Against California High Speed Rail by Mark R. Powell

High Speed Rail Business Plan Release Will Miss Critical Deadline

In a press release where the headline, “High-Speed Rail to Release Business Plan Nov. 1” ,is at odds with the wording of its first paragraph, California’s High Speed Rail Authority announced a delay in meeting a critical deadline for their project. 

Board Chairman Tom Umberg today directed California High-Speed Rail Authority staff to postpone its planned release of the business plan until at least Nov. 1 to give Gov. Jerry Brown’s new appointees a chance to fully immerse themselves in the plan and offer their own feedback.”      [emphasis added]  [Note 1]

More importantly, the delay is at odds with comments made by the Authority’s CEO, Roelof van Ark, in the Authority’s Finance Committee meeting of March 2, 2011. [Note 2]  In that meeting the following exchange took place between Board Member Kopp and CEO van Ark:

Member Kopp:
 “Let me ask another question.  What is the present date for formulation and publication of our revised Business or our Financial Plan.  Is it October?”

CEO van Ark:
“October the 14th .”

Member Kopp:
And that’s, refresh my memory, pursuant to our expectation of a reasonable time?”

CEO van Ark:
“There are two reasons to meet that date.  There are two different reports that we have to actually submit.  The one is a Draft Business Plan.  The Draft Business Plan then has to be in the public view for 60 days before it is finalized by the Board.  Then it has to be submitted to the Legislature by the first of January 2012.  The second is the Funding Plan…the Funding Plan to meet the requirements of the Prop 1A funding and the release of Prop 1A funds.  That too needs to be supplied to the Department of Finance 90 days before the budget is actually submitted.  The interpretation thereof is 90 days before the budget is submitted by the governor.  And that’s why with all concerned it was agreed that the 14th of October is the latest date for us to submit these two reports.” [emphasis added]
Member Kopp:
“That January 2012 date is statutory, correct?”

CEO van Ark:
“That is correct.” 

Member Kopp:

CEO van Ark:
“And obviously the Funding Plan date is as necessary because it is also statutory.  It’s just that that date is not as well defined.  But we need to put in a Funding Plan to be able to get the state funds…the prop. 1A funds released in the next budget cycle.” 

Member Kopp:

Absent from the Authority’s press release is any mention of the Funding Plan for their project. 

Perhaps both plans are delayed because the Authority is finding it difficult to write a good Business Plan for a fatally flawed business and equally difficult to write a Funding Plan for a project that has no government body or private corporation  stepping forward to fund it.  The Authority at their next Board Meeting, still scheduled for November 3, should expect tough questions from their constituents who mostly wish this project would just go away. [Note 3]

Statements made in this article are supported by footnotes shown below.  Original source documents can be obtained by clicking on the highlighted notes imbedded in the article.

Note 1  High Speed Rail Authority Press Release dated October 4, 2011 entitled “High-Speed Rail to Release Business Plan Nov. 1

Note 2 Audio tape of March 2, 2011 Rail Authority Finance Committee meeting, 19 minutes 42 seconds into meeting

Note 3  Probolsky Research LLC, California Voters on State Spending and High-Speed Rail, Sept. 28, 2011

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