Legislators To Play Let’s Make a Deal for HSR Funds?

Jan 27th, 2014 | Posted by

I’ve always assumed that one of the endgames for Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to use $250 million in cap-and-trade funds for high speed rail would be that the Legislature would demand some sort of trade in exchange for approving the request. Sure enough, that’s what may well happen:

One of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed solutions, using money raised from the sale of carbon credits, isn’t going over big with many lawmakers.

Toss in the growing opposition from voters, who have had a change of heart after the price more than tripled, and you’ve got a train full of trouble.

Still, insiders say Brown is likely to push on – but it could cost him.

A number of lawmakers have told us privately that if there’s enough money for high-speed rail, there should be enough to restore social programs cut during the recession or put more children in preschool.

If the high-speed iron horse is going to happen, in other words, it’s going to take some old-fashioned horse trading to get it done.

Matier and Ross are wrong to say that voters “have had a change of heart” – polls show there’s only been a 4 point swing against it after five years of relentlessly negative media coverage – but their analysis of the Sacramento politics makes sense.

Legislators have long wanted to reverse some of the huge cuts that many social service programs took during the recession in 2008 and 2009. Jerry Brown is famously tight with money and in an election year he would much rather hoard money in a rainy day fund and pay down debt rather than restore some of these cuts. With his cap-and-trade request, legislators now have leverage over the governor and can demand some of those programs be restored in exchange for approving the HSR funds.

I happen to agree with those legislators that as the state gets more money in the door, it should be used to help people in need by restoring those cuts. But I also know that Governor Brown is right that HSR is essential to California’s future prosperity. So the Legislature needs to approve the funds, and Brown needs to cut whatever deal he must to get them to do so.

Anyhow. My unsolicited advice to Jerry Brown: make it clear in your dealings with the press and the Legislature that the bullet train’s problems all stem from the Tea Party. That’s it. Why should California Democrats hand the Tea Party a huge win and undermine President Obama by killing this crucial project?

  1. Donk
    Jan 27th, 2014 at 21:01

    “My unsolicited advice to Jerry Brown: make it clear in your dealings with the press and the Legislature that the bullet train’s problems all stem from the Tea Party.”

    Yeah this will go over well. Just another liberal not taking personal responsibility and blaming others for their problems. That approach has worked really well for democrats in the past.

    nslander Reply:

    Please. The GOP has sustained itself entirely on scapegoating. Difference is, Robert’s suggested frame actually contains more than a kernel of truth. In maintaining their majority, the Dems simply need to be more selective in picking its spots.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Democrats are in full control of government in California. At this stage, for them to blame the Teabaggers for anything is a dodge.

    nslander Reply:

    Your aspiration to non-partisanship is cute.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Your lack of reading comprehension would be cute if it weren’t depressing. It has nothing to do with non-partisanship. A party with a governor and supermajorities in both houses of the legislature can govern without regard for what the other party thinks, save for the need to keep winning elections. What the Teabaggers say is irrelevant to the California budget. When a party with such power keeps blaming the opposition for its inability to pass a law or a spending bill, it’s lying to the electorate.

    nslander Reply:

    Just look at the framing of the linked story. Considering the state of our politics and popular disengagement, it’s unfounded. Yet timid supporters and concern trolls alike buy into it with equal zest.

    Your position only reinforces the prevailing frame that somehow the extant popular and political opposition to HSR exists independently from the constant drumbeat portending its demise, as if it’s somehow immunized from the national dialogue. I don’t know where you live, but local Fox 11 in LA has been running HSR hit pieces at least weekly for the last couple years, even during periods when absolutely nothing newsworthy has transpired. Every hackneyed criticism is given weight. Every inevitable hurdle is the final nail. Every critic, irrespective of erudition, is given a platform. Then there is the LA Times, where Ralph Hackabedian, if nothing else, knows negative news attracts more eyeballs. AM talk radio, any random internet comment section, Joel Kotkin…to assume for one instant this massive project exists outside the political dialectic crippling not only DC, but your local school board, is just naive.

    Not only is characterizing this as a “dodge” inaccurate, it doesn’t even make sense- this project is still going forward. Despite all the BS. If you did not anticipate this exact shit-storm years ago, I don’t know what to tell you.

    nslander Reply:

    And “inability to pass a law or a spending bill?” There has been one problematic Court ruling after legislative ratification to sell bonds. Of course it’s a matter of degree (one perhaps over-emphasized by Robert, and even then I don’t give a shit) but the Governor’s attempting to provide cover and diffuse political opposition to tepid Dem legislative HSR “supporters” is hardly fraud on the electorate.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The court rulings are about the project’s not having enough funding to build an IOS. That’s something the legislature can fix if it wants to. The project’s about $50 billion short of Phase 1 and Brown’s idea of how to fix it is to give it $250 million a year from the cap-and-trade slush fund, rather than go to the legislature and ask for meatier funding from the general fund.

