World Media

California Gov. says he’s committed to rail line

California Gov. says he’s committed to rail line

California Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses his decision to withdraw most of the National Guard troops from the nation's southern border and changing their mission, during a Capitol news conference Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. Maj.

A scaling back of the high speed rail project in California was announced by Governor Gavin Newsom in his first State of the State address on February 12.

He promised that this part of the project would be more transparent going forward.

That caveat led to outrage from some critics who said Newsom should pull the plug on the entire project, which has skyrocketed in cost to more than $70 billion.

Despite lawsuits from property owners and taxpayer groups seeking to block it, as well as cost overruns and delays, workers are now building a stretch of the line between Merced and Bakersfield in the state's parched Central Valley farming region.

"Let's be real", Newsom continued. "We are not interested in participating in this political theater", Newsom said at a press conference.

Newsom said Tuesday in his State of the State address it "would cost too much and take too long" to build the line long championed by his predecessor, Jerry Brown.

Let's level about the high speed rail.

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"I don't know what the right adjective is without coming off as hyperbolic; the whole thing is ridiculous", Newsom said.

The governor also said he will name his economic development director, Lenny Mendonca, to chair the High-Speed Rail Authority, and vowed new transparency and to hold contractors and consultants accountable to explain how tax dollars are spent. The construction on the first leg began in the middle of California, near Fresno, and it wouldn't even link Los Angeles to San Francisco until 2029.

"Brown had agreed to deploy troops previous year at the Trump administration's request, although he said they couldn't participate in immigration enforcement".

Newsom, though, said there's been a "gray area" in the troops duties that may have allowed some to inadvertently participate in immigration activities, although a Guard official said the state's troops have not helped detain anyone.

But Brown stressed the agreement was to "support efforts to go after criminal gangs, human traffickers and drug smugglers" and "would not be used to enforce federal immigration policies", The New York Times reported.

Newsom appointed Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg to head his Commission on Homelessness & Supportive Housing. He says he won't preside over "neglect and denial", and says cities must provide their fair share of affordable housing.

"Newsom also promised to have a plan within 60 days for dealing with the recent bankruptcy filing by Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. after years of devastating wildfires". They will work with his administration to develop what he called a comprehensive strategy.

Newsom hedged his bets a little, indicating that he would seek more funding: "Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions and billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises, partially filled commitments and lawsuits to show for it". "PG&E didn't do enough to secure unsafe equipment or plan for the future".


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