High-Speed Rail Opponents Seek California Supreme Court Review – Press Conference on September 2 in San Francisco

HIGH-SPEED RAIL OPPONENTS SEEK CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT REVIEW

Attorneys challenging the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s bond funding will hold a press conference on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 to explain the petitions they are filing with the California Supreme Court. Michael Brady and Stuart Flashman, representing John Tos, Aaron Fukuda and Kings County, will offer copies of the Petition for Review they plan to file that morning.

Here’s the location, time, and date of the press conference:

Sidewalk in front of the California Supreme Court Building
350 McAllister Street, San Francisco
Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 10:30 AM

In addition, Harold Johnson of the Pacific Legal Foundation will discuss the petition he will be filing on behalf of the First Free Will Baptist Church in Bakersfield. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association will also be represented at the press conference, barring scheduling difficulties.

The petitions ask the Supreme Court to review the Third District Court of Appeal decision overturning two trial rulings that had hamstrung Californiaʼs High-Speed Rail project. The Appellate Court ruled that “The Legislature appropriated the bond proceeds based on the preliminary funding plan, however deficient, and there is no present duty to redo the plan.”

The Court also held that no evidence was needed to show that it was “necessary or desirable” to issue bonds, reversing the trial court ruling that had prevented the sale of bonds and effectively erasing that provision from the ballot measure. Plaintiff’s lead counsel, Michael Brady, says “The Authority is now on life support; it has been granted a stay of execution by the Court of Appeal. This filing seeks to lift that stay.”

Stuart Flashman, co-counsel adds, “The Court of Appeal ruling overturns longstanding precedents in the interpretation of bond measures. If these decisions stand, voters will lose trust in future bond measures.”

Harold Johnson of the Pacific Legal Foundation says “The High Speed Rail project must be fully transparent and fully faithful to the law. Evading accountability can’t be allowed on one of the most expensive public works projects in U.S. history.”

The Tos Petition for Review will be available on the morning of September 2, at the bottom of the TRANSDEF web page, along with all documents from these two cases. Three other claims in the Tos case are still pending in the trial court.

Background

The Tos v. California High-Speed Rail Authority case was brought by a farmer, a rural homeowner and Kings County. It asked the Court to block the Authority from using bond funds because the project failed to meet the ballot measureʼs requirements.

In November 2013, Judge Michael Kenny ruled that the High-Speed Rail Authorityʼs Funding Plan failed to properly certify, as the bond measure required, that all needed environmental clearances had been obtained and that sufficient funding was available to complete the Merced-to-San-Fernando-Valley segment of the project.

In California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. All Persons Interested et al., Judge Kennyʼs ruling blocked the issuance of bonds because of another failure to satisfy bond measure requirements.

For more information, please visit us at http://www.cchsra.org and/or contact Shelli Andranigian at andranigianmedia7@att.net. Thank you.

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Court Allows California High-Speed Rail to Violate Terms in Voter-Approved Bond Measure: Press Release from Legal Team

On July 31, 2014, the California 3rd District Court of Appeal overturned two lower court decisions and sided with the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Governor Jerry Brown. It allowed the California High-Speed Rail Authority to borrow $9 billion for high-speed rail as authorized by Proposition 1A, approved by voters in November 2008. Here is the decision:

3rd District Court of Appeal Decision: California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County (John Tos, Real Party in Interest) 

Here is a press release from the legal team that argued against the California High-Speed Rail Authority. They argued that the Authority had violated some of the provisions of Proposition 1A and therefore could not borrow money by selling bonds as authorized by voters in 2008 under Proposition 1A.

 

August 1, 2014
For Immediate Release

COURT OF APPEAL ALLOWS HIGH-SPEED RAIL TO VIOLATE BOND MEASURE

The Third District Court of Appeal late yesterday overturned two trial rulings that had hamstrung Californiaʼs still-embattled High-Speed Rail project. The Court ruled that “The Legislature appropriated the bond proceeds based on the preliminary funding plan, however deficient, and there is no present duty to redo the plan.”

Plaintiff’s lead counsel, Michael Brady, was disappointed with the ruling. He said “The voters approved Proposition 1A only because it included stringent requirements to protect the state from financial risk. The Court ruled that although the project did not meet the requirements, taxpayers have no remedy now. They can only sue after many more tens of millions of dollars are spent on design and analysis.”

Stuart Flashman, co-counsel added, “The court has essentially allowed the Authority to ignore promises it, and the legislature, made to Californiaʼs voters. It bodes ill for votersʼ willingness to trust such promises in the future. Supreme Court review appears warranted.”

