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John Boyle's Viewpoint on HSR 10/01/08

Original post made by Morris Brwon, Menlo Park: Park Forest, on Oct 1, 2008

Making the case for high-speed rail

By John Boyle
The Menlo Park and Atherton city councils recently voted to join a
lawsuit against the current high-speed rail project and against Proposition 1a, the related November bond measure.

Although I was the lone dissenter,it's worth noting that Menlo
Park and Atherton were the only two cities in the state to join this
lawsuit. Meanwhile our governor,key legislative leaders, environmental groups (including California League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club), business groups, labor groups, consumer
groups, education groups (California Federation of Teachers), and many others have all endorsed Prop 1A.

At $9.9 billion, this bond is expensive, and portions of the plan are controversial. But all big infrastructure investments are
tough decisions. And this investment will leverage multiple funding sources. California expects to receive up to one-third of the
construction costs from federal funds for this, the first high-speed rail system in our country. Additionally, high-speed rail will
leverage private sector investments and joint developments with Caltrain.

Our economy depends on our ability to move people and goods cost-effectively. This investment has the potential to generate 450,000 permanent jobs, create more housing options around transit stations, reduce sprawl, and stimulate commerce throughout our state.

Doing nothing is not an option. The alternative is to plow an
estimated $80 billion into new roads and airports to support the
estimated growth in California's population over the next 20 years.
Even ignoring the "greater good" argument, there are many
local benefits:
**Quicker: Estimated travel time between the Mid-peninsula and Los Angeles is about two hours. No weather delays, no traffic back-ups, and no airport hassles.
**Cleaner: The electric high-speed rail system will deliver enormous environmental benefits by eliminating nearly 12 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year and use one third the energy of air travel and one fifth the energy of auto travel.
**Quieter: The high-speed rail project will pay for grade separations wherever the tracks cross a street. No train horns will be needed at separated grades, and the trains are lighter and use improved rail technology to further reduce noise.
**Safer: Thanks to grade separations and technology innovations, the trains will be safer and reduce local congestion on our streets (no delays at crossings).

Menlo Park and Atherton are also fortunate to be among the few communities which will have local access to the trains, whose only stopping point between San Francisco and San Jose is planned for Redwood City or Palo Alto. We need to work hard to ensure that this
project is done in a way that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the local negatives. Forcing expensive delays and voting against
the bond measure does neither. The last time our region faced this type of decision, we blocked BART from coming down the Peninsula. Let's not repeat that mistake.

This project has been under development for over 25 years. Governor Jerry Brown signed the first high-speed rail bill in 1982. Over $55 million has already been spent on studies and design. With construction inflation on a project of this size, delays can increase the final cost by literally billions of dollars. It's time to move forward. Join me in voting yes on Proposition 1A. For more information, visit www.cahigh

John Boyle is a Menlo Park
City Council member.


This viewpoint article in today's (Oct 1, 2008) Almanac by councilman Boyle shows an extreme lack of knowledge and certainly shows he does not have the interests of Menlo Park at the forefront of his thinking.

The travel time between Mid-peninsula and LA is not about 2 hours. No, I'm afraid not. The proposed travel time between San Francisco and LA on a non-stop train is to be 2 hours 42 minutes. Now please understand that is a non-stop train. There will be no non-stop trains between Mid-peninsula (at Redwood City or perhaps Palo Alto stations) and LA. Travel time on trains other than the few non-stop trains planned will be much higher. Figure 3 hours 15 minutes or longer from Mid-peninsula to LA. Furthermore, rail experts who prepared a due diligence report found at

say even the proposed 2 hr. and 42 minute non-stop trip will turn out to be more like 3 hours and 30 minutes.

So it won't be quicker, sorry about that. In point of fact as we are now just beginning to see security screening get more efficient at airports, the total travel time point to point on an airplane is going to swing even more in favor of air travel. After all, San Jose to LA, in the air time, is only about 50 minutes. So HSR won't be quicker, it will be very much lower.

John only talks about the 9.95 billion dollar Prop 1A bond measure. This is only a down payment on the total estimated cost of $45 billion. A much more realistic costs estimate is 80 billion, as pointed out in the report referred to above.

This project has no business plan. Shocking as that sounds, after 10 years and spending 60 million dollars, the HSR project has no business plan. Prop 1A demanded a business plan be delivered by the first of Sept. The date came and went -- no business plan. John Boylefs background was in Venture Capital. Can you imagine a Venture Capitalist looking at funding a new venture, and hot insisting on a business plan?

This project will pass right through Menlo Park's business district, with its land takings, 4 tracks on a 15 foot high wall or bermed elevation -- 100 feet in width. It will simply be an environmental disaster for our City. As a Menlo Park Councilperson, John is supposed to be concerned with Menlo Park. He seems to be trumpeting the fact that he is the lone dissenter to the City Council's passing of a strong resolution against Prop 1A and also the only vote against Menlo Park joining a lawsuit against the defective EIR that was certified for the project.

