Slowly derailing high speed rail


By Steven T. Jones
Our political leaders in Sacramento apparently still can't muster the courage to create a high-speed rail system for California, which is perhaps the single most important public works project for addressing climate change and the hopelessly congested freeways and airports we'll otherwise see in coming decades. After a tentative agreement two months ago to give the California High-Speed Rail Authority less than half of the $103 million it needs to move the project forward (which was better than the insulting $1.2 million offered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger), the most recent deal gives the authority just $15.5 million. And even that could get line item vetoed by the Governator.
Assemblymember Fiona Ma had pledged to safeguard this important project and it doesn't appear she's been very effective so far (maybe she should spend less time doing Clear Channel's bidding in trying to line our freeways with obnoxious electronic billboards). But her flak, Nick Hardman, tells me she's working hard to make sure the high-speed rail bond measure remains on the fall 2008 ballot, from which is can be removed with a simply majority this year, but only with a two-thirds vote of both houses after Jan. 1. This will be an important test for Ma, who has said that the project is one of her top priorities.
Stay tuned.