New suit claims high-speed-rail officials 'misled' public Around Town, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm
Just weeks after California's high-speed rail project withstood a court challenge from a group of Peninsula cities, the agency is facing another suit from project critics, who argue that the agency building the train system has misled the voters and is acting in violation of state law.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 7:22 AM
Posted by Menlo Resident, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:29 pm
I for one am very grateful to the individuals who care enough about our community and our State to put themselves out there to fight this ill conceived and highly suspect project. HSR is a product of a governor who has no other avenue to leave a "legacy" and who is so beholden to the unions in this State that he will overlook all of the very obvious problems with this project and ram it in our faces. Proposition IA is an excellent example of a premature but critical vote by a population that was willing to opine with insufficient information and empty promises. Many thanks to the people who have volunteered their efforts to stop this project and demand that the HSR Authority adhere to the letter of the law.
Posted by Marcy Abramowitz, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on Mar 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm
We are also very grateful for the tenacious efforts of those volunteering their expertise and time to fight this misbegotten project. However, waived legal fees are not sufficient for a grassroots effort to be successful fighting the State. There are still considerable dollar costs involved in this undertaking (e.g. filing fees, copying, etc.). We recently donated to Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) to help defray the costs of litigation, and encourage others to do so, as well. As we all know, gratitude only goes so far. According to CCHSRA's website, donations are still needed. Web Link
Posted by Matthew Self, a resident of the Woodside: Emerald Hills neighborhood, on Mar 19, 2013 at 5:45 pm
I think the 'blended' solution is a very practical way to balance both local and long-distance transit with much less disruption to Peninsula cities and residents.
When Caltrain added the baby bullets, ridership increased dramatically because it was finally faster than driving. Electrifying Caltrain will increase speeds further and ridership will surely increase again. It will also reduce noise and diesel pollution.
I am glad to see the rather noisy political process converge on a really good solution.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm
the "blended solution" is total BS. It's the camel's nose under the tent. Either the system runs with total grade separations and four tracks or it's NOT high speed rail. So, you want high speed rail? Be prepared for a monolith splitting the peninsula in two. OR high speed rail will NEVER be high speed. You want to piss away 100 billion dollars for a system that doesn't actually do what it's supposed to do? I don't. This is NOT a "practical way to blend local and long distance travel with much less disruption to peninsula cities." It's a way to try to appease folks like you so the state can continue to throw away money on a project that has no practical value. If you want actual high speed rail, grade separations will be necessary on the peninsula. You'll have monoliths running down the center of the peninsula if ACTUAL high speed rail is what you want. Otherwise, what you want is less than high speed rail and it's a waist of money.
Posted by Ted Crocker, a resident of another community, on Mar 20, 2013 at 2:35 am
In fact, the blended system actually gives them the right to build the system twice. Yeah, twice! Once is blended and twice is the full build out of a 4-track elevated system that still remains in the EIR. Double the goodness for all those who stand to make money off us tax payers. Of course the blended system is a farce as Mathew points out, but you won't hear the people building it say that. Increased trains without total grade separation equals more gate downtime and more deaths. Not exactly what you thought you were getting when you voted 'yes' for HSR, is it?!
Posted by Dr Doodle, a resident of another community, on Mar 20, 2013 at 9:08 am
So, one huge beef of y'all HSR haters is that the state doesn't have the money to finish the full statewide HSR system. Or even enough money to finish the initial operating segment from the Central Valley to the outskirts of Los Angeles. Fair enough. So what's likely to happen is that we'll get an electrified Caltrain, and a higher-speed track in the Central Valley that will be used by conventional Amtrak service, and that will be that. No HSR on the Peninsula and no HSR in the Valley because, as you say, the state doesn't have the money to finish the project. So your real point, I guess, is that you don't want an electrified Caltrain system on the Peninsula? Or maybe you've suddenly discovered that you have a deep and abiding passion, heretofore unknown, for the preservation of the existing configuration of Central Valley farms and dairies?
Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Mar 20, 2013 at 10:52 am
Dear Dr. Doodle,
Our elected government asks you to vote on a project that will perform a certain way and cost a certain amount. After the voters voted to support this project, the project managers changed the project entirely, now stating that it would do different things, perform differently and cost far more than initially indicated. In short, they lied to us.
