Category Archives: Public Accountability

Radio Interview with Attorney Protecting Rights of the People from California High-Speed Rail Authority

Californians across the political spectrum want to see public accountability for California High-Speed Rail. Go to a California High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting, and you’ll see people from all walks of life with a wide variety of concerns about this $68 billion project.

Today (Wednesday, August 12, 2015) at 3:00 p.m., attorney Mike Brady will be interviewed on the “Stir It Up” radio show hosted by Richard Gomez on KFCF Free Speech Radio, 88.1 FM in Fresno, California. Mr. Brady represents people in Kings County objecting to the conduct of the California High-Speed Rail Authority as it pushes forward with its vision of a bullet train through the farmland of the Central Valley.

Also scheduled to be interviewed is Cherylyn Smith, a Fresno teacher and environmental activist.

You can also listen to the show at KFCF 88.1FM – Free Speech Radio. The audio will also be available for two weeks following the show.

Help Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability in Its Fight for Accountability to the People of California

Who:  Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA)

What: Fundraiser.

Where: Hanford Fraternal Hall PAVILION • 1015 North 10th Avenue • Hanford, CA 932230

When: Friday, April 17, 2015 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Why: Members have been working tirelessly to help defend everyone in the path of the California High-Speed Rail through the legal process since 2011. We would like you to support our continued efforts through this fundraiser and thank you in advance.

How: CCHSRA are hosting a “Linguica and Bean Take-Out Dinner” on Friday, April 17, 2015 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Linguica, Portuguese Beans, salad, roll and dessert will be served. Tickets are $25.00.

Please make checks payable to: CCHSRA. Thank you in advance for your support.

You may purchase tickets from members of CCHSRA. There will also be a limited number of tickets at the door.

Or, tickets are available at the Kings County Farm Bureau:
870 Greenfield Ave, #B
Hanford, CA 93230
(559) 584-3557

For more information, please contact Mary Jane Fagundes at (559) 707-7286.

Legacy Issues: The Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability 2014 Business Plan for California High-Speed Rail

People interested in California High-Speed Rail issues frequently ask our organization – Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) – for an accurate report about the status of California High-Speed Rail. In April 2014, CCHSRA produced its own 110-page version of a business plan that tries to fulfill the requirements outlined in state law for a business plan of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Central Valley Citizens’ Group Says Voter Dissatisfaction with California High-Speed Rail Was Reflected in Noteworthy Election Results

Central Valley Citizens’ Group Says Voter Dissatisfaction with California High-Speed Rail Was Reflected in Noteworthy Election Results

Leadership of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) asserts that the clear, unequivocal positions of several candidates against the current California High-Speed Rail plan were an asset in motivating San Joaquin Valley voters to go to the polls on Election Day.

“Some political commentators in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. said they were surprised by the election performance of several candidates in the San Joaquin Valley,” says Frank Oliveira, a co-chairman of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA). “They fail to recognize that water, agriculture, and high-speed rail continue to be prominent concerns in our communities.”

Oliveira cites the strong election performance of Congressman David Valadao, Congressman Jeff Denham, State Senator Andy Vidak, and the unexpected preliminary lead of 736 votes of Johnny Tacherra (challenger to Congressman Jim Costa). All of these candidates spoke openly to a broad spectrum of local residents about the drawbacks and challenges of water, agriculture, and high-speed rail.

“It has surprised everyone that Johnny Tacherra could actually end up unseating the ‘Father of High-Speed Rail’ in the Central Valley,” says Oliveira. “But Tacherra made his campaign distinct in part by opposing the current path of California High-Speed Rail through prime farmland and neighborhoods full of small businesses and churches.”

Oliveria sums up what is happening in the San Joaquin Valley: “Residents from all perspectives and walks of life are frustrated about the apparent disdain that some politicians show toward our communities. Some Californians embrace a futuristic vision of a bullet train cutting across our abandoned farmland. We want our elected officials to represent our desire to maintain the importance of agriculture in our region.”

Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group based in Kings County. Members include residents of the City of Hanford and surrounding rural areas, along with other Californians affected by the high-speed rail. The group has been in the forefront since June 2011 of 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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High-Speed Rail Authority Addresses Fresno County Agricultural Issues: In Palmdale, During Harvest Peak

Shelli Andranigian speaks to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors.

Shelli Andranigian speaks to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors.

On September 16, 2014, the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors held a meeting in Palmdale, where it plans to have a station and a possible connection one day to a high-speed rail line that goes to Las Vegas. Numerous people reported difficulty watching the meeting on the Authority’s video feed.

One item on the meeting agenda is important to farmers in Fresno County. It did not get the news media attention it deserved.

