Smaller paper tears into bullet train; LAT maintains editorial silence

Smaller paper tears into bullet train; LAT maintains editorial silence

train_wreck_num_2-203x300The Riverside Press-Enterprise last week published a crisp, definitive take on the bullet-train project's recent legal setbacks. Which indirectly raises the question: When will California's largest and most influential paper weigh in on this big issue?

Here's part of the P-E editorial:

“Recklessness is a dubious approach for a project already facing serious questions about its viability. But that word aptly describes the state's attempt to bypass taxpayer protections to evade an adverse court ruling over 'high-speed' rail plans. Legislators should not tolerate that tack – and should bring this risky project to a full halt.

“The state's latest filing last week in a lawsuit challenging the 'bullet' train does nothing to reassure Californians that this project is fiscally realistic. The state claimed it can keep spending federal dollars on plans for the train, even as the project fails to meet voter-approved requirements intended to prevent the waste of taxpayer money.

“A Sacramento County Superior Court judge in August ruled that the rail plans violated the requirements of Proposition 1A, the 2008 bond measure that provided $9 billion for the project. The judge said the California High-Speed Rail Authority did not comply with Proposition 1A's requirement to show where the money would come from to pay for the first operational segment of the line. The agency also failed to obtain all the environmental clearances for that stretch of track, as the measure required. The judge, however, scheduled another hearing for next month on the question of how to remedy the violation.

“But no one should be comfortable with a legal approach that blithely dismisses the financial safeguards built into Proposition 1A. The state's court brief argues that the rail agency can push ahead on construction by using federal tax money instead of state bond funds, because the restrictions do not apply to federal dollars. The state has $3.3 billion in federal tax funding to help pay for a 130-mile stretch of track between Bakersfield and Merced. …

“Trying to bypass fiscal protections is a troubling sign for a project already based on wishful thinking. Legislators should not ignore that danger signal — and should instead stop this train before it becomes a boondoggle.”

A serious topic worthy of serious comment — right?

The_Little_Engine_That_Could-231x300Good for the Riverside paper; its editors decided to wrestle with a really important topic in a serious and thoughtful way. Now let's head west to The Los Angeles Times. According to a Nexis search, here's how many editorials the Times has run referring to Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny's landmark Aug. 16 ruling:


Perhaps the LAT editorial board still stands by its astoundingly juvenile editorial of Nov. 4, 2011 — which Nexis says is the last comment it has offered on the project.

“It’s a gamble, and not one to be taken lightly. But gasoline isn’t going to get any cheaper in the future and the freeways aren’t going to get less clogged. We think California can find a way to get the train built. We think it can. We think it can….”

I am not making this up. The LAT editorial actually invoked “The Little Engine That Could” in defending this nutty project.

Do they give Reverse Pulitzers?


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