The California High Speed Rail, aka “Bullet Train”, is looking more and more like a bullet to the head of California’s taxpayers and especially Californians who live in the besieged Central Valley.
The promoters of this disaster, primarily Governor Moonbeam Brown and the Democratic Party, are pushing ahead just like this monstrosity had a chance to do anything but die an untimely death.
By way of a quick history, the Obama administration’s green gurus decided that states needed high speed rail in order to save the environment and so we could be like Europe. As part of the Stimulus Program that stimulated nothing but public employee unions, the administration promised “seed money” to states that would build a high speed rail system. Needless to say, when you waive $3.3 billion of free federal money in front of a Democrat they’re all in.
The proposed system was to take people from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The fastest corridor is straight down the coast, but that would require dislocating wealthy Democrat donors along the way and that’s a no-no, so they decided to build it across what used to be the richest farmland in the world, the Central Valley. We say “used to be” because the environmentalists needed to protect a little fish that nobody eats and shut down the Central Valley agriculture industry’s water supply with the blessing of the Obama administration.
The project was sold to Californians as a ballot measure that would raise $8.6 billion in bonds, the feds would kick in $3.3 billion and rest of the money would – of course – be found later for the $33 billion project. Within a heartbeat after voters approved the bond issue the cost of the project rose to about $100 billion, that was eventually “cut back” to $68 billion.
A funny thing happened on the way to the pork barrel, the only sane judge left in California told the state the project was dead because it wasn’t funded.
A judge’s decision this week to block the state’s access to billions of dollars in bonds it needs to build a bullet train also threatens the only other pot of money California has to finance the project — $3.3 billion from Uncle Sam.
Just a few days ago, the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority believed it had $8.6 billion in state bond proceeds and $3.3 billion in federal money to begin construction this spring on the rail line’s first stretch of track in the Central Valley.
But now the authority’s ability to spend any of those crucial funds to push the controversial bullet train project forward is highly uncertain.
Lisa Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the state rail authority, said the group’s federal funding is not at risk and that the authority is “using federal funding right now for the project.” But she could not explain how the group would comply with the judge’s orders or continue to fulfill the obligations of the federal grant agreement.
Never ones to worry about such niceties as the law or a judge’s ruling, California’s big spenders are plunging right on ahead.
California is using eminent domain to build a $68 billion bullet train.
On Friday, the State Public Works Board voted 3-0 to approve the use of eminent domain to seize a 2.5-acre property in Fresno. The action allows the state rail authority to file paperwork in court to start the eminent domain process, which includes determining the fair market value of the property and the proper compensation for the owner.
According to a report in the San Francisco Examiner, the legal action ”also could allow the rail authority to access the property and start construction even before the state owns it.”
Needless to say the project’s supporters are screeching for higher taxes even though that option was taken away in the bond issue California’s foolish voters passed. The U-T San Diego editorial board outlined just how the Banana Republic that Used to be California operates these days.
These are immense obstacles. Yet instead of acknowledging their seriousness, rail authority board Chairman Dan Richard depicted them as predictable “challenges,” and a spokeswoman said the authority would proceed with its plans to seize land for the project in the Central Valley via eminent domain.
This is in keeping with Richard’s full-speed-ahead bravado. But is also unconscionable — disrupting the lives and livelihoods of Central Valley residents for a project that is now an extreme long shot solely to create an apparition of progress.
Before this happens, it’s time for a “have you no shame?” intervention in Sacramento. If Jerry Brown won’t take Richard to the woodshed, then it’s time for some senior Democratic leader to take Brown to the woodshed.
Here at The Curmudgeon, we’re not holding our breath. We’re pretty sure that the only intervention that could save California is a Richter 10 earthquake along the San Andreas fault.
Oh, and Justice Kenney, take your Kelo decision and stuff it.