Friday, June 25, 2010

California lawmaker: Split HSR, transit leadership

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California State Sen. Alan Lowenthal seeks to prevent potential conflicts of interest between the state’s proposed $44 billion high speed rail system, and various transit properties likely to serve it, by preventing officials from serving concurrently on both ends of the spectrum.

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Lowenthal’s bill appears to be aimed specifically at two current members of the California High-Speed Rail Authority: Anaheim (Orange County) Mayor Curt Pringle and Richard Katz, who serves on Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA).

Both Pringle and Katz dispute Lowenthal’s assertion, arguing that their service with multiple transportation agencies has improved cooperation and coordination between the HSR efforts and local governments.

“I appreciate the senator's concerns; he has raised lots of legitimate questions,” Katz said. “But he is taking a pretty big shotgun to something that is minor and can be easily resolved other ways.”

Said Lowenthal, “These members really represent local interests. And they're there to protect local interests rather than represent statewide interests.”