A reader sent us a reminder of another undelivered promise made by Wendy Meadley, strategic director of North American High Speed Rail Group. In Michael Brun's April 2, 2016 article in the Red Wing Republican Eagle, Comment period opens on high-speed rail, the staff writer reported:
Minnesota-based North American High Speed Rail Group will accept comments through April 29, either submitted online at www.nahsr.com or mailed to 8009 34th Ave. South, Bloomington, MN 55425.
“NAHSR is currently in a preliminary study process to assess if there is a business case to pursue the project further,” according to a news release. The business says it will incorporate comments and input from planned public meetings when making a decision to proceed.
Last week, Heather Carlson reported in the Rochester Post Bulletin that Group pushes ahead with high-speed rail plans. Where were those planned public meetings? Did they happen?
UPDATE: A reader called our attention to the full press release here at Slideshare. The press release states:
Prior to the completion of the Preliminary Study period, NAHSR will participate in a Town Hall public engagement session. Information about the session will be posted on NAHSR’s website and communicated via press release to regional media, and sent via email to NAHSR’s option database. To be included in NAHSR’s ongoing public communication, you can sign up for the database at http://nahsr.com/contact-
The Town Hall never happened. Here's the image downloaded from Slideshare:
We've already looked into the corporation's assertion that the comment period was "public" in our post, Regulatory capture's final frontier? NAHSR offers corporate-operated "public comment" period. Now it looks as if the "planned public meetings" are also the public relations equivalent of ghostware. It's one way of gaming and controlling a system.
It's not as if the group enjoys a reputation for transparency. Back in early October 2015, Representative Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa wrote in Covert high-speed rail behavior needs scrutiny, op-ed commentary published in the Rochester Post Bulletin:
Recently, the North American High Speed Rail Group entered the fray. It's looking to build a high-speed rail line from Bloomington to Rochester along the Highway 52 corridor, supposedly on its own.
So what do we know about this outfit? . . .
Draz walks readers through elements of the now-discarded business plan, then raises points about the way "this outfit" operates:
I recently wrote a letter to the Federal Rail Administration to share my growing concerns over this project and to relay the numerous issues that are causing elevated angst levels from my constituents. They include:
• Lack of transparency: The stated FRA process of an open, publically engaged fact-finding mission for Zip Rail simply isn't happening. We've seen multiple examples of public meetings either not posted or publicized in local papers, delayed or abruptly canceled, creating the impression that public input really isn't wanted because the high-speed rail outcome has been predetermined. Some of the cities that would fall within the proposed corridor were never notified of upcoming meetings.
• Authenticity of community adviser committee: This group seems to be nothing more than a rubber-stamp assembly purposed to create the illusion of seeking community input while "checking-the-box" for the FRA approval process. To date, it's held one meeting.
• Lack of support for Zip Rail: My constituents aren't the only ones expressing doubt. Last session, the Minnesota House passed a bill prohibiting the use of government money to fund a Zip Rail project, ensuring eminent domain will not be used to build it and requiring any developer to demonstrate the ability to pay for the full costs if Zip Rail fails. There have been numerous formal resolutions and strongly worded letters of opposition to Zip Rail from many Minnesota cities, townships, counties, farm groups and individual citizens. None of these entities finds public benefit from the proposal. . . .
Now Heather Carrlson reports in the Post Bulletin that Meadley is dangling a mid-route maintenance facility in order to garner support--though we're not so sure the intended audience for this bribe is the fly-over counties and cities and not the investors she and her pals are so desperately seeking.
It's a good thing that Bluestem is indexed in Nexis, or those investors doing due diligence on this project might never learn that those "planned public meetings" never happened--or if they did, NAHSRG forgot to tell anyone along the route about them. Or other phantom projects once associated with the corporation.
My, my. If this thing ever does manage to get built, let's hope they're better at their plan to run the world's most expensive small package delivery system than they are in delivering other promises.
Photo: No Zombie Zip Rail, CCARL's yard sign campaign against the project that won't die.
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