In November 2013, Judge Michael Kenny ruled that the High-Speed Rail Authorityʼs Funding Plan failed to properly certify, as the bond measure required, that all needed environmental clearances had been obtained and sufficient funding was available to complete the Merced to San Fernando Valley segment of the project.

The Tos v. California High-Speed Rail Authority case was brought by a farmer, a rural homeowner and Kings County. It asked the Court to block the Authority from using bond funds because the project failed to meet the ballot measureʼs requirements.

In addition, the appeals court reversed Kennyʼs ruling that blocked the issuance of bonds because of another failure to satisfy bond measure requirements. In California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. All Persons Interested, the appellate court held that no evidence was needed to show that it was “necessary or desirable” to issue the bonds – effectively erasing that provision from the ballot measure.

Click here to access documents from the two cases. Three other claims in the Tos case are still pending in the trial court.

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CCHSRA, Attorney Michael J. Brady Weigh in on Fresno County Board of Supervisors Decision to Approve Resolution, File Amicus Brief

Hanford, CA July 30, 2014 – Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability applaud the Fresno County Board of Supervisors for their decision Tuesday to approve both a resolution to oppose the California High-Speed Rail Project and file an amicus brief.

CCHSRA’s Co-Chairman Frank Oliveira said of yesterday’s 3-2 decisions: “The Fresno County Board of Supervisors, after years of scrutiny, has recognized that the high-speed rail plan is fiscally irresponsible and impossible to achieve without bankrupting the County and the entire state. The current design is a flawed plan; high-speed rail is achievable in California, but not with a flawed plan. We applaud the supervisor’s courage and decision.”

Attorney Michael J. Brady came to both meetings to present fact-based testimony before the board, while the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) was represented by CEO Jeff Morales on July 15 and Vice-Chair Tom Richards on July 29. Mr. Richards is also a Fresno area businessman and developer.

“The most dramatic thing about the July 15th and July 29th hearings was that several supervisors had sent detailed questions to the Authority since 2012 about their specific concerns, including supervisors such as Mr. Perea,” said Brady. “These questions were never answered, when they could have been answered. Any public official would be very angry at this failure to respond when their community is being so dramatically affected by a project like this. This failure to respond to important concerns fully justified the withdrawal of support.”

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors resolution of opposition also stands alone as the only one in Fresno County on file re: the controversial train project. Any prior resolutions supporting the project from Fresno County will now be removed from the record.

The vote was taken two weeks after the resolution to oppose the project was first presented by District 5 Supervisor Debbie Poochigian on July 15th. An amicus brief to support the Tos/Fukuda/Kings County Proposition 1A lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) was presented by District 2 Supervisor/Chairman Andreas Borgeas at Tuesday’s meeting.

 

Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group based in Kings County whose members reside in the city of Hanford and surrounding rural areas, along with other Californians who are affected by the high-speed rail. The group has been in the forefront since June 2011 attempting to get the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) and its board to be in full compliance with Proposition 1A which the state’s voters passed in November 2008.

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For more information, please visit us at http://www.cchsra.org and/or contact Shelli Andranigian at andranigianmedia7@att.net. Thank you.

July 29 – Fresno County Board of Supervisors to Vote on California High-Speed Rail Position and Litigation

Are you a Fresno County resident concerned about how the government selected your community to be the testing ground for the troubled California High-Speed Rail program?

On July 29, 2014 at 9:00 a.m at 2281 Tulare Street in Fresno, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss two critical items on its agenda concerning California High-Speed Rail:

  • Discuss and provide direction to staff to prepare and file an amicus brief regarding the High-Speed Rail litigation.
  • Discuss and give direction to staff regarding the Fresno County Board of Supervisors position on the California High-Speed Rail project (continued from July 15, 2014).

Here is information provided from the public to the Board of Supervisors for its July 29 meeting about taking a position on California High-Speed Rail: Background Material on California High-Speed Rail. Supervisor Debbie Poochigian prepared a memorandum and a draft resolution – read it here: California High-Speed Rail Project – Poochigian Memo – July 29, 2014.

As indicated on the July 29 agenda, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors considered taking a position at its July 15, 2014 meeting in opposition to the current manifestation of California High-Speed Rail. Supervisor Debbie Poochigian prepared a memorandum and a draft resolution – read it here: California High-Speed Rail Project – Poochigian Memo – July 15, 2014.

