Fourth Down for a Train Wreck

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

In modern professional football, when a team makes a play in which the ruling on the field favors them, even though they may not have completed a pass or recovered a fumble successfully, the players try to get off the next play before the official’s ruling is challenged and the play is reviewed. The High Speed Rail Authority hopes to pull off the same maneuver by spending initial dollars quickly on the massive project so that it would seem wasteful to stop the project.

It’s too late. The people in two polls have thrown the red flag. They demand a review of the project before a dime is spent.

Officials are abandoning the train as it runs off the rails. Earlier this week, the communication director announced she is leaving for a job at WalMart. Yesterday, the authority’s executive director announced his resignation and the chairman of the Board of Directors was replaced.

Yet one major figure still stands up for the project. Like the folk hero, John Henry, he hammers away to clear a track for the train – Governor Jerry Brown.

It is time for Brown to reconsider his position.

As I suggested before, Brown remains stubbornly behind the high speed rail project because he sees it as a transformative infrastructure project on par with his father’s accomplishments. Governor Pat Brown built transportation and water delivery systems.

But, the price tag of this project is too high. The cost is not only in dollars, triple the expense over the original projections, but the cost in lost credibility.

While attempting to convince voters to raise taxes to cover the budget deficit, the governor must first convince them he will be a good steward of their tax dollars. By pursuing the high speed rail project that is being criticized from many quarters, Brown should take the hint offered by the authority’s staff and join the rush away from the rails.

Argue that the state needs those millions of dollars now for services for the citizens and tell the people that time is needed to re-think the project.

If he does that, the Governor will have scored a touchdown.

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