This point has nothing to do with either supporting or rejecting electrification or high-speed rail. It has to do with either being honest with the voters, or totally dishonest; that is, lying to the voters.
Is deceiving the voters in this way OK with you, Dr. Doodle? (Was launching the Iraq war based on lies OK with you also, Dr. Doodle?)
Should we not have, at the very least, a government that is honest with its citizens, taxpayers and voters?
Posted by Dr doodle, a resident of another community, on Mar 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm
Well, fair enough, but one can't help but wonder, why is it THIS particular governmental deception that has gotten your panties in a knot (if you'll pardon the expression)? Have you not noticed the others? You brought up the Iraq war yourself. Is this one really that much worse, or is it that you start off with a dislike of HSR and Caltrain and conveniently land on "lies" as an effective argument to use?
My apologies if, in fact, you've been a lifelong crusader against government fraud, put just as much effort into opposing the Iraq war, and are with respect to HSR only continuing your life's work.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm
now that the electorate has figured out they were lied to, something like 70% would vote against HSR if they were allowed a revote. I think the 73% of people that were in support of the Iraq war because they were being lied to are no longer in support of it and, in fact, if given a chance to oppose it would have. In the case of Iraq there's no going back. In the case of HSR we can still prevent the ridiculous waste of money before it happens. Of course, that won't happen because the labor unions have bought and paid for our "representatives." They no longer represent us. They represent labor unions and will do and say whatever their labor union masters tell them to.
Bottom line - the electorate was lied to, they've figured it out and there is still time to prevent the ridiculous waste of money. That's why those of us opposed to it keep trying.
Posted by actual, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2013 at 6:31 am
Until we elect politicos that refuse to constantly tax these schemes will always prevail. Politicos do two things well: 1) grasp tax schemes that their backers invent, and 2) create psychological wallpaper designed to confuse, distort, bamboozle, mentally sloganize, and exploit taxpayers.
They are a criminal class above white collar criminals. No other criminal class rips off the taxpayer for day to day maintenance, while again ripping off our children and grandchildren, FUTURE taxpayers, to support the children of the criminal class!
Posted by Not a HSR hater, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2013 at 8:11 am
It's really sad that people who express concerns about the financing and design of HSR are categorized as "HSR haters". That really limits meaningful conversations.
The funding for HSR is a real issue. There is not a viable business plan. Until there is, it makes no sense to start construction. The voters were quite clear that they didn't expect to be holding the bag.
The elevated design on the peninsula makes no sense. That's not how European cities implemented transit in neighborhood settings and hearts of towns.
Solve these issues and many of us who are fighting the current HSR approach might be more supportive.
Some of the differences between Iraq war and HSR are that a) HSR hasn't started, b) HSR's future in the hands of our own elected officials, c) there was a ballot measure that is being violated.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community, on Mar 21, 2013 at 10:09 am
I don't fell "lied to" -- have been, and still am, a supporter of High Speed Rail. The selfish whining on the Peninsula is really boring. This project is a great investment in the future and was/is totally legal.
Posted by Some Guy, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2013 at 10:39 am
You're right, you weren't lied to, it was more of a bait and switch.
But if you're okay with your politicians doing that too you, great, go move to a country with a bonafide dictatorship.
Also, if you can't see the financial boondoggle this HSR plan is, I feel sorry for you.
Unless this train can get from SF to LA in under an 2 hours, it will never work, people will just hop on Southwest instead.
So be prepared to pay out the nose to get it built, and then pay out the ass to subsidize it, because it will be owned by a private company that expects to profit off it, even though the public is building it.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community, on Mar 21, 2013 at 11:19 am
Don't feel sorry for me "Some Guy." Frankly -- as I said earlier -- the constant haranguing and outright lying by a few wealthy residents in local communities is tiresome. The measure passed -- the parsing is unseemly.
I've ridden the hi-speed trains all over Europe and want to see better trains here.
