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

 

Court Rejects Governor Brown’s Arguments to Skirt Court Decision and to Let State Borrow Money for California High-Speed Rail

While Governor Brown and a majority in the California legislature seem to tolerate the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s violations of state law, the judicial branch of California government recognizes that the Authority is failing to comply with Proposition 1A.

On April 15, 2014, the California 3rd District Court of Appeal rejected an extraordinary appeal backed by Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and the California High-Speed Rail Authority. These top state officials wanted the appeals court to suppress two decisions of a lower court so the state could borrow money for the High-Speed Train Program by selling bonds.

The Docket (Register of Actions) for California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County (Case No. C076042) states the following:

The Petition for Extraordinary Writ of Mandate or Other Appropriate Writ is denied. The standard of review for a judgment on the pleadings is the same as for a judgment following sustaining of a demurrer; we look only to the face of the pleading under attack. [Citations.] … All facts alleged in the complaint are admitted for purposes of the motion and the court determines whether these facts constitute a cause of action. [Citations.] (Hughes v. Western MacArthur Co. (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 951, 954-955.) The parties’ motions for judicial notice are denied. RAYE, P.J. (RoBu) … Case Complete.

In 2013, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge found that the California High-Speed Rail Authority failed to comply with provisions of Proposition 1A, the “Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act,” approved by 52.7% of California voters on November 5, 2008. (See links to these court decisions, below.)

Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority wanted the court to disregard the promises the state legislature made to California voters when it placed Proposition 1A on the ballot. In their mindset, the vote of the people to authorize the state to borrow money for California High-Speed Rail overrides the burden to actually comply with the law. In fact, desperate supporters of the project are increasingly making this “democratic” argument.

But we still live in a constitutional republic, not a democracy, and the courts will not allow the California High-Speed Rail Authority to spend money in a way that violates the law. It does not matter how many politicians or political activists support the bullet train or how “important” or “innovative” this $68 billion San Francisco to Los Angeles train will be for humanity.

Ultimately, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will have to follow the law, ask voters to change the law, or shut down operations until new people are governing the state.

News Media Coverage

Appeals Court Denies Petition, Clears Way for High-Speed Rail Trial by Tim Sheehan in the Fresno Bee – April 16, 2014

Court Refuses Appeal of High-Speed Rail Project: Part 2 Prop 1A Lawsuit Will Proceed by Kathy Hamilton in www.Examiner.com – April 16, 2014

What is Governor Brown Trying to Stop?

The coalition of individuals, local governments, business organizations, and taxpayer associations (including Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability) that won this April 15, 2014 decision have already won in court as a plaintiff in a Prop 1A compliance lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority and as a defendant in a bond validation lawsuit filed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Read those decisions here:

November 25, 2013 California High Speed Rail Authority Bond Validation Lawsuit Ruling

High-Speed Rail Authority and High-Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee, for the State of California v. All Persons Interested in the Matter of the Validity of the Authorization and Issuance of General Obligation Bonds to be Issued Pursuant to the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century and Certain Proceeding and Matter Related Thereto.

August 16, 2013 Tos v California High-Speed Rail Prop 1A Ruling

November 25, 2013 Tos v California High-Speed Rail Prop 1A Remedy

John Tos, Aaron Fukuda, County of Kings v. California High Speed Rail Authority, et al.

In addition, the same coalition has also won a court decision concerning the inclusion and consideration of arguments in Tos v California High-Speed Rail regarding the promised travel time requirements in Proposition 1A, such as 2 hours 40 minutes from San Francisco to Union Station in Los Angeles.

March 4, 2014 Ruling on Submitted Matter: Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

California High-Speed Rail Authority Poised to Approve 2014 Business Plan on April 10: CCHSRA Letter Demands Legitimate Public Hearing

Have you tried to read the Draft 2014 Business Plan for the California High-Speed Rail Authority? It seems to be designed and organized so that no one can figure out what’s going on with the most expensive public works project in American history.

The deadline for the 60 days of public comments is April 10, 2014, when the California High-Speed Rail Authority board is scheduled to approve a final version of their 2014 Business Plan at their monthly meeting. We don’t know what the final version of the business plan looks like, what comments were submitted from the public, or how the Authority will respond to criticism of the plan at the one legislative informational hearing, held by the Senate Transportation Committee on March 27.

