Clients of Pringle Have High-Speed Rail Interests

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California High Speed Rail Authority chairman Curt Pringle has been an adviser to a large construction supply firm that owns property along proposed routes for the $43 billion rail project, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

Pringle, who also is the mayor of Anaheim and serves on the Orange County Transportation Authority board, has been under pressure, along with fellow High Speed Rail Authority board member Richard Katz, to step down from his local positions under the state’s “incompatible” offices statute.

The Times said Pringle and his clients said they had not discussed high-speed rail issues.

The clients are:

  • The City of Industry, which opposes a high speed rail line that might interfere with freight routes running through the city.
  • Vulcan Materials, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of sand, gravel and other aggregate used in construction, which hopes to win contracts with the rail project and also is concerned with protecting the commercial value of property it holds along possible routes in Los Angeles and San Diego, the Times reported.
  • Sacramento-based heavy-construction giant Teichert Inc., which donated $25,000 to the 2008 campaign in which voters approved $9 billion in state funds for high-speed rail.

The Times said:

Now, Teichert is looking to win high-speed rail work and possibly supply construction materials, said Bert Somers, the firm’s estimating manager. “I’ll be bidding the work,” he said. Pringle said he sees no conflict in Teichert’s prospective interest in the project. And his firm consults on unrelated property evaluation issues, he said.

The Times also reported:

In July, Pringle joined a vote approving a key report refining potential routes on the Los Angeles-to-Palmdale segment of the line, where Vulcan interests include “potentially significant” disruption of a Canyon Country mining operation and development plans for that land, authority records show.

In an interview, Pringle said he wasn’t aware the firm had lodged concerns about the project. He said he would seek legal advice on Vulcan’s interest. “You’ve brought some things to my attention,” he told a reporter. “I need to ask those questions, and I will.”

Katz’s clients include Disneyland, which strongly backs the high-speed-rail plan. Katz is from Los Angeles and sits on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metrolink boards, in addition to the High Speed Rail Authority.

Both Pringle and Katz are former influential members of the state Legislature.

The Times said members of other state boards, like the Public Utilities Commission or Coastal Commission, are required to publicly announce when they have a conflict before their agency begins deliberation on an issue.

The member with the conflict also must leave the room during debate and voting. But the newspaper said the 2002 state law that requires the public disclosure overlooked the then-small High Speed Rail Authority.

— TRACY WOOD

 

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