Gov. Jerry Brown ripped critics of the high-speed rail offering profanity and calling critics small-minded. Yet, it is an American tradition that goes back to the beginning of the Republic to point out when government goes off the rails, a turn of phrase that is certainly apropos in this instance.
In his second incarnation as governor, Brown has built a reputation of fiscal prudence that has won plaudits across the political spectrum. Yet, a major criticism of the high-speed rail is that it continues to break promises to voters on the cost, completion date, and projected speed of the train.
It is the false promises that are constantly questioned, not the concept of a high-speed rail. People generally like the idea of a modern transportation system. But they want an honest accounting and some resemblance to what was promoted in the first place when voters approved the rail bond. When all the promises become moving targets, trust in government is squandered. That justly brings forth criticism.
Brown told his audience that a plus for the train would be to bring workers from the Central Valley to the business generating coastal region. On that, we agree, as I pointed out in a previous post. However, that leg of the rail east to west should have been emphasized first. Undoubtedly, such a move would have drawn a warmer embrace from the public and greater private financial support.
Brown now is turning his hopes for financial support to build the train to a re-instituted Congress after the mid-term elections. He said, “I’ll tell you how we’re going to fund the railroad. We’re going to take back the Congress and then a Democratic congress is going to put the high-speed rail in the infrastructure bill and then we’ll get that trillion dollars and we’ll put America back to work.”
He should not rely too heavily that a majority Democratic Congress, should one be achieved, would be friendly to the train that can’t seem to meet its goals. It is, of course, uncertain what a new congress would do, but the infamous so-called Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska lost it’s funding when Congress rebelled.
Once Brown leaves office he will undoubtedly continue his cheerleading of the rail but his voice will not be as strong.