California High Speed Rail Consultant Fees Questioned

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – The overflowing budget for California’s High Speed Rail system is coming under question after a report found that upwards of $12 million has been spent on consultant fees since 2009.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross points out that many lawmakers are wondering exactly what the public is getting out of the deal and who is collecting the fees.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

That includes Denise LaPointe, a former staffer to former High Speed Rail Authority board member Quentin Kopp, whose firm collected more than $350,000 in the past two years. Then there’s former Oakland City Planning Commissioner Nicole Franklin, who took in $45,000.

San Mateo Assemblyman Jerry Hill said he thinks the money has been spent unwisely up to this point.

“We don’t want to be sold on a project. We want to be shown the project, analyze the project and see the project from every angle,” he said.

Rod Diridon, the Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University and a former High Speed Rail board member, said he couldn’t agree more.

“If there is a crying need, it’s for much broader, more effective and cogent communication,” said Diridon.

Some believe a lack of progress led the Rail Authority to pull out of a five-year, $9 million contract with Ogilvy Public Relations. Bids are being taken on a new PR contract worth $2.5 million this fiscal year.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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