those whom you might wish not to read it?”

    Won’t this have a chilling effect on honest discussion? If one side of the debate is able to shame the other side into shutting up, is that somehow good?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Maybe it’s me, but I wouldn’t say you would have to shut up. Rather, I would use such discretion as a check on not saying or doing something stupid (see that Weiner fellow above–oh, what an appropriate name!), and also as a reminder to be diplomatic. In all honesty, a lack of diplomacy (Richard is the worst example here) not only makes you look dumb, it gives people that excuse to fire you or something as you’ve noted some people do. And let’s admit it–from what I’ve seen, the people who have drawn such ire (Don Imus comes immediately to mind, more recently Rush Limbaugh) have been deliberately abrasive and insulting.

    I’ve never been able to get away with things like that, and hated it when I ran into it, so why should I or anyone else tolerate it?

    Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I can honestly say that while not everyone will agree with things I have to say, even those who disagree with me will usually also say I have expressed well-thought-out reasons for the opinions I have. The ones who don’t are the hotheads like the ones who called me a Communist and other things. Their hateful words reveal what they are. They earn any scorn they receive, and some work mighty hard at earning it, too.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Jack Benny (guest on the radio show with Edgar Bergen): Mortimer, how did you so stupid?

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

    Spokker Reply:

    Imus is child’s play.

    Spokker Reply:

    Searching my real name, there are at least 10 people on LinkedIn with the same name and only half of them have photos. None of the links on the first page are about me. Similarly, none of the image results on Google Image Search are me either.

    Spokker Reply:

    I wish there was an edit button. I meant, “None of the links on the first page of a Google Search of my real name are about me.”

    Searching “spokker,” however, yields a treasure trove of failure.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    No one else uses Spokker? That’s great, it means there is only one you! Means you were creative in picking that name.

    Maybe you ought to have it copyrighted or something. (Hmm, I have “friends” who tell me it’s a good thing there’s only one of me, too. . .)

    Spokker Reply:

    It has something to do with soccer on German web sites too. I was 12 when I picked it. I should probably put the name out of its misery already.

    VBobier Reply:

    My name is also real, My Granddad also advocated for local passenger rail at one time I was told, but then He was a City Councilman and before that as a Police Chief and He is listed as a business owner in Culver City(Auto Repair – gone)/Palms CA(Bicycle Shop – still in business, He sold the place to retire to some other family), Culver City is next to Los Angeles CA, so I’m carrying on a bit of His legacy it seems in supporting HSR, He was so important that He’s on one of the City’s Fire department webpages and He died in 1969 at the age of 82.

    Jesse D. Reply:

    THANK YOU.

    It’s time for these old blowhards to step aside and let the younger generation take the reins. Without the younger generation we’d still be beating Native Americans and blacks into picking our cotton so we can get others to de-seed it.

    Spokker Reply:

    What are you talking about? The majority of people who did achieve social change in the 60s, 70s and 80s would be old by now, wouldn’t they?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The baby boomers, the people who were hippies, haven’t started to retire in significant numbers. The oldest of them became eligible for Medicare last year.

    Spokker Reply:

    I’m just wondering who the old blowhards Jesse D. is talking about are. Does he think Strom Thurmond is working in the State Senate?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I don’t know about California state members, but here is an example from the Federal level, from Florida:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8ypSvsg-2Tg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5JXxkcroTI&feature=channel&list=UL

    A couple of points to note, these clips are apparently from a “liberal” site and may have some bias, and, ironically, this old guy is named Young! My own observations–I am torn between labeling this fellow as an arrogant fool, or fearful for him (and his constituents) for developing what may be some form of senility or perhaps dementia. My father-in-law would die of that just before his 95th birthday; it was difficult to watch.

    Considering the history of notable people with mental health issues–Reagan with his Alzheimer’s, Bill Clinton’s other judgement problems, and a number of Presidents who had issues with alcohol (Grant and the first Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, likely others), a host of health issues in John Kennedy (and this is just Presidents)–certainly means this is another thing we need to keep an eye on.

