California high-speed rail opponents likely to appeal ruling
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Opponents of California's bullet train said they are likely to appeal a judge's ruling Monday that will let the state spend about $1.25 billion in voter-approved bond money, rather than taking up the judge's offer to refile the lawsuit.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei rejected opponents' latest lawsuit aimed at blocking California's $64 billion high-speed rail project.
The judge ruled that the lawsuit is premature. But he amended the tentative ruling he issued last month to allow opponents to refile the lawsuit with different legal arguments.
Attorney Stuart Flashman said he will recommend that his clients, which include Kings County and the town of Atherton, challenge the judge's final ruling instead of refiling as Cadei suggested.
The California High Speed Rail Authority has won a series of legal battles, allowing the project to move forward even though long-term funding remains uncertain.
Flashman said the appeal would argue that Cadei misunderstood the legal challenge.
"Why waste time?" Flashman said. "He's bought the authority's argument that the only way we can challenge this is to challenge the final approval by the head of the Department of Finance....We think that's wrong."
That approval cleared the way for last month's bond sale.
The lawsuit that Cadei rejected challenges AB1889, signed into law last year by high-speed rail proponent Gov. Jerry Brown. Opponents argue that it unconstitutionally allows high-speed rail bonds to be spent on the electrification of 55 miles of track from south of San Jose to San Francisco.
Lawmakers illegally went beyond what California voters approved in 2008 when they agreed to nearly $10 billion in high-speed rail funding, opponents argue.
Cadei previously ruled that the change is still within the broad outlines of what voters approved.
Rail authority spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley did not immediately comment on the judge's final ruling.