HSR Opponents Seize on Federal Report to Slam Project

Jan 16th, 2017 | Posted by

It’s a movie we’ve seen several times before. A government agency issues a report warning that it’s possible there could be big cost overruns on the high speed rail project. (In other news, water is wet.) HSR opponents jump all over the report, Republicans wave it around to justify another attack, all while the California High Speed Rail Authority takes further steps to actually ensure everything goes as planned.

This movie has been rebooted again here in 2017, and our old buddy Ralph Vartabedian is once again writing the story:

California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

The federal document outlines far-reaching management problems: significant delays in environmental planning, lags in processing invoices for federal grants and continuing failures to acquire needed property.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk analysis estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule.

The report, the most critical official assessment of the project to surface so far, is labeled a “confidential-draft deliberative document for internal use only” and was presented by senior Federal Railroad Administration executives to California rail authority board Chairman Dan Richard and Chief Executive Jeff Morales on Dec. 1 in Washington.

This analysis puts the state on notice that it could face bigger cost overruns than anticipated and much longer delays than have been made public, a troubling critique by an agency that has been a stalwart supporter and longtime financier of the nation’s largest infrastructure project.

Leave it to Vartabedian to paint this in the worst possible light. He’s been convinced for years that massive cost overruns are certain, even though so far they haven’t materialized once the contracts have been signed.

He does let Jeff Morales have his say:

Morales cautioned in an interview that the numbers in the analysis are only projections and estimates that do not account for intervention by the rail authority, and he asserted that the construction in the Central Valley will cost less than the risk analysis indicates. The estimates, he said, are based on a lot of assumptions that the authority wants to ensure are correct.

“The point of doing this analysis is to identify the challenges and work through them,” he said. “They are not conclusions and not findings.”

Morales is, of course, correct. The analysis is part of good risk management and the Authority has repeatedly shown it is responsive to these warnings – to the extent they can, given that so much of their work depends on factors entirely out of their hands.

But then Vartabedian spends the rest of the article quoting Republican anti-HSR voices like Jeff Denham, as well as throwing other random attacks out at the Authority:

And an internal report obtained by The Times notes a just-completed survey in which employees complain that morale is low and has declined in each of the last three years. Employees interviewed by The Times say turnover is consistently high, leaving staff overworked. The rail authority’s senior deputy, its chief administrative officer and its top information technology executive recently left.

I have no way to know if this is true, and I’m certainly not going to take Vartabedian’s word for it. But if it is true, I’m sure the constant misleading and biased attacks from a reporter writing in the state’s largest newspaper has nothing at all to do with it.

The Authority has powered through the last ten years despite constant media attacks, constant doubts being leveled by Republicans, a persistent unwillingness by state and federal legislators to ensure the SF to LA project is fully funded, vicious personal attacks from HSR opponents (especially NIMBYs), and endless nuisance lawsuits.

It cannot be an easy job. Yet they not only continue doing it, they do it well. Construction is humming along without any major problems or overruns.

Still, these stories have their effect. And because Donald Trump is being inaugurated as president this week, we need to now start paying attention to what his administration’s Pravda – Breitbart.com – is saying about HSR. It’s mostly a rehash of Vartabedian’s article, but this stood out to me:

The Federal Railroad Administration provided California with $3.5 billion between two federal grants for the project. President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus granted funds to the project; however, if the state fails to meet a September 30 deadline that requires paperwork to be submitted by June 20, the rail authority could lose up to $220 million of those funds.

I will bet money that the Trump FRA finds a way to claim that the Authority missed this deadline and must repay that $220 million. I would not be surprised if they also make a play to try and clawback much more of that stimulus money, though I doubt it can go very far.

Of all the obstacles I described above that the Authority has weathered, they may be about to encounter the largest one yet: Donald Trump. Let’s hope California’s anti-Trump resistance includes refusing to let Trump destroy the state’s future by attacking high speed rail.

  1. Jerry
    Jan 17th, 2017 at 01:37
    #1
  2. Trentbridge
    Jan 17th, 2017 at 05:22
    #2

    Who believes Trump will still be President in June? He has no interest in the real job of governing – he just wanted to stun the world with his brilliance in the first hundred days..and has shown no interest in other people’s ideas, details, nuance, or diplomacy. The GOP will impeach him or two Senators will switch parties before June.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I believe Trump will be President in June.

    The Presidential Bully Pulpit is the biggest and most powerful in the world and he is a narcissist. Do you really think he would give up having every Twitter post talked about ad nauseum?