  7. Zach D.
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 19:47
    #7

    Interesting, it looks like Senator Simitian is rather sensitive to being call a high speed rail opponent. I received an actual response from his staff after writing to express my concern with his posturing and apparent opposition to HSR. Normally all I get in response to my emails are auto-responses…wonder if this means he will be voting for release the bond money. Or if he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too.

    Mr. Dahl,

    My name is Brock Winstead, and I handle transportation issues for State Senator Simitian in his Palo Alto office. Your recent e-mail on HSR was forwarded to me for follow-up.

    I’m not sure what would give you the impression that Senator Simitian is “posturing” or in some way masking his true position on high-speed rail. He’s not that kind of person. He’s quite open about his opinions. If he wanted HSR gone, he’d be saying so, loudly and often. But he doesn’t, so he isn’t.

    From day 1 on HSR in California, he has supported it. He voted to put the bond on the ballot back in 2004 and voted AGAINST delaying that ballot measure when the Legislature debated doing so a couple of years later. He supported the HSR bond when it was on the ballot in 2008. And since then, as chairman of the Senate Budget Subcommittee that oversees transportation funding, he has voted every year to appropriate to the HSR Authority every single penny in operating funds that they have requested.

    He has also, from the start, tried to get the HSR Authority to handle itself the right way. The Authority has been its own worst enemy for most of the last 3.5 years, since the passage of Prop 1A. In the Bay Area and elsewhere, they squandered much of the public goodwill the project had by failing to honestly engage with people who had even minor concerns about the project. Their opinion seemed to be “get out of our way, we have a railroad to build.” In Senator Simitian’s district, the rail bond passed by a fairly wide margin. Public opinion has now reversed itself; many people who were supporters of HSR in 2008 are now against it for a variety of reasons. Despite that reversal of public opinion, he has continued to say publicly, over and over again, that he supports high-speed rail. Again, if he had a different opinion, he’d make that very clear.

    His goal is not now, nor has it ever been, to kill high-speed rail. His goal has been an remains to get the Authority to do the work it needs to do to gain public trust and legitimacy and to position itself to SUCCESSFULLY deliver a project that Senator Simitian still thinks would be a great thing for California.

    Again, I don’t know where you think the “posturing” is here; I’m not sure how you think Senator Simitian is “playing games.” You’re absolutely correct that this is not about him. This is not a political question for Senator Simitian; there is no outcome on HSR that would be a political “winner” for him. No matter what he does, he’s going to make a lot of people angry.

    The project may indeed be visionary and vital, as you say. But that does not mean that the Authority gets to do whatever it wants. It does not mean that the state should take on a debt of nearly $3 billion to create a “stranded,” 130-mile stretch of NON-high-speed, conventional rail in the Central Valley, with absolutely no realistic indication of where the funds to complete the project are going to come from. A project can be visionary and vital and still need proper management. That’s what Senator Simitian is attempting to do.

    Regards,
    Brock Winstead
    Office of State Senator Joe Simitian

  8. morris brown
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 20:03
    #8

    LA Times:

    Bullet train could shoot down Brown’s tax initiative

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap-bullet-train-20120705,0,2050050.column

    Donk Reply:

    Wow, I haven’t heard this one yet:

    “But the Obama administration has threatened to withdraw the $3.3 billion in federal money if dirt doesn’t begin flying first in the San Joaquin Valley. That’s largely because of a commitment to Rep. Jim Costa, a moderate Blue Dog Democrat from Fresno, according to several Democratic sources who requestved anonymity.

    They say Costa voted for the president’s healthcare reform after being assured that rail construction would begin in his district.”

    DavidM Reply:

    “I’m a ‘no,'” says Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord). “But no votes sometime turn to yes.”

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Interesting–got his degree in journalism in 1959, celebrated 50 years of journalism in 2011, and has been a Sacramento reporter since 1974. Sounds like that generational pattern again.

    Maybe I make too much of it or talk too much about it, but you sure do see a lot of it!

    Neil Shea Reply:

    agree

  9. Back in the Saddle
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 22:09
    #9

    When Senate President Steinberg schedules a vote, he has counted noses and he is pretty sure those noses will stay with him. Losing a vote cause he didn’t have the support reflects on his leadership. He doesn’t like to lose!!!! I would be totally surprised if the vote fails. Just to be one the safe side the phone calls, emails, faxes etc. need to be flooding Sacramento.

