Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What crimes are being committed in the name of a vision of the future: High-Speed Rail?

First of all, Cynthia, your article has touched my heart.  

Cynthia Ward's article, below, is based on first-hand observations of the potential direct impact of high-speed rail on the Central Valley in California.  She is saying what I've been worrying about for a number of years; that is, the greed and corruption that underlie this HSR project.

But, what's worse, she captures the essence of my greatest fear and anxiety, the overpowering of us by our own abusive government.  

(I come by these feeling honestly, having grown up in Germany before the second World War.  I've seen government thugs in uniform and in action.  No need for further details about this except to say that the governmental exercise of power over the people is the most terrifying experience one can have.) 

As it gets ever closer, high-speed rail will induce a wide-spread sense of frustration and helplessness in the face of an unstoppable juggernaut.  All of us in California will be its victims to some degree. 

And, we have the dreadful opportunity to watch it unfold here in California, and first in the Central Valley, perhaps this year.

Like Ted Crocker, in his comment on Cynthia's article, I too was first influenced by the articles and writings of Richard Trainor, as well as those of Richard Tolmach.  http://www.counterpunch.org/2003/12/09/the-california-bullet-train-then-and-now/

They described in great and factual detail the machinations of the back-room politicians as they manipulated and engineered this project into existence, how these guys were aided and abetted by croneys and business types in this state who stood (and stand) to benefit from the management of such a vast amount of "OPM," other peoples' money.

My writings and thoughts have been frequently dismissed by those rail opposers who have far greater confidence than I in the cooperative nature and willingness of mankind and the high-speed rail authority.  Why can't we all sit down and negotiate what is in everyone's best interests, they ask.  To which I reply, this is going to be adversarial, contentious and bloody.  Greedy men want to get their hands on billions of our tax dollars.  People have killed for less. Their determination must not be underestimated. 

I believe, as the construction-start-ceremony day draws closer, that we will see how ruthlessness actually works.  We have become a nation of greed and corruption.  The desire for wealth overrides all other considerations.  Ethics and morality are quaint and non-functioning as we have now watched the high-speed rail drama unfold in our state. 

We already know about police officials removing speakers before rail authority meetings who exceeded their two minutes.  

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.
California's High Speed Thugs

By Cynthia Ward (Pamphleteer) on January 
January 10th, 2012

Governor Brown’s announcement that he plans to raise taxes while cutting spending on items like education and VA hospitals was an especially bitter pill to swallow last week. The announcement came just as I was in King’s County, inspecting the first planned segment of our (over) $100 billion boondoggle High Speed Rail project. 

The rail line is apparently more near and dear to Moonbeam’s heart than veterans and children. Actually, I have come to believe that making his friends rich is more near and dear to his heart than veterans and children, but we can discuss that later.  According to calculations by Pamela McGee Leal of Californians for High Speed Rail Accountability….we spend $134,000 PER WEEK on contractors to study and design this project. For that money not a single rail has been laid, nor even ordered. But lots of stock options have increased in value, never mind the contracting and consulting fees.

I have been covering High Speed Rail for over 2 years.  I was following this story back before the Anaheim City Council even knew the line was scheduled to bisect their own city. When the Rail Authority abandoned the Lossan Corridor for less disputed routes, I followed the battle. I have worked with activists up and down the Golden State, and I really thought I had seen it all.

 But the tales of blatant abuse of power coming out of the Central Valley go far beyond anything I have ever seen or heard before. It seems the longer the Authority gets away with this taxpayer-funded bullying of our citizenry, the more egregious their behavior gets.

Hearing multiple complaints of abuse in the Central Valley, I decided to go see the first proposed segment for myself. The people of King’s County provided a crash course in Agriculture 101, with a tour of both the Western and Eastern alignments currently being studied. They shared the maps the engineers are working from, and showed the developed farms, dairies, and commercial/industrial plants not reflected by satellite images, which in many cases appears to be the only contact engineers have with the Central Valley. Hardest of all are the inhabited homes, in many cases on land that dates back over a hundred years, handed down from generation to generation. 

