Government

Despite Nelson, Scott Insists Boondoggle Rail Is Dead

LaHood gives Florida another week to salvage high-speed line
By: Kenric Ward | Posted: February 26, 2011 3:55 AM

Train Cartoon
The Florida high-speed rail project is dead, but die-hard proponents led by Sen. Bill Nelson keep trying to resuscitate the corpse.

In what one critic called a "theatrical attempt" to salvage the $2.4 billion venture, groups from Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando and Miami have cobbled together a plan to circumvent Gov. Rick Scott's rejection of federal stimulus funding.

The end-around is being touted by Nelson, who announced Friday that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had given the state "at least one more week to reconsider" moving forward with the rail line. The announcement came after a meeting in Washington, D.C., between Scott and LaHood.

“I am grateful the governor has agreed to listen to the facts on how the state will have no financial responsibility in high-speed rail," Nelson said in a statement. "I’m especially grateful to Secretary LaHood for giving Florida at least one more week before our money goes to another state.

"Hopefully, this will be enough time for people of good intentions to come together and put Florida’s interests first. There is too much at stake for us not to try everything we can.”

Scott immediately doused Nelson's production with cold water.

"My position on high-speed rail remains unchanged," Scott said in a statement after the LaHood meeting. "I believe high-speed rail is a federal boondoggle, as I said more than a week ago.

"This morning I communicated to Secretary LaHood that as long as Florida remains on the hook for cost overruns, operating costs and paybacks in the case of default, I will vigorously oppose this project."

Scott added that after his meeting with the transportation secretary, "Secretary LaHood extended his own deadline for coming up with a way to alleviate Florida’s risk on high-speed rail. While I appreciate his continued efforts to keep the project alive in Florida, it is important to note that I have yet to see any proposal that accomplishes my goal of eliminating risk to Florida’s taxpayers."

The cities' four-page document envisions forming an interlocal entity to complete the "design, planning, construction, operation and maintenance" of the high-speed rail project originally proposed to serve the 84-mile corridor between Tampa and Orlando.

The initiative mirrors the political posturing of Nelson, D-Fla., and Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who previously pushed for local alternatives, including a scaled-down spur connecting the Orlando airport with the Disney attractions.

But those ideas have failed to gain traction because the state owns 90 percent of the land along the proposed corridor. The shorter Orlando line would not qualify for federal HSR dollars because it could not achieve the 180-mph requirement.

The latest last-gasp effort, floated before Friday's original funding deadline, was given no chance of success by Ken Orski, a Maryland-based transportation writer and lawyer.

"The proposed "Non-Recourse" arrangement sounds great on paper, but if you read it carefully there are an awful lot of loopholes that could come back to haunt the state in the future.

"Are the cities of Orlando, Tampa, Lakeland and Miami really competent to assume all the obligations under this agreement, such as 'oversight responsibility in the same manner as a typical FDOT project'?" Orski asked.

The Florida Department of Transportation did not respond to Sunshine State News' request for comment.

While Nelson said the plan would relieve the state of liability, others weren't so sanguine.

Sharon Calvert -- head of No Tax for Tracks, which helped to derail a tax referendum to fund a commuter line in Hillsborough County -- said local governments could not avoid liability under the proposal that has open-ended costs.

Calvert noted that the proposal contained no budget figures, ridership projections or offers or guarantees from private consortiums.

In the end, the local document's repeated references to FDOT's participation seemed surreal, given that the agency shut down its high-speed rail website this week.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos was equally unimpressed with LaHood's extension, and supported Scott.

“Adding another week to the deadline for Florida to take $2.4 billion to build high-speed rail won’t change my mind. No means no," said Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, in a statement late Friday.

"Why is Washington working so hard to spend money it doesn’t have? Instead of letting that money burn a hole in his pocket, Secretary LaHood should send it back to the federal treasury."

--

Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.

Comments (16)

jsknow
2:17AM MAR 1ST 2011
If ol Billy boy is going to resuscitate this thing he better find somewhere else to blow his smoke... FL's not buying a train set for you to play with Bill!

Why don't you try leading and put something useful on the table like FUEL and thousands of other GREEN jobs from hemp and cost effective medicine, (free if you grow your own) medical marijuana, which has proven helpful with thousands of aliments INCLUDING CANCER (Google: Granny Storm Crow's List) and how about legalizing marijuana for adults, since it's so much safer than alcohol and millions of Floridians prefer it?

Yeah I know you'd have to man up and admit you’ve been lying to everyone about marijuana the whole time you’ve been in office but a lot of people already know that and I'm helping to spread the word every chance I get!

