Saturday, June 01, 2013

Silence of the progs on the high-speed rail hearing


Interesting silence in the local newspapers and blogs on yesterday's hearing in Sacramento on the high-speed rail project. The local print media and the city's political establishment have consistently supported the poorly-conceived, ruinously expensive project. Maybe that has something to do with it.

The Chronicle posted an AP story online on the hearing last night, but it wasn't in the hard copy of the paper this morning. (The Chronicle's editors support the project.) Nothing in the Examiner[Later: The Examiner also has an AP story---posted online Friday night---on the hearing in their Sunday edition. The Examiner doesn't have a Saturday edition]. Nothing in the Bay Guardian's blog (Steve Jones and Tim Redmond support it) or the SF Weekly's blog. Nothing in BeyondChron, Fog City, or other city blogs.

The San Jose Mercury News had a pre-court story and a post-hearing story yesterday, but its interest in the story is understandable, since the system is supposedly going through the peninsula. (Atherton and Burlingame have contributed money in support of this litigation.) The Mercury News is opposed editorially to the project, rightly calling it "delusional."

Maybe all the local supporters of this dumb project---Democrats and progressives all support it---are waiting to see how the Sacramento hearing comes out.

The unions support the project, because even dumb projects create jobs for their members.

Mayor Lee supports the project, as does Supervisor Scott "Good Government" Wiener.

Kathy Hamilton has been covering high-speed rail full-time and published a story today on the hearing on examiner.com.

The CEQA litigation against the project has been tossed out or settled, but the Sacramento hearing is a more serious challenge to the legality of the project, arguing that it has changed so radically since voters passed Proposition 1A in 2008 that it should be ruled illegal. The project's supporters would then have to either put it back on the ballot---and polls show public opinion is now against it---or give up on the project completely.

Quentin Kopp now opposes the project. He's a key witness in the Sacramento hearing. (His declaration opposing the project.)

Hamilton on this hearing and a second one that will be later this year:

This was the first part of the Prop 1A (Tos/Fukuda/Kings County) suit and involves the writ portion of the case. This is about specific legal issues and has a high burden of proof. Part two will involve several other violations of Prop 1A, such as travel time, ridership, subsidy, inaccurate operating costs etc. and may be heard later this summer. Mike Brady, co-counsel in the suit, explained the differences between the first and second phase is much like the O.J. Simpson trial. Simpson won in the criminal case because of the high burden of proof but that verdict had no effect on the civil action, which Simpson lost because of a lower standard of proof. In the Prop 1A case, even if the judge ruled unfavorably on the writ portion, phase two would continue. One might ask if the Plaintiffs win will it be enough to stop the project? Stuart Flashman said it could; “certainly for the time being until they go back [and] until they do things right.” He says “they need to get the funding. They need to build the full usable segment before they start to move forward constructing something because that’s what the voters were promised.”

The site with the best analyses of the project, The Community Coalition on High Speed Rail.

All of Kathy Hamilton's reports here.

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