    This is the next 4 years, accept it, he is the President, God help us all.

    Roland Reply:

    https://youtu.be/4_Gf0mGJfP8?t=22

    EJ Reply:

    I think it depends on how much Congress leans on him to divest his businesses and release his tax returns. 75% of Americans, including half of Trump’s supporters, want him to release his tax returns, so it’s a popular issue.

    Trump isn’t very popular, even among Republicans, so there’s not too much downside to the GOP either forcing him into a position where he has to resign or impeaching him. And if they do they get Pence, who will give them what they want.

    Aarond Reply:

    Those Republicans are a minority, they couldn’t beat Trump within their own party primary. If they take him on, their new Rust Belt coalition goes down with him. That’s about 70 EVs (OH, WI, MI, PA, IA), for comparison TX and FL are only 67.

    Trump has forged a new GOP.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    plus the GOP does not want the scandal. It is in everyone’s interests (in the GOP) for Trump to survive.

    No president has ever been impeached, much less by his own party. This is the same as the electoral college switching votes talk.

    And releasing your tax returns is not a law. So that is not an impeachable offense.

    Joe Reply:

    No president has ever been impeached, much less by his own party. This is the same as the electoral college switching votes talk.

    Two presidents were impeached.
    Johnson and Clinton.

    The House alone impeaches. The Senate then holds a trial to remove the impeached president from office.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    fair point, no President has ever been removed from office by impeachment

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Though Nixon almost certainly would have been. A similar incident could occur, with Pence pulling a Ford.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it won’t happen… Impeach and convict both of them the Speaker of the House becomes President.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Impeachment and resigning are not the only ways for a President to leave office early. He is the oldest First term President ever, after all. And his father did have Alzheimer’s disease late in life…

    Imagine him visibly showing signs of Alzheimer’s…

    Oh wait, that’s what happened with Reagan and nobody cared back then, carry on…

    Jerry Reply:

    He has and will forge a lot of new/different things.

    EJ Reply:

    Trump won the Rust Belt by less than the average attendance at the Kentucky Derby. There’s no mandate for him there. He only one because Dem voters didn’t like Hillary and stayed home. Unless he actually manages to create and get passed a viable alternative to the ACA (unlikely), 2020 will come down to whether the Dems nominate a genuine populist like Bernie, who can appeal to those voters, or another awful East Coast neolib (e.g. Booker) who would almost certainly lose.

    I’ll grant you a lot of Dems are dumb enough to nominate Booker, if only for the cynical rationale that he might pick up more black voters. A lot will depend on whether Ellison gets to be head of the DNC.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    You think a genuine populist like Bernie could win
    hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah

    Aarond Reply:

    But Webb could have easily won, though. He’d have grilled Trump on his “take guns away from muslims” comment pushing the NRA into a -D endorsement.

    EJ Reply:

    You left-authoritarian Clintonistas have got to be the smuggest bunch of losers in history. Just bizarre.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Bernie would have lost NC, VA, NV, and FL, and therefore the presidency, despite almost certainly winning the popular vote.

    nslander Reply:

    And won WI, MI and PA. Since we’re confidently brandishing hypotheticals from our backsides.

    EJ’s right. Just bizzare.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    If Bernie won WI, MI, and PA, he would have to win at least one more state–OH, IA, FL, NC, etc., assuming he wouldn’t have lost a more diverse/moderate state like NV, VA, etc. (which is likely).

    Also, Bloomberg said he would get in a Sanders v. Trump race.

    nslander Reply:

    The original point was the need to nominate a populist instead of another established technocrat. All we know for certain is the most known quantity in the entire field failed to navigate the electoral path largely because…she was perceived as the Establishment. Gore. Kerry. Hillary. By all means, lets pretend the Americans swing-voter is a rational voter and nominate Cory Booker.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    After 4 years of Trump, being a technocrat might be a good thing. I suppose one person who could bridge the two would be Kamala Harris, but I’m cautious about supporting someone with only 4 years of experience in the senate.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    She was perceived as the devil incarnate. Which the Republican Party has been drumming into people’s heads since HIllarycare was going to give us death panels.

    Danny Reply:

    Clintonistas literally think Sanders is only the country’s most popular politician and 10-15 point ahead of Trump because Fox didn’t whine about Burlington College and that Bloomberg would’ve surged to 40 points
    the Dems can have their David Brock and their shriveled enclaves

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Sanders isn’t the country’s most popular politician. Bloomberg would have surged to 10 points. Nobody ever attacked Sanders. I like David Brooks. NYC and LA and SF and Chicago and DC and…. don’t count as shriveled enclaves.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Don’t forget that Clinton won the popular vote in what would count as a landslide in the majority of democracies of the world – more than two million people…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/12/bernie-sanders-would-have-lost-election-landslide

    By Keven Drum no less, the most liberal of the liberal press

    Danny Reply:

    Iraq hawk and general melvin; maybe Yglesias or Kurt Eichenwald can chime in next!

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Political hypotheticals are only nice when written in novel form…

    Drum is no Turtledove…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Not to say anything, but political assassinations have a nasty and recurring history in the US.

    Eric Reply:

    the House impeaches, the Senate trys and punishes. Even if the Senate would remove him from office, I’m not confident that the majority in the House would vote to impeach.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I don’t know if I want him impeached. Mike Pence is an equally horrifying and more formidable possibility.

    Eric Reply:

    Pence is certainly no angel, but he’s not putin’s puppet either. of all the VPs to pick…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Pence is Hugenberg to Trump’s Hitler – he is a horrible right wing unpleasant person, but he is all those things within normal parameters. Trump is a complete Mussolini when it comes to “normal parameters”…

    Aarond Reply:

    Trump pulled a Reagan and will be in office for eight years, four of which he will have the entire government under GOP control. And, like Reagan, his mind will start to go at the end while Pence gradually takes on more duties. Then we get eight years of Pence.

    Strap in, we’re not going to have a Dem president until 2030.

    Trentbridge Reply:

    Too old – the job ages the President at double the natural rate…he’s not got the ability to delegate or avoid petty conflicts to reduce stress – hence the thin-skinned one’s tweeting.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I don’t think Trump will delegate so much as never assume certain jobs in the first place…

    Jerry Reply:

    Trump rules.
    Political Science 101 will never ever be the same again.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Let’s just hope Trump does not pull a Somoza. I don’t want his talentless breed in the white house for the next forty years…

    And I also don’t want his mishpoke to head the Guardia Nacional that makes people desaparecer

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    You think. I’m thinking he’ll be like a reverse Carter. One term followed by 3 terms of a Democrat. Trump is going in with record unfavorables, and he’ll prove the complete ineptness of antiestablishment types–while not helping his base at all. We won’t be making this mistake again. Gillibrand/Booker 2020!

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    do me a little favor

    Look up when the last Liberal Democrat from the Northeast was elected President, I will wait…..

    ….

    Oh an the most historic Democratic losses in history, including this last one…

    …..

    And you want to run 2 on the same ticket. For the love of God learn from your mistakes.

    And in some ways Trump is well positioned for success. He cant get any more unpopular and anything he does right will be acclaimed a miracle.

    Aarond Reply:

    What’s more, he only has to do three things: Tariffs, immigration quotas, and a national gun rights act. This will seal up the Rust Belt for him and the new GOP for at least a decade given the redistricting in 2020. The GOP have 54 votes in the Senate and can do it.

    Even “better” is that the GOP will likely make another NCLB but vis-a-vis colleges, stripping them of their independence. Establishment Dems will find academia slip out from them as colleges become a K-16 system.

    Aarond Reply:

    That reminds me, the Yucca Mtn project is more or less confirmed for a Go now. SC Republicans want it, the Navy wants it, the DoE is being forced by the courts to move on it, and the DoE will probably have spare cash if Republicans kill their solar grants.

    And Vegas is probably getting the Raiders, too.

    Jerry Reply:

    Let’s hope the radiation that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
    (But any money for HSR?)

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    And we can flip Arizona, Georgia and Texas, and make Colorado, Nevada, and Florida safe blue.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    in what universe would Georgia, Arizona and Texas flip?

    You realize the Democrats are DECLINING in the states, not advancing. The GOP just ran the single most unpopular candidate in the history of the US and he handily won all 3 of those states. Plus he won Florida.

    I am not saying the Dems will never come back, but stick with Wis, Mich, and places you have an actual chance.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    We came closer to winning Arizona (-4 pts.) and Georgia (-5 pts.) and Texas (-7 pts.) than we did to winning Ohio (-9 pts.) and Iowa (-10 pts.) We lost Georgia (-5 pts.) by one point more than we lost North Carolina (-4 pts.), despite investing NOTHING in Georgia. Demographics plus a failed Trump presidency could easily flip those states, provided we don’t go the Elizabeth Warren route.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    inherent in you assumption is that you automatically get back PA, MI, and WI. Also dont continue on the trend and lose MN and RI.

