On Friday morning, PLF and our client, the First Free Will Baptist Church of Bakersfield, will hold a media availability on our challenge to the state’s attempt to sell $8.6 billion in California High Speed Rail bonds. The case — California High-Speed Rail Authority v. Superior Court of Sacramento County and Tos, et. al. — was heard recentlyby the California Third District Court of Appeal.
In litigating against “validation” of the bonds, PLF and the church argue that the state has not complied with core legal and constitutional requirements designed to guarantee the High-Speed Rail project’s integrity. For instance, the state isn’t demonstrating that, under the current appropriation scheme, today’s rail project is the same one that was approved by voters.
“The bonds shouldn’t be approved because the state is trying to speed this rail project past key checkpoints of accountability — statutory accountability, constitutional accountability, and basic governmental accountability to the public interest,” said PLF attorney Harold Johnson.
New developments show: It would be reckless to sell the bonds at this point
Developments in recent days underscore the importance of PLF’s litigation to stop the bonds from being sold. Larger funding for the High Speed Rail project looks more precarious than ever. As the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters points out, federal funding is in danger of being blocked. And at the state level, the governor’s plan to use “cap and trade” proceeds for High Speed Rail smacks of desperation; the cap and trade auction scheme is under serious legal challenge (by PLF and the California Chamber of Commerce, in separate lawsuits), because it amounts to a massive, unconstitutionally enacted tax increase.
PLF’s High Speed Rail litigation argues that it is premature, from a legal and constitutional perspective, to approve and sell the bonds. The financial shakiness of the project shows that it would also be reckless, from a practical perspective, to go forward with the bonds at this point. The bond proceeds could end up funding a “project to nowhere,” a lonely stretch of track that couldn’t be completed in either direction, because additional money to complete even an initial segment of the project simply isn’t there.
Taxpayers shouldn’t be put on the hook to repay bonds that would have no practical use. It’s time to slam on the brakes, until the project is made transparent and accountable as required by law – and until reliable sources of funding have been obtained.