Sunday, May 29, 2011

The High-Speed Rail Hustle at Our Expense

You need to get the big picture to appreciate how egregious this issue is.  State Assemblyman Doug  LaMalfa is after the high-speed rail authority, a government agency, for spending tax dollars -- lots of them -- lobbying for more money from Washington.  In effect, this is one government agency, the CHSRA,  using tax dollars to build their empire by seeking tax dollars from another government agency, the DOT.

But, it's really worse than that.  The CHSRA, charged with designing and building a high-speed rail system, has been on an aggressive promotional marketing campaign for years.  The Board consists, not of professional high-speed rail developers (we don't have any in the US), but back-room politicians and their croneys.  They've been at the business of deal making for decades.  Selling is their game.  

This year they hired a public relations firm, Ogilvy,  via a $9 million contract.  They said it was to improve communications with the rest of us.  The reality is that they have been very, very bad at marketing themselves ever since the realities of actual design and engineering revealed their true intentions. 

It wasn't that long ago that the Bush Administration had their hands slapped several times for going out to the media and paying for self-promotional services in order to promote their programs.  This is no different.

The taxpayers should not be paying for self-serving political propaganda.

We are constantly being told that the California voters agreed to building this project in 2008.  Well, maybe not. They were grossly misled with a series of untruths about what this project would be, what and who it would cost, and what it would do.

Californians are wising up to all the shenanigans of this mismanagement organization and its highly destructive agenda. Also, what they voted for is nothing like what they're getting now.  So, instead of fixing anything at all, they are covering up their disastrous agenda with public relations TV Infomercial nonsense; yet another sales job.

But, worst of all, they are hustlers, seeking federal funding to keep their nefarious game going in the face of mounting criticism by numerous government oversight agencies.  They are doubtless selling their bill of goods in Washington also, in hopes of squeezing more dollars to waste here, and using our tax dollars to do it.

Legal or not, this project reeks of unethical behavior and a bureaucracy run amuck.  There should be absolutely no doubt that whatever they build will be in their, not our interests.  The entire basis for their existence is to get and spend as many tax dollars as they can.  It certainly isn't to improve public inter-city transit in California.

LaMalfa investigates High Speed Rail Authority's use of money for lobbying
By Staff Reports
Posted: 05/24/2011 12:20:50 AM PDT

SACRAMENTO -- Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R?Richvale, launched an investigation into the High Speed Rail Authority's possible use of state bond or federal funds for lobbying.

LaMalfa submitted letters to the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, the Legislative Analyst's Office and Legislative Counsel, according to a press release issued by his office Monday. He also made public records act requests to the High Speed Rail Authority on the issue.

"It is outrageous that the High Speed Rail Authority has been spending $10,000 a month to pay federal lobbyists, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's former chief of staff," LaMalfa said.

"I will be conducting a full inquiry to determine the source of the funds spent on this federal lobbying effort. Use of federal funds for lobbying may violate legal restrictions, while using borrowed bond dollars to do so may also be illegal and is inappropriate, at the very least."

LaMalfa also authored Senate Bill 22 that would hold the issuance of further state bonds until the project's accounting is available, according to the press release.
"It is time that the Legislature followed through with the LAO's recommendation and cut the funding of this project," LaMalfa said. "When the voters passed the High Speed Rail bonds, they were left in the dark about the true costs of the project. Now that the wasteful spending of over half a million taxpayer dollars on questionable activities has come to light, the authority needs to be held responsible."