    Look at it this way. With all the demographics and politics lined up against him, he still won by 5-7 points in those states.

    In a normal race with a normal candidate those number get bigger not smaller.

    Get WI, MI, and PA back first, you are overlooking those states. But that is just my advice, its your party. I would point out that MI is totally under GOP control at the moment, so painting it Blue is just hope over reason.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Rhode Island
    Are you joking?
    MN and NH need to be protected, of course, but RI?

    WI and MI are probably harder to get back than PA, but they were such razor thin margins that they’ll probably be easily doable if/when Trump fails. PA is won the same way that TX or AZ or GA is won–through the big cities, particularly people of color. MI is harder because of the decline of Detroit, and I honestly don’t know enough about WI politics to make an educated analysis.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I meant NH, sorry my bad. RI is solid blue.

    I would have thought you understood this lesson by now, you can’t concentrate all the votes in the cities and win. In the last 8 years the country has gotten less “white” and the Dems are in free fall

    How do you explain the last 8 years of democratic losses. Why are the states getting more red if “demographics are destiny”. It’s not just the presidential election, it’s the house, the senate, governorships and state legislatures.

    The facts don’t match the theory

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/14/opinions/demographics-not-destiny-for-democrats-barron/

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Georgia, Arizona, and Texas are not getting more red.
    Georgia, Arizona, and Texas have 65 electoral votes combined, and growing.
    Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin have 46 electoral votes combines, and shrinking.
    If we say the cost of getting GA, AZ, and TX to blue states is making the 24 electoral votes of OH and IA red states, plus the 46 electoral votes of PA, MI, and WI becoming swing states, the math is in our favor.

    For example:

    2012:
    Blue: 46 (WI, PA, MI)
    Swing: 24 (OH, IA)
    Red: 65 (AZ, GA, TX)

    2016:
    Blue: 0
    Swing: 70 (WI, PA, MI, OH, IA)
    Red: 65 (AZ, GA, TX)

    2020:
    Blue: 0
    Swing: 35 (WI, PA, MI, OH, IA, AZ, GA, TX)
    Red: 0

    2024: (projected electoral vote counts)
    Blue: 70 (AZ, GA, TX)
    Swing: 44 (WI, PA MI)
    Red: 23 (OH, IA)

    Joe Reply:

    Trump proves you’re dead wrong. The Dem Party is alright.

    Trump is destroying the conservative movement and resurrected the “know nothing” party. You’ve lost.

    He’s an authoritarian which is why you don’t care but a good number of conservatives despise the man and those enabeling him to grab at power.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    @Joe
    You’re completely right. I have a number of family members who have never voted for a democrat before, yet they all voted for Hillary. Unfortunately, they all live in California.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    @joe

    How can even you argue the GOP is in decline. Look at the federal and state governments. Total control by GOP

    The conservative coalition is fragile to be sure, but it exists. The Dems are in outright war and free fall. As the Bernie bros push them so far left they can’t win anything outside of the most liberal 25 states.

    Data.

    Joe Reply:

    Trump is destroying Conservatism. The movement is split- talented conservatives have been blacklisted. White supremacists and “no nothing’s” have taken over. Billionaires rule.

    You argue as if the GOP is a sports team who landed a top free agent. You show little faith in any guiding principles. Troll “Democratic Party” conservative which is why these nuts takin over equal winning!!!

    The Dems are not fractionated and haven’t changed core values. Opposition party with 3 m more national votes.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    first, its the democrats who have sold their souls. Hilary outspent Trump by 2X and took money from all the Wall Street banks.

    The GOP has always been the party of the rich, but the Democrats were supposed to be the working man…instead they have sold their principles out on free trade, banks, and every other issue of finance. The GOP was always “pro” on these issues. What core values….Without bernie there would have been no push for any of the progressive policies that hilary “supported”

    And no one is “blacklisted” Ryan is still speaker.

    But you are truly delusional about the state of politics in general. in 8 years the democrats have lost a 1000 state seats. More than a dozen govenors. plus control of both houses at the federal level. Trump winning was just icing, it was not the cake.

    Enjoy obsolescence. I think it is a bad thing that the US is headed for 1 party rule, even if I belong to that party.

    Joe Reply:

    Trump winning was just icing, it was not the cake.

    And conservatives destroyed their own movement by become ingrained the party of “not a democrat”.
    Trump’s victory was pooop on the cake.

    The blacklisting of conservatives is widely reported.
    Pay particular attention in national policy and defense where Putin’s influence is most focused.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    @John
    The issues that Democrats flipped on were good. By embracing trade, etc., Democrats have created the perfect party platform (IMHO).

