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Rail exec's resignation prompts call for reform

Original post made on Aug 1, 2011

The resignation Thursday of a California High-Speed Rail Authority executive, Jeffrey Barker, has led a Palo Alto watchdog group to renew its call for a "giant culture change" at the state rail agency.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, July 31, 2011, 10:19 PM

Comments (7)

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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 1, 2011 at 8:32 am

It's time to close this scam down. You can't tell the ship is sinking if all the rats stay on board.

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Posted by Spaghetti Freddie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 1, 2011 at 9:35 am

Good job CARRD. I mean, what a coincidence that the report was suddenly available. There should be criminal penalties for Barker's ongoing refusal to produce public records.

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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm

When a public relations firm, fluent in being the first line of defense against a doubtful and even hostile public, decides to walk away from a 9 million dollar contract, along with the head of public relations, the building must really be on fire.

The smart ones, grab the life jackets when there are still life jackets available.

California needs to close this down, and restart it once we have a state's financial house in order.

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Posted by Seer Clearly
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm

None of this brouhaha has anything to do with whether HSR is the right thing for California or not. It has to do with how well it's managed, and how well it's being sold to the public. Yes, sold is the right word, since those of you who have every worked on a corporate project that creates a lot of change know that any large change has to be sold to those involved, since otherwise they will simply resist. So if there is a fault with HSRA, it is that they haven't been selling the project enough. The successful projects around the world for HSR have all been sold to the public with arguments that turned out to be true (with the exception of China, whose PR effort is simply "just because.") Every country that has HSR has enjoyed regional economic benefits from it, not just to businesses but in reduced transportation costs from savings to air and road infrastructure. It's not hard to sell, but someone has to confront the naysayers with fact-based arguments that have been conspicuously absent in this "debate." Otherwise, the negative always wins.

Just look at the arguments on here, which mostly center around it being "too expensive." Yet, in Europe, the analyses for the projects were centered around the economic costs from NOT implementing HSR. Perhaps it was because each country in Western Europe ended up competing with its neighbors, eager not to be the loser in a friendly economic war that would have businesses migrating to those countries with lower transportation costs. Yet, those arguments apply equally well here in California, but nobody's arguing them. This is the failure of the HSRA. I know, people say "well, our distances are longer" but when you compare them to those in China, the argument falls flat. They also say that "our air and raod infrastructure can be built out to handle the load" yet it has not, and that argument ignores the huge savings of not having to do so. Finally, all this is predicated on the assumption that fuel costs won't skyrocket, a very very bad assumption indeed, with easy oil running out and Asia sucking the remainder up.

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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm


Mr. Barker and Ogilvy Public Relations are privy to the inside information we don't know about (yet), and realize there's no amount of lipstick that's going to make this pig pretty.

I'm not challenging that mass transit and rail are bad ideas, just that THIS variant of it is starting out with all the red flags of going down in flames.

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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Incidentally Seer, those that have experience with running large construction projects know that having a clear scope of work up front, with a minimal amount of large design changes, establishing relationships and open communication channels to stakeholders, and and securing financing to match the expected estimate cost of the project (including contingency), are prerequisites for having a project be completed on time, on budget, and to agreed to standards of quality.

The HSR has failed miserably on every score, with no clear scope of the project, still massive changes to fundamentals like routing and configuration of the rail lines, a serious lack of communication to the public and state officials, and no where near the secured funding to complete the project, even the barest skeleton of it.

And yet they want to proceed with construction starting in the middle of no where.

For a project of this size, scope and complexity, playing with as many of the state's dollars as this one does, you want to have the A-List team running this, not the minor leagues.

As Google emphasizes to their employees, "Fail Fast", so that you can move on to other attempts that have a better chance of success.

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Posted by Christine
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2011 at 9:05 am

Big government without oversight can become corrupt as we have seen over and over again.

It's not only HSR but also the California Coastal Commission who just last week was told to stop violating the US constitution by taking private property without compensation.

The problem is that only the very wealthy can afford to sue big government so agencies like the HSR and Coastal Commission know the people are mostly going to ignore their illegal behavior.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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