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Calif. High Speed Rail Authority hit with lawsuit

(The following story by Michael Cabanatuan appeared on the San Francisco Chronicle website on October 9.)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — A group opposing Proposition 1A, the high-speed rail bond measure, filed suit against the California High Speed Rail Authority on Wednesday for failing to release an updated business plan by a Sept. 1 deadline.

"A more clear violation of law is hard to imagine," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said in a press release. His group filed the suit and is opposing the measure.

The suit seeks a court order mandating the report be produced "as required by law."

But authority officials say that's impossible - and that the association knows that.

Legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Aug. 27 required the updated business plan but authority officials said they wouldn't have money to work on it until the state passed a budget, and estimated it would take 45 days to complete. The budget was signed on Sept. 23 - 85 days late.

"The purveyors of this last-minute lawsuit against the authority know full well that the nearly three-month delay of the state budget caused a similar delay in progress on this year's business plan," said Mehdi Morshed, authority executive director, in a prepared statement.

Authority spokeswoman Kris Deutschmann said most of the contents of the plan have already been made public, but they need to be compiled and updated - a process that will be completed within weeks. That could be before or after the Nov. 4 election, she said.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

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