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Atherton donates $10K to high-speed rail litigation

Original post made on Feb 27, 2013

Hoping to set an example for other local communities that will be impacted by construction of the high-speed rail project, the town of Atherton is kicking in $10,000 to support a lawsuit that challenges the spending of project funds in the Central Valley.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 4:52 PM

Comments (17)

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Posted by D rDoodle
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2013 at 11:06 am

One correction for the author, who writes of Atherton's "opposition to the rail plan, which would slice the town in two." Not so. The tracks already exist. Caltrain service already exists. To the extent that rail cuts a town in two, that damage is already done. The agreed and approved "blended" HSR system won't add any additional track or elevated structures in Atherton, so the town will not be further cut in two. The only effect on physical division of Atherton will be a small increase in the number of trains during peak hours, which will mean a few more minutes of gate-down time at the crossings. That's not a good thing for Atherton, but it can't be blamed for slicing the town in two.


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Posted by Breaking the law
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

Atherton's opposition to high speed rail is one thing. Jim Janz being in charge of it is another. He has a clear, legally prohibited, conflict of interest, since his backyard directly abuts where the proposed HSR line will be. It is illegal to have him involved in this issue.


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Posted by Dr Doodle
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm

@Breaking the Law, based on what's described in the article, neither Jim Janz nor the City Council are breaking any laws. Mr. Janz may well have a vested person interest in stopping the project, but he's only acting here as a private citizen who urges town Council members to take an action. What matters are conflicts of interest of the actual decision makers (i.e., town council members). Or conflicts of interest of any council-appointed advisory body. Or that a self-interested private citizen has a corrupt influence over an official decision maker. But it just sounds here like Mr. Janz is a locally respected and influential private citizen who encouraged the Council to do something, which thing they then did. Happens all the time in every city.

If there's more to the story than is described in the article, it would be interesting to know. If Mr. Janz has crossed any legal or ethical lines, a complaint to the California Bar Association could result in his being censured or stripped of his license to practice law. Serious stuff.


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Posted by Renee Batti
news editor of The Almanac
on Feb 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Renee Batti is a registered user.

Dr. Doodle, Re your point about my description of the project's effect: You're right. I've removed it.


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Posted by Ben
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 27, 2013 at 1:14 pm

In the NIMBY culture, " what ever it is, we're against it" just wastes time and takes away valuable tax dollar resources that could be used for schools, but the attorneys always make money, either directly or indirectly. The electrification will make things more quiet, but without the needed grade separations, the horns will continue to blow.


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Posted by Mel
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 27, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Is that wise? What if the judge assesses all legal fees be paid by the city when they lose? Let's add that up. Couple hundred lawyers at $ 450/hr...times the dozens of hours + consultants, court fees etc. Hmmm...may have to fire some city service folks. Wouldn't be surprised if they close the Atherton Caltrain station as well. Bye bye 30 grand.

Mel


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Posted by Breaking the law
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Ms. Batti was too quick to delete posts. @Dr Doodle, jim Janz is a decision maker and member of the rail committee. See

Web Link

(Editor's note: No post on this thread was deleted. The author of the news story removed part of a sentence that, as a poster pointed out, was incorrect.)


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Posted by Dr Doodle
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2013 at 3:29 pm

@Breaking the Law -- thanks for that additional information; that's a BIG difference from what I was assuming!! If he owns property immediately adjacent to the tracks, he has, as you say, no business being involved in any official capacity, even advisory. I presume the Town Council and Town Attorney are blithely unconcerned with any improprieties, but if I were Mr. Janz I would be afraid of how I might be jeopardizing my standing with the State Bar. They take a dim view on unethical or illegal conduct, even if unrelated to official practice of law.


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Posted by Realistic
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2013 at 7:47 am

When are you people going to learn? There was an election. You lost. You don't get to override the will of the people of the entire state. The HSR will be built, so get used to it. And the bill to prohibit ever 4-tracking the Peninsula is DOA.

Here's an idea, though: If Atherton wants to throw away its own residents' money, that's their business. But the state should keep track of the additional litigation cost brought on by Atherton's participation, and subtract that amount from state appropriations to Atherton schools, streets, and so on. You don't have the right to waste the money of state taxpayers.

As far as the people who think that the Kings County lawsuit stands a chance--well, I'd like a case of whatever you're drinking. Must be good stuff. Chowchilla recently folded up their legal tent, as they saw reality coming down the tracks towards them. Kings County will soon follow.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 28, 2013 at 7:53 am

Realistic:

"you don't have the right to waste the money of the state taxpayers."

That's rich! HSR is the biggest waste of state taxpayer money in history.

By the way, in case you hadn't heard, most of the voters are now AGAINST building HSR. If they had another chance to vote on it, they'd vote against it.


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Posted by R Jeffrey
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 28, 2013 at 9:59 am

Atherton has such a great history of spending money for legal battles.

Such a successful track record!

What a waste of ten grand.


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Posted by R Jeffrey
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 28, 2013 at 10:00 am

> By the way, in case you hadn't heard, most of the voters are now AGAINST building HSR. If they had another chance to vote on it, they'd vote against it.

Yeah, that applies to a lot of things, including the LDS funded Prop 8.

So?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 28, 2013 at 10:52 am

R Jeffrey:

So? So, why should we spend $100 billion on something the majority of California voters don't want?


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Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 28, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Spend the $10,000 on a study that shows what ultra-classy bus service would cost and provide to riders in place of HSR. That will be an eyeopener.


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Posted by guest
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2013 at 10:16 pm

It's ridiculous that the few are dominating and smothering the voices of the many. The existing rail lines were the lifeblood of the penninsula and that's why all the cities and towns sprouted up and grew around the rails. Albeit they grew too close for their own good since that ended up being the only affordable land left. Now all that have followed this overzealous development want to undo history.

Yes, we need to do this right, but this is certainly not the best use of time or money and detracts from the very improvements that you want.


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Posted by Ben
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 1, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Well, the judge let the hammer down today. Too bad the city didn't hold off a few day, it could have saved the money. Timing is everything.


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Posted by Renee Batti
news editor of The Almanac
on Mar 1, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Renee Batti is a registered user.

Ben, Atherton's contribution goes toward a completely different lawsuit, which is active and set for trial in May.


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