In the meantime, Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) has sent a nine-page detailed letter dated April 2, 2014 to the California High-Speed Rail Authority asking for a legitimate public hearing with proper public notice, as required by state law. Here is the letter:

April 2, 2014  - Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability Want 2014 Business Plan Public Notice and Public Hearing

By the way, have you submitted your comments about the California High-Speed Rail Authority Draft 2014 Business Plan? Please do so, by close of business on Monday, April 7, if you can. Here’s how to do it:

1. Online comment form through the Draft 2014 Business Plan website at:
http://www.hsr.ca.gov/About/Business_Plans/Draft_2014_Business_Plan.html

2. By email at 2014businessplancomments@hsr.ca.gov

3. By U.S. mail to the Authority:

California High-Speed Rail Authority
Attn: 2014 Business Plan
770 L Street, Suite 800, Sacramento, CA 95814

4. Voice mail comment at 916-384-9516

5. Provide public comment at the Authority’s Board of Directors Meeting on February 11,
March 11 and April 10

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) Catches High-Speed Rail Authority Trying to Evade Buy America Law

Here is the text of a March 31, 2014 press release from Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) about its March 28, 2014 letter asking the federal government to uphold Buy America requirements for assembly of the first two prototype trains for California High-Speed Rail.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:  Aaron Fukuda
(559) 707-8928/afukuda77@gmail.com 

Central Valley Citizens Group Catches California High-Speed Rail Authority Trying to Evade Buy America Law

Asks Feds to Deny Waiver for Foreign Assembly of Prototype Trains

 

Hanford, CA — March 31, 2014 –  Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) asked the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) last Friday (March 28, 2014) to deny a February 28, 2014 request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) for a waiver from Buy America laws for assembly of two prototype trains.

“The California High-Speed Rail Authority routinely sends letters to federal agencies asking for waivers and exemptions without notifying the public,” Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) co-chairman Aaron Fukuda said on Friday. “We were angry this week when we discovered this letter on the Federal Railroad Administration website.”

For four reasons cited in the letter, CCHSRA objects to the Federal Railroad Administration allowing the California High-Speed Rail Authority to contract for foreign assembly of the trains:

  1. The California High-Speed Rail Authority Evaded Public Scrutiny of This Waiver Request and Disguised Its Intentions through Deceptive Reports
  2. The California High-Speed Rail Authority Neglected Reasonable Planning to Comply with the Federal Buy America Requirement, Despite Plenty of Time to Do So
  3. A Buy American Waiver Undermines a Major Purpose of California High-Speed Rail to Create Manufacturing Jobs in the United States
  4. A Buy American Waiver Sets a Poor Precedent for Future High-Speed Rail Materials and Facilities

Also of interest to CCHSRA is making sure the California High-Speed Rail Authority fulfills its requirement in state law to “make every effort to purchase high-speed train rolling stock and related equipment that are manufactured in California.”

“If the Federal Railroad Administration grants the waiver without legally-required detailed justification, we will appeal the decision on behalf of the people of the United States and California,” Fukuda said. “It’s time for some accountability for California High-Speed Rail.”

A copy of the letter (March 28, 2014 Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability [CCHSRA] Letter to Federal Railroad Administration to Deny Buy America Waiver to California High-Speed Rail Authority) is on the “>CCHSRA website at www.cchsra.org.

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.

###

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) Express Support for Bill to Freeze Spending of Federal Funds While Courts Stop Bond Sales

On Monday, March 24, the California Assembly Transportation Committee held a hearing on Assembly Bill 1501, introduced by Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno, that would have prevented the California High-Speed Rail Authority from spending federal grant money on the bullet train while the courts continue to prohibit the state from borrowing money by selling Prop 1A bonds. Assemblyman Patterson noted that the state would be bound to matching any of the federal funding spent on the high-speed rail project.

Aaron Fukuda, co-chairman of the CCHSRA, testified as a key witness in support of AB 1501. A second featured witness in support of AB 1501 was Diane Friend, Executive Director of the Kings County Farm Bureau. In addition, Alan Scott and Frank Oliveira of CCHSRA spoke during public comment in support of AB 1501, along with policy consultant and CCHSRA ally Kevin Dayton of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC.

A California High-Speed Rail Authority representative claimed that Cap and Trade auction allowances (described by some as “taxes”) would match the federal funding. Representatives of the California Labor Federation, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, and individual construction trade unions spoke in opposition to AB 1501, along with representatives of high-speed rail interests.

