High-Speed Revolving Door

Anthony Pignataro:

You don’t have to watch politics very long before you see that top people move more or less freely from the public sector — where they develop much expertise at taxpayer expense — to the private sector — whey they cash in on that service, then turn around and start grabbing even more tax dollars in the form of government contracts.

This is nicely illustrated in a press release I received last night. Titled, “Caltrain‘s Head of High-Speed Rail Partnership Moves to Private Sector,” the statement detailed how Robert L. Doty, the Peninsula Rail Program (PRP) director and top liaison between Caltrain and the California High-Speed Rail Authority, will join the engineering firm HNTB on Jan. 21.

“We created the PRP to take full advantage of Bob Doty and his unique experience and expertise across the globe in designing and delivering large-scale rail projects,” Caltrain executive director Mike Scanlon said in the release. “It is no surprise that a man of Bob’s talents and expertise is being snatched up by one of the firms that wants to be a player in the domestic high-speed rail competition.”

Oh my. HNTB “wants to be a player.” HNTB, which was a big donor to the $10 billion Prop 1A campaign back in 2008 that really started the state’s bullet train dreams, is today the beneficiary of millions of dollars in high-speed rail money, both as a contractor and sub-contractor (click here to read my recent story on HSR contractors).

Oh yes, HNTB is already a major player. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to read the following curiously worded paragraph in the Caltrain press release:

“Doty would not discuss the details of the compensation associated with his new position in the private sector, except to say it is expected to be ‘substantially more’ than the $178,000 per year he was paid as director of the Peninsula Rail Program.”

JAN. 7, 2011

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