In a letter today, the director of the Governor's Recovery Task Force, Cynthia Bryant, takes issue with a recent editorial we ran on state attempts to secure federal stimulus dollars for rail projects. The editorial criticized the governor for seeking federal monies only for the high-speed bullet train in the latest round of funding, which excluded safety improvements sought by commuter rail operators in Southern California.
The first lines of Bryant's response:
The Bee's editorial on funding for rail projects left the station with no conductor. The Bee simply ignored the fact that the state applied for more than a $1 billion in stimulus funds for commuter rail projects earlier this year...
and then later
I implore The Bee to get a ticket and get on board because Californians are anxious to get to work on a visionary project for the 21st century.Great punditry, but unfortunately, the letter sidesteps one of the main points of the editorial. Up until the state's filed its application, Caltrans officials had been working with commuter rail operators to put together a "unified proposal" that would include safety improvements not funded by earlier rounds of funding. At the last minute, the governor decided only to seek funding for high-speed rail.
In other words, the governor pulled the rug out from under Southern California transit officials, who will be sure not to trust the governor's office again, any time soon.
Interestingly, when I contacted the governor's offices for comment while researching our editorial, I got a return call from a public relations firm that is on contract with the California High Speed Rail Authority.
That says much about who has the governor's ear on this issue.