The Board of Supervisors did not take a position but decided to continue discussing the proposal at their next meeting. Here is video from the July 15, 2014 meeting related to the agenda item:

Michael Brady (attorney for Kings County) and Jeff Morales (CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority) Introductory Comments (10 minutes each)

(Video – 30 minutes total)

Public Comment

(Video – 2 hours 3 minutes)

Supervisors’ Discussion, Including Rebuttals from Brady and Morales

(Video – 1 hour 33 minutes) 

News Coverage

Fresno County Supervisors to Reconsider High-Speed Rail StanceFresno Bee - July 12, 2014

Fresno County Delays High-Speed Rail Support VoteFresno Business Journal - July 15, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Wait On Poochigian Proposal To Oppose High-Speed Rail - Valley Public Radio KVPR – July 15, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Make No Decision on Opposing High-Speed RailFresno Bee - July 15, 2014

Fresno County Board of Supervisors Consider Withdrawing High-Speed Rail Support - KSEE Channel 24 (NBC) – July 15, 2014

Craziness with Job Numbers with the High-Speed Rail Project – by Kathy Hamiton in Examiner.com – July 23, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Revisit High-Speed Rail ConcernsFresno Bee – July 25, 2014

Fresno Bee Publishes Commentary by Two Leaders of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability

The June 25, 2014 Fresno Bee includes an opinion piece written by Aaron Fukuda and Shelli Andranigian, leaders in Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA). It states that “the group’s mission is to make sure the proposed California High-Speed Rail Project does not adversely affect the economy, environment or quality of life for California communities.”

Read it here: California High-Speed Rail Fairytale

From the opinion piece: How long will our emperor (Gov. Brown) and his ministers (California’s dominant party Legislators) still walk among us with nothing in hand and promising the world? The emperor has no clothes, and California will not have the first high-speed rail system built in America.

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) Resort to Environmental Litigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CITIZENS FOR CALIFORNIA HIGH SPEED RAIL ACCOUNTABILITY, COUNTY OF KINGS AND KINGS COUNTY FARM BUREAU RESORT TO CEQA LITIGATION TO PROTECT THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT AND AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITY

Hanford, California June 5, 2014 – Today, Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA), County of Kings and the Kings County Farm Bureau (KCFB) have been forced to file litigation against the California High Speed Rail Authority for violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other laws in their adoption of the Final EIR/EIS for the Fresno to Bakersfield Section on May 7, 2014.

For over three years, these three entities have attempted to coordinate with the Authority to avoid and reduce environmental impacts from the proposed rail line. Unfortunately these attempts have been ignored as the Final EIR/EIS leaves numerous significant impacts unaddressed, provides defective mitigation measures, draws unsupported conclusions and defers analysis and mitigation measures to an unspecified time.

The Authority’s failure to properly identify and describe this project in the Final EIR/EIS is a primary CEQA flaw. The rail line is only 15% designed or less so its extensive impacts to agricultural land, residences, businesses, and biological resources are poorly identified. New information presented in the Final EIR was not disclosed to the public earlier when it would have been meaningful. For example, air quality impacts from construction and soil movement will be much greater than disclosed, and the benefits of air pollution reductions will be half of what was anticipated in draft documents. Interference with nearby rail operations of BNSF are barely recognized, and not addressed.

Based upon commitments by Chairman Dan Richard to the County of Kings in the Spring of 2012, our organizations were hopeful that we could address many if not all of our concerns prior to the adoption of the Final EIR/EIS. His commitment was to work with our communities to address concerns before releasing the Revised Draft EIR/EIS. Unfortunately, Chairman Richard never returned to Kings County and the Authority’s decision to brush aside our concerns and charge ahead has forced this litigation as our last recourse.

Lastly, we are apprehensive that the uncertain fiscal stability of this project will yield severe and lasting impacts for all Californians that cannot and will not be mitigated. To date the Authority has not provided a clear and stable funding plan that would indicate that a true high-speed rail project can be completed and that all mitigation measures can be funded. Shrouded in the lack of transparency, lack of funding, and lack of accountability, we believe that the Authority will be unable to complete any functional rail project, let alone a high-speed one.

For these reasons, CCHSRA, County of Kings and KCFB have concluded that litigation against the Authority and FRA is the last option that, if successful, will prevent catastrophic impacts to our community, environment and economy.

For more information regarding CCHSRA please visit us at www.cchsra.org or contact Aaron Fukuda at (559) 707-8928.