Why is the most useful plant known illegal? It’s illegal because crooked corporations that buy crooked politicians fear competition from superior, safer and more environmentally friendly hemp products and because the Government loves to oppress jail and steal from the people! Alcohol, tobacco, petroleum, cotton, timber, chemical and pharmaceutical companies, just to name a few, all see GREEN marijuana as unwanted competition. The best way for We The People to regain our Constitutional rights and liberties is to demand a complete ban on corporate lobbying. We are supposed to have Government of, for and by THE PEOPLE, not of, for and by corporations! Corporations are NOT people!

Marijuana does not cause aggressive behavior. Marijuana does not cause dangerous driving. Marijuana does not cause cancer, brain damage or any serious health problems. In fact it’s a great NATURAL medicine that treats and prevents a host of ailments. Marijuana prohibition does not keep kids away from marijuana, illegal dealers don’t ask for ID. Marijuana is not a “gateway drug”, there is absolutely NOTHING about marijuana that causes people to use other drugs. Marijuana is not addictive. In fact marijuana is one of the safest substances known! Marijuana is SAFER than many foods we consume and give to our kids all the time! Exactly what good is this prohibition doing and who is benefiting from it?

In 1988, after reviewing all the scientific evidence presented in a lengthy lawsuit against the government’s prohibition of medical marijuana, the DEA’s own administrative law judge (Judge Francis Young) wrote:
“MARIJUANA, IN ITS NATURAL FORM, IS ONE OF THE SAFEST THERAPEUTICALLY ACTIVE SUBSTANCES KNOWN. IN STRICT MEDICAL TERMS, MARIJUANA IS SAFER THAN MANY FOODS WE COMMONLY CONSUME.”

Judge young's "Opinion and recommended ruling, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision of Administrative Law Judge", also said:

"7. Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity. A number of researchers have attempted to determine marijuana's LD-50 rating in test animals, without success. Simply stated, researchers have been unable to give animals enough marijuana to induce death.

8. At present it is estimated that marijuana's LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.

9. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity."

No one, of any age, in all of recorded history, anywhere on planet earth, has ever died from the ingredients in marijuana and they never will, marijuana is NONTOXIC.

There has NEVER been even one case of marijuana causing cancer. In fact: "Harvard study released on April 17, 2007 shows that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread!" http://www.nowpublic.com/thc_marijuana_helps_cure_cancer_says_harvard_study

The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine document that MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS DRIVING:
http://peaceandloveism.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4692 (read the article not just the link!)

Google MARIJUANA DRIVING STUDY. You'll see 2 common findings:
1. Drivers under the influence of marijuana are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired.
2. Unlike those under the influence of alcohol, marijuana consumers are aware they are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired and they CONSISTENTLY ADEQUATELY COMPENSATE by slowing down a little and being a little more cautious. That doesn’t mean they get in the fast lane on the interstate and drive 15 miles per hour. Marijuana makes you cautious, not crazy! Those Cheech and Chong movies were comedies, NOT documentaries!

Watch Irvin Rosenfeld who gets his marijuana from the Federal Government destroy all the lies about marijuana consumers being lazy and unproductive. Watch him destroy all the lies about long term heavy marijuana use being harmful. Learn the truth about marijuana: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvzX8aNwxgM

From: http://www.jackherer.com/thebook/chapter-six/
Eli Lilly, Pfizer and others stand to lose at least a third of their entire, highly profitable, patent monopoly on such drugs as Darvon, Tuinal, Seconal, and Prozac (as well as other patented medications ranging from muscle ointments to burn ointments, to thousands of other products) because of a plant anyone can grow: cannabis hemp.

Isn’t it curious that American drug companies and pharmacist groups supply almost half the funding for the 4,000 Families Against Marijuana type organizations in America? The other half is supplied by Action (a federal VISTA agency) and by tobacco companies like Philip Morris, and by liquor and beer makers like Anheuser Busch, Coors, etc., or as a public service by the ad agencies that represent them. End quote

Simply stated, the Federal Government is conspiring with pharmaceutical companies, alcohol companies and tobacco companies and is using unconstitutional Federal marijuana prohibition laws to insure that you needlessly buy products that have been proven beyond any shadow of doubt to be harmful and often deadly, instead of allowing you to legally grow and/or buy a nontoxic plant that is safe and effective. Meanwhile uncle SHAM forces unconstitutional healthcare legislation on you and threatens to severely punish you if you don’t buy mandatory health insurance.

