Those who follow the public relations charm offensive (is there anything else?) pushed by the North American High Speed Rail Group know to look for the changes that magically appear in different press accounts.
There's a fun contrast in reports of next week's Chinese rail delegation visiting next week.
On Wednesday, Janice Bitters reported in the Finance and Commerce story, Chinese investors consider MN high-speed rail proposal:
That’s the question a group of Chinese investors and technical advisers visiting the state next week will discuss before deciding whether to back a proposed privately funded $4.2 billion high-speed passenger rail line linking the two metropolitan hubs.
The Bloomington-based North American High Speed Rail Group is currently doing a preliminary study of the proposed route along Highway 52. The group will host at least three people — investors and technical advisers from China — for seven or eight private meetings with local business leaders and community stakeholders along the 77-mile route.
Three people, including the technical advisors?
That's a bit smaller than Heather Carlson reported the day before in the Post Bulletin article, Chinese rail leaders to talk high-speed rail in Rochester:
The delegation will include six to 10 individuals from China, including representatives of the China-owned rail corporation. Also with company leaders will be technical experts and individuals responsible for overseeing sovereign funds. The group is slated to arrive on Monday and will spend the week attending private meetings with business and civic leaders, along with possible investors, according to Wang. Those meetings will happen in locations from the Twin Cities to Rochester.
Maybe air fares went up and so the visitors will each be doing triple duty.
There's also this detail in the Finance and Commerce story:
But company officials are first trying to figure out whether there are enough investors to support the build-out and enough support from community leaders and local officials to follow through. They won’t be meeting with state legislators yet.
“Those meetings are not published; we don’t have public leaders in general coming,” said Wendy Meadley, chief strategy officer, North American High Speed Rail Group. “It’s business people coming together and ensuring that it makes sense to go forward.”
We have to wonder why she's so insistent on the notion of skirting public meeting laws, since at least one elected official does plan to meet with the delegation: the mayor of Rochester. Again, one has to read both news articles to put the pieces together. Carlson reports in the Post Bulletin:
Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede said he will have a chance to meet with the representatives from China. He added that figuring out how to improve transportation between Rochester and the Twin Cities is critical as DMC advances.
Perhaps Brede isn't a public leader in general. But since the meetings aren't "published," we'll never know who shows up.
For our earlier report on the visit, check out North American High Speed Rail CEO Wang shocked USA had no high speed rail in 1991; claim of 1991 Chinese system bigger shocker. North American High Speed Rail CEO Joseph Wang claimed to have been shocked that the USA had no high speed rail when he moved here in 1991, after using high speed rail in China and Taiwan. A fact check reveals that neither country had operational high-speed rail until 2007.
Photo: Chinese visitors may not know that the peasants aren't happy about this project (something about losing their property through eminent domain to private investors). Here's a reminder.
Eminent domain may factor into the passenger rail line, Wang acknowledged in an interview Wednesday.
Parts of the route have curves that won’t work for a train traveling between 200 and 230 miles per hour. The company doesn’t know where or how much private land would be needed for the project, but Wang said it would be a small amount and that the Rail Group would aim to affect local landowners as little as possible.
Heather Arndt, a leader of Citizens Concerned About Rail Line, a group formed in opposition to high-speed rail in the area, is skeptical of that claim.
“It’s not negligible if you’re the farmer that has lost that land [that is] taken out of production,” she said. “It’s not negligible if it’s your house.”
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