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    if it is the perfect party platform, then why is it not working?

    And if the GOP is in decline, then why are they at historically high levels of power?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No they aren’t.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    In the long game of politics, we’re the party of optimism, economic growth, workers and businesspeople, immigrants and natives, etc etc. The Republicans have become the ruthless yet unpopular party of dying out irrationally angry white men.

    Jerry Reply:

    What? Wait!
    You mean this isn’t, “the dawning of the age of Aquarius “??

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The Democrats are alive and well in the cities and the cities are making a resurgence all across the country. Be it Atlanta or Austin, Seattle or San Francisco. And contrary to popular perception, cities don’t just exist in blue states.

    Of course the political system that gives more representation to a patch of dirt in Wyoming than to living breathing people will always favor the rural party (which in the past “just happened to be” the slaveholding party), but ultimately the Dems will bounce back…

    But maybe it will only be after the Second American Revolution dislodges the Trumpistas after forty years of family dictatorship.

    Jerry Reply:

    “irrational exuberance” ?
    Next week he turns water into wine.
    He has nowhere to go but up.
    Trump towers über alles. :-)

    Danny Reply:

    liberals didn’t lose this one: Wasserman-Schultz was handed total power over the party and completely ignored the statehouses since her appointment, but since she had blessing from above she was able to piss away a supermajority and 1,000 state seats
    for 2018 the Dems are relying on a dead-cat bounce for the House; the Senate looks pretty bad
    or you think Booker will save everyone?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    It’s a matter of how bigly Trump fails/whether we can have a highly organized reverse tea party wave.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the groundswell of popular support for an anti-Trump movement is certainly there. But unlike the Tea Party, this grassroots movement will have to contend with districts drawn to gerrymander them out of existence, open bribery to finance the economic right and a handful of other things.

    But if you had told someone in 1788 that the Republicans would reign triumphant over France in short order, there would have been myriad reasons why “this could never happen”, so never say never. Let’s just hope the long national nightmare that is Trump won’t last as long as might be feared…

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    @John Gillibrand and Booker aren’t particularly liveral, except maybe in the classical sense.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    John Gillibrand??? I thought you were talking about Kirsten Gillibrand, the NY Senator.

    Who is John Gillinbrand?

    The Democrats have not elected a candidate (liberal or not) from the Northeast since Kennedy. That is 50+ years. Not happening

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    @ John is getting your attention
    Gillibrand is Kirsten Gillibrand
    Sorry for using a tiny smartphone.
    I doubt the region from which a candidate hails has any effect on the race unless they’re from a swing state.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    oh it matters. It is no coincidence that Mondale and Dukakis were big losers.

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/12/bernie-sanders-would-have-lost-election-landslide

    I will say this, she has a better chance than Warren who will be a repeat of Hilary

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Care to specify why region matters?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I just did, the last 3 Democratic Party candidates from the northeast are responsible for the worst losses in party history. Dukakis and Mondale by landslides and Clinton by blowing an election against the worst animate in history.

    Go,for it, but you are warned

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    And why do you think the region is more than just a coincidence?

    Jerry Reply:

    Geographic economics combined with politics.
    Geo-politics. Usually referred to on an international basis, but also applicable on internal government situations.
    Throw in religion and cultural differences and you have your usual mess.

    Joe Reply:

    Oh god you never stop.
    Minnesota is not remotely the northeast.

    Jerry Reply:

    Cotton doesn’t grow too well in Massachusetts.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    @Joe–true, MN is thoroughly Midwestern
    @Jerry–what specifically are you talking about?

    Jerry Reply:

    You car(e)free asked, “And why do you think the region is more than just a coincidence? ”
    Politics is a reflection of economic interests.  Follow the money.
    The economy grew from water based interests.  Crops, farming, manufacturing.  Rivers, Roads, and Rail helped get things to market. 
    This usually happens on a “regional” basis.

    Jerry Reply:

    Trump has upset ALL applecarts.
    Old rules and roles will not apply to future politics.

    Jerry Reply:

    The teacher unions won’t know what has hit them.
    Processes will be rewritten.
    Paradigms will shift.

    Jerry Reply:

    Vouchers will reign (rain) like never before.

    Jerry Reply:

    The media now is all a twitter.
    :-)

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Vouchers are ok if (and only if) they aren’t valid at religious schools, and if schools are well regulated. We can probably extract those concessions via filibuster.