'If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.' ~Thomas Jefferson

No matter where you stand on the issue of legalizing marijuana EVERYONE should read:
MARIJUANA AND HEMP THE UNTOLD STORY, Thomas J. Bouril, WHY IS MARIJUANA ILLEGAL, Pete Guither and the free online book: The Emperor Wears No Clothes, The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and The Conspiracy Against Marijuana. Click the links to those titles on this webpage:
Internet Explorer web browser: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/home
All Other Browsers: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/index.html

If you think marijuana prohibition has anything to do with the imaginary, false, fabricated, alleged harms from using marijuana as a recreational drug, YOU HAVE BEEN DUPED!

I urge EVERYONE to read the two articles and the free online book linked above, then you decide if hemp/cannabis/marijuana isn’t a smart move for Florida! One thing is for certain, it’s a FAR better venture than a high speed train to the poor house!
Dorine in Florida
9:16PM FEB 27TH 2011
So I would say THANK YOU, Governor Scott for protecting the taxpayers of Florida from another outcome like the one we are now experiencing with Tri-Rail. For those of you who don't know, Tri-Rail serves the most densely populated area of South Florida, yet it perpetually runs a deficit. Tri-Rail was bailed out with $15 MILLION in 12-2009. The costs to operate it are nearly 10X (TEN TIMES) the amount of revenue it generates and even with more than $50 MILLION in tax-funded subsidies it is still $27 MILLION in the red, yet it CANNOT REDUCE it's services due to a FEDERAL GRANT!!!

ANOTHER big THANK YOU to Governor Scott!! I also wonder why those who represent us in Tallahassee and D.C. are just as insistent on ramming a train down our throats as was done with Obamacare...
Frank Mina
12:16PM FEB 27TH 2011
Excellent column, right on the button Ken.
Robert Lloyd
2:00PM FEB 26TH 2011
>>The Florida Department of Transportation did not respond to Sunshine State News' request for comment.<<

Well bureaucrats are soooo busy. They obviously have more important things to do then allow the public information on a large expensive issue. There must be bigger issues. Hmmm...

By the way... good for Governor Scott!!!!
RepublicanConscience
6:22AM FEB 26TH 2011
Rick Scott is doing what is best for Florida. There is not a single rail system not subsidized by the government. Anyone who can read knows that the Federal Government is broke, so its commitment to Florida is written with disappearing ink. The basic question is why should people of California or Texas send income taxes to Washington to be spent in Florida? Why should Florida be taxed for rail system in Ohio? You cannot put $2.4 Billion in Florida without taking it from other people. And you cannot give money to other states without Florida paying. Rick Scott knows what is right, and he is going to do it. Nelson has been screwing up the country since taking office, we cannot afford to have such an ignorant or criminally incompetent Bozo in the US Senate. Nelson does not represent Florida he represents the United States of America and therefore has no right to take public treasury money to spend wherever he wishes. Neither does any other Senator, or Representative.

Stick to your guns, Rick. We are behind you 100%!!!
Ann Anon
10:03AM FEB 27TH 2011
RepublicanConscience
6:22AM FEB 26TH 2011 said:
"Rick Scott is doing what is best for Florida. There is not a single rail system not subsidized by the government."

Research shows that there IS NOT A SINGLE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IN THE U.S. that is not subsidized by the government in some way. Highways: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System

Airlines: http://hasbrouck.org/blog/archives/001001.html

If Rick Scott is doing such a wonderful job for Florida, where are the jobs? He is slashing and killing any entity that might make jobs. He wants to slash corporate taxes??? Florida has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country. When our schools fall back to their former deplorable state who will want to bring their children to Florida should he succeed in bringing new business? Where is he going to get the money to expand and refurbish is government offices? This man is not a friend Floridians and especially of those who need jobs. What he is doing is playing up to the Tea Party in hopes of staying in office for eight years. My friends, do not believe everything you read about how Rick Scott is working for your best interests. Do the research! BTW there are some successful fast trains in the U.S. One is the Acela Express from NYC, Boston to DC. They were shown to be in the red recently because they upgraded their lines with new trains and had to borrow money. Also, one reason it is difficult for HSR in the U.S. is the cost of borrowning money. If they partner with the government they could get low rate government loans while being responsible for the debt and the management of the line. When people begin fleeing Florida by the millions you will probably find yourself stuck in gridlock on those newly built ten-lane highways courtesy of Rick Scott. Think about it.
Robert Lloyd
2:03PM FEB 26TH 2011
>>Nelson does not represent Florida he represents the United States of America and therefore has no right to take public treasury money to spend wherever he wishes.<<