    If what you’re actually saying is “the 67th-percentile legislator doesn’t think it prudent to put $20 billion for HSR in the regular budget,” that’s very different from blaming the Teabaggers. Or if what you’re actually saying is that public opinion would disapprove of fully funding the project, that’s again very different from blaming the Teabaggers, who are well to the right of the median Californian voter, and even to the right the voter who is needed for 2/3s of the legislature (who is not the same as the 67th-percentile voter because single-member districts magnify majorities, e.g. the New Deal Democrats has 60% of the vote and 75% of the seats).

    The Teabaggers can scream, and raise public opposition. That’s what opposition does. Doesn’t change the fact that the actual government is entirely Democratic.

    joe Reply:

    The court rulings are about the project’s not having enough funding to build an IOS. That’s something the legislature can fix if it wants to.

    They have all the funds too build the initial construction segment.

    The funding Plan’ sole purpose is to inform the legislature and they voted to Appropriate funds.

    Re-DOing the vote would set a precedent that undermines the Legislative and Executive Branches.

    The appropriate resolution to a Judicial mistake is an appeal. The fact there is not enough time warrants a Supreme Court intervention.

    And the government is not entirely democratic – that’s what a parliamentarian would say.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They have money for an ICS, not an IOS.

    And yes, the government is entirely big-D Democratic: the governor is a Democrat, and both houses of the legislature have Democratic supermajorities, capable of raising taxes and spending on beneficial projects without caring much about what the “don’t let the government touch Medicare” set thinks.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The project’s about $50 billion short of Phase 1 and Brown’s idea of how to fix it is to give it $250 million a year from the cap-and-trade slush fund, rather than go to the legislature and ask for meatier funding from the general fund.

    Actually, the Governor’s plan is much crazier than that. His idea is to use bond+C&T funds to get the line as far as Palmdale. Then the free-market fairy will swoop in and finish the rest. Because Palmdale is the “center of the universe”.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Get trains running from Fresno to Palmdale, and you’ve done the hard part, politically speaking. The trains will be absolutely packed — including the “low speed” trains from Palmdale onward to LA. The result will be a virtuous cycle…

    The Governor is crazy like a fox.

    Clem Reply:

    Palmdale to LA is an hour and a half via the winding Soledad Canyon route, unless you build a shortcut with 20 route miles of tunnel through the San Gabriel mountains. Maybe when the governor finds another ten billion?

    Derek Reply:

    The project’s about $50 billion short of Phase 1…

    Phase 1 Blended is $53.4 billion. Prop 1A gives the project $9 billion. The federal government committed $2.25 billion. So the project is closer to $40 billion short of Phase 1.

    joe Reply:

    A reference to The Clenis ™?

    The only thing that works against the Dems is when they start pretending they can make nice with the opposition. Compare and contrast. Politics 101. Ask Meg what she thinks.

  2. John Nachtigall
    Jan 27th, 2014 at 23:08

    All problems stem from the Tea Party?? The GOP has 0 control in CA. but more importantly, the tea part did not….

    – “forget” to go to the STB? Then forget to include 5 miles of the IOS.
    – plan the cost estimates off by 2-4x depending on the plan
    – assume that the feds would pay for 60-90%
    – ignore the parts of the law for complete funding of usable segments
    – ignore the parts of the law for EIRs
    – declare construction to start over 2 years ago
    – declare the lawsuit was no big deal, then file an emergency appeal to the CA Supreme Court claiming it was urgent
    – ignore the concerns of the people in the central valley who were losing land so badly that the relationship is un-salvageable.
    – write a law with restrictions and assumptions that make it impossible to follow given the current economic and political environment.

    Look in the mirror. HSRs problems are self inflicted. The state of CA is under complete democratic control. If they wanted to raise the money they could, the problem is that the politicians have lost faith in the ability of the authority to actually make this happen. It has been the 3 stooges show from the beginning.

    250 million in cap and trade is not nearly enough to build the first useable segment and by that I dont mean whatever section the authority defines, I mean the first actual useable worthwhile segment. They need 30 billion for that and they have 10 at most. They still dont have a plan to get the money. Even if they won every lawsuit tomorrow, they dont have the cash to build and with GOP control of the house (until at least 2016) they are not getting it from the feds.

    Jerry knows that the progressive CA tax scheme is the single biggest threat to the state. He also has been able to do nothing about it, and even made it worse with his recent tax increase. Its all well and good to “tax the 1%” but it leads to huge swings in revenue which combined with a balanced budget requirement leads to huge cuts in spending. He wants to get a real “rainy day” fund in place to mitigate the next downturn. I really respect him for that, he could just go to town on spending but he has shown a lot of restraint, more than the majority of the GOP who are supposed to be the fiscal conservatives.

    Save the money and dont spend it on the soon to be stranded investment of HSR.

    joe Reply:

    All problems stem from the Tea Party?? The GOP has 0 control in CA. but more importantly, the tea part did not….