One woman is losing a segment of her property where her son’s ashes are resting. How does one mitigate that? Most of all, these gracious, determined people repeated tales of ignorance and arrogance on the part of the High Speed Rail Authority, and their stubborn refusal to consider anything other than their own pre-conceived notions of how this project should be done, and damn the consequences. On our first evening in Hanford my husband remarked, “45 minutes into the tour I gave up counting how many blog posts you have to write here.”  The trip was enlightening…and infuriating.

Lest you think this is a far-away problem in a far-away land that does not affect you, nearly everything on your breakfast table this morning will increase in price if this thing goes through-AFTER your taxes increase to pay for the damn thing.

I wanted to give these rail folks the benefit of the doubt; initially I wanted to believe that perhaps they really did want to build an uber-modern system to get Californians out of our cars. I thought they were misguided, but sincere. But after what I have seen, I honestly struggle to conceive of an intelligent mind devising the current rail plan if they had an ounce of understanding regarding how this land feeds our State and nation. In fact, the system appears to be so needlessly destructive (in many cases taking irreplaceable resources rather than move a few feet) that if one set about to deliberately destroy the economic viability of the State of California, the plan would look pretty much like High Speed Rail as it is planned today. 

That may sound extreme, but I fully intend to spend the next few weeks sharing what I have been learning, and making the case that I believe someone somewhere is making ridiculous money on this deal, because nobody could possibly be stupid enough to do this on purpose. The only motive I see behind this project is blatant self-interest. After reading Peter Schweizer’s book  Throw Them All Out,  and learning how elected leaders are permitted to spend public funds on projects that directly increase their own real estate deals and business interests, all of it perfectly legal due to convoluted “Ethics” rules that lack any hint of ethics, it is all too easy to imagine that the lines drawn across prime Ag land by distant bean counters with no background in farming are being driven by someone’s private investments. I think we are irresponsible to not investigate the network of insider deals that allow Washington’s and Sacramento’s power elite to financially benefit from this deal.

I have not been posting much to Red County, research has been eating my schedule as I set out to connect the corrupted dots of this sick twisted game that our leadership is playing. Stick with me for a few weeks as I explain just how ugly this project has grown. Between the engineering teams that left their common sense at home, to the Board members who blindly cover for incompetence in a desperate effort to push this project forward at all costs, compounded by the flat-out falsehoods that support the entire project, the people of California have been had, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars to date, and potentially over $100 billion in the future. 

When I am done, I hope our readers will be good and angry, and ready to overturn Prop 1A’s falsified ballot measure.What is particularly frightening is that even if we can prove that our own leaders are using our own tax dollars to destroy American homes and businesses for their own financial gain, those Ethics rules, adopted by the same people who live by them, will very likely make the whole thing perfectly legal. But it doesn’t make it right.

I, too, have been following
Submitted by Ted Crocker (not verified) on Tue, 2012-01-10 09:33.
I, too, have been following this project very closely for over two years. I never wanted to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the more one learns about this project the only conclusion at which one can arrive is that the HSRA a

Early on I read the book "Paradise Lost?..." by Richard Trainor. His book covers California's major infrastructure projects starting with the first attempt to build HSR between LA and San Diego in the late '1970's/early 1980's through to the new Bay Bridge. It does not cover the latest HSR project, but it might as well have because history is repeating itself.

In a nut shell, Trainor's book describes exactly what Cynthia is talking about. It doesn't matter to the people driving this project if the project never gets built. Let me repeat; it doesn't matter that the project never gets built. If it did, they would make sure the funding was identified prior to starting. They don't care about that because this is about short term profits for the few well connected and very powerful. Think about it. They've already spent almost $1B and what do we the taxpayers have to show for it? Just a bunch of lies. There is a pot of free federal money still waiting out there. It's not enough to even get trains on the track, but it is money. They will ride this gravy train as far as they can push it, which is as far as we will let them.

It's very clear that the law means nothing to Jerry Brown or President Obama. The HSR was supposed to be built in accordance with the bond measure (AB3034) or else it wouldn't be built. The law was written to protect California from building an albatross that would bankrupt the state and waste tax payer money. It is being completely ignored. Jerry Brown and President Obama are both fully aware of the long list of reasons why this project should not be allowed to proceed, and yet they ignore everything. This is corruption.

It is time to let them know we will not be ignored and the law will not be ignored. Without trust, you can have no society.

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