  10. Reality Check
    Jul 4th, 2012 at 22:22
    #10

    With new money pledged for Caltrain, HSR likely to pass Friday, officials say

    California lawmakers will finally vote Friday on the plan to start building the state’s high-speed rail project, and in a surprise twist, money for the polarizing bullet train will be tied to a deal that would save the popular Caltrain commuter service.

    Gov. Jerry Brown’s final bullet train funding proposal released Wednesday includes the last $705 million needed to electrify the existing train line between San Francisco and San Jose. The Caltrain money was supposed to be debated next year as a separate plan.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Where’s Lowenthal in all this?

    VBobier Reply:

    Probably wondering if He can become a Repugnican…

    Donk Reply:

    An amazingly positive article from the SJ Mercury News.

  11. Travis D
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 01:13
    #11

    I find the attitude that any money spent in the Central Valley is a “waste” to be very condescending.

    It’s almost like the Central Valley doesn’t count or the millions that live there aren’t really part of the state.

    VBobier Reply:

    To people like Cyno de Bezerkarac they don’t count at all, nor are thought of as voters who voted for HSR or even as a part of this state, it’s called build as cheap as possible to hurt HSR revenue, to make HSR look like overbuilt gold plated transit.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Duh. And of course someone living or working in San Jose is much less important someone in SF. And the East Bay and North Bay are much more important than the South Bay. BART riders are more special than Caltrain riders, etc. Commuters from Livermore and Pleasanton are far more highly valued than the many more people in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale or Mountain View. Trips to Sacramento are worth more than trips to SoCal.

    This pecking order is so obvious and natural I’m surprised you would question it Travis.

    BrianR Reply:

    That’s a good summation. It become pretty predictable after a while. I suspect that even if there was a proposal for a ‘Coast Route HSR’ certain people would be advocating for an “Altamont Roundabout” to bypass the South Bay and somehow rejoin the coast line only after making it south of Merced.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Pecking order”?

    How about “ability to perform elementary arithmetic”?

    High speed trains to everybody’s front door! Because everybody is a Special Snowflake!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    http://padresteve.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/kellyoddball.jpg

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “Don’t be negative” is a euphemism for “yeah, you’re right, it sucks, but it’s easier for me to pretend otherwise.”

    Spokker Reply:

    No, modern society runs on good vibes these days. You can see it in the pop music, among other things. The music is so uncritical these days. In fact, there are songs that denounce judging entirely. Don’t judge, don’t be a hater, etc. Basically an excuse for people to do what they want and blame others for their problems.

  12. Reality Check
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 01:23
    #12

    Central Valley farmers protest high-speed rail

    VBobier Reply:

    Yet Farmers don’t protest against housing developers building more sprawl, just against HSR…

  13. Reality Check
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 01:25
    #13

    HSR spending OK could knock Brown’s tax vote off track

    A wide range of California voters are willing to give Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative the support it needs in November, but that could change in a hurry if the Legislature approves billions of dollars for the proposed high-speed rail project later this week, a new Field Poll shows.

    More than a fifth of those voters backing Brown’s tax plan, which would temporarily boost the sales tax by one-quarter of one cent and increase state income tax for those making more than $250,000 a year, say they would be less likely to support it if the state starts spending money on high-speed rail.

    “These are people who generally agree that the state needs more tax money, but are concerned that if the state has the money for high-speed rail, they have a question as to whether the taxes are really needed,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A case might be made (and has) that HSR and the general tax increase are two different things, with two different revenue sources or potential sources. It can also be said, in the case of HSR, that the cost of the status quo, both for the state and for the nation, is too high–and curiously, is never, ever mentioned in a poll like this.

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    If we put MORE people to work with construction starting, do we need to vote for higher taxes? If more jobs = more tax revenue, then starrting construction should be a slam dunk and wee do not needd to tax ourselves more!

    Jim M.

    Joe Reply:

    Paul Krugman did an exercise in his column. 100b of spending in this recession produced economic activity that generated 50b in revenue. We will see stimulus tax revenue and stress on the safety net.

    Joe Reply:

    Less stress on the safety net when people get back to work.

