Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Buying High-Speed Rail in a dark alley: Bait and Switch

There is emerging general agreement that what the voters were presented on the Bond issue ballot in 2008 in the description of the high-speed rail project, is nothing like what is under discussion and being planned now.

The best term for this is bait-and-switch.  The reason is that it is not by mere chance and accident that the original conditions outlined in the authorizing legislation were impossible to implement.  It has also become obvious that the HSR planners and the CHSRA Board were well aware than all those promises to the voters could not possibly be met.

Why isn't that a crime?  The rail authority persists in its claims that they have a mandate to proceed with this project regardless of any of the changes that are now emerging.  And these notifications of changes are the result not of willingness on the part of the Board.  Indeed, the truth emerges with great reluctance.  

One notable example is the projected cost of the project, which has risen a number of times, beginning with $33 billion in 2007, to $43 billion in 2008, and now well over $100 billion. Doubtless, once construction starts and real costs emerge, even that cost forecast will multiply rapidly.

The rail authority received many brownie points when they released the latest cost figures of $98 billion.  People praised them for their "honesty" and "transparency." It's enough to make you throw up.  

Those are't honest numbers any more than any of the former ones.  Remembers, this project will be in a construction mode for a generation or longer. Don't tell me those costs won't double, triple and quadruple, just like Parsons Brinckerhoff's Boston Big Dig did.

One can mince words about all this, or come right out with it and 'tell it like it is.'  We have been lied to repeatedly and that process continues even now, with weekly revelations exposing those lies.  The most recent is the number of jobs that this project would create.  One million.  Now they've back-tracked on that.  Oh, well, what we really meant was. . . . .  We've already told this story.  As usual, more lies from the rail authority.

Where is the outrage?  Where is the reaction we can expect from anyone who bought something at one price only to discover that the sellers knew right along that their price would skyrocket after the sale?

HSR bait and switch

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 12:21 pm | (5) Comments

Editor: Bait and switch is a form of fraud, most commonly used in retail sales but also applicable to other contexts. First, customers are “baited” by  advertising for a product or service at a low price; second, the customers  discover that the advertised good is not available and are “switched” to a costlier product.

Does this sound familiar? Back in 2008 we were presented with Prop 1A, where we were told about this great fantasy of being able to travel from northern California to southern California on this magical train in just under three hours. This train would only be built on existing transportation corridors, would be totally self sufficient, (no taxpayer subsidies), and would only cost us $33 billion. That was the bait part for California voters.

Now the switch has officially come in the form of the “new” business plan for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. The past couple of years we have found out that the HSR will not be going along existing transportation corridors, but cutting through prime ag land and destroying dairies, farms and people’s homes and lives. Now the cost is almost triple of what was “advertised” — just $98 billion.

I find it interesting that even though they have made major changes to what was voted on in Prop 1A, and when the public wants answers, the California HIgh-Speed Rail Authority doesn’t want to listen; they tell  you to fill out a comment card and never get back to you, or when you go  their meetings they will cut your time to speak to one minute, as in the case of Mr. Frank Oliveira, who went to Sacramento to comment on the “new” business plan. They had the California Highway Patrol come after him for speaking 26 seconds over.

If this was a business doing this bait and switch, they would be closed down!

We need to let our legislators know that this is not what was “advertised” in Prop 1A, so stop what is before us now and allow the voters of California to decide on this “new” business plan.

Leonard G. Dias

Copyright 2011 Hanford Sentinel. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No comments: