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High-speed rail’

Tampa tea party activists tell Scott ‘no’ on hi-speed rail, say he didn’t cut enough from budget

Thursday, February 10th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Tampa tea party activists Karen Jaroch, left, and Sharon Calvert

Tampa tea party activists Sharon Calvert and Karen Jaroch got a 30-minute meeting with Gov. Rick Scott today to tell him about their opposition to the state’s plans for high-speed rail.

The pair, who also attended a tea party rally in Eustis on Monday where Scott rolled out his first-ever budget, said the high-speed rail project is symbolic of wasteful government spending of taxpayers’ money. The federal government has given Florida $2.4 billion for the Tampa-Orlando project, which is expected to cost at least $2.6 billion.

That’s not included cost overruns typical of such projects, the tea partiers pointed out.

“We’ve got to stop the spending,” Calvert told reporters after the meeting with Scott.

As to Scott’s budget, in which he claims to have cut $4.62 billion but in reality reduced spending by closer to $3 billion, the tea partiers were relatively unimpressed.

“We don’t think it went far enough,” Janoch said.

Scott talks trade, hi-speed rail with Japanese foreign minister

Saturday, January 8th, 2011 by Dara Kam

On his fifth day on the job, Gov. Rick Scott met with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara at the Capitol to discuss trade and a controversial hi-speed rail project from Tampa to Orlando.

Maehara met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice-President Biden in Washington yesterday and arrived at the Florida Capitol with numerous aides and a Japanese press contingent in tow for the Saturday meeting.

Maehara requested the tete-a-tete, his aides said. His visit with Scott is his only official trip outside of the nation’s capital, according to aides.

The Japanese official, who formerly served as the country’s transportation minister, came to the Sunshine State primarily to pitch his country’s involvement in the high-speed rail project with Scott, who is dubious about the proposal.

After the meeting in his Capitol office, Scott made no mention of trains during a brief statement to the media. Instead, he stressed his desire to expand trade and draw more businesses to the Florida (Remember Scott’s pledge to bring 700,000 new jobs to the state in seven years).

“We had a wonderful meeting. We talked about how Japan and Florida can work together better and expand trade both in Florida and in Japan and, of course, the Foreign Minister knows about the great opportunity that both Japan has and Florida has in growing our relationship with Latin America,” Scott said.

House getting its act together?

Friday, December 4th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Lawmakers in the House are debating the 49-page proposal that would pave the way for a $2.2 billion Central Florida commuter rail system, create a statewide rail authority and keep Tri-Rail rolling.

GOP House leaders – who have been heated critics of President Barack Obama’s stimulus spending – say they’re doing all that to increase Florida’s chances of getting a slice of the $8 billion in federal stimulus funds for high-speed rail projects being doled out in January. The state’s applied for four projects totaling about $3.7 billion.

After 20 years of Tri-Rail’s operating in the red, why the rush to bail out the South Florida commuter line – the state’s only existing one – now?

Because U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said so.

“There’s a commitment at the federal level to get into the passenger rail business like it never has before,” LaHood told SunRail supporters in Orlando in October. “But, the only way it will pay off is if the State Legislature gets its act together.”

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