The CA high-speed train is dead. Who is responsible? | Opinion


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“Stop where you are,” said the short, mustachioed detective, smartly dressed in a European accent, as he entered the Assembly Hall.

“I am informed that there has been a murder, right here in the Capitol!”

Lawmakers seemed perplexed. It was like something out of an Agatha Christie novel.

A progressive Democrat stood up and said, “We are not aware of any murders, other than the usual murder of moderate political careers. Who is your victim?

The detective holds up a handkerchief bearing the monogram “HSR”.

“Those are the victim’s initials.”

” It is not possible ! shouted the governor, who had rushed to the bedroom after hearing, by mistake, that there might be international media present. “The only high-speed rail we know of is the High Speed ​​Rail, the most ambitious project of its kind in the country. And it’s not dead.

The detective raised an eyebrow. “How can you be so sure?”

“Because I save him,” said the governor, “by reduce the entire project from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a Central Valley route only, from Merced to Bakersfield.

“Governor, do you understand that you just confessed?” replied the detective. “Proposing a $100 billion train between two small towns without a single Michelin-starred restaurant between them actually demonstrates murderous intent toward the whole idea of ​​passenger rail travel.

“My next question is: Governor, did you act alone? »

“Are you accusing me, Inspector?” the President of the Assembly intervened from the dais. “Who are you anyway? How did you get here?”

“My name is Mr. Hercule Poirot and if you want to know, I was on the express from Paris to Istanbul when I received the call from Interpol. So, I flew Turkish Airlines to SFO direct, and took the BART under the bay to catch the Amtrak Capitol hallway in Sacramento, which was lovely but empty. Then I made the mistake of trying the Sacramento light rail, which looked and smelled like a crime scene…but, Mr. President, you didn’t answer my question.

“Well,” replied the speaker, “you can’t suggesting that Democratic lawmakers in Los Angeles and San Diego killed him. In fact, we are trying to make the high-speed train even more powerful, by reallocate some of the money from the Central Valley to regional rail projects in Southern California.

Poirot frowned. “Retraining? It’s a curious choice of words. And you are doing it, I read, by refusing the proposed $4.2 billion in voter-approved bond funds intended to keep construction going. Mr. Speaker, the Legislative Assembly is high on my list of suspects. I don’t care about your campaigns; none of you can leave Sacramento.

“Why do you blame the Democrats for the murder?” said the Republican leader, rising. “We have been working for years to kill high-speed rail. We call it the ‘crazy train‘, like the song by Ozzy Osbourne. He’s from Europe, like you. Punish us.

“Not exactly. He’s from Birmingham, England, and I’m Belgian. And why should I take your confession? It’s hard to take your word for it. Most of you say the last election was rigged. Is your opposition to the project real High-speed rail could be a major economic boost for the Central Valley region that so many of you Republicans represent. You are engaged in self-harm. I’m having you kept for observation and psychological evaluation.

There was noise in the gallery, as lobbyists and others entered to watch the detective’s investigation. One of them got up and said, “Inspector, I’m from building and construction trades, and you are wrong. Our trade union organizations are powerful and do not want this to die. We want our members to build it. We have protected high-speed rail for years, including from legislative oversight.

“And it didn’t work well?” asked the detective rhetorically. “Furthermore, you demand salaries that would be considered exorbitant even among corporations on the European continent. Your demands have made building a bullet train, or anything else, outrageously expensive in this state. Please consider yourself suspect for the death of this project and the California dream.

Another visitor spoke. “I represent the California High Speed ​​Rail Authorityand I assure you that we are still in the process of building a high-speed train and are committed to completing the project. »

“I’m sorry. But do you have all the land assembled to build the rail, 14 years after voters approved the project?”

“Not yet, but…”

“And the removals of public services? »

“We’re almost halfway through the Central Valley.”

“And does the authority have the necessary personnel to manage such a project?

“I can’t talk about that. I’m just one of consultants.”

The detective inspected a legislative chamber filled with suspects. He thinks for a minute.

“It reminds me of a case much earlier in my career, written in a book called ‘Murder on the Orient Express.” A train got stuck and a man was murdered.

“I had a wide variety of suspects. The passengers all put on a great show saying they were trying to save the victim. But in the end, all were guilty.

“The difference between the California high-speed train and that railroad murder is that on the Orient Express, those killers had the grace to recognize what they had done. So, I showed them mercy.

“A recent survey shows that Californians still want high-speed rail, so you refuse to confess. You have already killed HSR. But you can’t deal with the crime.

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