HSR Critics Out Themselves As HSR Opponents


Posted on 02 April 2012

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By Robert Cruickshank

You would think that a plan to build high speed rail that is $30 billion cheaper than the previous iteration and provides desperately needed post-oil travel between California’s metropolitan areas sooner would be one that HSR critics would embrace.

Instead, the usual suspects are lining up to attack Governor Jerry Brown’s revisions to the high speed rail project – even those whose ideas are the core underpinnings of the proposal:

“We are a matter of weeks away from various budget deadlines,” state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said Saturday. “When the cost estimates are up and down and up and down by orders of magnitude here, I think folks are going to want to make sure we spend some time to understand how reliable are these figures, and what’s the basis for the new estimate.”

Simitian, chairman of the budget subcommittee considering high-speed rail, said the authority “seems to have been listening and making an effort to be responsive.”

But the Legislature, he said, is unlikely to appropriate funding as quickly as Brown hopes.

“I think we’re going to have to look past the June 15 budget adoption date,” he said.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said legislative approval of the plan on Brown’s time frame would require a “heroic effort.”

“It’s the biggest capital project in the history of the state, and it should be done properly,” he said. “Given that the numbers have bounced around so much, it’s a lot to ask.”

In launching these attacks, these supposed critics are revealing themselves to in fact be opponents of high speed rail. If they wanted simply to improve the project, they’d be praising the effort and pledging to hammer out the details. But by instead denouncing the plan, they’re tipping their hand and showing the public that their actual goal is to kill high speed rail.

In fact, as Californians For High Speed Rail Executive Director Daniel Krause pointed out, the governor’s plan includes things Simitian helped create – namely, the blended plan that allows trains to serve LA and SF more quickly by using existing tracks:

“A core tenet of this plan – the blending of HSR and commuter rail – was an idea generated by Senator Simitian, along with Assemblymember Rich Gordon, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo to reduce costs and impacts. As a result, the plan is much better because of this dialogue.

“Given the months of dialogue and negotiation with lawmakers, we are baffled by recent statements by Senators Joe Simitian and Mark DeSaulnier’s indicating a desire to delay the decision to fund HSR in the state budget.

“While certainly the details of the plan need to be reviewed, we strongly oppose any attempts to delay the HSR funding vote by Senators Simitian and DeSaulnier. These Senators have a deep knowledge of this plan as they helped to craft it. Pleading ignorance about a plan they have helped to create gives the impression they are playing politics with California’s future. We urge them to move forward without delay.”

Krause is right to argue that Simitian and DeSaulnier are working to undermine the project by using these delaying tactics. And they’re also making it clear that their intention isn’t to improve the project but to undercut it.

That’s not the attitude that California legislators ought to be taking. High speed rail is an important part of California’s transportation future. If Senators Simitian and DeSaulnier see ways it can be improved, they ought to work collaboratively to pursue those changes, just as Simitian did with his blended plan. But instead these two are signaling they might join the Tea Party Republicans in dealing President Barack Obama a big political blow in an election year by trying to kill the high speed rail project.

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Robert Cruickshank writes on California politics at Calitics.com. You can follow him on Twitter @cruickshank or find him on Facebook. This article originally appeared on the California High Speed Rail blog.

Now where is the money for HSR going to come from? According to the State Officials California is in a budget constraint now and for the future.

California homeowners and much of the nation has lost a significant amount of our wealth caused not only by Wall Streets but also by the failures of our government that were in bed with the Corporate personhood that caused our economy at the brinks of a collapse. The State wants to spend more money (tax-payers' money) to line the pockets again of the very few in this deal. High Speed rail is going to serve who? The public? The public that is in so much debt that they can't even afford anymore of the education that made this State that was once great. So are we going to fund the project with the $17 Billion that was reserved for struggling homeowners of California? Who is going to pay for this project? How are we going to influence the Citizens when they are still deeply troubled from the many devastation that plague this nation in the past several decades from the breach of the levy in Lousianna to the destruction of Gulf and wild life by the reckless BP OIL; to the squandered of taxpayers dollars to the housing crisis.

So how is HSR going to help education? How will it supposeto bring more jobs to this State? How is it going to attract Commerce? The public is not going to buy that unless the HOUSING MARKET is fixed and not until the public regains their confidence in their government.