    The California Congressional Delegation doesn’t count. The House Majoirty Whip, the Chairman of the transportation Subcommittte don’t matter.

    Someone’s trolling

    Paul Druce Reply:

    There are no Tea Partiers stopping the state of California from appropriating its own funds to build HSR.

    joe Reply:

    The State Legislature Appropriated funds. The ICS is totally funded.

    Any other questions?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    The rest of the project is not however, which is what Robert was complaining about.

    Joe Reply:

    I’m complaining too. My tax dollars get shipped off to DC and the House Majority Whip and Chair of the transportation subcommittee over seeing rail want to redirect even more of our money out of State.

    So what if we can afford it, we have a right to demand they stop hurting CA finances just because these politicians lost the Governor race to Jerry Brown. Accept defeat and start taking care of the State’s needs.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And technically the ICS is not totally funded because they don’t have the funds for electrification and power. Just 30 miles of blank track.

    And they don’t even have that because the bond funds are currently held up

    It’s just bad planning all around. They should not have started until they got a consistent funding source at a minimum

    Joe Reply:

    Well you’re wrong – they do have funds appropriated for the ICS.
    The appropriation is valid and legal. We are done.

    The meaningless act of redoing paperwork solely needed to vote on the appropriation is an unlawful remedy and will be vacated.

    The legislature’s work is done.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That is not what Judge Kennedy found. And until the CA Supreme Court overrides him he has the current say. The state has a petition with no response yet. That’s hardly “done”.

    But let’s say he gets overridden. They still don’t have the money to build a functioning HSR ready track. You can argue they don’t need to, but in the end the whole point is to build HSR and they don’t have the money even with 250M in cap and trade for 1 year

    joe Reply:

    The Appropriation is DONE. It’s approved, legal and done. Kenny has not overturn the Appropriation.

    It doesn’t matter how you parse the FUNDING PLAN Requirements. It’s a dead document. The Appropriation passed. The FUNDING PLANS no longer needed and compliance or not is an irrelevant argument.

    nslander Reply:

    It’s pining.

    Has anybody compiled a list of concern troll/would-be supporters of this project? If not, I nominate the following as charter members:

    Those lacking the stomach for the political sausage making;
    Those too prideful to admit sausage making is an unfortunate necessity.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    then why are they appealing?? If it is just writing a funding plan, and the bonds are appropriated as you say, then write the plan, spend the money.

    Oh yeah, because that is not the issue. They prevented from spending the bond money until they comply with prop1a.

    Pick a narrative joe, its either the Judge stopped the bonds from being spent (which he did) or he did not stop the appropriation and they are good to go.

    And if they are good to go why are they whining??

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ah, yes, that Bismarck quote about laws and sausages. Quite appropriate in his case since his sausage consisted of dispossessing Poles and encouraging Germans to settle in Polish-majority areas, dispossessing German Catholics (the original meaning of culture war), and spending scarce tax money on militaristic posturing rather than on internal development.

    joe Reply:

    Don’t forget to mention his instituting Social Security, another Bismarck sausage we copied and is the cornerstone of the US retirement system.

    Eric Reply:

    “and spending scarce tax money on militaristic posturing rather than on internal development.”

    Interesting you say that.

    As for scarce tax money – enough of it remained for him to create the world’s first welfare state.

    As for militarism, according to Wikipedia, ‘Bismarck’s peace-oriented, “saturated continental diplomacy” was increasingly unpopular, because it consciously reined in any expansionist drives’.

    I wonder what sources you are reading.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    an HSR system and a usable segment are two different things.

    Resident Reply:

    Joe, here’s why you’re wrong, and you can save yourself from further embarassment and stop whining about ‘the appropriation means its a done deal’. This is a quote from the attorney general’s statement of facts, in the appeal they just filed. AG’s point #8.

    8. Even after the Legislature appropriates bond funds for construction, the Authority must meet additional requirements before it can commit or spend appropriated funds. The Authority must approve and submit to the Director of Finance, the peer review group and the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee a second funding plan, which the director must approve before the Authority may spend or commit bond proceeds for construction. (Sts. Hy. Code, 2704.08, subd.(d); Pub Util. code 185035)

    Not sure why you continue your ranting about ‘its DONE’, its a dead document, etc., because clearly the AG (we assuming smarter than a 5th grade (Joe?), is of the opinion there is something more here that needs to be discussed.

    joe Reply:

    Dear Resident;

    The Appropriation Act is done. They voted. Done.

    The First FUNDING PLAN is mandated by Proposition 1A Prior to the Legislature’s vote. That First Funding Plan is described in the Proposition and has requirements. Its sole purpose is to precede the Legislatures vote to inform them of the Project. See Paragraph 7.

    The Second Funding Plan is not described in Proposition 1A. It is not mandated and does not hold to Proposition 1A’s First Funding Plan requirements.