  14. morris brown
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 07:49
    #14

    Field poll says Tax initiative could (will) lose if legislature approves HSR funding

    Tons of articles on this just released poll.

    http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/05/4610612_a4610597/rail-vote-potential-pitfall-for.html

    So Gov Brown, you willing to give up on higher taxes, therby cutting all kinds of services, but mostly education, to continue to support this boondoggle, which you see will be a legacy to your policitcal career?

    BTW, articles abound about Gov Brown approval rating sinking as well.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I have two questions:

    No. 1, for all of us: If this thing fails, and we are looking at a decade or more of waiting again, what is our real Plan B? What do we do to keep rail alive, and eventually get back to HSR?

    No. 2, for Morris: You’ve never answered this, but you might want to take this opportunity. What is your alternative to this “boondoggle,” as you’ve called it? What is your answer to oil dependency and the oil shocks that come with that? What is your alternative to making transportation better, faster, safer and oil-independent?

    Come on, have some fun with it. You might get some snarky comments from the rest, but I won’t do it. . .at least not for now. . .

    Peter Reply:

    He’s 73 and will likely be dead when these things happen. He doesn’t care. All he cares about is parking around his house and how loud the trains are going by.

    Spokker Reply:

    There are plenty of old folks working FOR transit in California who will be dead long before a lot of their favorite projects ever get built. Ever go to a transit meeting? Some of these guys are living on borrowed time. If they care, why wouldn’t Morris care? Just because he’s on the other side?

    Peter Reply:

    I wasn’t referring to the “plenty of old folks working FOR transit in California”. I was referring to Morris in particular. Read some of the letters he writes about civic “issues” in Menlo Park.

    Joe Reply:

    Get off my lawn!

    Spokker Reply:

    That he’s going to die sooner than most still isn’t a good reason to dismiss anything he says.

    Spokker Reply:

    Then again, he could live another 15 years if he plays his cards right.

    VBobier Reply:

    I could live for another 40 Years…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    D.P. you should be all for Plan B – sink 3 billion dollars or so into the NEC. Better service on the NEC will get users of MARC asking why they don’t have electric trains on non-Penn line trains…..

    Joe Reply:

    Is California willing to destory the state school system to protest HSR? No.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Was California willing to destroy the state park system to protest an insignificant vehicle license fee? Yes.

    Joe Reply:

    CA has no State parks.

    Jim in scruz Reply:

    ?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    http://www.parks.ca.gov/

    Joe Reply:

    Phew! Thank you.

    If we still have state parks then it is possible to vote for HSR and not destroy the state. Maybe Richard uses hyperbole.

    I don’t think any parent in our school is going to endorse cutting deeper in 2012-13 because of the HSR vote. People will have a choice in November bewteen a yes vote or cuts.

    June pols are counterfactual choices between apples vs Oranges.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    No, Richard was referring to Proposition 21 back in 2010.

    Joe Reply:

    Which was about micomanaging the state as much as funding parks with a special tax.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/27/opinion/la-ed-prop21-20100927
    “Yes, California’s parks need the money. But so do many programs. Proposition 21’s special tax to help the parks would just further tie the Legislature’s hands on budget matters.”

    Dana Reply:

    The question should be asked in reverse- Why are we willing to cut education and other current year budget needs to fund a capital improvement project without adequate funding.
    Combining other worthwhile transit projects in the Bay Area and LA Area with the High Speed Rail just shows the Rail project can no longer stand on its own. The 2008 vote no longer has relevance when the costs of the project rise , it’s revenue is lowered and the CA budget revenue is lower for another 4 years since 2008 and at least the next 3 years going forward.

    jimsf Reply:

    The upgrades to those rail systems were already going to be part of the high speed rail system. They will just be done sooner rather than later to get incremental service started prior to full high speed build out. It saves money by upgrading existing corridors where possible now, instead of waiting for a fully separate system.. something that critics previously called for.

    jimsf Reply:

    Critics:

    Stop the train! PRop 1a says it would use existing corridors!
    Stop the train! Don’t use existing corridors through our town, put it somewhere else!
    Stop the train! Using existing corridors violates prop 1a!