BTW: I understand travel time variations (my dissertation in fact). AND, more important, I've been stuck at the airport waiting for the fog and air traffic to clear too many times. Competitive trains have all kinds of travel and economic benefits -- note BART. I don't expect the system to make money, but the subsidy has a pay-off.
Posted by The survey says..., a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2013 at 11:30 am
The majority of Californians do not support the project according to a poll released yesterday by the Public Policy Institute of California. So it's not just rich NIMBYs, it's most of the people who live here and are expected to foot the increasing costs.
Interesting how these threads always seem to evoke posts from pro-HSR "residents of another community." How much of the $10 billion is being spent to pay trolls to post on public boards -- a futile attempt to change public opinion? Just curious.
Posted by The survey says..., a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm
The point remains: these threads always attract jingoistic pro-HSR folks who rely solely on ad hominem ("rich NIMBY") attacks and ignore the mounting evidence against this proposed project.
I love trains and have used HSR in other countries. But the numbers -- ridership, expense, ticket price, private sector level of support, travel time -- never made sense for this project. I voted against it, and hope that our state will, in the future, stop throwing lots of money at 19th century solutions for 21st century problems.
Posted by Mara, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm
I agree with The Survey Says. Even when Prop 1A passed, it amassed "no" votes from 47% of the electorate. Certainly, 47% of voters don't live on the Caltrain line. To reduce all logical arguments against HSR to NIMBYism is ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is the willingness of some to give our elected representatives a free pass to make broad stroke changes to the law that underpin Prop 1A. If the legal requirements behind HSR cannot be met, then the project should either be abandoned or reconsidered with more accurate projections of ridership, cost and time, and put back on the ballot.
Posted by The survey says..., a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2013 at 1:46 pm
If the candidate won by means of deception and duplicity, then by all means her election should be challenged.
The fact that a thin majority of voters supported this project in 2008 is negated by the fact that most do not support it now. Our state can't afford to keep throwing (our) good money after bad.
And I am not the person who introduced "a few wealthy residents in local communities" into the conversation. Maybe if you presented some real, logical arguments vs insulting others, you would be able to engage in a reasonable dialog. Demagoguery doesn't play well in this part of the world.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm
1A passed because the electorate was lied to. It was going to go from SF to LA in 2 hours 40 minutes. It won't. It was only going to cost $50 for a ticket. It won't. It was only going to cost $34 billion. It won't - it's at $68 billion and climbing. It was going to be run by private firms and financing. It won't - there is zero interest from private firms to invest. It was not going to require any government subsidies. It will. They would underground the tracks in major metropolitan areas. They won't - it costs too much. The lies go on and on.
Just what don't you understand about how this project is a disaster sold to the electorate on lies?
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2013 at 9:24 am
they may support HSR, but not as currently incarnated. 70% of people polled said if they could vote on it again, they'd vote against it. So, they think it's important, but they aren't willing to pay for it.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2013 at 9:41 am
There is an important difference with the MSR (medium speed rail, it's no longer a fast train) issue that is unlike electing a President (where opinions change).
In the case of MSR, first, the economic representations and user projections that were made were wildly inflated - perhaps to the point of fraud. Second, there is an ongoing commitment of BILLIONS of dollars. If, at some point, voters feel this is a boondoggle, which appears to be the case, they can certainly stop funding the project.
As I've previously noted, one of the project's key supporters, Joe Simitian, has already changed his position. The current version of the train isn't very fast, won't be used by nearly as many riders, will be far more expensive to use and maintain and far less convenient. It's really a very different than what was represented to voters.
And please note that I don't live anywhere near the railroad tracks, so there really isn't much a NIMBY issue for me.
Posted by Mara, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm
Let's not forget that two years ago, the State Court of Appeals ruled that the language used to describe Prop 1A on the ballot -- which garnered a 53% affirmative vote -- was misleading, and not impartial. While this ruling did not overturn the passage of Prop 1A, it did establish that the ballot language was biased in favor of a yes vote. While we will never know whether impartial language would have yielded a different outcome, it is safe to conclude that voters were misled at the ballot box.