Assemblyman Patterson had hoped the committee would pass his bill to the Assembly Appropriations Committee in order to trigger a fiscal analysis. Instead, the Democrat majority on the committee rejected the bill on an 11-4 party-line vote.

Watch the video of the AB 1501 hearing (starts at 20:50).

“Courts Are Not Entitled to Rewrite Legislation” – A Response to Governor Brown’s “Arrogant” Demand to Borrow $8.5 Billion for California High-Speed Rail

As the California High-Speed Rail Authority chafes at the bit for groundbreaking and moving forward with construction of the first 29-mile segment of rail between Madera and Fresno, it has also petitioned the California Supreme Court for extraordinary action to overrule two Superior Court decisions and allow it to sell Proposition 1A bonds. Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) and its allies object to this desperate scheme to get quick cash and roll over voters who approved a different project.

A brief filed on behalf of Kings County residents John Tos and Aaron Fukuda and the County of Kings asks the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District to “reject this arrogant request.”

While Courts are empowered to enforce legislation, and to interpret legislation when the Legislature’s intent is unclear, Courts are not entitled to rewrite legislation. That is particularly the case when the legislation involved is a bond measure presented to and approved by California’s voters.

In 2013, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled that neither the authorization for issuing bonds from the California High-Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee nor the funding plan put forward by California High-Speed Rail Authority met the requirements of Proposition 1A, the statewide ballot measure voters approved in November 2008 to authorize the state to borrow $9.95 billion for the rail system through bond sales. In other words, voters approved borrowing money under certain conditions, but the California High-Speed Rail Authority now wants to borrow it under different conditions.

Remember that Proposition 1A told voters they would get a $45 billion complete high-speed rail system connecting San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego. Now it’s a $68 billion “blended plan” between San Francisco and Los Angeles in which the first and last parts of the journey (the “bookends”) are not high-speed rail. Construction of a new high-speed rail segment is most immediately planned for bisecting or demolishing more than 1,100 properties between Merced and Bakersfield.

Read the brief at Return by Answer and Supporting Memorandum of Points and Authorities of Real Parties in Interest John Tos, Aaron Fukuda, County of Kings to California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Petition for Extraordinary Writ of Mandate.

Pacific Legal Foundation Files Brief Against Governor Brown on Behalf of Bakersfield Church in Path of California High-Speed Rail

On March 17, 2014, the Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation filed a brief in support of the First Free Will Baptist Church in Bakersfield against Governor Jerry Brown’s extraordinary petition to allow the State of California to borrow money to fund California High-Speed Rail construction by selling Proposition 1A bonds. Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) is fighting this petition, which would undo our court victories in 2013.

Here is a copy of the brief: March 14, 2014 Pacific Legal Foundation on Behalf of First Free Will Baptist Church Against Jerry Brown on California High-Speed Rail

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled in 2013 that the California High-Speed Rail Authority failed to comply with Proposition 1A as authorized by voters, and therefore the state could not sell Prop 1A bonds. Governor Brown, the California High-Speed Rail Authority, and other officials asked the California Supreme Court to override the lower court decision and allow the state to issue the bonds. The California Supreme Court appropriately bounced the petition back to the California Court of Appeals for the 3rd District.

The Pacific Legal Foundation describes itself as “the oldest and most successful public interest legal organization that fights for limited government, property rights, individual rights and a balanced approach to environmental protection.” For more information, see the Pacific Legal Foundation’s March 19, 2014 press release about the filing of the brief:

Pacific Legal Foundation Litigates Against Sale of California High-Speed Rail Bonds

The brief is also posted at the Pacific Legal Foundation web site, along with a podcast explaining the brief.

Hanford Sentinel Newspaper Profiles Co-Chair of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA)

The Hanford Sentinel newspaper posted today (March 15, 2014) an article by reporter Seth Nidever profiling Aaron Fukuda, a co-leader of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA). Read the article here:

Gaining Steam: Hanford Engineer’s Life Took a Surprising Turn When He Learned High-Speed Rail May Cut Through His Property – by Seth Nidever of Hanford Sentinel – March 15, 2014

Aaron’s story presents a local perspective of the community leaders in Kings County who have led the successful court actions to make the California High-Speed Rail Authority accountable to the People of California. Aaron often says that “If our government doesn’t bother to follow the law, why bother to have laws? Just have a dictatorship.” When his private property was threatened by a government agency that compromises the law in the pursuit of “Progress,” Aaron was inspired to democratic activism.