We are better off riding our bikes. It more healthier and slower. We can see thing that we have often missed living in a fast pace kind of lifestyle.

Beside that we have a much bigger problems withe the existing infrastructure that needs our attention. #1 problem: the roads and highways are the worst it has ever been in half a century. The Levy along the Delta needed public attention. Crimes are getting worst and the public is getting lesser and lesser education.

So how will the Citizens pay for added infrastructure? If this is going to happen it should strictly be funded by a private investors NOT by public money.

Uh, huh. The Governor throws out a lower estimate to try and placate critics and opponents so we're supposed to be grateful he's come up with a lower price tag? He's just throwing numbers out there to see what people will swallow.

You can't point the finger at skeptics alone. Big government Believers like Cruickshank would support HSR no matter how non- sensible the plan was or how much it cost.

What is it about we don't have the MONEY for this boondoggle that you don't understand?

Its not his money.

We didn't have the money for the interstate highway system, but we built it. We didn't have the money for the State Water Project, but we built it, we didn't have the money for Hoover Dam, but we built it. We didn't have the money for the Golden Gate Bridge, but we built it.

People, there are 150 flights a day from Bay Area airports to LA basin Airports, the airspace cannot handle anymore capacity. Doing nothing is not an option. You can be opposed to HSR for cost reasons thats fine, but unless you come up with a cheaper and more efficient method of moving people up and down the state you are not living in the real world.

I want to hear what the alternatives are, not what the problems with HSR are. If you have any ideas lets hear them if not, shut up and let the grown ups plan for the future of this State.

I have made one viable suggestion. Let the Private Investors deal with it and let the government provide the private Investors the approval to build it themselves. Government are not equiped to handle the major Capital outlay such as HSR. Take a good look at how Bart is being run. Private company maybe able to handle this project more efficiently. If there is profit to be made the private company can simply cover the expenses.

What ever gains and losses they may realize on annual basis will be at their risk. Government can work in collobation with private investors by providing them the necessary permits to build this infrastructure. They can review the plans to make sure that it meet the safety standards for the people of California. They can review the engineering plans of the project. The government can issue permits and licensing necessary to make the project go forward. THAT will be a revenue for the States as well as the taxation coming from the operation of the HSR.

Our government should focus on maintenance of our roads, schools, and other public programs. That is where they should focus. Each and every tax payer will benefit from our roads. There are empirical data in the past that suggest that America is not ready to give up their personal automobile. Something has to give. We either raise the cost of operating vehicles and lose the taxes generated from owning a vehicle, such as raising the registration fees; DMV licensing fees; or raising the cost of automobile insurance that will create a demand for HSR thus will create a competition from this transportation market. If the government want to create the right influence that will drive the public to using the public transportation as a mean to get them from point A to point B then that is what governemtn should do. Allow the Free market to take its course.

We have been hearing free market all this time. Let the private companies put their money where their mouth is.

Governments' role is to regulate this industry as it does in many of the different markets in our economy. Their role is not to participate in the venture with the taxpayers' money.

Dude says: "People, there are 150 flights a day from Bay Area airports to LA basin Airports, the airspace cannot handle anymore capacity. Doing nothing is not an option. You can be opposed to HSR for cost reasons thats fine, but unless you come up with a cheaper and more efficient method of moving people up and down the state you are not living in the real world."

You may be correct. I have given my suggestion. AND I am actually living in the "REAL WORLD". The Air Traffic control under government operation; Our Airports are in our governments' control. BUT THE AIRLINES are in fact operating as a Private Company. And does compete in a free market. The State and Federal generate revenues from these market. The trucking and freight industry operate as a private corporation and thus create competition in this particular market. Our State and Federal government generate revenue from these competing market. We provide the road and highway infrastructure for the greater good of our Nation.

Shipping industry and Cruise ships are another private industry; etc, etc. etc.

Government Official has said that the HSR can operate in our existing train rail stations. That is the infrastructure that our government can participate it. BUT THE HSR....THAT should be privatized. Period. In the real world, WE HAVE TO CONSIDER the reality of our current ECONOMIC condition. The STATE can not afford to put at RISK the programs that ensures the "WELL-BEING" of our citizens. THE CITIZENS should be taken FIRST in all governments' priorities. Our elected officials has a role to spend the taxpayers TREASURY wisely. HSR will benefit Commerce more than the individual taxpayer. It will move the consumers from point A to point B. Let the for profit corporation make the investments. They have the CAPITAL to invest in California. They should be the once that should make the investments NOT the public.

