Let's start this morning with Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee, commenting on the disgraceful behavior of OUR government in promoting the high-speed rail project. If I may put it bluntly, they are shoving this project down our throat.
CEO Roelof Van Ark has been adivsed, according to Walters, by the Vice-President of the United States and by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, to stack a congressional hearing to be held in Fresno, in the Central Valley, tomorrow, February 22. Furthermore, the CHSRA PR machine has been instructed to mislead opponents that the meeting is not about high-speed rail. This if a scam. . . a fraud upon the citizens and voters of California.
This blog will be all about that with several additonal comments from colleagues who are equally outraged at the government rigging the elections, if I may put it that way.
Check this blog throughout the day. There's a lot more coming!
I am now asking, Where is the outrage? When does this disaster go viral?
Lack of a plan has state on verge of a rail 'boondoggle'
Posted at 09:00 PM on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011
By Dan Walters / The Sacramento Bee
When Florida Gov. Rick Scott canceled his state's high-speed rail project -- emulating what happened in Ohio and Wisconsin -- California bullet train advocates immediately sought diversion of federal funds to their state.
The High-Speed Rail Authority plans to begin a tiny section of the system in the San Joaquin Valley next year, clearly hoping that were track laid, it would be a psychological -- and political -- commitment even though the project's financial dimensions still are cloudy.
When voters narrowly approved a $9.95 billion bond issue in 2008 (with a boosterish official summary that courts later ruled was illegally written by the Legislature), the cost was pegged at $33 billion. It later rose to $43 billion, and outside experts say it could be as much as $65 billion.
The HSRA is now seeking input from private investors but acknowledges that they probably would want "revenue guarantees," meaning operating subsidies from taxpayers, which state law specifically prohibits.
All of this might be cleared up if the HSRA produced a long-delayed business plan, and HSRA officials got a tongue-lashing about the stall during a recent budget hearing.
Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, complained that "you've already decided on the route, and yet we lack an updated financial plan of who's paying for this. We lack legal analysis about any concept of operating subsidy. We lack a business plan that really tells us what is the modeling we can have faith in and about the ridership numbers."
Lowenthal, who has since introduced a bill to reconstitute the HSRA, aimed his remarks at agency boss Roelof Van Ark, who with other bullet train boosters are pushing the San Joaquin Valley segment and even organizing political demonstrations for it.
E-mails, some written by Van Ark, last week outlined plans to pack a congressional hearing in Fresno this week with supporters, including contractors. The hearing -- unrelated to high-speed rail -- is being conducted by House Transportation Committee chairman John Mica, R-Fla.
One Van Ark e-mail stated that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Vice President Joe Biden had urged him to "ensure that the John Mica hearings in California are well-attended," while another told a public relations operative, "trust you are also helping to ensure that the industry and labor are out in full force to flood any negative contributors."
An underling told Van Ark that "our goal is to turnout 300-400 people."
When Scott turned down federal bullet train money, he said, "It is absolutely critical that we make smart investments with taxpayer dollars, whether state or federal, and I believe our state will be better served by spending these funds on projects that will benefit Florida and not turn into a spending boondoggle."
DAN WALTERS WRITES FOR THE BEE’S CAPITOL BUREAU. E-MAIL: DWALTERS@SACBEE.COM; MAIL: P.O. BOX 15779, SACRAMENTO, CA 95852.
Read more: http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/02/20/2280239/lack-of-a-plan-has-state-on-verge.html#ixzz1EcIzkFvx
Here is more specific information about the Fresno meeting:
House Ranking Members: Denham, Mica, Shuster want to hear from California residents about the CAHSR project, and they control the purse strings for whether federal govt will provide any money to this project, or kill it outright due to it's projected multi-billion cost overruns, inadequate ridership projections, and perpetual billion dollar operating subsidies (all of which California taxpayers would be responsible for.)
Tuesday 2/22/11: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee listening session and panel discussion with Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Atwater; John Mica, R-Florida; and Bill Shuster, R-Pennsylvania. 9 to 11 a.m., UC Merced Fresno Center, 550 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno. To attend, call (559) 449-2490.
** If anyone can get information about this 2/22/2011meeting to the CC-HSR and Central Valley residents and farmers from Preserve Our Heritage that teamed to testify in Sacramento on 2/10/11before the HSR Budget Subcommittee, that would be appreciated. They will likely have a different opinion and presentation, than the one Roelf Van Ark and CAHSR are intending to present to Congressmen Mica, Shuster and Denham. Questions about Denham's monumental influence over the CAHSR project, as of February 16, 2011, can be found here: <http://denham.house.gov/press-release/rep-denham-secures-aggressive-oversight-ca-high-speed-rail-project>
and here: http://www.bakersfield.com/news/business/economy/x1248562259/McCarthy-backs-plan-to-redirect-bullet-train-money-to-improve-Highway-99 (Congressmen McCarthy, Nunes and Denham move to restrict use of unspent $2 Billion in federal funds to CAHSR to fund Highway 99 infrastructure repairs and upgrade.) **
Here's congressman Denham's press release regarding his 2/22 "listening sessions" with Mica and Valley leaders: <http://denham.house.gov/press-release/representative-denham-host-transportation-infrastructure-listening-session-fresno-ca>
and I think I send this already regarding Denham, McCarthy, Nunes redirecting unspent CA federal HSR funds: <http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/02/16/2275990/bill-would-use-rail-funds-for.html#storylink=mirelated>
** Can Someone Please get word out to the Preserve our Heritage Central Valley Farmers" about this upcoming 2/22/11 and 2/25/11 hearings with Congressmen Mica, Denham, Shuster in their area, thanks.**
Congressman Jeff Denham (CA) originally introduced federal legislation to remove all federal funding for CA's HSR train, but ranking Republican Committee member Shuster (PA) got Dunham to remove amendment in return for Dunham having all federal oversight over CA's HSR project. Denham is now no. 1 person in federal government, maybe next to ranking member John Mica (FL) who is able to kill the CA train, via ending any federal funding. This all happened in last 5 days.
And, if you get word out to your anti-CA-HSR troops who have time to attend, both Dunham and Mica and Shuster are coming to CA to hear directly from CA residents, stakeholders, CAHSR Board, etc. about this project, and whether it deserves any continued federal funds. These Republicans/Tea Party people are influential in the House, and on Saturday they killed all funding for ALL national HSR projects, at least for the remainder of this budget cycle. Here's the info to get to the troops, to tell Mica/Denham why this project is a stinker and only backed by union workers and stakeholders who stand to profit from this boondoggle.
Read more: <http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/02/19/2279485/valley-properties-in-path-of-bullet.html#ixzz1EWM0FM5X>
IF YOU GO
High-speed rail will likely be an issue at two public meetings this week in the Valley: 2/22 and 2/25/11
Tuesday: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee listening session and panel discussion with Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Atwater; John Mica, R-Florida; and Bill Shuster, R-Pennsylvania. 9 to 11 a.m., UC Merced Fresno Center, 550 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno. To attend, call (559) 449-2490.
Friday: Madera County Farm Bureau 2011 Regional Conference, with featured speaker Roelof van Ark, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (van Ark presentation at 9:45 a.m.), Madera State Center Community College, 30277 Ave. 12, Madera. Free and open to the public. Details: