April 24, 2013

Californicating the taxpayers [Darleen Click]

Oh look! US Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, right in the middle of the high-speed train Browndoggle

Out of the entire universe of those who could have won the first phase construction contract for California’s high speed rail boondoggle, who would stand out as the last person who would win it if there were no political patronage.

Put another way, who is the most likely person to win it if there is political patronage?

Both questions have the same answer: Richard Blum, the husband of California senator Diane Feinstein.

So, who won the contract? Blum, of course, as the principle owner of Tutor Perini, the lead firm in the three-firm consortium selected by the California High Speed Rail Authority.

Yes, Diane, it really does look that bad to us little people.

On the face of it, it looks bad. But when you consider that the California High-Speed Rail Authority the bidding process that would have eliminated Feinstein’s hubby’s consortium, was changed last July enabling it to win …

The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced last week that the Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons joint venture was the top-rated contender among five bidders seeking to build the initial 29 miles of track between Madera and Fresno.

While it offered the lowest price at $985.1 million, the Tutor Perini team’s technical score ranked last. Ferrovial and Acciona, two Spanish firms with significant high-speed rail experience, had the highest technical mark but bid almost $1.4 billion. […]

In March 2012, the rail authority’s board set up a two-step process for weighing the bids. In the first step, the bidders were supposed to be narrowed to three based only on a technical evaluation. Only the bids submitted by the remaining contenders would be opened. The winner was to be selected on a combination of price and technical scores.

Under that process, the Tutor Perini consortium and another team led by Skanska, a Swedish company, would have been eliminated after the first round, leaving groups led by Colorado-based Kiewit and two teams led by Spanish firms, Dragados and Ferrovial. […]

The agency changed the evaluation process in July, according to an agency spokesman. The official did not provide details of the internal process used to alter the criteria.

… looking merely “bad” is the least of it.

And it’s not like Tutor Perini hasn’t had corruption issues before

Tutor Perini is one of the largest contractors in the country. Critics have complained that the firm tends to bid low to win contracts and then seeks change orders and contract amendments that increase costs.

The firm has handled many major construction projects successfully. But it also has been embroiled in controversies involving accusations of overbilling, fraud and shoddy workmanship related to the Los Angeles subway, San Francisco International Airport and public works projects in New York.

Just remember, gentle reader, while you may snicker that California is going to build high speed rail from Madera to Fresno at the bargain rate of $35 million per mile, it isn’t going to be just California tax dollars that get sucked up in the crony project.

Feinstein will see to it. For the Childrens!

Posted by Darleen @ 12:10am
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Comments (43)

  1. HALIBURTON!! NO WAR FOR OIL!

    Or something.

    Waiting for the Code Pink and Michael Moore outrage to explode….waiting…still waiting.

  2. Yes, i certainly want to ride on something that was built by the lowest bidder. That sounds like the safest possible thing to me.

    Now where’s my gun? There’s something on the top shelf I can’t reach and I figure I’ll just shoot at it until it falls down.

  3. Critics have complained that the firm tends to bid low to win contracts and then seeks change orders and contract amendments that increase costs.

    That is called “normal” for government contracts, one of the reason they all go way over time and budget. They don’t just seek change orders, the good ones create situations that require them.

    The other reason is government project managers clueless fucking pinheads over-seeing the projects.

  4. Wow.

  5. Hey, we got our share (at being screwed) by the Big Dig thanks to Teddy K. Dianne learned from the best.

    The tunnels weren’t open 2 years when a section of ceiling fell down and killed someone (an undocumented worker, no less). Low Bidder For The Win!

  6. That is called “normal” for government contracts, one of the reason they all go way over time and budget.

    I don’t think that’s quite true in the world of defense contracting, anymore. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of cost and technical risk.

    Except for the Navy, which does whatever it pleases. Sometimes it obsesses over earned value milestones, while other times it squanders billions on programs just to get an equivalent system up to Air Force standards. It’s deeply weird.

  7. So here we have unmitigated, unapologetic corruption in the form of nepotism…

    And here we have America’s answer to Kim Jung Un telling Americans that the government will no longer be able to give them the luxury of Constitutional rights and protections, for their own safety of course.

    And here we have Congress “seeing the light” on what a good idea drone strikes on Americans can be in the wake of the Boston Bombing.

    I don’t hear any angry mobs…

    America is done.

