Gov. Brown’s legal strategy to prop up bullet train faltering

Gov. Brown’s legal strategy to prop up bullet train faltering

highspeedrail-300x169Last week’s decision from a state appeals court to issue a summary judgment denying the Brown administration’s unusual request to block a second trial in which Kings County and other plaintiffs challenge California’s high-speed rail project bodes terribly for the governor’s overall legal strategy. That strategy builds on the novel theory that the need to get started on a big public-works project has such overriding importance that it trumps the normal necessity of ensuring such projects comply with state law.

The second trial, now expected to proceed this summer before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny, will focus on whether the project’s present plan complies with Proposition 1A, the 2008 bond measure providing it with $9.95 billion in seed money — in particular the guarantee that the train get from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco in no more than two hours and 40 minutes. Kings County’s attorneys say that’s impossible with the present plan to have actual high-speed rail cars only going from northern Los Angeles County to Fresno.

Attorney General Kamala Harris had asked the judges to block the trial with an “extraordinary writ” on these grounds:

“The trial court lost sight of the purpose of the Bond Act, which is to build a high-speed-rail system that will foster the future prosperity of the State. The Bond Act must be reasonably interpreted to achieve that purpose.”

The judges concluded that the true “reasonable interpretation” was that the plaintiffs had raised genuine issues that deserved full consideration at trial.

Argument that was summarily rejected also made in other appeal

The first trial, also before Judge Kenny, dealt with the legality of the project’s financing plan and the sufficiency of its environmental reviews.

Kenny said both were inadequate and blocked the use of state bond funds until the problems were remedied.

That ruling is now being considered on an expedited basis by a state appellate court at the direction of the California Supreme Court. And what is the argument the state is using to challenge those rulings? Essentially the same argument that was rejected last week. This is from the Sacramento Bee in January:

“The administration said in a request for expedited review that ‘the trial court’s approach to these issues cripples government’s ability to function’ and could have implications for other infrastructure projects.

“The state argues the normal appeals process could take years to resolve and is ‘not a real choice.’

“‘Since the project’s inception, opponents of high-speed rail have tried to block its construction,’ the filing said. ‘Now, two rulings of the Sacramento Superior Court — which are otherwise unreviewable as a practical matter — imperil the project by erecting obstacles found nowhere in the voter-approved bond act.”

A lawyer familiar with the case mocked this argument as amounting to, “Damn the legal niceties, this mean judge is getting in our way.”

It failed last week to persuade appellate judges to delay bullet train trial no. 2. It doesn’t seem likely to persuade appellate judges to discard the results of bullet train trial no. 1.


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  1. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 22 April, 2014, 17:56

    Kings County’s attorneys say that’s impossible with the present plan to have actual high-speed rail cars only going from northern Los Angeles County to Fresno.

    That this black hole for money has gotten this far shows how far we have sunk, how corrupt this state has become.

    Reply this comment
    • tps
      tps 23 April, 2014, 07:15

      And just how stupid Governor Brown and most of the other legislators are who dreamed up and voted on this monstrosity.

      Reply this comment
  2. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 April, 2014, 18:11

    The train will run. If Detroit lives, so does the tinker toy bullet train. I love trains…..more the better.

    Reply this comment
  3. Clean Willie
    Clean Willie 23 April, 2014, 05:36

    Detoit is in bankruptcy and still in dire financial straits. They recently reached a pension agreement that is based on assumptions that the pension fund will achieve higher returns than what they are actually likely to achieve. In other words, they are still kicking the can down the road, even in bankruptcy, and the worst is not yet over. If your goal is to drive your state to financial insolvency, then by all means use Detroit as your model. Otherwise, not so much.

    Reply this comment
  4. Econ
    Econ 23 April, 2014, 05:43

    Trains are so 1800s.

