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Captain Brown's Rail Fail
California Bullet Train Ignites Blue Mutiny

Governor Jerry Brown’s bullet train to nowhere has earned him ridicule from opponents and frustration from voters. Now he’s catching heat from fellow high-ranking Democrats. Lieutenant Governor and former San Francisco Mayor, and Democratic macher Gavin Newsom thinks the unicorn train should be put out to pasture. The San Jose Mercury News reports:

“I would take the dollars and redirect it to other, more pressing infrastructure needs, and I am not the only Democrat that feels this way. And I’ve got to tell you, I am one of the few that just said it publicly,” Newsom said, according to a recording of the program provided by the station, KTTH in Seattle. “Most are now saying it privately.”

Newsom’s comments make him the most prominent Democrat in California to publicly split with Gov. Jerry Brown on the project, which is one of the governor’s top priorities.

It’s possible that Newsom has his own political fortunes in mind. He was a big-name proponent of the project and its financing plan when voters were too, so he might just be riding the tide of public disaffection with the train. As he put it himself, “I think I’m where the public was and is.”

If, as he claims, Newsom is giving voice to the frustrations of many state Democrats, Governor Brown could be in for a rude awakening. Making the case that $68 billion might be better spent on more pressing public needs has always been logically and morally sound. If state Democrats find that it’s politically useful too, the governor could face a most unwelcome blue mutiny.

Blue revolt against the train would do the Golden State some good. California needs to save cash to guard against future financial turbulence due to pensions that, despite Governor Brown’s reforms, still look underfunded, and, among other things, it desperately needs new infrastructure and it could use some spending and tax cuts. So here’s to hoping the Democrats who want to put the train out of its misery aren’t just hoping to spend the money on their own pet boondoggles.

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  • Michael Shorts

    “Making the case that $68 billion might be better spent on more pressing public needs”. There is no $68 billion. The money has never been found to build the high speed rail boondoggle.

    • Andrew Allison

      If suggesting better ways of spending imaginary money is what it takes to stop the bullet boondoggle, I’m all in favor.

      • Jim__L

        I don’t think Newsom and his cronies will stop at merely “suggesting better ways of spending”, they’ll spend it on whatever new boondoggles they can dream up, given half a chance.

        Holding up / stopping one big project whose base of support is questionable is quite possibly the best way of denying them that chance.

        As bad as Brown is, the prospect of his losing out in California to the
        likes of Newsom is truly horrific. (Might be what the CA GOP needs to reinvigorate itself, though. It’s never right to despair.)

  • bigfire

    The guy who wrote this proposition was cognisant about project money being redirected by governors and legislators for other purpose. He puts in clauses that the money cannot be use unless the train goes at a certain speed. Also that the High Speed Rail Authority have to come up with a comprehensive business plan. Current court case is dealing with both of these issue.

  • Gene

    Am I wrong to believe that a reasonably sentient being has no damned excuse for not having understood the stupidity of this train project back when it was passed in the first place? Am I supposed to credit this clown with courage and wisdom for changing his mind? Why more Democrats can’t apply some intellectual honesty to such situations is a mystery to me.

    • bigfire

      As a resident of California who voted against this boondoggle, I have this to say: It’s about spending the Federal Matching Fund. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if anything is ultimately lay down on the ground. The High Speed Train Authority’s only real mandate is to spend the money, ASAP on the politically connected cronies. Why do you think Diane Feinstein’s husband’s company got the no bid contract?

    • Bruce

      Because they win elections regardless in a broken state like CA. When it’s all said and done, it’s about the power and very little else.

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