Letters to the Editor: California’s bullet train is an argument against direct democracy

A full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train outside the state Capitol in Sacramento in 2015.
A full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train outside the state Capitol in Sacramento in 2015.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

To the editor: Steve Lopez’s column on the bullet train is a devastating assessment of California’s profoundly idiotic direct democracy experiment. Using the initiative process to drive public policy and circumvent the Legislature is really offensive to the ideal of republican governance.

Proposition 1A, the 2008 initiative that allocated funds for the rail project, was poorly drafted, crammed with utterly unrealistic restrictions for a large construction project, utterly unrealistic cost projections (really, flat-out lies), and tied to a federal funding spigot with unrealistic deadlines that may require funds to be returned.

Asking the average voter with very limited economic, financial and legal knowledge of large-scale projects to weigh in on something like this is a recipe for failure. Abolishing the initiative system at the statewide level is a timid first step to restoring republican values to our government.


David Pohlod, Oak Park


To the editor: Brian Kelly, director of California High-Speed Rail Authority, says that we must keep our promises to the Central Valley and continue pouring money into that bullet train segment.

Apparently that “promise” trumps an earlier promise made 11 years ago to all California voters of a $40-billion Anaheim-to-San Francisco train. The cost is up to $98 billion now, and it will probably double unless sanity prevails.

Like President Lyndon Johnson, former Gov. Jerry Brown would go down as one of our greatest leaders, except for one major miscalculation.

Tim Clark, Los Angeles