Challenging a government agency assigned to build the most-expensive construction project in human history is not a task for the timid or uncertain. Powerful and wealthy interests (such as the Top-40 donors to Proposition 1A) are intent on seeing California High-Speed Rail built through the middle of prime agricultural farmland in the San Joaquin Valley – and beyond. The project’s chief political advocate – Governor Jerry Brown – is held up as a modern-day philosopher-king by some political commentators. This is serious business.

To contact CCHSRA leaders with press inquiries or proposals for financial assistance:

Aaron Fukuda – afukuda77 [at] gmail.com - Cell: 559-707-8928

Frank Oliveira – frank.oliveira [at] me.com - Cell: 559-469-6685

Now on the Web: A Centralized Primary-Source Compilation for Reports and Litigation on California High-Speed Rail Finances

If you’re looking for primary source documents about California High-Speed Rail finances, take a look at a relatively new and simple web site: California High-Speed Rail Finance Reports (Calif HSR Fin Reports). It’s the self-declared “Home For Reports And Litigation On Aspects Of The California High Speed Rail’s Finances.”

According to the authors, “As a team of financial experts, with many years of diverse experience, we have reviewed and analyzed the financial aspects of the planned California High Speed Rail project, and have documented the financial risks of this project in a series of reports. We are proud to present our reports here.

People of California Will Soon Know if California High-Speed Rail Will Truly Travel as Promised between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2 Hours 40 Minutes

Today (March 4, 2014), a Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled that the Court would consider arguments from plaintiffs in the Court case Tos v. California High-Speed Rail Authority about the failure of California High-Speed Rail to comply with travel time requirements in Proposition 1A. Read the decision: Ruling on Submitted Matter: Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings – March 4, 2014.

Stuart Flashman, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the following:

We are very gratified by Judge Kenny’s ruling denying the High-Speed Rail Authority’s motion. The Authority was, in essence, trying to shut the case down.

Our position is simply that if the Authority want to use the bond funds, it has to build what it promised the voters. Our complaint says that the Authority’s project doesn’t meet requirements for the high-speed rail system that were set when California’s voters approved Proposition 1A.

Judge Kenny’s ruling means we get our day in court to prove our case. If we’re successful, it will mean the Authority can’t use the bond funds to build their non-compliant project.

Frank Oliveira, a leader of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA), said that CCHSRA was “pleased that Judge Kenny supports the idea that the California High-Speed Rail Authority should be accountable to the public for the decisions it makes.”

Background

In November 2008, 52.7% of California voters approved Proposition 1A, the “Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.” Prop 1A authorized the State of California to borrow $9.95 billion for high-speed rail by selling bonds.

Here are the specific travel time promises provided to voters in the California Secretary of State’s Official Voter Information Guide when they considered Proposition 1A:

Argument in Favor of Proposition 1A

“Proposition 1A will save time and money. Travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 2½ hours for about $50 a person.”

TEXT OF PROPOSED LAW - PROPOSITION 1A

[California Streets and Highways Code Section] 2704.09. The high-speed train system to be constructed pursuant to this chapter shall be designed to achieve the following characteristics:

(b) Maximum nonstop service travel times for each corridor that shall not exceed the following:
(1) San Francisco-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40 minutes

Today’s Decision Does Not Bode Well for the California High-Speed Rail Authority

The coalition of individuals, local governments, business organizations, and taxpayer associations that won today’s decision have already won in court as a plaintiff in a Prop 1A compliance lawsuit against the  California High-Speed Rail Authority and as a defendant in a bond validation lawsuit filed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Read those decisions here:

November 25, 2013 California High Speed Rail Authority Bond Validation Lawsuit Ruling

High-Speed Rail Authority and High-Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee, for the State of California v. All Persons Interested in the Matter of the Validity of the Authorization and Issuance of General Obligation Bonds to be Issued Pursuant to the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century and Certain Proceeding and Matter Related Thereto.

August 16, 2013 Tos Fukuda Kings County v California High-Speed Rail Prop 1A Ruling

November 25, 2013 Tos Fukuda Kings County v California High-Speed Rail Prop 1A Remedy

John Tos, Aaron Fukuda, County of Kings v. California High Speed Rail Authority, et al.

« Older Entries