Published Wednesday, May 2, 2007, by the San Francisco Bay Guardian
Support for high-speed rail
By Steven T. Jones
High-speed rail got a timely and significant vote of support from
the California Democratic Party on April 29 when delegates at the
state convention approved a resolution pushing the project. The
measure was the top vote getter, tied at 24 with a resolution urging
accountability for the errors and deception that led to the Iraq War.
Yet a last-minute move weakening part of the measure raises questions
about whether the Democrats are truly willing to fight Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger, who has called for an indefinite delay in next year's
high-speed rail bond measure and proposed a budget that guts the
California High-Speed Rail Authority (see "The Silver Bullet Train,"
The resolution praises the project as "a significant weapon against
air pollution and global warming as it uses much less energy per
passenger than cars and airplanes -- and HSR will be even more
essential if, as expected, petroleum supplies diminish in the future.
But state party leaders deleted language from the version that was
submitted by San Francisco delegate Jane Morrison asking "that all
California elected officials support the requested $103 million
for HSR in the current state budget -- and retain and support the
$10 billion bond issue now scheduled for High Speed Rail in the
2008 election." Assemblymember Fiona Ma has emerged as the main
legislative champion for the embattled project and helped push the
resolution to the top of the legislative priority list. But she
faces a big test in trying to get the money the project now needs.
Morrison told us, "We have to work to convince the legislature that
we can afford it. That's the hard part, so we're not done yet."
A recent report from the Legislative Analyst's Office criticized
Schwarzenegger's holding pattern as wasteful and concluded that the
legislature should fully fund the project or vote to kill it. The
report was titled "Time to Bite the Bullet for the Bullet Train."
[BATN: See also:
Blog: Schwarzenegger's dishonest stand on high-speed rail
Time running out for CO2-reducing California high-speed rail
Letter: Double-talking Schwarzenegger vs. high-speed rail
Why isn't Schwarzenegger supporting high-speed rail?
Comment: Why California needs high-speed rail
CA Assemblywoman Fiona Ma makes high-speed rail top priority
After record-breaking TGV ride, Ma is sold on high-speed rail