Very well stated RC.
steve
8:27AM FEB 26TH 2011
Criminally incompetent Bozo? Is that Rick Scott who's company stole billions from the government? Now either Gov Scott knew or he didn't. If he didn't know, then he must have been totally incompetent not to realize where billions of dollars were coming from and how they were coming in to his company to line his pockets. And if he did know, well, it's a shame he wasn't put in prison, instead of his republican board forcing him to resign. Either way, if he knew or didn't know, it's totally incopentent on Scott's part. And with the illegal profits he walked away with multimillion dollars stolen from us taxpayers!
thomas manning
5:56AM FEB 26TH 2011
Every govenor who has allowed federal money to slip as gov. Scott is willing to do has lost every reelection in Florida because are willing to payout IF the payout in the long run is worth it.
steve
8:21AM FEB 26TH 2011
Your right. I think Gov. Scott in so short a time has already sealed the deal on not being re-elected. He won with only 48% of the vote and only by 64,000 votes. I've never seen a governor of Florida start off so poorly in their decision making process, and so poorly in the polls. I think his lack of not even waiting for his own department of transportation report, not waiting to see what companies would bid for the construction and running of rail and them taking on the responsibility instead of the taxpayer, show's very poor judgement and very poor decision making. He's so closed minded he's not even open to solutions by other republicans. As LaHood a republican said himself about Scott and Scott's statements.....BALONEY!.......which translates....Scott's not truthful statements, his poor decision making process, his closed minded way, is enough, that republicans, democrats, and independents, are not going to re-relect him.
Chuck
12:03AM MAR 2ND 2011
Scott is simply rejecting 2.4 billion because of his politics, not for what is in the best interest of the State of Florida, its residents, and businesses for now and in the future. We are being used as a pawn for for his own national political agenda. Why would he reject this project without FDOT report or bids from the 8 consortiums that were interested showing the world what they could produce, while willing to covering cost of overruns and operations for a significant time. It is hard to believe that all the R. Scott bandwagon riders do not realize that their federal tax dollars they pay will now be allocated to NY or Cali without any benefit to them. These federal tax dollars will be spent strictly for a HSR project period. We lose out on the future of transportation that would not only benefit job seekers, but would enhance world tourism to this beautiful state. What a arrogant cue ball!
Florida Taxpayer
6:52AM FEB 26TH 2011
LaHood made it appear yesterday that he was extending the deadline for federal dollars at the request of Gov Scott. This is indeed political theater because they force Gov Scott to repeat his "NO" stance over and over. Thanks Gov Scott for remaining steadfast and for protecting taxpayers for this boondoggle that 1) is not needed and 2) will bring a mere 20,000 JOB YEARS (not jobs) to Florida at a cost of almost $3 billion dollars!
steve
8:41AM FEB 26TH 2011
Not true. The only way this deal would be brought to Florida is by taking the taxpayers out of it and making the company responsible for running the system, also responsible for the cost. That is what republicans such as LaHood, and Mica have worked for, as well as republicans across the state from Tampa, to Orlando, to all down the west coast to Miami. Your right, Gov Scott has repeated NO, without ever looking at his own Dept of Transportation report. Without trying to work with the Florida Senate by an overwhelming majority is in favor of this. The act of saying NO by itself from the Governor, may have violated the state constitution, and or laws already passed for the rail system, and or bypassed our Florida Legislators entirely, but then that wouldn't be anything new looking at how he went about with the state aircraft. Florida elected a governor, not a King!
Roosevelt Moore
9:21AM FEB 27TH 2011
Why are you people so intent on spending money we don't have on a project that the PEOPLE OF FLORIDA VOTED AGAINST? You clowns keep talking about not reading reports. THERE ARE NO REPORTS TO READ. No one has put on paper ridership figures, the estimated cost to build, AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, a system that we neither want or need. Yes you will create a few jobs while you build the UNWANTED SYSTEM but what happens when it is finished? Who gets stuck with the upkeep? Who has to pay the difference in the cost of upkeep and the revenue collected from riders? Are the few jobs you create going to be union workers or non union? Are you going to use local contractors or bring in experts from out of town? When you bring in a contractor from out of town, are you going to force him to use local workers or not? There are a million questions to be answered but instead of forcing someone to answer these questions you put blinders on and say if we don't take the money some other state will. LET THEM TAKE IT!! I would rather lose two billion now than be stuck for five billion every year from now until bankruptcy.
Patrick
12:35PM FEB 26TH 2011
I completely agree. What leader doesn't read the reports and consider the options. Bottomline, this is to please his tea party supporters. This has nothing to do with the welfare of our state.
Patrick
12:34PM FEB 26TH 2011
I completely agree. What leader doesn't read the reports and consider the options. Bottomline, this is to please his tea party supporters. This has nothing to do with the welfare of our state.

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