Well, I think the filled council chambers at the study session on the subject tells the story. The Viewpoint article here should make for good reading if Mr. Boyle should decide to seek another term in 2 years.

Join me in Voting No on Prop 1A.


Morris Brown

Comments (15)

Posted by Richard Pike
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 2, 2008 at 12:06 pm

When divisive issues arise locally, it is helpful to ask whose ox stands to be gored--or spared. The proposal to route high-speed rail service through the San Francisco Peninsula is such a case. There is no question but that the resulting changes would be disruptive, even catastrophic, for nearby residents and businesses, while the project's much-ballyhooed advantages remain moot. Only one of the voting council members of Atherton and Menlo Park recently advocated this historic change: John Boyle. My question: just how close is Menlo Park councilman Boyle's residence to the Caltrain right-of-way? Not very, I'll wager!
Even more to the point are inert reactions of other Peninsula towns; are Atherton and Menlo Park alone in valuing their quality of life? Once gone, it can't be reclaimed. In the upcoming election, Peninsula voters cannot trust that the poor financial state of California and the Country will make it impossible to fund the project--even if Proposition 1A should pass. A "no on 1A" is a vote for our quality of life.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 2, 2008 at 6:04 pm

The advantages of high speed rail so outweigh the disadvantages that I can't see not voting for it. I simply can't believe that the people involved in planning this project are as unprepared as Mr. Brown alleges. And references to doesn't help.

Meaning no disrespect, there's a saying that libertarians know the price of everything and the value of nothing. This seems an example.

Posted by Anti-Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 2, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Mr. Brown, aren't you the same Morris Brown that "derailed" The Derry Project??? Why should I listen to YOUR viewpoint. I don't really fully understand the issues with the law suit and HSR, but I think Mr. Boyle is a much better reference point for this issue. He was voted into council, is well respected, is very analytical, very positive and is not afraid to voice his opinions with facts. I do not agree with the man, all of the time, however I have never seen a misquoted fact or blatant lie. I'm still waiting for the Derry Project to wind up on a referendum vote? Or, I'm still waiting for that back room deal you made with them??

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 3, 2008 at 8:34 am

Anyone who supports Boyle's constant selling out of Menlo Park for regional interests is just as bad as he is. Boyle rewrote the HSR brochure as his editorial and you love it? Boyle's record of voting against green policies, homeowners and now selling out Menlo Park without asking for any details is just exactly what Winkler would do. All of those white Republican men over 40 can have this love affair, but you will not sell us out the way your national leadership has done. Boyle has been a disgrace.

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 3, 2008 at 8:45 am

Oh yeah, let's not forget that other thing...our economy! $10B now?

"Schwarzenegger to U.S.: State may need $7-billion loan
In a letter obtained by The Times, the governor warns that tight credit has dried up funds California routinely relies on and it may have to seek emergency aid within weeks.
By Marc Lifsher and Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
October 3, 2008
SACRAMENTO -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, alarmed by the ongoing national financial crisis, warned Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson on Thursday that the state might need an emergency loan of as much as $7 billion from the federal government within weeks.

The warning comes as California is close to running out of cash to fund day-to-day government operations and is unable to access routine short-term loans that it typically relies on to remain solvent."

Posted by Anti-Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 3, 2008 at 11:36 am

Cool. I was waiting for a racist comment from "Truth". Now we know what you're all about. Thank you for confirming your political agenda, and hate of white men over 40. 232 years and counting, as the world's best nation on earth, and all along it has predomanently been run by "white men over 40". It will now, more than likely, be turned over to an angry black man, and will eventually be hijacked by illegals from other countries. It was a great nation, for a very long time, but this is a point in history, where we can say good bye to what once was, thanks for your contribution "Truth".

Posted by Diana
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 3, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Very interesting, "Anti-Brown." You've been "waiting for a racist comment" from "Truth." Why is that? Because he/she is from Belle Haven? And you accuse "Truth" of "hate of white men over 40" before suggesting that the country will no longer be "a great nation" because "it will now, more than likely, be turned over to an angry black man."? Oh, my. Perhaps "Anti-Brown" was too restricted a tag for you. Perhaps you should sign yourself "Anti-Black-Brown-Immigrant-Truth."

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 3, 2008 at 12:24 pm

I was generalizing the majority of Boyle supporters, not making a race message. I did not intend to inject race into this discussion. But I am deeply offended by your commentary and I will now step out of this discussion.

I am disappointed with Mr. Boyle's position to consider regional and statewide issues above his own city and I will let it drop there.

In the future, if a local councilmember wants to serve the region and sell out the city, then gather up the stones and run for a regional political seat.