    The contention is over the first funding plan. Can the authority be prevented from spending Appropriated funds and be compelled to revise the first funding plan.

    c Whether a claim lies in mandamus to challenge the adequacy of the Authority’s funding plan
    d Even if so, whether a writ may issue preventing the Authority from spending duly appropriated funds unless and until it rescinds and re-adopts a first funding plan.

    Resident Reply:

    It absolutely is in Prop 1A. The Attorney General gives you the references for location in AB3034.

    The judge did not make any ruling whatsoever on the appropriation. He’s saying they need to complete funding plan step correctly before moving on to step 2. The appropriation can and is still standing.

    The appropriation itself still requires compliance with AB3034 prior to spending the funds.

    joe Reply:

    “The judge did not make any ruling whatsoever on the appropriation”

    He did. He found no legal basis to over turn the Appropriation. Not in Prop1a or in Law.

    AB3034, Prop1A, gives no power to stop the Appropriation if the Preceeding Funding Plan is not compliant.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    i almost hope the CA Supreme court sides with you joe because if they dont i feel like your head is going to explode while you chant “appropriation” over and over again. i would not want to see you hurt

    Resident Reply:

    No, what he found was that the appropriation was not part of that lawsuit and that he wasnt going to add it to the lawsuit too late in the game. But regardless, we agree on the fact that he did not over turn the appropriation. And so what? The appropriation does not have the power to force the spending to occur without compliance to AB3034. In fact just the opposite – the appropriation bill REQUIRES compliance with AB3034 prior to committing and spending the funds.

    If they lose this appeal, I’d be back in court immediately with a lawsuit against the CHSRA who would committing the funds – out of compliance with the requirements of the appropriation bill (which commands compliance with Prop 1A).

    Joe Reply:

    The plaintiffs sued to over turn the appropriation. They even tried to amend the lawsuit to include the legislature.

    He found no legal basis to invalidate the appropriation.

    AB4034 provides no mechanism for relief or blocking the funding if the funding plan is not compliant and the legislature passes the Appropriation.

    Compliance to Ab3034 is specific to the funding plan only. The requirements are not imposed on the project submitted to the legislature.

    It’s really that narrow a ruling.

    Joe Reply:

    i almost hope the CA Supreme court sides with you joe because if they dont i feel like your head is going to explode while you chant “appropriation” over and over again. i would not want to see you hurt.

    Of they lose, they lose.

    Understanding precisely what’s being asked and the state if the system is kinda of hard wired into me. Why pay attention to something and not try to understand what’s happening?

    Heads explode, or hearts grow three sizes larger, when Grinches learn the true meaning of Christmas – or HSR Lawsuits.

    The Authority dodged a Mack Truck when Plaintiffs omitted a direct challenge to the Appropriation. It’s not a guarantee of success, the technicality used to block funding is as tenuous as Max holding the Whoville Sleigh.

    Donk Reply:

    joe’s definition of “trolling”: the act of saying something contrary to joe’s opinion.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Even if the project had unfolded along the lines you propose, it would be in exactly the same situation it is today. The problem has nothing to do with the route choice and everything to do with the Tea Party, weak Democrats, and a Sierra Club organization in Sacramento that has lost its way.

    joe Reply:

    The Califonia Sierra Club clearly favors 30-40K electric cars. This proves three things:

    They not an elitist organization;
    are serious about improving GHG emissions before the 2020 deadline;
    and it’s the California Crusin’ Sierra Club, NOT the pachouli scented Oregon Sierra Club chapter.

    Now we just to use cap and trade to subsidize Nissan leafs and Ford Fusion Energi sales. It’s perfectly compliant with 2020.

  3. Bill
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 07:42

    I think NIMBY’s have delayed it. Also, claiming to start construction in “months” for over two years now has probably served for interest to wane a bit. No? How many times have we read on this blog that construction is supposed to start “soon”? It’s too easy for minority naysayers to throw wrenches into the cogs these days. :(

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The vast majority of the delays are due to major planning mistakes.

    They spent several years pursuing an exorbitant elevated alignment in Fresno

    It was PB who decided to ignore the input of federal agencies who wanted several other alternatives studied in the CV. This is what caused the Fresno – Bakersfield EIR to be at least 2 years behind Merced- Bakersfield

    It was PB who didn’t authorize geotechnical work in CV until last year.

    It was the regional consultants/ PB/ oversight who engineered essentially all curves between Fresno and LA incorrectly over the past 4 years. Nobody noticed until this spring somehow. Redoing all of those curves is a major delay.

    Yes – there are people who don’t want this in their backyard. That is normal and to be expected.

    It is the sheer magnitude of incompetence of this collective enterprise that causes those people to spend every free moment fighting something they think will mess with their communities and never deliver on the vision promised.

