The presentation by Roy Hill at the last Authority board meeting finally revealed a major cost increase in the Central Valley section of the High Speed Rail project ($2.8 billion or 35% increase). This is hardly news to many of us who have been following the project.

Indeed, leaked reports of escalating costs (and other problems) were reported many times in the past, especially in articles authored by Ralph Vartabedian of the LA Times.

Always in the past, the accuracy of these revelations was denied on many occasions by Chair Dan Richard and ex-CEO Jeff Morales.  The Authority Board members always took whatever explanation(s) were offered by them to counter these reports as gospel, and never really cared to dig further and question whether there was real veracity in these reports.

These leaked reports should have been questioned in depth by the Authority Board.  After all, the reports came from the FRA and from Parsons Brinkerhoff (now WSP). They deserved more than a “shrug off” or convoluted rebuttal from Morales or Chair Richard.  Indeed here in “Fox and Hounds”, Char Richard had the habit of just characterizing these reports as “bunk”

Authority Board members were not apparently briefed in advance of the presentation by Mr. Hill and neither was the public.  In fact the Agenda for the meeting fails to even list such a presentation.  In reviewing the video of this Board meeting, it is pretty amazing to find the reaction from Board members as being almost total silence.

We now see a chance to answer the pivotal question  — “What did the Authority know and when did the Authority know.

There is now a good chance that an audit of the Authority will win bipartisan support and finally be approved.  Kudos to Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R), who has long pushed for this audit and now supporting him is State Senator Jim Beall (D), thus making this a bipartisan effort.