    Danny Reply:

    MN was a point and a half away from flipping to Trump

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Clinton is not from the Northeast in any but the most weird senses…

    She was born in the Midwest and her political career began as first lady of a Southern state.

    And when it comes to Dukakis and Mondale, their “flaw” was not so much being Northeasterners but rather being “East Coast Liberals” – at the time seen as a discredited establishment – precisely the thing Sanders has never been seen as.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When did Minnesota move to the Northeast? Their problem was that the Dixiecrats got out all the dog whistles and blew on them real hard.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think part of the problem was that Mondale and Dukakis ran away from the “liberal” label instead of embracing it. That’s seen as weak. If your opponent tries to paint you as a pinko-commie, hit them right back with rhetorical questions about all the social programs Americans know and love.

    zorro Reply:

    Agreed Bahnfreund, most Democrats retreated from the policies FDR set, and instead tried to undo the Southern Strategy, by emulating Republicans, that did not work…

    Then they abandoned the 50 state strategy, since Obama did not care about elections anymore after 2012, which left the DNC drifting aimlessly, people in the Democratic Party stopped listening, and only campaigned in Swing States, plus they took constituents for granted, like Blue Collar workers, who live in the Rust Belt and were taken for granted, a great way to lose elections.

    Now hopefully a Resistance is finally forming, after Occupy was shown to be largely a toothless failure without any political organization to emulate the Tea Party with.

    The Resistance needs to have some political backbone, and threaten to Primary the bastards, and be willing and able to carry out the threat, if needed.

    Otherwise we’re going to keep on losing outside of Deep Blue states.

    The GOP/Republican Party(they’re one and the same) wants a Permanent Majority, from the the State level on up, plus an Articles of Confederation government…

    Danny Reply:

    http://www.rollcall.com/news/kushner-and-trump-bundle-for-booker

    Jerry Reply:

    Follow the money.

    Jerry Reply:

    Trump is the, “Permanent Outsider.” [my quote]
    Political theater forever.
    No one really wants the circus to leave town.
    The guy you love to hate.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Trump is Berlusconi, Mussolini, Le Pen, Höcke, Petry

    zorro Reply:

    And He employs people who’d make Joseph Goebbels proud…

    tRump also has His own private security force as His personal guard, and tRump does not want to use the secret service, all that’s missing is the SS uniforms…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Do you know who made those uniforms?

    A little known German tailor by the name of “Hugo Boss”. True story.

    Quite frankly, right now, I’d be happy if Trump were “just” a Putin puppet…

    Jerry Reply:

    Inauguration is rigged.
    Karaoke machine will not perform at Trump’s inauguration.

    http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/karaoke-machine-backs-out-of-performing-at-inauguration

  3. Spencer Joplin
    Jan 17th, 2017 at 05:25
    #3

    A never-ending eminent domain case load, along with a stream of emotional appeals to not steal people’s land. Formulating responses to hundreds of critical comments on thick environmental documents. Doing it with a constant time crunch. Yeah, I’d be miserable, too.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Would you call using Eminent Domain to build parking or a highway “stealing people’s land”?

    zorro Reply:

    No one is stealing any land, anywhere, land is bought, even with eminent domain, you know something called money is used to buy land with…

  4. Roland
    Jan 17th, 2017 at 07:53
    #4
  5. les
    Jan 17th, 2017 at 07:56
    #5

    It appears the more built out the project gets the greater the panic and push back becomes. Republicans can’t stand the thought of CAHSR using up the federal funds and eventually putting the project exclusively under state funds. This is their last major unified gasp at stopping it.

    Aarond Reply:

    The thing is even if all federal aide dried up Sacramento has the 2/3rds majority needed to increase taxes making it a non-issue. CAHSR is getting built, and will probably be here sooner (5-7 years) rather than later (10-15 years).

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    And then every red state will want HSR funded federally. Its a burden to be California (not really.)

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The people who would stand to lose if HSR were to become a success in the US know that they can’t allow even a single system to be built. Much less one in the state that very close to literally makes the culture of the world.

    If trains run through Hollywood, chances are they’ll be so pervasive on all screens in such short order that nobody will be able to resist…

  6. morris brown
    Jan 17th, 2017 at 08:46
    #6

    Well, the Times now rebuts the letter from Richard and Morales, disputing their criticism of the Jan 13th Times article.

    LA Times: Federal warning of higher bullet-train costs prompts sharp opinions, plans for congressional hearings

    Unfortunately for the Authority, Vartabedian has the facts, which really speak for themselves and regardless of what kind of spin Richard and Morales try, the facts prevail.

