It’s all about the asterisk.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, will appeal for a comprehensive audit of the controversial high-speed rail project Tuesday The Joint Legislative Audit Committee will hear testimony and then vote to approve or reject the audit. He will be joined by Senate Transportation Committee Chair Jim Beall, D-San Jose, for a bipartisan appeal.
With the project in turmoil, they could very well prevail.
With a gigantic asterisk the size of Lake Millerton, we say yes*, with the * on the “comprehensive*.” Here’s what should happen:
▪ This audit should be not just bipartisan but nonpartisan. This demands an independent examination with no preconceived thinking.
Patterson is marinated in partisanship like a tri-tip steak. The man represents a poverty-striken region that finally stands to get a share of billions in jobs, job training, infrastructure, tourism, business development. Yet he does his best to kill it. You can smell the smoke all the way down the block.
It’s good to have a Democrat working alongside, but even more diversity is key. As they say in Sacramento, if you are not at the table, you’re on the menu.
This audit requires experts who can look at more than left and right. Think for a moment about the Las Vegas massacre. “The greatest” security people in the nation looked left and right. No one looked up.
▪ The committee does a first-rate job, putting people with expertise and experience, imagination and creativity at the helm.
▪ Fund the audit adequately. No shortcuts.
▪ People making critical decisions on this get out of their offices and actually see what a high-speed rail project really looks like.
▪ They learn from auditors who are the best in the world at making assessments on these kinds of projects.
▪ Oversight is critical. The last thing we need is to spend a bundle of money on the audit only to find out months in that corrupt money was changing hands; it’s afflicted with cronyism or nepotism; or the budget was being gobbled up by auditors living like royalty at our expense.
The most important mindset is to get at the facts with open minds and skilled research. Conduct the audit remembering that we are California, the most forward-thinking state in the union. We do the things people say could never be done. This will be no easy audit.
Think of the gold prospectors hauling fortunes out of here in their suitcases, the oil diggers, the movie moguls, the ag geniuses who were laughed at when they put their life savings into Valley land.
This gets us one step closer to see if we have their grit and their brains. The more information we get, the better.