Posted by Free your head
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 3, 2008 at 3:39 pm

It's exactly that "best nation on earth" crap that gets us into so much trouble over and over again. Anti-Brown's degree of racism is matched only by his willingness to delude himself and his sad need to find a perch of superiority -- even if it's only to identify with the country he was born in, purely by the grace of fate.

Posted by disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 4, 2008 at 11:13 am

Can't we talk about the issues and not cast aspersions on people and their motives? I have met both Mr. Boyle and Mr. Brown and found each of them to be quite thoughtful and very caring about our community. I don't agree with either one of them on some issues, but appreciate the opportunity to discuss those issues with them and in some of these forums. Not this one at this time.

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 4, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Boyle's voting record is fair game. Sorry. Being a nice guy just doesn't cut it for me. He has voted against Menlo Park on numerous occasions for his developer friends (remember, he was given nearly $50K from developers during his campaign) and just because your kids go to school with his does not make his voting record off limits. I want development and I don't like the nay sayers and no growther either. But I do think my council should stand up for my city not for regional wonks.

Posted by disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 4, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Truth - I agree with you about voting records and sources of funding as fair game. I was commenting more on the name-calling by other bloggers in this thread.

Posted by Boyle Supporter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 6, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Truth - I'd like to see the "numerous occassions" where John Boyle has "voted against MP?? Plus, I would challenge you on what YOU believe a good definition of a "developer" is? It is NOT someone that is a realtor, someone that wants to improve a building, someone that wants to invest in, or increase the value, of a vacant property,.......I have never witnessed John Boyle to vote for a high rise, or big box store, or anything that would redefine our "little village", this is the first time that he has spoken about a project that may change MP, and who knows, it may be for the better! Please define "developer", your comment has no merit.

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 6, 2008 at 10:28 pm

Summerhill, Tarleton, OBrien, Matteson, etc. Check his election funding in 2006 and you will see the same names...

The votes

150 happy parents in child care in Menlo Park, Boyle votes to outsource it disregarding staff recs.

Boyle votes against a new child care service in Belle Haven under pressure from Tarleton and his goons.

Boyle votes for Dumbarton rail station studies at $250K with the caveat that MP commits to 2200 homes in the area. Rail neighbors express concern for years to no avail.

Boyle votes for HSR with no financial plan, a state in economic crisis, no answers to Menlo Parks critical impact questions and says it is for the "greater good"...

HSR will redefine our village.

2200 homes may be great, but where and when and at what cost?

Again, no details and no see the pattern here?

You can support him all you want, but the record speaks for itself. And before you accuse me of being a no growther, I am not. I want to see TOD downtown and I want to see some new shops and vibrancy all over town.

But on our terms.

Boyle has it so wrong sometimes it scares the heck out of me.

Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 7, 2008 at 10:18 am

Councilman Boyle, if I understand his history correctly, was actively involved in Venture Capital activities prior to his joining the Menlo Park City Council. I would presume him to be an experienced and professional businessperson.

Therefore I find it puzzling that he would not require a budget and business plan from someone seeking start-up funding of $10 billion for a project the has been aggressively marketed with -- shall we say -- questionable numbers. Yet, Mr. Boyle actually quotes those numbers in defense of the project. Where is your due diligence, Mr. Boyle?

We all know by now that the Diridon/Kopp minions have told the legislature and the voters of California to go to hell in response to requests for their legally required business plan. Mr. Boyle appears not to care about such trivialities.

In prior conversations, Mr. Boyle has identified himself with a Libertarian political philosophy. Inasmuch as the Libertarians, like the Reason Foundation, have taken extreme pains to analyze and discredit all the marketing rhetoric of the CHSRA, one would believe that Mr. Boyle would take a similar position regarding the train. Indeed, among the few allies of those of us who oppose the train, the Libertarians and anti-tax groups like Jarvis have been the most outspoken, and I thank them for pointing out that “the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.”

Government waste has been at the heart of Lee Duboc’s recent email arguments. Yet, here, this pending bond issue is a supreme example of government waste. However, it receives either no attention or actual support from those who are otherwise so critical. Where is the appropriate opposition, Ms. Duboc, Winker and Mr. Boyle? Where is the consistency?

In all fairness, Mr. Boyle is not alone in his support of the train or in his inconsistency.
The California Chamber of Commerce has voted against Proposition 1A. They oppose the train. Yet, our local Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce is persistently represented by Jim Bigelow, a train advocate who stands to benefit personally from rail corridor construction. Does Mr. Bigelow know something that the State Chamber of Commerce does not? Would he like to share that with us?

It is becoming apparent that all the train supporters function within a “faith-based” belief in the efficacy of this particular project. Indeed, the high priests of this train, Kopp and Diridon, ask us to trust them, believe in them; don’t challenge them regarding facts. Never mind the costs; never mind who will pay; never mind if this is nothing more than pork-barrel politics and that we may never actually see the train built. Just click your ruby-shoed heels together three times and believe.

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