    Joe Reply:

    Oh Bullshit

    Small projects for elderly housing in Palo Alto are held up by NIMBYs

    This is typical for Calofotnua

    Nadia Reply:

    @ Joe
    You think PB is NOT to blame? I invite you to read the Regional Consultant reports (which, by the way, we have been requesting through Public Records for years and which the Authority STILL refuses to post on their website).


    Joe Reply:

    I think you guys are finding problems which occurr on highway and other construction projects and put a megaphone to it. They have problems with bolts at Caltrans.

    I am amazed HW101 added 4 lanes without a peep from concerned citizens. God knows how many mistakes were made and why it has to take so long to complete. Anyone worried about a crush of street traffic when this thing finishes?

    joe Reply:

    Time to stop all work on roads and bridges. We have a reoccurring problem with Bolts.
    “Firm under fire for Bay Bridge bolts also supplied wrong bolts for Carquinez Bridge”

    Shit happens – we need more oversight with Gov employees and Gov lawyers to write and enforce contracts.

    Bill Reply:

    Thanks for the clarification. CAHSR Authority has blown it all over the place, which is why this has been delayed?

    MarkB Reply:


    “It was the regional consultants/ PB/ oversight who engineered essentially all curves between Fresno and LA incorrectly over the past 4 years. Nobody noticed until this spring somehow. Redoing all of those curves is a major delay.”

    Link please.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It is in excruciating detail in the regional consultants reports starting in May 2013.
    Here are all the reports

    May’s fresno-bakersfield one http://www.calhsr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/FB-URS-MPR-MAY-2013.pdf has it as the “new item”
    Subsequent reports detail the implications = this has been source of significant fight about who has to pay to do the engineering

    The oversight consultant in their final report (they were replaced by internal staff, kind of)

    Following submission of the revised draft 15% deliverables in April
    2013, the Program Management Team (PMT) informed the RC that
    interpretation of the alignment design criteria set out in Technical
    Memorandum (TM) 2.1.2 should be revised. Specifically, the
    distance between the end of a spiral and the start of a vertical curve
    should be considered a segment, and should be subject to
    attenuation length requirements, rather than separated by the 100 –
    160 feet stated in the TM and in subsequent Engineering
    Management Team (EMT) clarifications. Initial review indicates that
    accommodating these requirements will involve a significant amount
    of new design work and new deliverables. The RC is assessing the
    implications on the environmental and preliminary engineering for
    procurement (PEP) schedule

    PMT has stated that during their ongoing comment resolution
    meetings, additional HST Track Alignment issues were raised, of
    most consequence: substandard segment lengths between
    horizontal and vertical elements. Segment lengths and attenuation
    time have a direct impact on rider comfort, a fundamental system
    consideration. PMT has identified over 70 instances where this issue
    occurs in the Draft 15% Hanford West Bypass submittal. As of
    6/7/2013 the RC is proceeding with identification of the footprint
     According to the RM this issue is prevalent in all the sections
    of HSR from Fresno to LA

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Gee, if only there were standard CAD systems for doing standard track alignments to actual (ie not PBQD make-believe make-work made-up feet-and-inches globally unique) geometrical and operational standards using standard track components which were generally in use somewhere.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Wow so embarrassing for such a basic activity. Makes you wonder how some people get a PE (professional engineer certification)

    MarkB Reply:

    Amazing. Just…amazing.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    There are similar issues on the first 29 mile construction segment- brought to light by the bidders in the response to questions in the RFP.

    I mention this just to note the problems are pervasive – it wasn’t just the engineers from fresno to bakersfield.

    Something is really, really wrong.

    Elizabeth Reply:




    Nathanael Reply:

    I’d advise hiring Arup rather than PB, myself.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You’ll end up with the SF Transbay Terminal, then.

    FOUR BILLION DOLLARS. Will never work for rail. Will barely (if by “barely” you mean “every single bus must halt at an unnecessary at-grade stop sign, both arriving and departing, despite billipons spent on misconfigured concrete ramps”) work for buses. An inaccessible, useless, “park” on top of a bus station on top of a useless mezzanine level, up in the sky.

    ARUP’s the lead consultant. They even revolving-doored the head AC Transit Transbay guy.

    The US subdivisions of any of these multinational corporations are the trade-protected sheltered workshops for the retard cases with US passports who could never get a job anywhere else.

    joe Reply:

    The US subdivisions of any of these multinational corporations are the trade-protected sheltered workshops for the retard cases with US passports who could never get a job anywhere else.

    You live two lives, the second one starts the day you realize you only live one life.

    I found some listings for jobs in Switzerland.

  4. morris brown
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 08:49

    Robert wrote:

    Matier and Ross are wrong to say that voters “have had a change of heart” – polls show there’s only been a 4 point swing against it after five years of relentlessly negative media coverage – but their analysis of the Sacramento politics makes sense.

    with the reference to the poll:


    which was the USC/Dornsife/LA Time poll.

    Will all the commentary here, why has nobody yet noted that his statement on the results of the poll are invalid.

