No Attempt There To Hide

Anthony Pignataro:

There’s a killer story in today’s Los Angeles Times that reports how California High-Speed Rail Authority have taken numerous oversees trips to see other nation’s bullet trains but haven’t been documenting the trips’ financing.

“California High-Speed Rail Authority board members and the former executive director took tours of train systems in Spain, France or Germany last year,” reported the Times. “But officials haven’t provided reports describing who paid for the trips or breakdowns of who paid for lodging, meals and other expenses. Public disclosure of travel gifts to agencies is required by California ethics regulations.”

Woohoo! Free Euro Trips!

What’s more, the paper reported that “High-speed rail officials cannot find invitation letters indicating who offered the trips and they cannot produce any accounting of the donated travel.”

But have no fear — any problems with finding out who paid for the trips are due entirely to inadequate staff, rather than malice.

“There was no attempt there to hide,” former rail authority boss Mehdi Morshed told the Times, who explained that the problem was “a reflection of the authority’s small staff and limited budget.”

Well, good news Mehdi! The budget just got bigger!

“The federal government is announcing today that California will get more than $900 million for its high-speed rail system,” the Fresno Bee reported today.

Maybe with that nearly billion dollars, the rail authority can hire someone to hold onto receipts.

OCT. 25, 2010

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