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PD Editorial: Time to put the brakes on high-speed rail

Gov. Jerry Brown is tight-fisted.

That's why the millions spent by Meg Whitman on tax-and-spend campaign attacks in 2010 delivered nothing. It's why Brown, after ending years of deficit spending in Sacramento, is positioned to win an unprecedented fourth term in 2014.

And it's why Brown's stubborn defense of high-speed rail is so puzzling.

The promise — an efficient, environmentally friendly transit system shuttling people between San Francisco and Los Angeles in about 2 1/2 hours, eventually growing to an 800-mile bullet-train network — simply hasn't kept pace with reality.

Five years after voters approved a high-speed rail bond — a measure we supported at the time — the $68 billion project is beset by soaring costs, unfulfilled promises, legal setbacks and a resulting loss of public support and confidence.

This is the time for a prudent governor to hit the brakes, to save the state's bond money until there's a viable plan to get the train running.

Brown inherited the high-speed rail project, but he has adopted it as his own.

"We all know the story of 'The Little Engine That Could,'" he said in his state of the state address in January. "The big engines were asked to haul the freight train over the mountain. They said, 'can't do it.' They asked another. 'Can't do it.'

"The little train said, 'I think I can.' And so the engine pulled the long line of freight cars and started puffing away, 'I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. And over the mountain, the little engine went. We're going to get over that mountain. I have no doubt about it."

Brown needs to think again.


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