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Today in
S.C.V. History
March 19
1875, 1:35PM - Outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez hanged in San Jose [story]

darrylmanzer0215I don’t get it. Why do the folks who approve the budget of the formerly great State of California have to request a subpoena to get the financial records of the California High Speed Rail Authority? Really? According to a rule of the state Assembly, our representatives must request a subpoena to get those records.

We might want to know just how they are spending OUR money. It cannot be kept secret. Or can it?

We voted for the CHSRA boondoggle with the understanding it would be funded in equal thirds from private, state and federal funds. If any one of those funds cannot be found, that means we shouldn’t be building the railway.

But it is building. Being built by a company that just happens to have the husband of our senior United States senator working there. Funny how that happens. Coincidence? No, it isn’t. Just seems to be the current method of business by our current crop of politicians.

So we don’t really have the money in place to build it, and construction is started. Part of the line from no place to nowhere.

If the money isn’t in place, how about the route? There are some pretty big gaps in that plan, too.

Around here, we seem to think the only place where the route isn’t decided is the portion between Palmdale and Burbank. In reality, the only place that IS decided is the lonely little stretch of rail now being constructed. Nobody knows about the route between Bakersfield and Palmdale yet. Hundreds of miles of right-of-way have yet to be decided and bought. And with all of the lawsuits from cities and counties along the proposed route, it could be ages before that happens.

Unless the route is decided, there isn’t a single private industry investment group or individual who has come forward with the final one-third part of those matching funds. Without that, all of the other money cannot be used.

I must admit that the CHSRA boondoggle has one heck of a sales force. The more they try to sell us, the more we don’t like what they are selling.

This gets us back to our original problem. We, the people, want to see the books. Every line and every figure entered in those books. Right down to the penny do we want to see them. That is what our representatives are asking for. I just can’t figure out why they have to ask for a subpoena to request the books.

I don’t care what political party is in “control.” That the Republican members of the Assembly have to ask a Democratic speaker for a subpoena is dumb. Aren’t the Democrats just as interested in knowing how our money is being spent?

If the tables were reversed, would it be the same? I’d like to think it wouldn’t. A “free market” Republican wouldn’t have considered having the formerly Great State of California build a railroad. They would consider that a job solely the responsibility of a private company. Since the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Santa Fe railroads didn’t already build it back when, the new consolidated lines are not likely to build it now. Simple reason for that: It wouldn’t make a profit.

Remember what we voted for, after that statement. A non-subsidized high speed rail system. If the experts in railroads didn’t want to invest in it, why would anyone else? It isn’t going to be profitable at all.

So we don’t know how or where the money is being spent. We don’t know the actual route being planned. We don’t know if we can see the books. We just don’t know.

Maybe, just maybe, it is time to think about the next election. Even San Francisco didn’t reelect a very liberal sheriff last week. Maybe the pendulum is swinging the other direction now. Maybe Californians are tired of folks spending our money and not telling us how or where it is being spent.

And maybe I can get a good price from the folks from the Midwest who want to take me up on my offer to sell them the Golden Gate Bridge? Bet I can get that accepted before our representatives get the subpoena they’ve requested.



Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].



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  1. Cathy says:

    After meeting with our Rep. Scott Wilk the other night. Our high speed rail is not turning out to be what the people of California wanted and voted for. I think this is what happens when large amounts of money is at stake and the lobbyist start running the show. It’s a good idea in general, but it’s not going to live up to what we wanted. As hard as this is for me to say this, they should scrap the plan.

  2. Fred Sandeen says:

    Mr. Manzer, maybe we should go back in time for a fresh perspective. The Union Pacific Railroad was built by private investors who became rich in the deal. One of the biggest thieves became governor of the not so great state of California, Leland Stanford.

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