    The Nov. 2008 election has the vote in favor of Prop 1A by a 52% to 48% margin. This poll indeed now shows that 52% are now against the project, which indeed is only a 4% swing. But what Robert so graciously omits to note, is this poll shows now only 43% want the project to go forward. The swing could be noted than as the difference between 52% approving tin 2008 to now only 43% approving, which is a swing of 9%, a huge difference.

    But even more, now the poll shows 70% want a re-vote on Prop 1A.

    Just trying to set the record straight.

    Eric M Reply:

    Morris, you need to get it in your head, the only thing that matters is the election results, not some poll that comes out time and again. This is how the democracy we live in works. You lost at the ballot box, plain and simple.

    Derek Reply:

    Q.37 Now for something a little different. As you may know, in 2008, California voters approved a ballot proposition to borrow 9 billion dollars to build a high-speed rail line connecting Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 2008, construction of the high-speed rail line has been delayed several times and has run into problems with funding and environmental clearances. Construction is now slated to begin in 2014. Meanwhile, whether the project should proceed is the subject of a court dispute.

    From what you know, do you believe this project should be allowed to go ahead, or do you believe it should be stopped?

    This is obviously a push poll, because it lists only the negatives and not the positives. What do you think would be the result of a question that lists only the positives and not the negatives?

    morris brown Reply:


    Nonsense Derek. Look at the sponsors of the Poll. USC/Dornsife and LA Times. The Times has from the beginning supported this project with gusto. Why would they support a Poll which you claim is a push poll and pushing to show support for the project.

    Joe Reply:

    When you get HSR on a ballot we’ll mobilize and kick the opposition’s political ass – again.

    If you can’t elect anti-HSR billionaire Meg as Gov, then you ain’t got squat to say now.

    The LATimes has not support the project with gusto…. You wouldn’t have repetitively linked to that newspaper’s fire articles if this were close to being true.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Joe:

    As usual you don’t know much, and proceed to write garbage.

    The editorial page of the paper has consistently supported the project.

    The original endorsement, probably meant success at the November 2008 ballot



    The latest continuation of these editorials:



    This page has steadfastly backed the idea of high-speed rail in California. And we still believe it can deliver extraordinary environmental, economic and transportation benefits. Yet the delays, the rising cost, the judge’s ruling and the waning public support should give pause to even the strongest advocates. Can the rail authority line up a financing plan? Is the project still viable? We hope the answer is yes. But the state shouldn’t spend a dime of cap-and-trade money on it until we know for sure.

    You fail to understand a good paper’s reporting staff, can write articles supporting or not, being independent from the editorial department of that paper.

    Joe Reply:

    I am soooooo silly. Surely the troll bait articles published by the Times and approved by the Editors don’t matter.

    They troll bait for links so badly at the Times that the Fresno Bee has become the de facto news authority. Way to go Tribune Co.

    Joe Reply:

    And recognize when your side’s butt had been kicked at each and every election. Polls don’t change election results.
    Even your local state reps are on board with HSR. Blended is pro HSR.

    Every hipster that moves into those new housing units in MP is a HSR supporter. Demographics favor this system.

    Derek Reply:

    Why would they support a Poll which you claim is a push poll and pushing to show support for the project.

    Why are you asking me? You should ask them. Please report back here with the answer.

  5. morris brown
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 10:50

    California’s Bullet Train Slowed by Fresh Uncertainties </b



    This from transportation expert, Ken Orski, who publishes Innovation Briefs and has testified numerous times before congressional committees.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    That crafty Authority, moving Palmdale to the San Fernando Valley, is their no limit to there wanton excess?

    Joe Reply:

    Stale analysis by a chronic opponent.

  6. Jos Callinet
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 14:01

    To sum this debate up: I do not think it is possible now to build high-speed rail anywhere in the United States. Not just in California, but anywhere.

    There are far too many obstacles of every conceivable description standing in its way, ranging from the Tea Party dogma of “NO” to NIMBYs to multitudes of funding, environmental and technical hurdles. When even the pro-environment Sierra Club chimes in in opposition to HSR, you know the game is up.

    To build HSR today in California – or in any other state – is like successfully herding cats. Just try rounding up hundreds of cats and get them to obey commands in a synchronized manner – simply ain’t gonna happen! Much easier to herd cattle!

    Every commenter on this blog has been struggling with: HOW DO WE GET TO CHOREOGRAPH ALL THESE KITTIES IN THE HSR BALLET?

    The unavoidable truth is that we are now sixty years or more past the time when huge projects like the CAHSR could actually be pulled off.

    Just imagine President Dwight David Eisenhower proposing building the Interstate Highway System today. He’d be up against a firestorm of opposition from every imaginable quarter.

    We are no longer living in the 1950s, an era of post-war prosperity when our country was still forward-thinking and optimistic. Today, we are in almost exactly the mirror-opposite of that progressive era.

