Monday, July 20, 2009

Quentin Kopp: HSR is "Organic Green"

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Responding to a silly Examiner editorial espousing neo-Hooverite claims about the high speed rail project, former CHSRA chairman Quentin Kopp has an op-ed today defending the HSR project against claims it is "pork":

The latest editorial suggests that federal stimulus dollars to the high-speed rail project are attributable to backroom, smoke-filled dealings with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Such leaps of logic would be silly and worth a chuckle or two if not so dangerous in misinforming California residents. On the contrary, federal stimulus dollars will provide needed impetus to our dreary economy. Moreover, California is in the pole position for those critical dollars thanks to decades of vital work by the California High-Speed Rail Authority....

Don’t politicize high-speed rail and lambaste it in some overarching dissatisfaction with the U.S. stimulus bill. “Track to Nowhere” may be an easy, sophomoric chant, to which millions more will chant back, “Build, baby, build.” Construction of a high-speed train system constitutes the premiere opportunity for California to lift itself into the 21st century. I’ll put my faith in independent residents of California who understand the benefits of high-speed rail, not as a partisan policy position but as a nonpartisan solution for our state’s stressed transportation system.

Kopp is right to put his faith there, in the same voters who were bombarded with right-wing distortions and lies about HSR in 2008 and still voted to approve HSR and $10 billion in bonds. Voters understand very well the need for economic recovery, for sustainable transportation, for high speed trains. Republican, right-wing claims that this is "pork" have gained hardly any traction at all with the public. But kudos to Kopp for pushing back against the nonsense anyway.

24 comments:

Morris Brown said...

Robert says the "deniers" were bombarding the voters with lies.

We had no funds, it was hardly a bombardment of anything. All the money came from those who wanted the project. The Alliance for Jobs was tapped for over $2 million for the radio campaign with just barely saved Prop 1A from doing down in defeat.

And it certainly was not a overwhelming vote of the people since the final tally was about 53 to 47.

As for lies and actually breaking the law, Kopp, himself, before the Senate committee promised a business plan by Oct 1st, 2008 -- it was never delivered, and what was delivered after the election was a joke. We will ever see a real business plan? The new deadline is the end of this year.

jim said...

Californian's did and still do support high speed rail, they approved it in the neighborhood of 70 percent prior to the economic downturn and managed to pass is 52-47 even during a deep recession.

The only people who don't support it are a hand ful of nimbys and the usual "party of no" crowd. both of whom are in the minority.

Rafael said...

On a procedural note, Speaker Pelosi has no formal say in how USDOT will allocate the $9.5 billion in federal funding already on the table (PRIIA + ARRA). The whole point was to replace the explicit earmarks that GOP politicians went hog-wild on in the Bush years with technical and economic evaluations based on merit.

Granted, we have yet to see just how fair and impartial those evaluations will be, all we have from USDOT so far is an outline of how the program is supposed to work. It's entirely possible - indeed, likely - that congressional delegations and governors will lobby Ray LaHood on behalf of projects in their districts.

However, it's far to early to pass judgment on the integrity of this new process. Afaik, not a single penny of federal funds for HSR has been allocated to date.

Rafael said...

Off-topic heads up (via Clem's Caltrain-HSR Compatibility Blog):

Joint briefing by CHSRA and Caltrain in Palo Alto on July 25.

I imagine this will be something of a status report as well as an opportunity to find out more details about the project-level EIR/EIS process going forward.

Rafael said...

My apologies, the Jul 25 meeting is actually in Menlo Park.

Jack said...

@MB

Why do you keep trotting out this failed business plan charge. I have seen this from you about five times now, and every time we tell you that you can't produce a business plan without funding.

I'd like to see you sit down and plan out a multi-billion dollar project and not get paid for it.

You know the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

TomW said...

Morris Brown said...
Kopp promised a business plan by Oct 1st, 2008 -- it was never delivered
That's because the budget was passed very very late (breaking the law in the process), and the CHSRA had no money to produce the buisness plan. Or do you think they should have spent money they didn't have? (Would that have been legal?)

dave said...