Below is a statement of Shelli Andranigian, board member of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA), on the Authority’s meeting agenda item #8 to make findings related to Government Code Section 51292 (Agricultural Preserve/ Williamson Act) for California High-Speed Rail-related improvement locations in Fresno County.

Good morning. My name is Shelli Andranigian and our impacted family farming operation is in the Fresno to Bakersfield section. Since I am also addressing many not familiar with the area, we are in the San Joaquin Valley aka the Central Valley in South Fresno County along the Cole Slough of the Kings River.

I would like to know why you are addressing changes to The Land Conservation Act of 1965 also known as the Williamson Act as it pertains to farmland in Fresno County (Agenda Item 8). This topic should not be discussed or decided upon here at the California High Speed Rail Authority Board meeting today in Palmdale which is in Los Angeles County. Why is this important issue not being addressed in the Central Valley where farmers are in the midst of the busy harvest season and not able to be here which is two hundred plus miles away for them to publicly comment/question? Could it be because both Fresno County and the City of Fresno have each recently passed items unfavorable to the California High-Speed Train Project including a resolution to reverse their previously favorable stance of HSR by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors this past July 29th?

Those in California’s Central Valley feed and clothe everyone in this room and the rest of the world. Farmers are the true environmentalists and stewards of the land. This action not only disrespects them, but everyone who cares about the environment. The California High Speed Train Project is not the “Green” project the Authority wants everyone to believe.

I urge you to table any action on the Williamson Act (which will negatively impact over 70 properties in Fresno County) and bring it up at a future board meeting in Fresno. No mention of this action was even broached at the Fresno County Board of Supervisors meetings in July 2014 at which both CEO Morales spoke before the board one week and Vice Chair Richards at the next meeting or even at recent meetings. I am sure those here in Los Angeles County would not be pleased if a similar action impacting their properties was discussed in Fresno County at 9 a.m. on a weekday.

Those behind-the-scenes at the California High-Speed Rail Authority have been in a rush to connect a train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, yet they have not yet planned on how to get from just north of Bakersfield to here in Palmdale. The Authority will need a rail line to traverse the mountainous Ridge Route aka Grapevine that bridges Southern California with the Central and Northern areas of our Golden State.

Meanwhile, family farms, private homes, small and larger businesses, churches, schools, historical landmarks and the Fresno Rescue Mission which has been providing a home for the homeless  since 1949 remain negatively impacted.

Rogue appraisers, including those from out-of-state have been running rampant in the Central Valley. They have been harassing elderly female homeowners along with those who farm the land in the midst of the busy harvest season. The appraisers must be in a rush to get paid by the Authority before the funds run out!

Those who ask the appraisers for more information so they can note the exact impacts to one’s property (by requesting a large and legible map), are not taken seriously and/or asked if said individual needs something for all impacted properties. Why would someone only need a large and legible map for property A and not for property B, C and D? A neighbor’s map sent by the appraisers even has the rivers near their farm labeled incorrectly.

I’m not sure if the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board realizes the inept actions of those representing them on the front lines. The largest infrastructure project of its kind remains flawed because of continued missteps like those just mentioned. Who in California would want a train speeding through  their communities at over 200 plus miles per hour when no thought continues to be put into the planning process at every level?

It is high time to put the horse before the cart and hit the restart button to make it precise at every step of the way so those who prefer train travel such as myself will get to experience it in their lifetime in California. #NoOneWillBeAbleToRide until then.

Thank you and safe travels.


September 16, 2014 Meeting Agenda for California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors

Staff Report to California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors: September 16, 2014 Meeting Agenda Item #8 – Consider Making Findings Pursuant to Government Code Section 51292 (Agricultural Preserve/ Williamson Act) for High-Speed Rail-Related Improvement Locations in Fresno County (CP* 1C and part of CP* 2-3). (There are 71 locations that the Authority claims it did not select “based primarily on a consideration of the lower cost of acquiring land in an agricultural preserve.”)

Resolution #HSRA 14-26 of California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors: Adoption of Findings Pursuant to Government Code § 51292 (Fresno County)

*CP means “Construction Package.” CP-1 is civil engineering (grading, drainage, bridges, etc.) in preparation to lay track between Madera and Fresno. The Authority awarded a contract in June 2013 for that construction package to a Tutor-Perini/Zachary/Parsons joint venture. CP 2-3 is civil engineering in preparation to lay track between Fresno and the border of Tulare County and Kern County. Three of five pre-qualified design-build entities reportedly plan to bid on this combined construction package. A winner may be announced by the end of 2014.

Transcript of September 16, 2014 Board Meeting of the California High-Speed Rail Authority

 

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 Stance – Fresno Bee – July 12, 2014

Fresno County Delays High-Speed Rail Support Vote – Fresno 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 Rail – Fresno 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

“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.

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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