  8. I was talking about construction, slart. Should have been more clear.

  9. Bloomberg is a tool. No more of a tool than the guy who wrote this, but unfortunately a tool with some kind of political power. Fortunately at this point he doesn’t get a vote on how our constitutional rights might be affected.

    Remember when Democrats were concerned about how the War on Terror might affect our civil liberties? Good times. Soon those same people will be clamoring for mandatory RFID tag implants for everyone, so that we can track the movements of potential terrorists. And since we don’t know in advance who potential terrorists are, even if the FBI has been made aware of them, we have to track the movements of absolutely everyone.

    This whole taggant thing is just retarded. How, I wondered for about 90 seconds, might the use of taggants in black and smokeless powder be foiled? Answer: just buy said substances from multiple sources (legally, because these things are after all legal) and mix them. If you’re loading ammunition, mix from multiple sources. Ditto if you’re building a bomb. Problem solved. The problem with taggants it they’re only useful until people find out they’re being used, and then counter-tactics come into play, and then you’ve spent a lot of money and political capital putting a system into place that can be easily rendered ineffective.

    That’s just 90 seconds of thought, maximum. There are doubtless other things that can be done, like making your own taggants, or stealing some.

  10. Consider yourself clarified, bmoe.

  11. fed gov’t metaphor alert

    When Jada Shapiro decided to raise her daughter from birth without diapers, for the most part, not everyone was amused. Ms Shapiro scattered little bowls around the house to catch her daughter’s offerings, and her sister insisted that she use a big, dark marker to mark the bowls so that they could never find their way back to the kitchen… “Elimination communication,” as the diaper-free method of child-rearing is called, is finding an audience in the hipper precincts of New York City.

    link

  12. “Elimination communication,”

    the proggtards are moving on from “elimination rhetoric”

  13. Critics have complained that the firm tends to bid low to win contracts and then seeks change orders and contract amendments that increase costs.

    This practice drives me insane. The bigger you are, the bigger the name, the more it is done.

  14. When I first hired into [insert name of large MIC engineering firm here], it was to work a program that our wonderfully prescient and highly compensated marketing experts knew for a fact that we had as good as won, only to find out the day I reported to work that no, I would not be working that program after all because it had instead been awarded to…let’s call them “McDonald’s”. Who proposed exactly what we had, only for a lot less money.

    Only a couple of months went by before they went to Congress, hat in hand, and were given more funding. Which if memory serves, said funding increase took up nearly all (or more) of the bid-price differential between them and us.

    Further debacles ensued, resulting in more overruns, but I don’t want to be more tedious than I have to.

  15. Remember when Democrats were concerned about how the War on Terror might affect our civil liberties? Good times. Soon those same people will be clamoring for mandatory RFID tag implants for everyone, so that we can track the movements of potential terrorists. And since we don’t know in advance who potential terrorists are, even if the FBI has been made aware of them, we have to track the movements of absolutely everyone.

    The only reasonable conclusion I can reach is that they never objected to the so-called civil liberties violations in the first place, merely to who would be in charge of those doing the violating. And that in turn leads me to suspect the Democrats’ intentions even more than the Republicans’.

  16. Well, the Left does believe in spreading the wealth. They just never mention that it not just to “poor” people, it’s to blue states and to friends/financial supporters of Democrats. If this happens at a national level our country is officially over (if you believe it isn’t already). We’ll all be living in our own Detroit-style city or town.

  17. Oh, goody. Both useless AND on the cheap. Bravo! It’s a twofer!

  18. In all seriousness, I didn’t know that low bids were considered a positive to the government in a bidding process.

    From what I’ve been told by people I know well, women and minority owned businesses, as well as the disabled are most likely to win bids. This is for purchasing, rather than railroad building, so maybe the rules are different.

  19. Is there a demonstrable need for high speed rail in the San Joaquin Valley or anywhere else for that matter? There was a reason the railroad barons sold to the government back in the day and let them nationalize passenger rail, today known as Amtrak. Passenger rail has been a loss leader since Eisenhower had the interstate highway system built. And, shockingly, Amtrak has never turned a profit since its inception in 1970 or 71.

    You better get while the getting is good, Californians. Prop 13 is next on the block. Moonbeam demagogued the crap out of the issue in 1978. Radio spots breathlessly announced how all the public libraries would close, et cetera, if property taxes were lowered. He flip-flopped and was all for it when he saw he was getting trounced, but has hated it ever since. I just know he’s itching to take all your money, Comrades.

