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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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The governor keeps public away from bullet train finances

Uploaded: Oct 6, 2016
Gov. Jerry Brown is remarkably determined to make the bullet train a central “accomplishment” for his political legacy.
The Democrat-dominated Legislature, for the most part, has avoided crossing Brown on the train despite its enormous cost and benefits that are questionable at best. Legislators took a step in the right direction during the session that concluded in August by passing a bill to require the business plan specify the projected costs and schedule and explain the changes. To say both have been moving targets since 2008 is another under-statement.
For a plan that originally had its first phase running from Bakersfield to Los Angeles and now has shifted that to Shafter to San Jose, that truly was a modest step by the Legislature.
Too much transparency for the governor who claimed the project already had plenty of transparency and vetoed the bill.
When voters passed the bond measure in 2008, they were promised a high-speed rail connection between the Bay Area and LA that was largely funded with private money and operated without a public subsidy. It was supposed to cost $40 billion. When estimated costs soared to between $98-118 million in 2011, the plan was redone so costs are pegged at $68 billion.
Now the governor has twisted arms in the Legislature so 25 percent of the cap-and-trade greenhouse gases revenues will go to the train. One big choking point: The May auction of credits netted only $10 million instead of the $500 million projected, according to the Wall Street Journal. Legal action is still pending that challenges whether the credits are a tax.
What’s more, there’s been no private investment forthcoming—President Obama’s shovel-ready stimulus package allocated $3 billion on a matching basis. The feds have consistently changed the rules to keep the project alive. Private investors have stayed away even after the potential steady public income stream from the cap-and-trade.
In an August hearing before the Congressional rail subcommittee, rail authority chair Dan Richard acknowledged that the current plan stops in the middle of an almond orchard in Shafter. Richard had his hand out to try to find $2 billion more in federal funds so the first phase could go into Bakersfield.
It’s abundantly clear that the choo-choo is a fiasco, but one Brown is determined to push forward regardless of its negative impact on the state’s finances.

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Posted by beach bum, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 6, 2016 at 8:47 am

Lack of transparency by California Democrats is easy thing to do, with a disinterested, dum dum public. Easy pickins for the politicians...people like things that sound good, who cares about the results or actual execution of the plan? That side of it takes actual work and accountability.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Oct 6, 2016 at 1:59 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.


I've consistently noticed that when you opine on topics such as this, that not one Dem/Lib that inhabit these comments (including your co-blogger) will present a counter-point. Conversely, when you write about religious topics, you'd think the end of civilization was at hand!


I had to look up where the city of Shafter was located, its 18 miles NW of Bakersfield: Web Link

For a real treat, look up the pictures of the town. It would seem a dandy place to take a subsidized high-speed rail train vacation.

Posted by RWR, a resident of Los Cerros Middle School,
on Oct 7, 2016 at 1:04 pm

I completely agree with you Tim, the liberals love to talk about " transparency" when attacking the police or organized religion, but not so much when hiding their failed policies, like the bullet train, parcel taxes, and other spending boondoggles. Tim Kaine looked so uncomfortable at the debate when the lack of transparency came up concerning the Clinton Foundation, but he could talk forever about need for transparency in police shootings. Tim Kaine looked like a mean spirited Richard Simmons at the debate, pouting about Trump's lack of transparency on taxes, but no concerns about Hillary's lack of transparency on her e-mails, Clinton Foundation, and other secrets.

Posted by pokem23, a resident of Amador Estates,
on Dec 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm

pokem23 is a registered user.

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