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Amid charges of waste and mismanagement, calls for head of state high speed rail to step down




In this handout image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Construction of the Cedar Viaduct seen from the Golden State Boulevard to west of State Route 99 on July 13, 2017 in Fresno, California.
In this handout image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Construction of the Cedar Viaduct seen from the Golden State Boulevard to west of State Route 99 on July 13, 2017 in Fresno, California.
Handout/Getty Images

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After the release of a scathing audit report of the state’s high-speed rail project in November, a Democratic lawmaker has called for the head of the body overseeing the project to step down.

AirTalk looks at whether it’s time for California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom and the legislature’s Democratic supermajority to pull the plug on the project.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier declined our request for an interview, but provided a quote:

“After listening to testimony from State Auditor Elaine Howle and other witnesses about the High Speed Rail Authority’s continued failures, hundreds of millions in cost overruns and lack of honesty about its performance, I asked Dan Richard, chair of the HSRA Board of Directors, to resign. Richard has had every opportunity since 2012 to correct these problems and has failed. Richard owes it to California taxpayers to step aside and let new leadership take over.”

 

California High-Speed Rail Authority declined our request for an interview but provided this statement:

“Yesterday, Vice Chair Tom Richards and COO Joe Hedges had a productive dialogue with members of the Legislature. Our primary focus remains continuing to improve this transformative project - the biggest job creator in the Central Valley in decades – we are proud of our accomplishments, always open to constructive advice, but have no need to respond to errant and uninformed attacks.”

Guests:

Margarita Fernández, chief of public affairs and quality assurance for the California State Auditor’s office

James Moore, professor of industrial, systems and civil engineering and director of the Transportation Engineering Program at USC

Ethan Elkind, director of the Climate Change and Business Program, a joint program between UCLA and UC Berkeley schools of law; he is the author of “Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City” (University of California Press, 2014); he tweets @EthanElkind