Have any of you read the HSR plan? Clearly not. It WILL be run by and as a private business.

Apparently there is a clear lack of public communication here. I personally have not seen or read the HSR plan. I like most of the public often get bits and pieces of information from various medium (from Print, MainstreamMedia, Television News and bloggers).

If there are public misunderstanding blame the messenger because the responsible public rely on the information produced by journalist and news reporters (unfortunately, they too are not completely independent. Therefore are not provided with all the facts. The powerful owns them and they are told what is or isn't news).

I am a news junky and read them in various MEDIUM.

If it is true that HSR "will be run by and as a private business", WHO ARE THEY? What company are we dealing with in this public/private venture? Are the principals a private investors? And are they partly those who run our government? President Obama just signed into law STOCK ACT. We want to know who the actual players are in this project to make sure there are no conflicting interest that is at play. There are PR firm driving public opinion in both aisle of the political spectrum regarding this project. We want to know that those who were elected by the people ARE speaking for the peoples' interest.

Addendum:

Just as I suspected and predicted above. There was actually a "conflict-of-interest" in the HSR deal according to todays new (on April 9, 2012). Documents on the "HSR deal are being requested"; for investigation due to an allege " conflict-of-interest".

By Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times

April 10, 2012
A congressional committee has launched a wide-ranging examination of the California high-speed rail project, including possible conflicts of interest and how the agency overseeing it plans to spend billions of dollars in federal assistance.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), notified the California High-Speed Authority about the review Monday and ordered the agency to preserve its documents and records of past communications.

Committee members say they want to ensure that tax dollars are being spent appropriately and check for possible conflicts of interest involving rail officials and contractors.

"The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa" STOP RIGHT THERE!

I just finished reading the San Jose Mercury News regarding HSR. No "private business" was identified. It talks about how we will raise the funding sources by issuing Bonds. Bonds that can be purchases by investors. Another substantial portion will be coming from the public taxes already collected and was reserved for this project. THAT IS THE TAXPAYERS' TREASURE.

BOND rates is NOT that attractive for any INVESTORS at this time. Is the State TREASURER planning to invest the peoples' money into this RISKY project? Will it tailgate private investors or is the STATE TREASURY be the first to invest if the BOND measure is approved? WHO IS HEDGING in this project? This will create a competing interest and dynamics at play between the BOND and STOCKS.

AGAIN WHO IS THE PRIVATE BUSINESS behind this project?

Unless the government built airports and air traffic control systems there would be no airline industry. Just sayin.

Until the 1960s, air traffic control was run by the airlines.

conservatives baffle me. They climb into their tax subsidized F-150 twincab, and drive on tax subsidized roads to the gas station to fill up with tax subsidized gas and then go home to complain on the Internet that was created with tax dollars about subsidies for trains.

If they aren't complaining about trains they are complaining that Obama isn't doing enough to keep the price of gas down. Perhaps we should invade Iran like your Presidential candidates want, so you can put another "god bless our troops (for fighting for cheap gas)" on your truck.

Here is what a friend says:

"In Hong Kong, when the developers need Mass Transit to support the housing and/or commercial projects, they paid for it 100% - NO money from the Government and never a tax increase. The business model is so successful and made so much money for the Mass Transit company that the government want to limit their profit. In Hawaii, we force the taxpayer to pay for the infrastructure with tax increase as a gift to the developers/landowners to make money. It is worst than any communist model. Even in China, the Government paid for 100% of the Mass Transit with NO tax increase. I am NOT against Mass Transit, but the BIG landowner should paid for it. Also in Hong Kong, when developers change the farm land say worth US$5,000/acre to Commercial usage worth US$100,000/acre, for each acre of conversion they pay US$95,000 to the government - NO free lunch and no one can trade favor in exchange for campaign contribution or risk going to jail."

What your friend didn't tell you is that most of those Hong Kong developers and private entities are partly or wholly owned by the government. So in reality, the government is funding the transit needs.

Also, Hong Kong is a teesy weensy bit smaller than California. Who built the HSR system that links Hong Kong to the reat of China? the government.

WRONG.....check your sources