    Also to be noted today Fox and Hounds, with its lead story from Joel Fox, chimed in:

    Fox and HOunds: Enough Already! More Woe for the High-Speed Rail

    At the very least the Authority should now support a full audit by the State Auditor. Knowing past history, this will not happen.

    Roland Reply:

    “So, we find that the budget allocated to the Track and Systems portion of the project Central Valley segment is sufficient. However, we also find that the budget allocated to Signals and Communications line item in particular may be low for an ERTMS level 2 type of system design. PFAL was provided a detailed line item budget breakdown for the Signaling and communications system, dated December 1, 2016. The Signaling and Communications line item budget also has a category for the train control system that will be required on-board the passenger trains. However, no funding was allocated to this on-board system within the Signaling and Communications budget with the expectation that such a system will be supplied by the rolling stock provider. In the interests of effectively managing major technology interfaces, PFAL suggests that the Authority consider procuring the on-board systems as part of the Signaling and Communications package and then providing that system as “free issue” to the rolling stock provider for installation on the passenger trains.

    The level of estimating detail for Signals and Communications provided to PFAL is parametric in nature. However, cost comparisons with other ERTMS projects are clouded by “brownfield” and “greenfield” considerations. We would expect that the Signals and Communications budget should be more in the order of $500 million (2015$)”

    http://hsr.ca.gov/docs/brdmeetings/2016/brdmtg_121316_item2_ATTACHMENT_Independent_Cons_Report_CV_Segment_Fund_Plan.pdf (page 25)

    les Reply:

    Morris, you do know that Putin ordered a hack on the CAHSR offices and had docs altered.

    Roland Reply:

    Are you sure, really, really sure? https://youtu.be/4_Gf0mGJfP8?t=435

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Geoblocked at my location :-(

    Joe Reply:

    The Times story noted that the authority’s internal audits last year identified a number of management problems. The rail authority said in the letter that it has corrected issues uncovered in a 2012 audit, but the letter did not mention the issues in the more recent audits.

    A reporter should list the unaddressed issues. Did Ralph list resolved issues and thus exaggerate? He doesn’t defend himself at all.

    Looks like this exercise is left to the reader.

    I downloaded the recent audit and will see if Ralph evaded giving us an apology.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    i looked at it already. There are some issues they addressed and some that they choose not to address. They did not fix them all, as was implied.

    Joe Reply:

    Thanks for the mushy assessment.

    I’ll still check myself.

    A journalist would not have reported any resolved issues as open and if so, would immediately issue a correction.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Unless they have an ax to grind and are not out there to report on the issues as neutrally as possible but to make the case for or against one side or the other…

    Jerry Reply:

    Morris.
    Joel Fox asks the question:
    “Can the rail program be abandoned now that it has begun?”
    What do you think????

    Jerry Reply:

    Morris.
    Please ask your doctor if completely stopping HSR is right for you.
    Serious side effects may occur.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    You can abandon a hundred story tower after you built the first ninety-nine floors; the question is: Why?

  7. Roland
    Jan 17th, 2017 at 08:50
    #7

    Meanwhile in the House of Lords, Clause 48 is materially altered to restrict the ability of HS2 to compulsorily acquire land for regeneration or development: http://www.theconstructionindex.co.uk/news/view/lords-amendments-to-hs2-bill

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Wait, the House of Lords can do that?

    I thought there job was basically to sit around and wear funny wigs….

  8. Aarond
    Jan 17th, 2017 at 10:37
    #8

    I remembered that Measure AA passed which means the Cargill flats aren’t getting developed. This means less housing for RWC and no RWC ferry (as the 2014 WETA report indicated that RWC ferry service would only make sense if it was surrounded by mid-density housing). Bair Island is off limits as well.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Prop already runs a private/chartered ferry service (tech employer shuttle) to Redwood City’s Westpoint Harbor … with upcoming plans for public service.

    Meanwhile, the Port of RWC’s WETA ferry status web page is still around …

    Aarond Reply:

    Which will only turn Seaport into a parking lot, because it’s so isolated. Everything out there should be built up so Samtrans can be coerced into providing a proper connection service into it.

    Roland Reply:

    Why would SamTrans provide a proper connection service to anything????

    Michael Reply:

    Exactly- You’ve hit on the exact problem with the myth of ferries. While the bay is wide open, access at landslide is constrained because the last thing that should be on the shoreline is parking lots. Golden Gate is again trying to get people on feeders to the Larkspur boats, the busiest service in the bay area, because realistically they can’t increase parking at the terminal.

