SoCal support for bullet train wavers–tired of scam

By Stephen Frank : capoliticalreview – excerpt

It takes a long time for folks to admit they were scammed.  Arnold, the unions and crony capitalists lied to Californians to gain support of Prop. 1A, the bond measure to give $10 billion to one of the biggest scams in American history.  He finally admitted he lied about the cost, route and ridership.  The people believed the actor, who was very convincing

By James Poulos : calwatchdog – excerpt

California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project has hit yet another speed bump: a loss of confidence among Southern California officials already left hanging by plans that shifted first-stage construction northward.

“The California rail authority’s failure to identify a source of funding to connect Los Angeles to the future bullet train system is not acceptable, said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “Until the high-speed rail authority released a new draft business plan last month, the state had planned to open its first operating segment between Burbank and the Central Valley by 2022. But in a major concession to its limited funding, the plan now calls for a cheaper segment that would run from San Jose to the Central Valley by 2025.”

The catch, SCAG discovered, is that costs imposed by completing the initial segment will ensure that “all the existing funds would be exhausted, leaving uncertainty about how and when the line would ever cross the geologically complex mountains of Southern California,” as the paper added.

Disillusioned Democrats

The changes have accelerated criticism of the floundering effort — among Democrats as well as Republicans. “California lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction Monday with a plan to change the direction of a $64 billion high-speed railway,” the Associated Press noted… (more)

RELATED:

Senators Ask Tough Questions About High-Speed Rail

By Katie Orr, : KQED – excerpt

A California Senate committee got its chance today to take a closer look at the status of the state’s high-speed rail project. The High-Speed Rail Authority recently released a draft business plan.

At the hearing, High-Speed Rail Authority Chair Dan Richard said construction on the first segment was shifted from a southern route between the Central Valley and Los Angeles to a northern route between the Central Valley and San Jose because it was less expensive and could generate significant private investment. But he says the train needs to be running to attract investors.

“They’re looking for that first operating line,” he says.

The Rail Authority estimates it will cost about $20 billion to build the northern route, which Richard says could generate $8 billion to $10 billion in private investment. He said the segment could be operational by 2025.

But while the Rail Authority was touting the progress being made on the project, senators of both parties expressed concerns about financing. Republican Jim Nielsen says the evolution of the project make him uneasy.

“There have been so many changes, how can we find comfort?” he asked. “It seems like it’s almost careening down the tracks.”… (more)

 

Roadshow: Rising cost of high-speed rail (while potholes go unfilled) rankles many

By Gary Richards : mercurynews – excerpt

Our crumbling roadways are not a call for action to raise the gas tax. It’s a call for action to stop the $71 billion crazy train also known as high-speed rail. Our roads are deteriorating around us. There is little money to fix them, yet we can find $71 billion for a fool’s errand that even the high-speed rail authority says may relieve only 1 percent of traffic.

Now that sounds crazy to me!…

When state voters approved a bond measure in 2008 to cover the first $10 billion for high-speed rail, the estimate for the total cost of the project was $40 billion to build tracks from the Bay Area to Los Angeles... (more)

 

Judge stops bullet train in its tracks

By Juliet Williams : Associated Press – excerpt

A Sacramento judge on Monday tore up California’s funding plans for its bullet train project in separate orders that could force the state to spend months or years redrawing its plans for the $68 billion rail line.
Judge Michael Kenny rejected a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority to sell $8 billion of the $10 billion in bonds approved by voters in 2008, saying there was no evidence it was “necessary and desirable” to start selling the bonds when a committee of state officials met last March.
He said the committee was supposed to act as “the ultimate ‘keeper of the checkbook'” for taxpayers, but instead relied on a request from the high-speed rail authority to start selling bonds as sufficient evidence to proceed.
In a separate lawsuit, Kenny ordered the rail authority to redo its $68 billion funding plan before continuing construction, a process that could take months or years. He had previously ruled that the authority abused its discretion by approving a funding plan that did not comply with the requirements of the law. The judge said the state failed to identify “sources of funds that were more than merely theoretically possible.”… (more)

Senator Yee gets an offer he can’t refuse

district5diary – excerpt

High-speed rail supporters: Ma, Brown, and Yee

Matier and Ross tell us how the financially ruinous $4.6 billion in high-speed rail bonds were passed in the State Senate last week:
It took a big behind-the-scenes push from the governor and organized labor—plus a slew of calls from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to fellow Democrats—to pull off the state Senate’s squeaker approval of high-speed rail Friday. There wasn’t a lot of arm twisting—just a final offer that 21 Democratic senators couldn’t refuse.
“That having something was better than nothing,” said state Sen. Leland Yee…
In any event, the Central Subway, Caltrain, and BART payments are arguably illegal under the high-speed rail Proposition 1A passed by voters in 2008, which will be sorted out by the many lawsuits against the high-speed rail project..
CalWatchdog on California’s dismal financial situation.

Brown backs away from bullet train fight

By LANCE WILLIAMS : The Bay Citizen – excerpt

Green groups critical of plan to skirt environmental provisions

Gov. Jerry Brown backed away from a fight with environmentalists yesterday, abandoning a plan to exempt the $68 billion California bullet train project from environmental laws.

Brown had hoped to fast-track construction of the controversial project by sidestepping key provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act.

But the idea had put him at odds with most of the state’s green groups…

But the move also might shore up legislative support for the project. For construction to begin, lawmakers soon must approve the sale of billions of dollars in state rail construction bonds…

(more)  Source: The Bay Citizen (http://s.tt/1fi18)

Selling billions of dollars in bonds will increase the debt and further erode the state’s already bad credit rating. And who will buy them? There are already billions of dollars of unsold state bonds waiting for investors to snap them up. This seems like a bad time to finance a controversial project.