The narrative that held the California High-Speed Rail Authority had finally figured out a smart path forward thanks to the stewardship of new board Chairman Dan Richard took a huge hit last week when the authority abruptly reversed course and said it would include Orange County after all in its first phase. So much for new realism and new austerity. This week, Richard’s rep took another hit with his bizarre likening of the bullet train fiasco to a Southern California Association of Governments’ long-term plan that has all kinds of dedicated funding sources. Yo, Dan: We’re paying attention. Acting confident and aggressively trying to cow journalists who pose tough questions can only take you so far. At some point, everyone will figure out you’re still putting lipstick on a pig.
Here’s the key point from a UT San Diego editorial:
… there is a huge difference between the L.A. regional plan and the state rail authority’s plan. The former has a clearly defined funding strategy. It anticipates using a combination of state and federal gas taxes; passing county sales taxes to pay for transportation projects, as has been done in recent decades; building toll roads; and borrowing. Proponents may not have all $525 billion lined up, but they have a good idea of where they will get most of their funding.
The bullet train, by contrast, has no established source for its missing $55 billion.
Dan Richard, like Jerry Brown, is a throwback in Sacramento — a reminder of a bygone era in which pragmatism and candor occasionally trumped lame ideological narratives. How either one got trapped into not just defending but promoting the bullet train boondoggle is beyond me. #EpicFail