@ MB

"All the money came from those who wanted the project. The Alliance for Jobs was tapped for over $2 million for the radio campaign with just barely saved Prop 1A from doing down in defeat"

I doubt that made much of a difference. Radio ads aren't very effective at this scale.

"And it certainly was not a overwhelming vote of the people since the final tally was about 53 to 47."

Actually, it was overwhelming because even with our budget problems at the time of the election we still got 52-53% Yes. Imagine if we didn't have that problem and we could use prior poll projections from three to six months earlier of 57-62% Yes vote. That seems like an overwhelming YES!

Morris Brown said...

@Jack
@TomW

I'll keep talking about the lack of a business plan. The Authority had plenty of funds to promote Prop 1A and spent plenty of funds elsewhere.

AB-3034 was passed by the legislature with the specific demand that a business plan had to be available by Oct 1, 2008. The intention was to give much more transparency to the project. Again, Kopp agreed to produce the plan.

The Authority didn't want transparency. As more about the project is learned, the more the voters learn why this is a bad project. Why do you think the Palo Alto council, which voted 8-0 to support Prop 1A, now has completely turned around after learning what it will do to their City?

Clem said...

Why do you think the Palo Alto council, which voted 8-0 to support Prop 1A, now has completely turned around after learning what it will do to their City?

Non sequitur. The business plan, or lack thereof, would not have altered their stance. What woke up the council was their constituents, who finally clued in to the CHSRA's plans in sufficient numbers to get their attention.

political_incorrectness said...

MB

Show some evidence before claiming the Authority spent money to promote Prop 1A. If I'm not mistaken that is illegal. Palo Alto is not going to be wrecked and the opposition is painting a picture of a wall being built through the city when there is actually more opportunity than what they have been brainwashed with.

I am not be sympathetic to Palo Alto NIMBYs as they did not want the city separated but don't want to unite the other side of their city. There is a double standard with what they want. If they are not happy either way, fine. Along with this, ENGINEERING WORK HAS NOT EVEN BEGUN NOR DESIGN!

When the design options are presented fine, then you have the right to make a big stink. However, this tunnel or nothing response has come too early since NO OPTIONS FOR DESIGN HAVE BEEN PRESENTED YET! Change happens at a snail's pace and opposition recieves the alarm button at the media and there really is no emergency yet.

Until I see some designs, the opposition group is a NIMBY group. We will see how the lawsuit plays out in court but if CAHSR wins, the precedent has been set into stone.

YESonHSR said...

The Examiners anti HSR story was bizzare as they supported prop1A and the city they serve voted yes on 1A by 74percent.Its got to be from the Denver office..Another Republican owned "chain" paper.
AS far as Palo Alto they did and do support HSR voters even more..its when the small and very loud group of Nimbys started to bully the board (they made their threats in the PA online loud and clear)that citys offical opinion changed.

Clem said...

Along with this, ENGINEERING WORK HAS NOT EVEN BEGUN NOR DESIGN!

Wrong. Preliminary design is underway.

Morris Brown said...

political_incorrectness

You are correct that using public funds to promote Prop 1A would be illegal.

But as an exmaple, what about the expensive, videos, which the Authority would claim was not promotion of Prop 1A, but a part of "outreach"? Lots of ways to get around this legal limitation.

The Authority was careful to get outside groups, especially the "Alliance for Jobs", a union sponsored group, to promote Prop 1A.

Indeed we shall see what the lawsuit results will be and that will be within the next 45 days, most likely sooner.

@YESonHSR who writes:


"AS far as Palo Alto they did and do support HSR voters even more"


Nonsense ---

Anonymous said...

Clem said. "Wrong. Preliminary design is underway."

That's right!

It's being undertaken by the world's finest engineers, uh ..., make that the Western World's finest ..., how about the English Speaking World's Best ... would you settle for North America's Greatest? ... how about USA's Most Incredible? ... no? well, The Best God Damned Railroad Consultants We Could Find Lying Around with an Office in Our Fine State (Global Center for Oustanding Achievement in the Field of Railroading Excellence!), Some Under-employed Freight Siding Designers, and Who could Fill in the Forms and Buy Off the Right People.