Copy of lawsuit: June 5, 2014 Petition For Writ of Mandate – Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability, Kings County, Kings County Farm Bureau versus California High-Speed Rail Authority

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Rail Authority Gives Fresno-Bakersfield Environmental Report Go-Ahead; CCHSRA Attorney Warns of Widespread Disruption to Farms and Businesses

Rail Authority Gives Fresno-Bakersfield Environmental Report Go-Ahead; CCHSRA Attorney Warns of Widespread Disruption to Farms and Businesses

Hanford, CA May 8, 2014 – An attorney for Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) cautioned that a newly certified environmental document covering Fresno to Bakersfield will have serious ramifications if implemented.

The second segment of the high-speed rail project for Fresno-Bakersfield was approved by the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board on Wednesday, May 7th in Fresno, California.

“We do not think the Authority has owned up to all the impacts,” said Oakland, California-based attorney Jason Holder. “While the decision today is an incremental step toward realizing the long-sought vision of high-speed rail (HSR), that vision is very far from fruition. Meanwhile the dislocation, disruption and other impacts this project will cause to San Joaquin Valley residents, businesses and farms will be widespread and substantial.”

Mr. Holder further warned of the implications of the Authority’s lack of sufficient funding.

“Until the Authority can demonstrate that it has the funds to complete a project that provides HSR service from the Central Valley to Southern California and then to the Bay Area, the long-term and broader benefits will not be realized and the merits of the project will be in question,” he said.

“The Authority lacks funding to implement high-speed rail passenger service between Fresno and Bakersfield,” said CCHSRA Co-Chairman Frank Oliveira, “and it needs $25 billion to start passenger revenue service of the Initial Operating Segment between Madera and the San Fernando Valley.”

Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group based in Kings County whose members reside in the city of Hanford and surrounding rural areas, along with other Californians who are affected by the high-speed rail. The group has been in the forefront since June 2011 attempting to get the California High-Speed Rail Authority and its board to be in full compliance with Proposition 1A which the state’s voters passed in November 2008.

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“We Will Not Delay Consideration” – California High-Speed Rail Authority Proceeds with Fresno-Bakersfield Final Environmental Impact Report

Get ready for the California High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting in Fresno on May 6 and 7, 2014 for public comment and a vote on the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (FEIR/FEIS) for the Fresno to Bakersfield Project Segment of the California High-Speed Train Program. This report is required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and federal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) sent a letter dated April 23, 2014 to the California High-Speed Rail Authority asking the agency to delay a May 7, 2014 scheduled vote of the board on the Fresno to Bakersfield Project Segment. CCHSRA argued that 17 days was too short of a time for interested parties to review and analyze the Authority’s 4,800 pages of responses.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority responded promptly with a letter dated April 28, 2014 to CCHSRA declaring that the process for environmental review has been ongoing for five years. With other arguments, it concluded that “we will not delay consideration of the Final EIR/EIS.”

As reported in the article “Bullet Train Opponents Want More Time to Review EIR” in the April 28, 2014 Central Valley Business Times, Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) and State Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) also requested the Authority to delay the vote.

May 23 Is Date for Oral Arguments: California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County

The 3rd Appellate District Court for the State of California announced on April 28 that oral arguments in California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County are scheduled for Friday, May 23.

This is the case which started when California Governor Jerry Brown, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and the California High-Speed Rail Authority asked the California Supreme Court under an extraordinary petition to allow the state to issue (sell) Proposition 1A bonds to fund California High-Speed Rail. (In October 2013, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge had blocked the sale of the bonds through two decisions ruling that the California High-Speed Rail Authority has failed to comply with Prop 1A.) The California Supreme Court wasn’t impressed: it sent the Governor’s petition to the appeals court where it belonged.

Track the case at this link: California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County – Case Number C075668

Supporting the Rule of Law:

Members of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA)
County of Kings
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
County of Kern
Eugene Voiland
Kings County Water District
Union Pacific Railroad Company
First Free Will Baptist Church in Bakersfield

Supporting Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority:

Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board
San Mateo County Transit District
Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco Bay Area)
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
City and County of San Francisco
State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO
Cathleen Galgiani, member of the California State Legislature
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Southern California Association of Governments

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About California High-Speed Rail (Out of Thousands of Things Almost No One Knows)

Here’s a list of “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About California High-Speed Rail” from page 2 of CCHSRA’s alternative business plan, entitled Legacy Issues: The Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability 2014 Business Plan for the California High-Speed Passenger Train System, Including Direct Connections with Existing and Planned Intercity and Commuter Rail Lines, Urban Rail Systems, and Bus Networks Using Common Station and Terminal Facilities.

Ten Things You Did Not Know about California High Speed Rail

 

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