Thursday, September 12, 2013

SF Weekly's reality check on high-speed rail

Judge Kenny, photo by Kathy Hamilton

Good to see a crack in the city's monolithic, ill-informed support for the high-speed rail project in the SF Weekly. Apparently the new ownership of the Weekly, the Bay Guardian, and the SF Examiner is not as feared imposing ideological uniformity on those publications. The SF Weekly item by Joe Eskenazi couldn't appear in the Guardian, since both present editor Steve Jones and former editor Tim Redmond have long supported the potentially ruinous project, though nothing they have written shows that they have any real understanding of the many problems that have plagued the project from the beginning.

SF Weekly:

Last month, a Sacramento County judge dealt the beleaguered project a potentially fatal blow, ruling it violated the voter-enshrined terms of Proposition 1A by failing to pony up $25 billion in funding---for its initial segment alone. Also ordered by Judge Michael Kenny were scrupulous environmental procedures for hundreds of miles of potential tracks, cleaving through land populated by ornery types with lawyers on speed-dial.

Actually, Proposition 1A requires that the project have environmental clearance before the state can begin building the system, just like it required that it have enough money to build that "initial operating segment" in the Valley. Judge Kenny found that the project had neither the money nor the environmental clearance.

What the local media's performance on high-speed rail represents is another massive intellectual failure on an important issue. A partial list of those who botched the issue is a who's-who of local and state politics: Governor Brown, Willie Brown, the SF Chronicle, the SF Examiner, SF StreetsblogSupervisor Wiener, Mayor Lee, SPUR, and Mark Leno

Only Gavin Newsom has done some rethinking on the project.


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