    The days are long since past when megaprojects such as the Interstate Highway System or California’s proposed high speed rail could actually be built.

    This is the crux of the problem, forcing us onto an unstoppable merry-go-round ride of endless delays of every imaginable kind.

    I greatly admire Robert Cruickshank for his determination to seek out answers to this very difficult situation and find a way forward to getting HSR built, but I genuinely believe that he, like all the rest of us, is trapped in an impossible whirlpool of delays and indecisiveness.

    I am not sure that there is any way out at this point.

    Derek Reply:

    Freeways continue to get built and expanded with little to no opposition. Maybe the CHSRA should provide that opposition using the same tactics that Republicans and the Tea Party have used against HSR, plus the additional and well-supported argument that HSR is a better return on tax dollars than freeways. Turnabout is fair play, right?

    Joe Reply:

    Where was CARRD when HW 101 expansion was approved ?
    That somehow didn’t make the short list of things that might matter.

    FWIW I will be able to zip my new electric hybrid car to Paly side streets quicker and at peak hours thanks to the added car pool and merger lanes. That’s moving 101 from 8 to 12 lanes.

    Where’s the oversight and responsible highway design?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I will actually respond to this one.

    This is not CARRD territory- rail, not cars- so CARRD is nowhere.

    It is a reasonable question to ask where I was (and where the sierra club and where others were)

    I had heard vaguely about the project as a project to fix the on/off ramps, which are a menace to health and safety.

    When construction actually began, I was stunned to see that really it was just a massive freeway expansion.

    Now that I knew what an EIR was, I went back to see it.

    There was no EIR. They did a mitigated negative def which had literally no diagrams in it.
    In fact the project itself is much larger than that described. The auxiliary lane fraudulent logic used to determine that this project does not lead to an increase in capacity is absurd.

    It is also dispiriting to see that obvious implications of improving the flow from 85 (which was previously acting as a giant metering light) would not cause backups. (merging 2 lane highway into 4 lane highway when the highway itself has assymetrical flows)

    So on a personal level, I have reached out to policymakers, enviros etc. Not much traction.

    I’m doing what I can – I agree – this is outrageous. http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/documents/us101_aux_lanes_signed_is_mnd090225.pdf

    Why don’t you step and start a CARRD for local road projects (next VTA wants to supersize all the expressways)?

    I’d help.

    joe Reply:

    Fair enough answer. I a puzzled that it was not scrutinized since it will continue to degrade quality of life along the expansion.

    I’d wage the aux-lane expansion is in response to the push back from metering which creates side street congestion. Cities were complaining about metering that causes side street backups. The only other solution is to add HW capacity. Now I think you see more cars feeding on city side streets at peak times.

    IMHO, the HOV lane expansion was approved to reduce congestions, smooth the flow of the car pool lane from entry and exit slow downs. It also encourages ore car pool and “green” electric car use.
    This emphasis on car pooling and electric cars to cut GHG is still a reliance on the automobile which are just as dangerous and annoying. It’s a bad solution.

    I’m pushing for more/better public transit service to Gilroy. Restore Caltrain service to pre-101 expansion levels.

    Also for better VTA engagement. Our shopping mall / WalMart superstore was added with promise to encourage public transit but the road development was not complaint to VTA bus standards. Now they use a smaller, short bus to carry passengers. Also, our rep was not attending VTA meetings which doesn’t help maintain service.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I’d wage the aux-lane expansion is in response to the push back from metering …

    Caltrans exists to build more freeways and widen existing freeways.
    For “safety”.
    For “congestion relief”.
    For “competitiveness”.
    “Pushback”? “Pushback from metering?” Sure, we’ll take it. Just add lanes!
    You know, for kids.
    Engage with VTA! For safety! For kids!

    joe Reply:

    Whinny Residents who can’t stand to meter traffic on side streets get what they deserve – more lanes on 101.

    1996 metering lights are ready but Palo Alto blocks them by unanimous vote.

    2007 – Metering lights get turned on – 11 years later.

    2009 Mr Roadshow temper tantrums from angry PAMPA residents.

    These lights do nothing to reduce the total commute time from the time you get in your car until you arrive at your destination. They absolutely increase it for everyone who gets stuck at one. Metering lights clog up the entry-point surface streets. For example, at University Avenue in Palo Alto, when those lights went into effect, gridlock ensued. That forced the next problem — mass defections to surface streets around the impacted intersections. Side streets get jammed with impatient and frustrated commuters. They waste fuel and foul the air. Sitting at idle is awful for mileage and the environment. These senseless lights only contribute to road rage.

    2009 – Happy happy joy – Auxiliary lanes

    Cover Story – March 20, 2009
    The project will widen the freeway to 10 lanes and will also widen ramps at each interchange of the 3.2-mile segment of 101. Once the project is completed, the rightmost lanes of both northbound and southbound 101 will be designated “auxiliary lanes,” which will allow vehicles more time for merging onto or off of the freeway. It will also allow cars traveling from one interchange to the next to do so without ever entering the highway’s main flow.

