Against California High Speed Rail

Against California High Speed Rail by Mark R. Powell

High Speed Rail – the TRUTH!

Corrupt behavior at the offices of the California High Speed Rail Authority would be a surprise to nobody.  In early November information was sent to this blog’s administrator alleging such corrupt and illegal practices at CHSRA, but the sender provided no way to contact him/her to begin verifying the accusations. As everything posted on this blog is painstakingly documented, a follow-up email with contact information is requested.

Farmer’s Lawsuit Against Rail Authority and Lawless State Government Moves Forward

“We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.”
― Hunter S. Thompson

Following the appropriation of rail bonds by the state legislature this past July, the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) began adding highly paid executives to its staff and embarked on a spending spree to advance the rail project.  Against the formidable forces of the state stand two Kings County farmers, their lawyer, and the Law. Continue reading

Lessons Learned from High Speed Railroaders…of Public Funds

High Speed Railroaders, Governor Brown and democrats in the State Legislature, possess an insatiable appetite for taxpayer money. California has the highest sales tax and the highest gasoline tax in the nation [Note 1] [Note 2].  Our maximum state income tax rate of 10.3% is second only to Hawaii’s 11% [Note 3] and yet the railroaders propose sales and income tax increases they hope voters will approve this coming November [Note 4].  The railroaders’ problem is not lack of revenue. Theirs is a spending problem.  To say  railroaders spend money like a drunken sailor is an insult to drunken Continue reading

Let Your Voice Be Heard…Now

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Do something good.  Don’t let evil and crony capitalism triumph.  Take a few minutes to write to your state legislators (senator and assemblyman) or better yet, call their office(s) and voice your opposition to Brown’s Boondoggle.  Voice your concern over the high cost, non-existent funding plan, unfounded ridership claims, environmental damage, or anything else you find offensive about the high speed rail project.   Make your voice heard now before the legislature votes this week to release billions of your tax dollars to begin construction of the high speed Train to Nowhere.

Your legislators’ email addresses and phone numbers are only a click away.

Good luck and thank you for your time.

Mark R. Powell
Against California High Speed Rail

Release of California Rail Bonds May Be Ruled Illegal

An Argument Against the California Legislature’s Release of $2.7 Billion in Proposition 1A Rail Bonds
As a safeguard against what might be termed a “stranded investment”, the Californian High Speed Rail Authority is required to submit to the legislature (and other parties) a “detailed funding plan for the corridor or usable segment thereof”, for which they are seeking state bond funds [Note 1].

AB 3034 section 2704.01 paragraphs (d) through (g) define important terms:
(d) “High-speed train” means a passenger train capable of sustained revenue operating speeds of at least 200 miles per hour where conditions permit those speeds.
(e) “High-speed train system” means a system with high-speed trains and includes, but is not limited to, the following components: right-of-way, track, power system, rolling stock, stations, and
associated facilities.
(f) “Corridor” means a portion of the high-speed train system as described in Section 2704.04.
(g) “Usable segment” means a portion of a corridor that includes at least two stations.

In their Draft 1012 Business Plan released in November 2011 the Authority proposed building an “Initial Construction Segment” (ICS) in the Central Valley using roughly $3.3 billion in federal funds and $2.7 billion in state rail bonds.  The proposed ICS was not to be electrified and there was to be no high-speed rolling stock.  In other words, it would not be ready for high-speed train service when completed. Opponents of high-speed rail Continue reading

California Rail Authority and Senators Question the Legality of the Revised 2012 Business Plan

State Senators ask Legislative Counsel and Rail Authority asks Attorney General to Comment on Legality of the Business Plan.
Senator Joseph Simitian, Chairman of Budget Subcommittee, and Senator Mark DeSaulnier, Chair of the Policy Committee on Transportation wrote to the Legislative Counsel, Ms. Diane Boyer-Vine on April 18 in search of an opinion on the legality of the Authority’s Revised 2012 Business Plan.  The entire body of their letter reads as follows:

On April 12, 2012 the California High Speed Rail Authority adopted a “business plan” for the statewide high speed rail project.  We are writing to ask your office to review the adopted plan and advise us as to whether or not the plan is legally compliant with the provisions of Proposition 1A, as approved by the voters in Continue reading

Rail Authority Puts Lipstick On Their High-Speed Pig

Makeover depicted in new Revised Draft 2012 Business Plan
The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Draft 2012 Business Plan released in November of 2011 (November Plan) was widely criticized for starting construction in the Central Valley, high costs, lack of a credible funding plan, and its completion date of 2033.  But a careful read of the Revised Draft 2012 Business Plan (April Plan) released the Monday following April Fool’s Day reveals the same foul Continue reading

Rail Authority admits in Senate Hearing it lacks a clear Funding Plan

And yet they still propose spending $6 billion on a Central Valley Railroad

Dan Richard, Chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, told Senators and the public at a Senate Hearing held March 13 that with respect to the about-to-be-released Revised 2012 Business Plan:

“I don’t believe we are going to be able to look you in the eye or look the public in the eye and tell them that we have any greater clarity about the funding today than we did on November 1st when we issued our draft plan.” [Note 1]

The risk of a $6 billion “stranded investment” in the Central Valley
The Authority was created sixteen years ago and tasked with preparing a high-speed intercity rail plan and to “designate an entity with stable and predictable Continue reading

High-Speed Rail Evolution

A History of Deceit and Broken Promises
With a lull in news about California’s high-speed rail project as both proponents and opponents await the release of the Final 2012 Business Plan it is worth looking back over the past two decades at the promises and the reality of this project.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority was created in 1996 so that California might “have a comprehensive network of high-speed intercity rail systems by the year 2020.  To achieve this goal it was to immediately “begin preparation of a high-speed intercity rail plan similar to California’s former freeway plan and designate an entity with stable and predictable funding sources to implement the plan.” [Note 1]

Early Promises (2000 Business Plan)
Now mostly forgotten, and with only remnants of the plan still available on the Authority’s website, this plan’s highlights promised:
• 6 years of environmental and preliminary design work followed by a 10 year construction schedule for the statewide system that would connect all major metropolitan areas [Note 2].
• a $25 billion cost (expressed in 1999 dollars) [Note 3].
• a proposal to fund the project with a temporary sales Continue reading

Hints of a New Path for California High Speed Rail

Senator Feinstein and Bay Area Representatives Call for Initial Construction in Bay Area.
Two high profile letters to the proponents of high-speed rail hint at a major shift in construction plans.  The most recent, a letter from Senator Diane Feinstein to Governor Brown [note 1], culled seven action items from the recent High-Speed Rail Peer Group Report and urged these “be addressed quickly with a concerted effort under your leadership”.

1. select an initial operating segment as soon as possible,
2. include a deployment plan for electrified high speed trains with positive train control systems,
3. further develop the business plan to address risk and cost issues,
4. involve the private sector in project design,
5. increase project management capacity,
6. subject demand forecasts to greater scrutiny, and
7. “reduce the risk to the state of a stranded project” by investing initial funding in the segments that currently serve significant train ridership (San Jose to San Francisco Continue reading