Peninsula Cities Fire Their Anti-HSR Lobbyist
I thought this was a rather amusing story:
With a few members declaring themselves unimpressed with the return on their investment in lobbyist Ravi Mehta’s Capitol Advocates firm, the Menlo Park City Council voted 3-1 to terminate his $5,000 a month contract.
The city hired the firm in 2010 to help with high-speed rail. Although Palo Alto and Atherton also used Capitol Advocates, those jurisdictions terminated their contracts earlier this year. Mr. Mehta was not available for comment on Wednesday morning….
But, he argued, the city does need an advocate in Sacramento. The issue of whether the high-speed rail project should be exempt from California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) remains hotly contested in the state’s capital.
Councilwoman Catherine Carlton said that while Capitol Advocates was not worth keeping, she supported finding another lobbyist capable of representing Menlo Park’s position on a broader range of issues such as housing as well as high-speed rail.
I’m not sure who to feel bad for here. These cities were delusional enough to think that hiring a lobbyist would somehow change the fortunes of the high speed rail project. There are 482 cities in the state of California and I’m not sure what other than their inflated sense of entitlement suggested to these three cities that they could sway the state legislature into undermining the high speed rail project. I don’t know if Mehta was clear with the cities about that reality, but his job was impossible.
It’s clear now that high speed rail is moving ahead in California. The state legislature is in support, a repeal vote is unlikely to ever make the ballot, and construction will soon begin in the Central Valley. A lot of problems remain in Congress, thanks to the continued Republican House majority and their ideological opposition to high speed rail. But those will either be overcome or the project will find other sources of funding.
High speed rail is coming to the Peninsula. It’s only a question of when. Let’s hope that these cities focus their dollars on more productive pursuits.