A Superior Court judge Monday slowed the California bullet train boondoggle to a crawl.
It's about time. For more than two years, Gov. Jerry Brown and his puppet leading the California High-Speed Rail Authority board, Dan Richard, have overstepped their legal authority and disregarded the will of the voters by pushing ahead full-throttle.
Judge Michael Kenny had ruled in August that the authority "abused its discretion" by failing to secure funds and complete environmental reviews before authorizing expenditures.
This week, he sent the project back to the start by blocking the authority from implementing its 2011 spending plan and refusing to provide necessary legal blessing to the misguided issuance of $8.6 billion of construction bonds.
By any reasonable interpretation, this should put an end to Brown and Richard's bait-and-switch. But, when it comes to high-speed rail, those two aren't reasonable.
In a statement issued after the ruling, Richard tried to deceptively spin what the judge had said. True, as Richard notes, the judge did not stop the project. Rather he left it with no funding plan and the inability to borrow money.
Until the feds start to realize they've been had, there's still a bit of money left from Washington. But it won't last long. It's hard to imagine how the project can continue to move forward.
It's time to put an end to this fraud.
Voters were promised a system from San Diego to Sacramento at a cost of $45 billion. Today, the price is at least $69 billion, but would link only San Francisco with Los Angeles.
Anticipated ticket prices have increased more than 50 percent, ridership projections have been cut by more than half, the opening date has been pushed back nine years to 2029, and the two-hour, 40-minute mandated travel time from San Francisco to Los Angeles remains doubtful.
The authority has never fulfilled its promise to line up private-sector money. And critical federal funding would require an entirely different political environment in Washington.
Without a valid funding plan, and without the ability to issue bonds protected from legal challenge, California's high-speed rail project is effectively dead.
If Brown and Richard had one iota of intellectual honesty about the bullet-train promises, if they had any respect for the voters, they would abandon the project or ask voters to approve a smaller but more costly one.
They know that's all the authority can deliver. But they also know voters, if asked, would reject that.