    As far as Redwood City is concerned, I don’t see how ferries make sense, except for the fun factor.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Yeah. That seems really weird. The Marin and Eastbay ones make sense, and perhaps a SF-Berkley would be good, but nowhere south of SF makes any sense.

    Jerry Reply:

    One of many Peninsula Problems.
    Foster City and Redwood Shores are both built on swamp land. With an earthen dike/levee around them. Soon to be under water in 40/50 years.
    Cargill flats proposed 12,000 homes for Peninsula housing. But problems of traffic, et.al stopped it via the vote.
    However, 100 separate and different developments of 120 homes each are hardly held to a vote or the same scrutiny on the rest of the Peninsula. Creeping traffic jams forever.

  9. StevieB
    Jan 17th, 2017 at 17:48
    #9

    Ralph Vartabedian’s Los Ángeles Times article lead the Wall Street Journal to opine California’s Big Dig:
    Elaine Chao can take the train to Fresno off federal life support. This has lead to Charlotte Hays at the Independent Women’s Forum to write Wall Street Journal: Elaine Chao Should Take California’s Bullet Train off Life Support.

    With Elaine Chao gliding towards confirmation as transportation secretary, the Wall Street Journal suggests this morning (in an editorial headlined “California’s Big Dig”) that an early action should be to put an end an extremely costly boondoggle: California’s beleaguered bullet train…

    The Wall Street Journal notes that that Los Angeles Times reported last week that the first 118-mile segment likely will run 50% over budget, citing a confidential internal Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) risk analysis. The report also indicated that several deadlines will be missed.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration several years ago gave the state $3.2 billion for a 500-mile stretch between San Francisco and Anaheim. No work has been done on this segment…

    The Journal editorial summarizes:

    The Trump Administration can stop the federal cash advances, which are merely encouraging the rail authority to burn through funds to meet spending deadlines. This may also be contributing to cost overruns. Why should national taxpayers pay for a boondoggle that California’s liberal legislators won’t?

    Moreover: in car-crazy California, just how many people would take the bullet train?

    Charlotte Hays apparently has no knowledge of California High-Speed Rail outside of what she reads in the Wall Street Journal opinion pages and poor comprehension of that.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Ugggghhhh. California is NOT CAR CRAZY, especially compared to almost all of the rest of America. Stupid false stereotypes!

    Wells Reply:

    Look here Carfree,
    Sue Warren Buffett:$5Billion
    BNSF RR shortfalls coal/oil/gas

    Wells Reply:

    Yeah. Yew can do it!

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    In fact, California is currently one of the most triumphant examples of “if you build it, they will come” – but opinion piece writers seem to be unaware of the actual facts when they piss out statements such as these…

    Jerry Reply:

    Big Wall Street Journal editorial big big LIE:
    “The Obama Administration gave California $3.2 billion to build the 500-mile bullet train from San Francisco Anaheim, which seven years later still isn’t shovel ready.”
    ISN’T SHOVEL READY??????????
    How do they get away with this?????????

    Jerry Reply:

    But Mitch McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao may try to pull the plug and get some federal money back.
    New Air Force One – too costly.
    Next up. CAHSR – too costly.

    joe Reply:

    She can’t pull back money.
    Only Congress can pull back the money by passing a law and they pull back only that which has not been spent.

    Jerry Reply:

    But wait.
    Not shovel ready????
    Maybe they are talking about the 44% of the land which has not yet been acquired for the FIRST segment. If you don’t own the land, you can’t start shoveling it.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Construction has already started.

    What’s your definition of “shovel ready”?

    Jerry Reply:

    The WSJ editorial is titled, “California’s Big Dig”.
    A good Boston Globe article looks at the $15 Billion dollar project 10 years later. Good or Bad?
    You be the judge.
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/12/29/years-later-did-big-dig-deliver/tSb8PIMS4QJUETsMpA7SpI/story.html

    Jerry Reply:

    Article refers to Boston’s “Big Dig”.

    joe Reply:

    Which proves it is a ridiculous criticism.

    Wells Reply:

    Au Contrare, Boston’s BigDig turned-out fine, better than expected.
    New parkspaces used utilized specialized special places.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Why didn’t they just remove instead of relocate the freeways?

    Domayv Reply:

    because America loves freeways apparently

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well one of the most high profile freeway removals was the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Fine? It was ridiculously over budget and over schedule. And the build quality was so low it KILLED people.

    In what way was it “better than expected?”

Comments are closed.