The High Speed Rail Authority, under the direction of Governor Newsom is claiming to bring more transparency to the project. Indeed the Authority’s new website has a full page titled Transparency and Accountability claiming dedication to this mandate.

But actions speak much louder than words.

Representative Jim Patterson has just released a letter stating the new website is limiting information available to the public.  The letter reads in part:

“The Authority’s removal of all business plans prior to 2016 and all change orders does little to engender the trust and transparency you claim to be interested in. In fact this act cripples legislators, journalists, concerned citizens and government watchdog groups from shining the bright light of accountability on this ever changing project. It also limits their ability to research the project in-depth without first filing a public records request.

Making a public records request for documents that were previously available to the public in the name of following ADA is an attempt to shield your agency from the scrutiny it deserves.”

Also note, previously when anyone made comments to the Authority Board, such comments could be viewed by anyone, since they were posted as comments along with the agenda and other materials for any particular meeting. (they might well be posted as much as a month after a board meeting, but they were posted)

That policy has changed; no longer are such comments posted; they also can only be viewed via a public records request. 

The only conclusion one can really reach is the Authority’s new website and policies are certainly on a road towards less transparency, not more.

They must be taking lessons learned from the Trump White House.