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The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Rail Official at Odds with Congress Over High-Speed Rail

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Earthquakes don’t often take place in Colorado, yet that is where you will find the National Earthquake Information Center.

It’s located in the town of Golden just down the street from Coors beer.

Too bad for the seismologists there, we in the media don’t get all worked up about earthquakes until we feel one, and the Rocky mountains are a long way to drive for an expert.

Thank goodness for Caltech and Menlo Park.

Exactly why the NEIC was located there illustrates something that has frustrated many local leaders from Humboltd county to San Ysidro.

When it comes to Congress, some states are able to pull together for the common good despite partisan differences. That doesn’t happen too often here.

Colorado’s congressional delegation, both Democrats and Republicans cooperated in nabbing the quake center for their state.

Meanwhile the state that actually suffers from earthquakes, with a population very much interested in information about them is about a thousand miles away.

It may be asking a little much that the 52 Democrats and Republicans from California in the US House of Representatives agree on much.

The Central Valley and San Francisco don’t see much of life the same way. But how about a meeting? That doesn’t even happen.

So the current debate over California’s High Speed Rail project shouldn’t be a surprise.

This week Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in both LA and Sacramento promoting the bullet train and the billions in federal money earmarked for it. “We will not be deterred” he proclaimed, “this will be a model for the rest of the nation.”

Meanwhile, however, the House Transportation Committee was approving a transit bill that actually stipulated that no more federal money will be used on the HSR project in California.

In fact that was the only mention of the state in the entire 900 page document. Not surprisingly the language was submitted by a California congressman, Republican Jeff Denham of Turlock.

Maybe Denham is right.

But before the project gets savaged in Congress wouldn’t it be worth at least a meeting of the state’s members of Congress just to hash it out?

Is there not an issue where partisanship ends and a little local state loyalty begin? Of course, If California’s congressional delegation couldn’t rally for an info center on earthquakes there can’t be much hope for a 220 mile per hour railroad.

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