HNTB = Bitchin Skilz!

This is going to awesome.

Why isn't anybody paying Clem, who very obviously knows what he's doing and even seems to have seen a high speed rail line sometime in his life to do this instead and better?

Morris Brown said...

For those interested, the upcoming HSR meeting in Menlo Park, hosted by Rep. Anna Eshoo will be webcast at:

http://eshoo.house.gov/

The meeting is at the Menlo Park City council chambers at 2:PM this Saturday. 7/25/09.

A local paper has printed that State Senator Joe Simitian will also be attending.

Morris Brown said...

Here is a better link with info about the HSR meeting this Saturday, from State Senator Joe Simitian's website.

HSR MEETING

YESonHSR said...

Did not the voters of PaloAlto vote
YES on Prop1A? and by a nice margin..heck even Menlo vote yes on it..Pols hate drama and when this group started its dramas and threats they ran..

Show Me The Money said...

I don't see this thing happening with the state of the State as it is.
And if they start building it, it will not be finished.
I guess they'll build a line from Bakersfield to Somewhere-In-The-Middle-of-a-Cotton-Field-In-Tulare-County.
Enjoy the ride and bring me back some cotton, or at least some strawberries. I'm sure there will be a fresh produce shack at the end of the line.

lyqwyd said...

@YESonHSR wrote:


"AS far as Palo Alto they did and do support HSR voters even more"

Morris Brown wrote:
"Nonsense"

How do you come to this conclusion Morris? It's public record that Palo Alto voted massively in favor of HSR. If you are saying that people have now massively changed their minds, what evidence do you have?

Morris Brown said...

@lyqwyd who wrote:


If you are saying that people have now massively changed their minds, what evidence do you have?


Do you not believe that City councils reflect the views of their constituents?

Best evidence is the current position of the City Council in Palo Alto.

As Rafael a while back wrote --- the HSR Authority proposal at the Palo Alto City council "went over like a lead balloon."

Sam said...

Do you not believe that City councils reflect the views of their constituents?

Sometimes. Sometimes they have the views of the loudest constituents. How many times has the governor of this state tried to get propositions passed (in line with the views of himself and those of what he thought were shared by his constituents) and failed miserably?

Dan S. said...

Yeah, I understand, but am disappointed that the elected leaders in MP and PA have about-faced so quickly to appease the NIMBY voices in their districts. I think many more of their voters actually support HSR, but of course those voices are quiet in relation to those whose properties are along the ROW, that is certainly to be expected. Hopefully their calculus will backfire with some serious voter blowback, but we'll see...

On the topic of Prop 1A's support in particular, I think a huge reason for its passage was the high cost of gas at the time of the vote. Fortuitous timing for those of us who support HSR. I do believe, however, that if gas prices go down to $2 a gallon again, that the HSR project will not be completed in the ~10 yr timetable. To easy for NIMBYs and the 1/3 righty-minority to torpedo such a project. On the other hand, if gas goes back up to $4 a gallon, I think HSR will recapture the enthusiasm of the California public and will beat back the NIMBY voices with an overwhelming voice!

To close, why oh why can't we put a price on carbon in this country. For X's sake, indexing the gas tax to inflation is even a third-rail? Oh, the lament of the generation that has to inherit the world left by the boomers! (That's me, you crusty old timers!) ;-)

Rafael said...

@ Dan S. -

the city councils of both Menlo Park and Atherton actively opposed CHSRA's plans before Nov 4. MP wanted a trench (though it messed up sending a formal letter to that end) and Atherton wanted no HSR at all. That city is also the only one in the SF peninsula in which a majority of residents voted against prop 1A(2008).

Therefore, I don't think it's fair to characterize local politicians in those two cities as having turned tail. They just happen to represent a very small fraction of the total population of the SF peninsula.

Palo Alto is a very different matter, pols there had supported HSR as proposed - apparently absent any knowledge of the details that CHSRA had based its cost estimates on. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe pols in Belmont and Burlingame also jumped on the NIMBY bandwagon only after the election, i.e. they had not done their homework either.