  20. Is there a demonstrable need for high speed rail in the San Joaquin Valley or anywhere else for that matter?

    <blank stare>

    </California liberal>

  21. Is there a demonstrable need for high speed rail in the San Joaquin Valley or anywhere else for that matter? There was a reason the railroad barons sold to the government back in the day and let them nationalize passenger rail, today known as Amtrak. Passenger rail has been a loss leader since Eisenhower had the interstate highway system built. And, shockingly, Amtrak has never turned a profit since its inception in 1970 or 71.

    For the Commiecrats, yes. The issue is control. HSR invites a nightmare of urban planning and government control of private property development. Make no mistake: Every city with a rail station or hopes of getting one will now have an incentive to “plan” private property development so that everything is rail accessible. The state will come up with another “matching fund” gimmick to encourage cities to do just that, complete with a commission to evaluate whether a city’s rail access development plan meets the visions of the geniuses in Sacramento.

    Were you hoping to get permits to put a couple retail stores on a lot you own? “Sorry. Permits are scarce unless you are on the tram route to and from the rail station. Why don’t you rent some retail space in the new Rail Mall, which a politically connected Commiecrat commisar like Mr. and Mrs. Blum/Fineswine own?

    Golly, those well-connected guys made a mint developing that empty field and they always seem to be able to get approval for new development!” But not you, petty bourgeois turned prole. Not you.

    Does your community need the city to add a couple lanes to the local highway to alleviate traffic snarls? “Sorry. Our resources are focused on redesigning downtown to make it more rail-friendly.”

    And individual mobility, as personified by the private automobile, is Commiecrat anathema.

  22. it was to work a program that our wonderfully prescient and highly compensated marketing experts knew for a fact that we had as good as won, only to find out the day I reported to work that no, I would not be working that program after all because it had instead been awarded to…let’s call them “McDonald’s”. Who proposed exactly what we had, only for a lot less money.
    Only a couple of months went by before they went to Congress, hat in hand, and were given more funding. Which if memory serves, said funding increase took up nearly all (or more) of the bid-price differential between them and us.

    SOP in the construction industry. Especially in public contracting. Even when they know it will happen.

  23. Curmudgeon, it was a rhetorical question since I grew up in California and my mother lives in the San Joaquin Valley.

    Every city with a rail station or hopes of getting one will now have an incentive to “plan” private property development so that everything is rail accessible.

    Respectfully, fat chance. There aren’t any cities in the Valley. There are lots of dairy farms, vineyards, oil fields and prisons.

  24. There aren’t any cities in the Valley. There are lots of dairy farms, vineyards, oil fields and prisons.

    That would be why the rail to nowhere-now-but-somewhere-someday-maybe is being built in the Valley.

  25. Respectfully, fat chance. There aren’t any cities in the Valley. There are lots of dairy farms, vineyards, oil fields and prisons.

    You haven’t lived here in a while, have you? Priced out of the coastal areas, a good many people moved inland. Greater Fresno is over half a million, Greater Bakersfield nearly so, Greater Sacramento a over million and a half, and otherwise once quaint farming towns of barely four digits population have mushroomed into mini metropolises of nearly six digits population.

  26. The portion they are proposing to build so far is piddling, of course. But make no mistake, the endgame is a 700 mile or more straitjacket to constrain property rights.

  27. Besides, freedom is messy. Which is why you should give yours up.

  28. We have had light rail in Minneapolis for a while. Now what they are doing along the part running down Hiawatha (actually the rail runs on the west side of the street) is forcing the ADM milling plant to shut down, along with some other local businesses, so they can take the land and build more apartments.

    Other apartment complexes have been springing up on both sides of the highway.

    I should also mention the new stretch of light rail they are building that runs right down the middle of one of the busiest streets, from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul. That useless construction is going to cost over 1 billion dollars.

    The train loses money on every rider, at a much higher rate than the buses.

  29. But think of all the union jobs it creates, cranky!

  30. “Sacramento – Gateway to Lodi!”

  31. “Lodi — Gateway to Terminous!”

