The California High-Speed Rail Authority plans to appeal a court ruling that would send the agency to trial on whether its planned bullet train can live up to performance requirements required under state law.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny this week denied the rail agency's motion to dismiss part of a lawsuit filed by Kings County and two of its residents, farmer John Tos and homeowner Aaron Fukuda. Kenny's ruling Tuesday set the stage for a potential trial later this spring.
On Thursday, the rail authority said it will ask the Third District Court of Appeal for a writ to overturn Kenny's ruling. "We disagree with the March 4 Sacramento Superior Court ruling and are preparing to seek a review by the Court of Appeal," said Lisa Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to provide urgently needed new funding for California's bullet train project from corporate fees on greenhouse gases melds two of his political passions: building the nation's first, truly high-speed rail system and putting the state at the forefront of the battle against global warming.
The bullet train system suffered a series of legal blows last year that blocked $9 billion in state funding, sending Brown and his allies on a search for a new source of funds. This week, Brown plans to announce a new strategy to keep the project moving: dipping into hundreds of millions of dollars in fees collected from businesses whose carbon dioxide emissions exceed state limits.
But he may be trading one set of legal and political problems for another.
Gov. Jerry Brown plans to propose spending millions of dollars in fees paid by carbon producers to aid the state's controversial high-speed rail project.
The proposal - and the prospect of additional funding from the state's cap-and-trade program in future years - could provide a significant lift to a $68 billion rail project beleaguered by uncertainty about long-term financing.
Brown plans to propose allocating several hundred million dollars this year, sources told The Sacramento Bee.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Officials overseeing California's $68 billion high-speed rail project have taken pains in recent weeks to assure the public that construction plans are moving ahead, characterizing a series of recent setbacks as "a bump in the road."
That optimism comes despite recent court rulings against the project, creating confusion about the bullet train's prospects.
A Sacramento County judge rescinded the rail authority's funding plan, forced it to show how it will pay for the first 300 miles of construction and rejected a request from the authority that would allow the state treasurer to sell $8.6 billion in bonds.
A federal oversight board has turned down a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority for conditional permission to build the Fresno-Bakersfield section of the proposed statewide bullet-train line.
In a decision announced Wednesday, the three-member Surface Transportation Board denied the state's request for an expedited decision on the 114-mile Fresno-Bakersfield route before environmental work is completed on the section.
Attorneys for the rail authority indicated that the decision could force a delay in designing and building a five-mile stretch of the route between downtown Fresno and the south edge of Fresno, for which a contract has already been awarded. But a spokeswoman for the agency said no delays are anticipated.
Rep. Jeff Denham wants a government watchdog agency to take a second look at grant agreements for more than $3 billion in federal stimulus and transportation funds for California’s high-speed rail project.
In a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Comptroller General, Denham, R-Turlock, joined with Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, to ask the Government Accountability Office to review the agreements. The letter came a day after a Sacramento County Superior Court judge denied a request by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to validate the sale of about $8 billion in bonds from Proposition 1A, a high-speed rail bond measure approved by California voters in 2008.
Under the grant agreements, California is obligated to put up about $2.7 billion to match the federal contributions for the initial construction of the high-speed rail project from Madera to just north of Bakersfield. That money is expected to come from the Proposition 1A bonds.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A Sacramento judge on Monday tore up California's funding plans for its bullet train project in separate orders that could force the state to spend months or years redrawing its plans for the $68 billion rail line.
Judge Michael Kenny rejected a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority to sell $8 billion of the $10 billion in bonds approved by voters in 2008, saying there was no evidence it was "necessary and desirable" to start selling the bonds when a committee of state officials met last March.
He said the committee was supposed to act as "the ultimate 'keeper of the checkbook'" for taxpayers, but instead relied on a request from the high-speed rail authority to start selling bonds as sufficient evidence to proceed.
As Chris Nguyen reported in the two previous posts, I have the honor of representing Rancho Santiago Community College Board of Trustee member Phillip Yarbrough on the issue of the use of “closed sessions” by the Board of Trustees to discuss Project Labor Agreements. As I reviewed the Brown Act including the Appeals Court decisions and the Attorney General opinions on this subject, it became very clear to me that a public entity that is subject to the Brown Act, is not allowed to hold “closed sessions” of the Board meetings to discuss Project Labor Agreements. This issue is complicated in its legal explanation and Chris attached a copy of the letter I sent to the Chancellor and the Board President last week explaining my conclusions to them.
For those of you not familiar with the Brown Act – the Ralph M. Brown Act makes it a requirement that a local public entity must hold its meetings in open sessions where members of the public may attend and address the board on subjects the Board is dealing with in that meeting. There are some expressly stated exceptions to that rule that authorize the board to have “closed sessions” where the public may not listen to the board’s discussions on those topics. In short, the topic of Project Labor Agreements is not one of the authorized subjects for discussion in closed session. Thus any discussions on PLAs must be held in open session. The Board of Trustees did the right thing tonight by voting to hold all future meetings on this topic in open session.
Craig P. Alexander
At its November 12, 2013 meeting, the board of trustees for Rancho Santiago Community College District voted unanimously to continue a practice adopted in August 2013 not to discuss its Measure Q Project Labor Agreement negotiations in closed session until the college chancellor gets legal clarification from California Attorney General Kamala Harris. An opinion from the Attorney General is not likely to be produced for several months.
Speaking in support of having the discussions in open session was Dave Everett, Government Affairs Director for the Southern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, and Craig Alexander of the Pacific Justice Institute. On behalf of trustee Phil Yarbrough, Alexander wrote a November 5, 2013 memo to the board explaining why discussing Project Labor Agreement negotiations in closed session was not legal.
The head of the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council was at the meeting but didn't speak. Also silent was board member José Solorio, who is running for California State Senate in 2014 and appears to be the impetus for the Project Labor Agreement.