Sunday, June 28, 2015

Senator Leno lies to reduce high-speed rail transparency



See Senator Mark Leno (starting at 2:26), representing the city in the State Senate, lie in support of SB-76, a bill that will require the High-Speed Rail Authority to report to the state legislature only once every two years instead of every six months. From Kathy Hamilton's account:

...So how did SB-76 (AB-93, Assembly side) get passed so quickly? It began life in the January 2015 as a placeholder for monkey business later, meaning it was nearly blank. It was amended in March and included all kinds of things, such as salmon, forestry, tribal issues, and it was labeled a water bill. No sign of high-speed rail in the bill. June 11th someone took a hatchet to the bill and excluded large portions of the March bill and assigned it to the transportation committee under Budget and Fiscal review as a trailer bill to the budget. Speedy action followed. This is called the gut-and-amend process or a spot bill and is specifically designed to push bills through without public debate...

There were some Senators who stood up and objected to this action when it came up for a vote. Toward the end of this five-minute YouTube, Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, asks for their aye vote. He states that the High-Speed Rail Board discusses everything in public on a monthly basis including their finances, their hiring and firing, and updates about the project. Leno states making this change was to increase efficiency, to create less onerous reporting...

Nothing could be further from the truth. They rarely discuss finances at the regular board meetings. Instead these discussions are held separately, usually in an early morning finance committee meeting which makes it harder for people to access. The meetings are not live-streamed or audio or video recorded. And if the issues get too touchy, they have pushed the public out the door mid-meeting as they did in their March 10, 2015 committee meeting. They do produce financial reports but there is no explanation for abbreviations or terms to make them public friendly. It’s not held every month, either. In June there was no finance committee meeting.

This bill, SB 76, should be amended immediately. For a project of this magnitude---the largest infrastructure project the U.S. has ever attempted---the public wants more transparency and accountability, not less.

California’s track record on mega projects has not been good. Senator Mark DeSaulnier conducted a session called “Lessons Learned” after the Bay Bridge debacle went to $1.4 to $6.3 billion and wanted to explore what could be learned to avoid this from happening again. Reducing reporting was not among the action items...

And speaking of Parsons Brinckerhoff, there was lots of maneuvering at the board meeting on June 9th in Los Angeles to get a $700 million dollar contact approved with Parsons even if it meant that they had to call back Vice Chair Thea Selby, who was heading to the airport, to complete a quorum for the vote. Why was it so important to drag a board member back from the airport? Why couldn’t they pass this agenda item in Sacramento at the next meeting?

Is this an example of transparency?

Perhaps nothing illegal was done here, but clearly the board wanted to get on with the award at a busy meeting where the focus would not be on this subject. They wanted to minimize any questions. It was disclosed that the selection criteria were partially subjective and could have made the difference in a very tight race between Bechtel and Parsons Brinckerhoff, but we’ll never know for sure.

By the way, the CEO, Jeff Morales left his position at PB, where he was managing the High-Speed Rail project for them, and went directly to work for the Authority as their CEO. Previously he managed the Bay Bridge project for Caltrans and understated the costs of that project to the Legislature...


Steinberg and Leno screw state taxpayers

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8 Comments:

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more I learn about Leno the more I dislike him. That fake smile is the killer...

Anyway, he is the guy in Sacto that continues to carry the water for the major donors to his future political path. In particular late night "entertainment" in the city, at the expense of established residential areas. His donor list is a whose who of big box clubs in the city, the industry strength DJ clubs that pack 400+ into venues, the same venues that funnel money to Leno to change operating hours, to fortify infused booze...all sorts of things.

 
At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Kathy Hamilton said...

I am Kathy Hamilton the Author from the Examiner who wrote most of your article, though you did not attribute it to me. I would like attribution please. I have dates and times of my Twitter feed. The Examiner is "examining" the situation and temporarily has taken my article down.

I never mind if someone promotes my ideas since I feel passionately about them but the correct thing, the legal thing to do is give attribution.

 
At 10:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Okay. Note that I did provide a link to your article, but it doesn't work now, probably because your editor took it down. I checked the link after I posted, and it worked fine.

I respect your work on high-speed rail and have linked it before. Here's your Twitter link and a link to your earlier pieces. Anyone interested in this issue reads your articles.

 
At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How shocking, Rob the plagiarist strikes again.

 
At 6:28 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Anon the Defamer strikes again. Nope, no plagiarism involved here. I attributed the post to Hamilton by name, which was linked to the article that was taken down by her editor. Plagiarism is when you appropriate someone else's words without attribution.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Hamilton's article is back online. I bet her editor got some heat from Leno's supporters that prompted him/her to take another look at the piece, though there was nothing at all wrong with it in the first place. She was too polite to call Leno a liar, but that didn't stop me.

I see that Supervisor Wiener is going to replace Leno in the State Senate. Wiener is gay and also supports the dumb high-speed rail project, which will, if nothing else, provide voters with some kind of continuity.

 
At 10:09 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

Nope, neither the Examiner or received heat from Leno supporters. The Examiner runs a very automated publishing organization and probably used some kind of electronic checker and they thought that I took this author's work. It's corrected now and thanks for putting up the link.

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Thank you for your excellent work monitoring the high-speed rail fiasco.

 

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