    What a bunch of KOOKS.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tejon, I-5, Altamont are all excellent existing corridors, in fact the prevailing routes, and yet the CHSRA ignores and/or spurns them systematically.

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    And Tehachappi along Highway 58 is a great existing corridor that reaches over a million more people than I5 and is less prone to being snowed in than the Grapevine.

    Jim M

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It doesn’t snow much in tunnels.
    On the other hand going to Palmdale does mean much less track needs to be built to get to Las Vegas.

    Clem Reply:

    The Grapevine, snowed in? When was the last time that happened? There is a rather big difference between “snowed in” and “impassable to automobiles”, and the latter doesn’t really aplly to trains.

    Ditto running at 220 mph through Tule fog.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Two six mile tunnels and snow sheds easily deployed if required from real world storm experience.

    50 miles shorter and many(TBA)minutes faster – the shorter the window of opportunity for trouble of whatever kind the better.

    The distinct trend or shall we say preference in the San Joaquin Valley is to move the ROW westerly. If it indeed does pass thru Bako on the west and south what’s that, another ten miles tacked onto Tehachapi? Down the Valley of the Phantom FUD Fault.

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    Yes, my point is that with any snow sticking to the ground, CHP closes I5, and it becomes “snowed in” in my book.

    Jim M

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Rail lines stay open with much worse snow than roads. Trains can have plows, even high-speed ones, and many lines also have special snow-shoveling non-revenue trains. A reasonably aggressive plow works up to a snow height of multiple meters.

    http://zierke.com/shasta_route/sidenotes/snowclearing.html

    synonymouse Reply:

    “A million more people” and almost every single one wanting just to go to LA.

    Get a BART!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Rational people don’t build 90 mile long subways.
    Why does it matter to the state if someone in Palmdale wants to go to LA. At least they aren’t going to Las Vegas.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale is an easterly commute route – hsr not indicated.

    jimsf Reply:

    New America

    trentbridge Reply:

    Of course a Field poll in JUNE is always 100% accurate regarding the fate of a proposition in NOVEMBER. There are three propositions on the November ballot – that will garner strong liberal support – 1) Abolition of death penalty 2) reform of the “Three strikes” law to restrict a third strike to a violent crime and 3) Healthcare – giving the Insurance Commissioner the power to block the implementation of “unreasonable increases” in medial insurance premiums for small groups and individuals. (pending signature verification). Obviously Romney will not contest California and the Republicans have no hope in the Senate race either. No-one will remember a vote on HSR bonds when November rolls around.

    Spokker Reply:

    Looking at polls over time can tell you how public opinion might be trending. Back in March, 64% supported Brown’s proposal: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/25/local/la-me-state-poll-20120326

    That same poll showed strong support for the cigarette tax. 64% for, 29% against.

    Even if they are inaccurate it’s still fun to look at.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Honestly, I think that cigarette tax would have passed if it had been for the general fund, rather than dedicated to cancer research. I, for one, am extremely tired of all the proposed taxes that are earmarked for education or whatnot (except one going for signatures which provides for free UC/CSU tuition).

    synonymouse Reply:

    I will do everything I can to talk my friends and family into voting against the tax initiatives. Brown is out of control and needs to be knocked down a peg or two.

    The firing of Van Ark was inexcusable and confirms how incompetent and sleazy Moonbeam really is. Something I’d expect of Blago.

  15. Chewie
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 08:23
    #15

    The “original sin” of this project is that it never identified a new revenue source to handle the borrowing costs of building the train. As a result all CAHSR plans look sketchy at best from a purely financial perspective. We may be able to start the train, but how will we finish it and have a state that can pay for basic public services? We need HSR and an HSR tax or no project.

    Jack Reply:

    Sure we have; those of us that can think past the next year know that federal funding will be forthcoming. Not this year or next; but we have funding for construction through 2017.

    If you build it, funds will come! lol!

  16. Mac
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 11:35
    #16

    Same philosophy America used when they ran up all their credit cards and bought the trophy houses and toys they couldn’t afford prior to 2008…….. Let’s just figure out how to pay for that later!

    Oh wait!…government DID somehow find some funds to help some of those folks out………oh wait, how many trillion dollars are we in debt?????

