California High-Speed Rail Summer Highlights, Part 1: Lack of Leadership

Contrary to the claims of the taxpayer-funded California High-Speed Rail Authority Communications Department, the summer of 2017 was grim for the future of California High-Speed Rail. Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) continually tracks developments (or lack of developments) for this costly, misguided high-speed rail plan. We see several trends ongoing with this project. The first is Lack of Leadership.

On April 21, 2017 the California High-Speed Rail Authority announced that on June 2 its CEO Jeff Morales would leave the position:

Big Change in High-Speed Rail: CEO Steps Down, Says New Leader Needed – Fresno Bee – April 21, 2017

There were high expectations for change:

Leadership Turnover at the California High-Speed Rail Authority Could Signal Shakeup – Los Angeles Times – May 1, 2017

But perhaps it can be said that great leaders never fade away. Two months after his alleged departure date, Jeff Morales was still on the Authority payroll:

California Bullet Train Chief Executive Is Still on the State Payroll – Two Months After His Exit Date – Los Angeles Times – August 4, 2017

As of October 10, 2017, no one has taken his place as CEO. It wasn’t that there weren’t qualified candidates. CCHSRA ally Kevin Dayton applied for the CEO position:

Applying for New CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority: My Cover Letter  – California Policy Center – May 2, 2017

In fact, ten days before the CEO announced his departure, Dayton had critiqued the leadership performance of the $383,000 per year CEO and found it wanting: 

Is the California High-Speed Rail Authority Paying for Legendary Leadership? – California Policy Center – April 21, 2017

Meanwhile, other top executives at the California High-Speed Rail Authority have announced their departure:

Another Key California Bullet Train Executive Is Leaving – Los Angeles Times – October 5, 2017

Granted, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has long been notorious for staff vacancies and turnover. For a few years, the Authority was producing a “California High-Speed Rail Authority Position Summary and Vacancy Report Executive Summary Report” such as this:

California High-Speed Rail Authority Position Summary and Vacancy Report Executive Summary Report January 2016

But it now appears that employees of California High-Speed Rail are taking the advice that former California Republican Party chairman Shawn Steel recently gave to the people promoting the project:

California’s High-Speed Rail Promoters Should Heed the Wisdom of Rats – Sacramento Bee – August 29, 2017