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm
So as I understand it, cities on the Peninsula don't really favor HSR; some have filed lawsuits and contributed money to support the legal action against it, and yet the state is moving forward with the project anyway.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community, on Mar 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm
Bob -- The measure passed in a statewide vote, and that public election provides a mandate to move ahead with the project. Majority usually rules in this country, at least that's how we define ourselves.
While it is true that majorities don't always elect the best candidate (I'll resist the temptation to reiterate my earlier post) and majorities are often unjust (e.g., legalizing segregation and discrimination)....the courts sort out possible illegalities or unconstitutional issues.
Given the density and confluence of lawyers and wealthy property around here who like to get their way, I'm sure this will be in the courts. But be aware, this will cost big bucks to fight and you may not be happy with the outcome.
It will be hard to overturn a statewide public election. Personally, I'd like to overturn a few...including the property tax mess from 1978's Proposition 13.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm
I think you are wrong about HSR not eventually being overturned in the courts. When all of the evidence of outright fraud that was committed to get 1A passed, I think the courts will rule the vote null and void. You're right, it will cost big bucks to get there, but hopefully we can come up with it. No matter what it costs to fight, it will certainly be a hell of a lot less than it costs to build this boondoggle.
Posted by joe, a resident of another community, on Mar 23, 2013 at 12:43 am
The Repeal HSR Proposition never got enough signatures to make it on the 2012 ballot.
Judges don't overturn ballot initiatives because critics claim "fraud" or a poll gets published. This one finds 59% of voters see HSR as either very important or somewhat important to California’s quality of life and economic vitality.
Still think HSR is fraudulent?
On 3.19.13 the Authority filed a preemptive lawsuit “against” *anyone* interested in challenging the validity of the issuance of the bonds.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2013 at 7:55 am
Until citizens get fed up with the exorbitant costs, the legislature gets fed up with the drain on resources or the state goes bankrupt, MSR is here to stay.
I also predict that those abandoned shiny rails between Madera and Bakersfield will serve as a lasting monument to government waste. It would not be the first time these "fast" trains sucked a bunch of taxpayer money for nothing. This link will show you some lovely rusting bullet trains that up for auction (not to be used, but for scrap) Web Link
Posted by Sentimental for the 60's, a resident of the Woodside: Mountain Home Road neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2013 at 1:11 pm
POGO, ever travel Bayshore Freeway before there way HWY 280 or Route 99 before there was Interstate 5 through the Central Valley? Many were up in arms over those "boondoggles" back in the day. Remember driving south on 101 past Moffitt Field and there was nothing but farmland?
The fact is Fresno's population has quadrupled since the 1960's and more than likely will quadruple again in half the amount of time as the state runs out of places to build...and those folks aren't hopping on planes from their airport to S.F. or L.A. at $600.00 RT.
I'm sure there will be other Florida transplants coming to "our" state in the coming years thinking I'm sure I'll be the last one and HSR is a waste of money.
Posted by The survey says..., a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm
Oh, right, and people complained about the Golden Gate Bridge too! So I guess the moral of the story is that every time a project is massive, requires huge amounts of taxpayer money, and attracts opposition, we should go ahead with it.
That's a high speed recipe for bankruptcy.
Trains were great in the 19th century, and served us in the 20th century. Now we need to be looking at modular modes of transit that align with the way people really conduct their lives (vs the way social engineers seem to believe people should live). Driverless pods? I'm all for that. But not hulking vehicles that can only run on an unmovable and expensive track. That's way old-school thinking. Time to get on board with the new millennium!
Posted by Huh?, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm
Do you really think that waves of Floridians are going to move to California just so they can not only ride HSR, but pay for it too? In Florida, there is no state income tax. You'd have to really hate humidity to make that move.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm
Huh? makes a good point. I think the flow of residents is south, not west.
People continue to ignore a key point. Before the Golden Gate Bridge, there was no way to get from Marin County to San Francisco, at least not easily. In the case of MSR, there is already a system in place that is MORE convenient, departs and arrives at MORE locations, is LOWER cost, is FASTER, and is MORE efficient. Importantly, it doesn't require $100+ billion from a state already wrestling with its finances.
Those flights leave every day, every 15 minutes, departing from any of a dozen airports arriving at any of a dozen airports all over the state for as low as $79... and no new spending required.