    Why not add a few more billion dollars of debt for Californians ( several hundred million dollars in interest debt x 20-30 years) We can just send our kids to other states for their college educations..or move to another state altogether. I guess we do have a few choices.

    VOTE NO TO APPROPRIATE BOND FUNDS, SENATORS! Time to cross party lines and vote in a fiscally responsible manner. No hope for the assembly…but senate…YES.

    nslander Reply:

    This reminds me of the depictions of pre-historic mammals struggling in vain at the LA Brea tar pits. Their time here has expired, but their agony is timeless.

    Billy Reply:

    Mac, this IS fiscally responsible. It’s about vastly improving an already existing and heavily subsidized transportation system and creating many thousands of jobs in the process. This is not even close to the same thing as buying a house you can’t afford. So many more people are going to use this because of its efficiency.

    synonymouse Reply:

    California building a train with its little money to Las Vegas to send the rest of its little money out of state is “fiscally responsible”?

    Eric M Reply:

    So a 1.9 trillion dollar economy is little money now?

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you are a touting a “1.9 trillion dollar economy” you do not need a tax increase.

    nick Reply:

    california isnt building or paying for the line to las vegas merely providing a future connection

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yes, it is. It has detoured way off route for the purpose of building a crucial part of a line to Sin City to benefit Las Vegas. Love it that Sheldon Adelson, who stands to benefit materially from the Roundabout, can’t abide Nancy Pelosi’s politix.

    William Reply:

    For the nth time, I disagree with you for the reasons I also stated n-times in the past

    VBobier Reply:

    Las Vegas imports a lot of stuff from California Cyno, trees and plants, food, etc, etc, plants don’t last long in that ice age lake beds excuse for soil, My nephew when He worked for this one trucking company take trees to a Nursery in Las Vegas then drive up north out of town to pick up some gypsum drywall for the return trip home to California, plus I see a lot of supplies heading that way along the 15 all the time here in Yermo CA, Oh and how do I know about the trees and the drywall You ask? Simple I went with Him once in the Semi Truck that He drove that was towing a flatbed across the desert… Oh and He still drives a Semi for a living and You might like Him, He is against HSR, but then not long after birth He was deprived of oxygen briefly, so He’s not too bright, helpful to family of course, His Sisters and their Mother all like HSR and have ridden on HSR in France and through the Chunnel too…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You can’t on one hand argue that high taxes take money out of people’s pockets denying them the freedom to spend it as they please and then whine when they spend it in ways you don’t approve of.

    synonymouse Reply:

    We’re talking here about the equivalent of a casino bus. That is way beyond granting “the freedom to spend it[money]” – it’s enabling.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The state will be getting it vigorish in the profits from the fare unlike I-15. Or are you suggesting they blow up I-15 too?

    synonymouse Reply:

    We’re talking a lot of money here. It was different 50 years ago but now the Golden State needs every penny. We have to keep the gambling proceeds in state.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    all that food the Califorians eat and all the beer they swill in Las Vegas comes from somewhere. The tables need to be staffed, the rooms cleaned, someone has to be a the front desk. All those peolle have to eat and drink too. They like to have their cars serviced and go to the doctor now and then . The mechanic and the doctor eat and drink. They like to have telephone service and shop at Target or Walmart. And all of the people from places other than California who visit Las Vegas like to eat and drink and have clean rooms and cars that run and a doctor available if they need one. California sucks great big drafts of money outta Vegas.

  17. Paul B
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 12:20
    #17

    Who are the alleged “Tea Party Democrats” referenced in the opening paragraph? It’s getting a little old reading about the pretty much irrelevant and non-existent Tea Party, having Tea Party thrown out there like some kind of bogey man evildoer. Please stick to the facts.

    The few Democrat Senators who questioned the validity of ridership projections and the competence of the HSRA have legitimate concerns. Senator Alan Lowenthal can hardly be described as a “Tea Party Democrat.” Maybe some of the legislators want more jobs in their districts and don’t agree with starting construction in the Central Valley and having federal funds tied to that plan.

    I look to this blog for real news and analysis, not hyperbolic and unfounded references to the mythical Tea Party.

