High Speed Rail: Big Infrastructure Project for Another Gov. Brown

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

In his first turn as governor, Jerry Brown, emphasized that California lived in an “era of limits.” His position was in contrast to the reputation of his father, Governor Pat Brown, who was known as the master builder of California because of his work in developing education, transportation and water delivery systems.

Now, however, the younger Brown wants to be the builder. Despite the pile of evidence that the high speed rail project is turning out to be a boondoggle with ever growing costs and pie-in-the-sky rider predictions, the governor still backs the project.

In a scathing article on CalWatchDog last month, San Diego Union-Tribune editorial writer Chris Reed took on the contrasts between what the L.A. Times reports about California’s High Speed Rail – much negative — and it’s editorial position – an endorsement. Reed notes that the Times editorial compared the train project favorably to Pat Brown’s noted success. “[T]he train is a major public work whose value to future generations could be compared to that of the California Water Project,” wrote the Times’ editorialists.

Perhaps, Jerry Brown has concluded that he wants to leave his mark on future generations as his father did – as a builder. Brown would be following his father’s footsteps in pushing a big project that has it doubters.

The high speed rail project took another hit last week, one of many, when it was revealed how many millions of dollars are spent just in public relations on the project. In his report on the public relations cost, Sacramento Bee’s David Siders noted that despite the revelation of the project’s doubling in cost, “The rail authority’s bid to build a system connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco has enjoyed a resurgence this fall, after Gov. Jerry Brown put his support behind it.”

With many in the legislature now questioning the value of the rail project, Brown may be the important “golden spike” (to use a railroad analogy) that is keeping the project together.

It’s a gamble for the younger Brown. If the train proves to be a black hole for taxpayer money that many critics claim, Brown Junior’s legacy as a builder would be quite different than his father’s.

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