  32. You haven’t lived here in a while, have you? Priced out of the coastal areas, a good many people moved inland.

    I haven’t lived there in many years. I have been there many times in the intervening years and agree that the towns have grown. However, the Valley is a haven for illegal aliens, Fresno in particular. I went shopping with my cousin and her daughter last year when I was there and I swear we were the only English speakers in the entire mall. That is not to say that they were all illegal, but a good portion of them were. After living around Mexicans for 30+ years, you can tell the illegals from the offspring quite easily.

    Of course the illegals live everywhere else, including the coastal towns. Being involved in illegal activities, dope dealing, insurance scams, gang-related activities, allows one the freedom (i.e., money) to move at one’s ease. There are a few hard working bracero types, sure, but not nearly as many as there were 40 years ago.

    Anyway, the whole point of my original remark about the need for HSR is that there isn’t one and no one is going to ride it. It’ll run empty most of the day just like the “T” in Pittsburgh does. Cranky is correct when he states that the train loses money on every rider.

  33. I thought Sacrament was the gateway to Chico?

  34. We have had light rail in Minneapolis for a while. Now what they are doing along the part running down Hiawatha (actually the rail runs on the west side of the street) is forcing the ADM milling plant to shut down, along with some other local businesses, so they can take the land and build more apartments.

    Other apartment complexes have been springing up on both sides of the highway.

    This is the more localized version of the State Of California’s plan.

    In urban transit planning, there is a vocal group of “light rail” fetishists, who ceaselessly push for 19th century style trolleys or interurbans, even though simply making HOV / bus lanes and improving commuter bus service actually is cheaper and has better ridership.

    Why, I wondered. At first I thought it was just grownups playing with electric trains and some kind of bizarre sexual fetish.

    But then I realized, again, it’s all about control. Any property owner within 1/8 mile of the trolley / streetcar stops will be told what s/he can build.

    I should also mention the new stretch of light rail they are building that runs right down the middle of one of the busiest streets, from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul. That useless construction is going to cost over 1 billion dollars.

    But those are evil drivers, so they don’t count. The trolley fetishists also want “New Urbanist” congested medieval European style cities, real industry and commerce be damned.

  35. Anyway, the whole point of my original remark about the need for HSR is that there isn’t one and no one is going to ride it. It’ll run empty most of the day just like the “T” in Pittsburgh does. Cranky is correct when he states that the train loses money on every rider.

    No disagreement there. But for the Left, that’s not a bug, it is a feature. And if they can frustrate real working people with light rail systems that clog up real street space, all the better.

  36. Gateway to Lodi!

    There’s a couple of good wineries in near nearby Lodi.

  37. Agreed on that point, Curmudgeon. It’s all about control.

    Apropos of the Control being the real issue, I had a rather lengthy web argument with the daughter of a friend regarding “gay marriage”. Naturally, she was all for it (she is in her 20s and wet behind the ears, shall we say). After a lot of back and forth I explained to her that it had nothing to do with civil rights or fairness, but was all about control. She was stunned and immediately turned her brain off and said she had to go. I wished her well and haven’t heard from her since.

  38. No, no – Chico is the Gateway to Paradise.

    Or Oroville, depending. Tornadoes like Oroville.

  39. Apropos of the Control being the real issue, I had a rather lengthy web argument with the daughter of a friend regarding “gay marriage”. Naturally, she was all for it (she is in her 20s and wet behind the ears, shall we say). After a lot of back and forth I explained to her that it had nothing to do with civil rights or fairness, but was all about control. She was stunned and immediately turned her brain off and said she had to go. I wished her well and haven’t heard from her since.

    Let me guess: her response was along the lines of “Squawk! EQUALITY!” (followed by a refusal to examine what “equality” would mean.)

  40. Pretty much. She still can’t see that she is being pwned by the Left’s agenda.

  41. Lodi — Gateway to Truckee!

  42. at least if no one is riding the HST to Nowhere, it won’t be a terrorist target.

  43. Oroville is the gateway to Chico.

    Sacramento is the gateway to Mordor.

    Also, Slart, mixing powders, even of the same brand and type but different lots, is generally a Bad Idea. It may result in nothing, or a squib, or you may lose a finger or a gun.

    On top of that, taggants add an additional instability (another reason not to use them), so the “mix powders to hide origin” thing doesn’t work out well in the end.

    But there will be an active black market, as always, which will be largely untraceable. Again, criminals free to do what they want, the law-abiding punished.

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