Saturday, August 17, 2013

Big defeat for high-speed rail

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton

California's taxpayers won a big victory in a Sacramento court yesterday, as a judge ruled that the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) "abused its discretion" by not getting the money guaranteed for its first segment and for not getting the required environmental review done before beginning construction.

The Chronicle, which supports the boondoggle, published an Associated Press story on the decision that today is listed at the top of its most read/most commented list. A more complete account is by Tim Sheehan in the Fresno/Sacramento Bee. Kathy Hamilton's story on the decision is here. (The Bee provides a link to a PDF of Judge Kenny's decision. Why can't the Chronicle and the Examiner do the same when they report on important public documents?)

Today's LA Times story on the decision, and Kevin Drum in Mother Jones.

The decision is a result of this litigation.

The judge asked the parties to submit briefs on the remedy he should order as a consequence of this decision.

And there will be a second phase of the litigation. Kathy Hamilton:

Part 2 of the case is expected to begin soon and will delve into more finite promises made to the voters such as the travel time for the train and the questions about ridership and operational costs that appear to point to state subsidy forbidden by Prop 1A.

The local print media is in favor of the poorly-conceived, ruinously expensive project: The Chronicle supports it; the Examiner supports it; the Bay Guardian supports it; the SF Weekly has done good work on the Central Subway but little on high-speed rail. State labor unions support it. SPUR supports it. Supervisor Scott "Good Government" Wiener supports it. Mayor Lee supports it. Senator Mark Leno supports it.

Earlier this year Gavin Newsom criticized the project, which may make him look good to voters---though probably not to other Democratic officials or the unions---when he makes his inevitable run for higher office.

Best source of information and analysis of the California high-speed rail project are the folks at the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail.

Gavin Newsom used to support the project

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At 7:30 PM, Anonymous sfthen said...

While it would be wonderful if "California taxpayers won a big victory"
the notes that Jerry Brown said, “it did not stop anything” which of course means that the First Stake is going in.

"The ruling came just hours after the California High-Speed Rail Authority signed a nearly $1 billion contract authorizing a consortium led by Tutor Perini to design and build the first 30 miles of track from Madera to Fresno."

First Stake.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

They have to say that To Keep Hope Alive, as Jesse Jackson used to say. But it's only flim-flam and, in the end, likely only whistling past the graveyard. The second phase of that litigation will deal with other violations of Prop. 1A that could result in a decision that would drive a stake through the heart of this project.


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