Letter: A response to editorial on high-speed rail | July 25, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - July 25, 2012

Letter: A response to editorial on high-speed rail


This editorial brings up several issues.

I take great issue with the statement in the editorial: "Few Peninsula communities have been more staunchly opposed to the high-speed rail project than Menlo Park and Atherton." Atherton opposed, yes for sure. Palo Alto opposed, yes for sure. Belmont opposed, yes for sure. Burlingame opposed, yes for sure. Certainly not Menlo Park.

The Menlo Park City Council, although joining in the lawsuit, has really hardly been interested in high-speed rail. This is illustrated by not having a rail committee that meets regularly and would have agendas and staff assistance. Menlo Park's rail committee meetings, when they are held, have no substance and they result in poor, if any, reports back to the council, which results in poor actions by the council.

Allowing the city attorney to recuse himself from high-speed rail as well as the downtown plan because of the proximity of an office building in which he has a personal interest should be noted and is also of importance. Rather than insisting that Mr. McClure divest himself of that interest so that he could carry on his duties on these issues, as the city attorney, the city went outside for legal advice — hardly a satisfactory solution.

All the City Council's high-speed rail discussions are pushed back to the end of agendas at which time the public has vacated the chambers or turned off their viewing from home. It has been a very sad state of affairs.

Yet today, the city's official position on high-speed rail, is "we want high-speed rail done right." Well, there is no semblance now nor has there been any semblance for years that the rail authority's plan is "high-speed rail done right."

This description, first used by state Sen. Joe Simitian, has now been abandoned by him, as evidenced by his "no" vote for appropriating the funds to continue the project.

Menlo Park sends different staff personnel to various meetings, thus resulting in fragmented views and no consistency in where the project has been headed. Kelly Fergusson, the city's alternate on the Peninsula Cities Consortium, has hardly ever attended meetings, and when she has, she would leave after a couple of minutes. She was supposed to be the city's representative at the last PCC meeting since council member Rich Cline was out of town, but she didn't even show to represent the city.

All and all a miserable track record on high-speed rail. While Palo Alto and other cities have clearly stated they are against the high-speed rail project, Menlo Park refuses to change its position of "high-speed rail done right."

Let us not kid ourselves. Assembly members Jerry Hill and Rich Gordon can say what they want, but the truth of the matter is they did exactly what the Democratic leadership in the Assembly ordered them to do, and that was to vote "yes" to appropriate $8 billion for the project. They passed on the July 5 authorization bill, which they had not seen until late on July 3, and on which no committee nor staff had done any real scrutiny. Assemblyman Hill had sent staff to many meetings on high-speed rail and as an ex-businessman had been exposed to understanding the unbearable debt service that was going to be created for the state with this project. A few months ago, he was certain to reject the project, but now claims it is wonderful, because it will bring funds to Caltrain. His vote is a perfect example of "give me the pork" you get my vote.

In any case, both Hill and Gordon have lost my trust and I certainly won't vote for either come November.

Morris Brown, from a Town Square post


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