By the OC Politics Blog
The Register didn’t go very far out on a limb this morning when its lead editorial came out against the Bullet Train (outside paywall here: This train should not leave the station yet) considering the nearly universal opposition to it that’s growing throughout California. A judge has not quite declared the project illegal due to its inability to be lawfully funded, and we’re still awaiting his decision on the more basic issue — is CAHSR’s current “blended” plan equivalent to what voters expected from Proposition 1A, that is, a non-stop 220mph train between Los Angeles and San Francisco with a 160 minute or less ride for under $100?
KFI’s John and Ken program yesterday interviewed Chris Reed, a U-T San Diego editorialist who’s followed this issue closely. Reed explains the lack of merely $18 BILLION that Jerry Brown needs to complete the initial Merced <> Palmdale segment should prevent its moving forward. Gone from the conversation is the notion that the Browndoggle
was expected to find significant support from private sector investment. John and Ken later did an excellent interview with Stuart Flashman, one of last week’s winning lawyers, later in the show here (17:45 in), explaining how CAHSR unlawfully ignored the stipulations of Prop. 1A.
Here’s what Reason Foundation had to say about the State’s lies a few years ago:
As we emphasized Friday last, the coming demise of the Bullet Train has costly consequences for Orange County. When Mayor-for-Hire Curt Pringle still ruled Anaheim, he convinced the OC Transportation Authority, on who’s Board he’d sat for years, to pony up nine figures of the County’s Measure M tax money to build the ARTIC Train Station to receive the Bullet Train coming down from LA’s Union Station, or the other direction from San Diego. After all, the thing was bound to be chuck full of Disney-bound families who’d ditch their Astrovans, buy train tickets for everyone and then drop even more bucks in Anaheim.
The OCTA and Pringle’s sycophant City Council took an enormous risk in believing that the train was just over the horizon, and wouldn’t even have any difficulty finding a route to Union Station over or under some of the densest urban infrastructure in the country. Pringle’s success in fleecing the OCTA was later awarded with a brief Chairmanship of the Rail Authority, but he was fired by Gov. Brown for being a RINO Republican. We finally knew we were right about the Curtster when Matt Cunningham, Pringle’s and SOAR‘s paid flak, never tried to defend or spin the ARTIC fraud on his Anaheim Blog.
Late last week, Register co-owner and Freedom Communications CEO Aaron Kushner, the 40-year-old former greeting-card executive with zero experience in newspapers, proposed that the Register partner with the city of Anaheim for “exclusive representation rights to solicit a corporate sponsor or sponsors to place its/their name(s) on the…ARTIC terminals). The deal looks to been done between Kushner and Assistant City Manager Paul Emery, apparently without need of Anaheim City Council approval and despite Mayor Tom Tait’s suspicions and concerns. It’s also concerning and inappropriate that the deal did NOT include the OCTA which provided the majority of funds to build the turkey. Neither has anyone mentioned that Pringle’s original expectations and promises for private sector participation and investment in the Barn proved a complete failure — something you’d think might interest Kushner.
Adam Elmahrek and Nick Gerda at union-funded Voice of OC have been covering the arrangements with some very high-quality reporting. Their original 8/15 story is here which covered Tait’s proper objections:
Tait, meanwhile, said the deal could compromise the newspaper’s objectivity. “Not only do I question the need for such an agreement, I have serious concerns about creating a financial partnership with our local newspaper, which also serves as a watchdog for the citizens over matters at City Hall,” said the mayor.
Pre-Kushner, the Register had editorialized that ARTIC was a bad idea: Cool toward idea of ARTIC in Anaheim. But now, not so much. With no respectable track record in the County as Freedom had originally earned, Kushner and Company can’t be trusted to maintain the “firewall” he speaks of between the news/editorial and business interests at the Register and avoid a conflict of interest. ARTIC is a TERRIBLE idea, and surely without the Bullet Train coming to Anaheim, it’s as useless as the Great Park. Orange County, and the Measure M taxpayers, are going to be out $174 million for a unneeded train station at only the OC’s third busiest Metrolink/Amtrak stop. The existing station easily handles the volume and works just fine. We can’t rely on the Register to see that, or honestly and factually report or editorialize on it. The Voice of OC has already proven they’re better with their excellent coverage of the Barn, and its sister debacle, the Disney Streetcar project.
With this ugly deal, Kushner’s lack of experience in the newspaper business is obvious, and his motives are more than questionable. He’s been roundly and deservedly criticized for this diversion from accepted journalistic practice — and deserves every word of it.
If Kushner’s this high on ARTIC’s potential, we’d challenge him to put the Register’s name on it.