The little people in California are being screwed again. No surprise there, really, though this is a little more blatant than usual. Consider:
– California, under Jerry Brown's “leadership,” decides to build a high-speed railroad. Not between two cities that could conceivably need such a thing, as California has no such pair of cities. Not even between two large cities, as we can't possibly raise the gargantuan sums required to do this. No, instead we're building a high-speed “demonstration” railroad that has no intent of actually making sense. It's just a way to muster the political will to get this turkey started.
– The job is put out for bid under a set of rules designed to balance technical merit and price. Fair enough. But the initial set of rules would have eliminated the California-based firm Tutor Perini, along with a Swedish firm. So the California High-Speed Rail Authority quietly, secretly changed the rules in mid-process, to allow Tutor Perini's bid to be considered.
– Tutor Perini was declared the winner. Their bid was the lowest price (by a wide margin), and also scored the lowest on technical merit (also by a wide margin). Something to note: Tutor Perini has been frequently accused of “lowballing” their bids – deliberately submitting unreasonably low bids to win, then finding ways to jack up the price as the job proceeds. In fact, they have been remarkably successful at doing so.
Now the part where we get screwed: the principal owner of Tutor Perini is Richard Blum. If you don't know that name, you will most likely recognized the name of his wife: Diane Feinstein, one of our California Senators. The political operators would say here that the optics look bad. I say something else: there's no way this happened without corruption, however subtle and soft.
A whole bunch of politicians.
Some assembly required.