  18. nick
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 14:00
    #18

    but the main reason for the proposed route isnt to do with vegas

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is a main reason, along with Tejon-Santa Clarita nimbyism and LA County’s scheme to score a free BART to Palmdale courtesy of statewide taxpayers along a very difficult to construct route.

    California-Nevada balance of payments, money flow way skewed to Nevada’s advantage. You wanna give LA welfare recipients one-way free fare to Sin City?

    Travis D Reply:

    Your route would be just as difficult to construct and would have lower ridership.

    Stop with your conspiracies.

    Do you also think we should not build airports because people might fly elsewhere and spend money?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No, Mr Mouse is right about Grapevine. (And I was wrong.)

    It’s blindingly clear that there are around $5 billion (give or take) in capital cost savings to be had from a direct route Santa Clarita — Tejon — Bakersfield bypass — Shafter, as well as five to ten years of project acceleration.

    The direct routing might (might) have marginally lower ridership, but that potential loss is a couple of orders of magnitude away from justifying a vastly more expensive and slower detour via Palmdale and “downtown” Bako.

    Good engineering is about costs (minimize) and benefits (maximize).
    Rent seeking, vendor capture, analysis sand bagging and contract manipulation are about costs (maximze) and costs (maximize).

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I hadn’t found the conspiracy theories convincing. But if we approve this package then it tees up the focus on spanning the Bakersfield-SFV gap. While is costly and if $5B can be saved it will take a lot of heavy lifting from the purported conspirators to avoid the desire of a broad swath of folks to close that gap in the most efficient way possible — including experienced international rail firms who may wish to operate the Calif. HSR service and expand in the U.S. as other routes are built.

    I would think Tejon should and will get another look, and it wouldn’t bother me if it is selected. But I don’t expect that there will be a huge benefit to changing the routing.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Believe it, the Tejon Ranch bunch would not be calling in all their markers and going to the mat on this one if they did not have a overweening reason at least in their own mind; and that rationale would have to involve money, if it is “rational”.

    I cannot make any sense out of it because the impact of hsr thru Tejon would be very limited indeed. Even a county road would be more disruptive. Could be something unknown to us about the exact best route that bothers them so much to go to Jerry to have an embargo slapped on it. I have always suspected that highway interests wanted the alignment but have zero to back up that contention.

    Maybe the Tejon Ranch Co. is roundly upset that a disbanded tribe is going after a piece of the Kingdom. I hope it is the gold course. For sure there is no way in hell they are going to stop development of that area so close to LA. Same applies to Santa Clarita; they are not going to avoid being a transfer and collector, even if it is only cars, trucks and buses. They are sitting on a pivotal location on top of I-5. They cannot avoid the traffic downsides any more than Livermore or Tracy. HSR would be gentrifying in comparison.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “golf” for “gold”

    flowmotion Reply:

    I wouldn’t even call it a conspiracy, as it’s pretty much public record. The Antelope Valley is the last relatively undeveloped part of Los Angeles County, and they’d like to spawl all over it, as well as potentially build an international airport there. I’m sure that ‘experienced international rail firms’ understand route selection is largely politically determined.

    Travis D Reply:

    Alright, if it is cheaper then it probably will get another look.

    But an awful lot of people live in the Antelope Valley.

  19. VBobier
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 14:58
    #19

    Ok I’ve either emailed or called 20 Democratic CA State Senators and 1 CA Republican Senator in CA and I made them aware of Me being in favor of a Yes vote on the HSR Bonds, I doubt the Republicans will give a hoot about HSR or much else in CA, but that’s not My concern. So I’ve done My part, now I just have to wait.

    William Reply:

    Why are we counting out all the Republican votes? I would imagine Sharon Runner (R), who represents Palmdale, should have some interest in seeing HSR connect to her district as soon as possible.

    If Democrat Senators were less willing to fall into party line, why not Republican Senators?

    VBobier Reply:

    Some might, but You know the Republican party, do the words “lock” and “step” mean anything to You? HSR is not supported by the Republican Party, so I just have My doubts is all. Their votes would be welcome as long as their Yes, but I’m not holding My breath.

  20. trentbridge
    Jul 5th, 2012 at 16:46
    #20

    Passed Assembly 50-27 votes

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