    Reply this comment
  5. Dan
    Dan 23 April, 2014, 06:41

    Please don’t call it a bullet train–that’s spin to make it sound fast…

    Reply this comment
  6. fiftyville
    fiftyville 23 April, 2014, 06:59

    I love trains, too, just not at any cost.

    Reply this comment
  7. boiling frog
    boiling frog 23 April, 2014, 07:30

    What amuses me is how The Presidents Prettiest State AG actually thinks that if she just stamps her little foot the courts will listen and obey.

    Thank goodness the law and reason still rules at least in one State Court.
    You gotta feel sorry for the judges at the 9th Circuit, watching her put them on the spot for a possible en banc vote, after she jumped in on Peruta, after passing on the first go-round.

    A little OT, but did anyone else notice how DiFi’s husband got the no-bid contract to start construction on the MoonBeams Boon-doggle ™.

    Is everybody in Sacramento insane, or is it just end-stage Alzheimers in some of the aging Dems?

    Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 23 April, 2014, 19:38

      A little OT, but did anyone else notice how DiFi’s husband got the no-bid contract to start construction on the MoonBeams Boon-doggle ™.

      DiFi Hubby Richard Blum has been lining his (and Difi) pocket with no bid/fixed bid contracts of the federal government going back to the early 1990’s when he was getting trillions of RTC/ gov owned assets gifted to his real estate firm CB Commercial (now CB Richard Ellis), along with the hundreds of millions in fees the assets generated when sold. It was sickening. Just awful.

      Reply this comment
  8. RT
    RT 23 April, 2014, 07:37

    This so much like an episode of the Simpsons “Marge vs. the Monorail” were a
    a fast-talking gentleman named Lyle Lanley suggests that the town construct a city monorail.
    Just like in this Simpsons episode, the bullet train is a great distraction from the real problems faced by the population of California.
    Who cares that more and more people on on Food Stamps and CalWORKs because they will not or can not find work, or that our schools do not effectively educate our children, when we have a bullet train that will speed us through the hardest hit areas of the State so we will not have to deal with our problems.

    Reply this comment
    • Granpa Simpson
      Granpa Simpson 23 April, 2014, 09:33

      Remember how Lyle Lanley handled Barney’s question?

      Barney: “What about us lazy slobs??

      Lyle: “You’ll all be given cushy jobs!!!”

      Nailed it.

      Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 23 April, 2014, 20:35

      Th efact is there are NO JOBS, poutside on minimum wage. People want to work, but there is no work.

      Our semi skilled labor jobs that were the backbone of this country have all ben off shored.

      Our hi tech jobs are being taken by low wage H-1B visa chumps who will come over here and write computer code for 1/3 what MS, Google, Apple and other Tech companies would normally pay Americans, the construction industry has been completely taken over by illegal aliens who will frame, hang dry wall and pour concrete for $10 an hour with no benefits, which is $9.00 an hour more than what they made in their third world country.

      Blame the policies of our leaders, not the worker bees who had no say in how we run the country.

      Reply this comment
  9. PD Quig
    PD Quig 23 April, 2014, 10:30

    I want my too-too twain!

    Reply this comment
  10. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 23 April, 2014, 19:56

    Any fool knows trains are extremely productive moving bulk freight. They can be a force in rapidly moving lots of mail order products to urban centers.

    Wake up. This quasi bullet train is a winner.

    Doomers think big……growth vs deminishing returns. The train builds capacity to compliment economic growth.

    Reply this comment
  11. Sparky
    Sparky 23 April, 2014, 21:32

    An appeals court can’t issue a summary judgment.

    Not sure what you really meant to say, but that’s just wrong.

    Reply this comment
  12. Jim Gallno
    Jim Gallno 25 April, 2014, 05:20

    The bullet train is old technology. Europe and Japan have had them for years, so we’re not breaking new ground. However the economics on this fiasco doesn’t work out and doesn’t benefit the California citizen. We’re virtually bankrupt and we choose to spend our money on this? Time for some new blood in Sacramento.

    Reply this comment

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