Retroactively Documenting Travel!

Anthony Pignataro:

There is great irony in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times story on the state Fair Political Practices Commission’s recent investigation into alleged undocumented travel by various members of the California High-Speed Rail Authority (click here to see the investigation letters sent to former authority head Mehdi Morshed and board members Curt Pringle, Tom Umberg, Quentin Kopp and Lynn Schenk). Here is a state agency responsible for building the largest, most expensive bullet train network in the U.S., alleged to be taking illegal overseas trips by airplane paid for by foreign governments.

Even more ironic is that tack taken by high-speed rail officials when I asked them for a comment on the allegations:

“We are aware of the FPPC investigations,” said authority deputy director Jeff Barker. “Regardless of that, the Authority will be retroactively documenting the details of past foreign travel, and will be looking into how staff may or may not have complied with the regulations governing such travel. This will take some time, because all of the travel took place before our current management was in place, and so we must gather those details, but we are fully committed to transparency and to correcting the situation.”

Don’t you just love how the “current management” took no time at all to just blame the old management? Or how the very statement that they’re right now “retroactively documenting the details of past travel” pretty much makes the case that these trips weren’t properly reported in the first place? Way to hang half the board out to dry!

In case anyone’s wondering, the rail authority is responsible for a project that will cost at least $43 billion, and quite possibly twice that.

Carry on.

NOV. 12, 2010

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