    11 years to turn on metering lights because it’s rude to make Palo Alto Residents sit on side streets.

    Nathanael Reply:

    No EIR? Some lawyer should check the details of NEPA law because I suspect you could get the 101 widening killed for failure to follow NEPA while using federal funds. Unless it’s all state & local money.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Where was CARRD when Hitler was gassing the internet billionaires?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    omg i was rotfl watching the bloomberg interview

    the whole thing at the beginning here


    “Are you out of touch?”

    ironically, the whole interview just conjured up images of Louix XVI “let them eat cake”

    I have never, never in my life wanted more badly to go work for the daily show – just to slice this one interview. It is a year worth of material.

    synonymouse Reply:

    utter crock

    They chose to try to deploy about the worst and stupidest iteration of hsr imaginable. And fired Van Ark for having the temerity to to try to set things straight again.

    Yeah, I remember the fifties. Watching the Army-McCarthy hearings on tv before I could really figure out what was going on. I remember the night they executed the Rosenbergs.

    Yeah the fifties. “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I agree with you in many ways, and have made similar arguments before. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this HSR project. Instead it has the misfortune to be coming up at a time when Congress is controlled by the most extremist group of people in its history and when politicians of both parties have abandoned any interest in building a better future so that they can instead pursue austerity now.

    If we can keep HSR alive in the next few years I think the project will make it through this lost decade. If it dies, it’ll come back, but at higher cost. And it’ll come back once we’ve finally swept away the NIMBYs and the Tea Party folks who both agree that we should ignore the future for as long as possible.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    “Congress is controlled by the most extremist group of people in its history”

    I realize that America is a relativity young country, but your idea of history is a little off. There have been much more extreme people in control (both good and bad)





    Nathanael Reply:

    Most extremist in the 20th century.

    The current crop of Congressional Republicans is much, much worse than Joe McCarthy. (Although they do not currently have enough control to show how bad they are.)

    They are not *quite* as extreme at the pre-Civil-War Slave Power representatives. Although many of them do seem to want to reintroduce slavery.

    I would have to study the Gilded Age more to say whether there were worse extremists then than there are now.

  7. Jos Callinet
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 14:38

    Put another way, we no longer live in a ‘Can-Do’ society. We have instead become a nation of doubters and naysayers.

    “If there’s nothing in it for me, then I’m not about to pay for it or make any other personal sacrifice just so that you can have it.”

    Keith Saggers Reply:


    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Keith, your link is dead.

    Jonathan Reply:

    worked for me…

  8. Jos Callinet
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 15:22

    Keith, your link to Railway Gazette is dead: this is the result I get when I click on it:

    Oops! Internet Explorer could not connect to http://www.railwaygazette.com

  9. Jos Callinet
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 15:31

    A later try of your link did work – thanks, Keith for sharing it.

    Those working to make HSR a reality are brave souls, and I commend them for their efforts. I think, however, that they are valiantly swimming upstream against a very swift current. All we can do is hope they succeed.

  10. Joey
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 17:14

    O/T and a bit late:

    San Jose has released a Draft Station Area Plan for the Diridon area. Here are some highlights:

    The Good:

    – More development in a highly, and increasingly so, transit-accessible area
    – Respectable pedestrian improvements
    – Vague discussion of protected bike lanes and road diets

    The Bad:
    – 60′ tall, ~75′ wide HSR aerial through the entire area. No consideration of alternatives except the even more ludicrous tunnel option. This is to be build above an active rail station.
    – 5 level station for maximum pedestrian convenience
    – No direct connection between BART mezzanine (Level -1) and at-grade platforms (Level 0), requiring two additional flights of stairs to transfer
    – CalTrain and HSR follow different alignments north of the station, dividing the area unnecessarily
    – Nearly 12,000 off-street parking spaces programmed for the area
    – Few specifics on protected bike lanes. It looks like most of the improvements will be Class 2 unprotected and Class 3 (ugh!)

  11. synonymouse
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 21:53

    Can we decide what this Judge’s name really is?

    So far, I have seen Kennedy, Kenny, Kerry, Kelly? Four different guys?

    joe Reply:


    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Michael Kenny (I got it wrong I thought it was Kennedy)


    interesting notes

    Judge Kenny was sworn in on January 23, 2003, following an appointment by Gov. Gray Davis

    Before taking the bench, Judge Kenny was most recently the executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, the state agency charged with monitoring and combating pollution

    For sure no conservative shill, but still ruled against HSR

  12. Nathanael
    Feb 1st, 2014 at 16:47

    Decriminalize marijuana, pardon everyone convicted for crimes related to it, let them out of prison, cut funding for the now-half-empty prisons… easy way to generate a lot more money in the budget for useful things.

Comments are closed.