06/17/20

Useful Idiots, Inc.

By: Thomas Wigand | New Zeal

Cross-posted with FOTM

Corporations – with furloughed employees from sea-to-shining-sea – are falling all over themselves to massively expand their woke budgets and throw money at “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) and similar “social justice” organizations.

And massively means MASSIVELY: $565 million as of June 11, 2020, according to one report.  But as we’ll see, this money is not going toward addressing “systemic racism,” nor “inequality.”

But first, just imagine what all that money could accomplish if invested toward addressing the root causes, in a spirit of Black lives mattering, instead of hollow symbolism and racial jingoism of BLM.

Such as: monetarily supporting pro-life groups, that by definition oppose Planned Parenthood – which probably snuffs-out more Black lives in the average month than there have been police shootings since the founding of this country (including justified and non-justified police shootings).  Abortion is the leading root cause of premature death among Blacks.

Such as: monetarily organizations promoting the restoration of the nuclear family, including faith-based institutions, since illegitimacy has become rampant in the Black community, and is one of – if not the – single greatest root cause of future poverty.

Such as: monetarily supporting organizations providing vouchers or scholarships to private schools for Black youth – so that they can access to quality education that will help position them for future prosperity, instead of being trapped in the public education system. Lack of access to high-quality education is a root cause of continued poverty among Blacks. (See the documentary “Waiting for Superman” for a heart-wrenching depiction of Black mothers desperately seeking better educational opportunities for their children.)

It’s not genuine concern for Black lives mattering that’s driving the dollars from the woke corporations, but cynical racial virtue-signaling – merely a variation of a traditional PR or marketing campaigns intended to burnish the image of the corporation.

That, and succumbing to a de facto protection racket run by a woke mob – one that (amongst other things) threatens social media opprobrium for, e.g., “racism.”

(One of the woke mob’s recent self-serving, newspeak mantras being “Silence = Violence.” Meaning that if you don’t publicly kneel as a corporation and “donate” big moolah, your company is not just “racist,” but committing violence against the Black community.  Somehow.)

On a superficial level, this racial virtue signaling is a logical extension of the “Environmental, Social and Governance” (ESG) gambit currently in vogue amongst large corporations (more on ESG at some other time).  For now. suffice it to say that ESG is a sugar-coated way to inject a Progressive sheen into business operations, and so buy “approval” (and silence criticism against) for multinational corporations – even as they advance globalism, outsource jobs and undeservedly enrich executive management.

On a deeper level though, it’s much worse than that.

This election season’s recycling of the “White cops targeting unarmed Black men” is a classic propagandist’s big lie.  Therefore, the corporate “contributions” aren’t even helping to address an actual problem.  Instead, knowingly or unwittingly, these corporate executives are being duped.

So too with many marching in the streets who, despite good intentions, have fallen for the big lie – which is hardly their fault, as the Progressive media (nee “mainstream media”) is energetically propagating that big lie.  This helps explain why from the Left there’s a vehement reaction against anyone who dares question BLM.

In fact, BLM and its professed concerns are ruses calculated to advance a whole different agenda.

For one thing, evidence indicates that Black Lives Matter is actually a Marxist front group.

Not only that… there is also evidence that it is simultaneously serving as a front group laundering money for the Democrat Party and other Leftist (revolutionary) organizations.

As for the corporations and executives rushing headlong into the big lie, they should know better.  It’s obvious that they haven’t performed even cursory due diligence before allocating millions upon millions of dollars in shareholders’ money.

Query whether shareholder lawsuits might be viable (and successful) against such negligent and profligate executive leadership?

That, and perhaps FEC enforcement action, as there are now open questions regarding whether BLM was/is a conspiracy to evade federal campaign financing laws, e.g., as regards corporate campaign contributions and requirements to report the same.

Which begs the question: if indeed there is such a conspiracy, have some of these corporate executives been in on the plot?

And could the other executives subject themselves (and their corporations) to legal liability for serving as accessories to the plot, i.e., “they knew or should have known?”  Could not their negligent (if not intentional) failure to perform even cursory due diligence prior to “donating” to BLM also make them culpable?

Hello, RICO!

But over the longer term, a criminal charge might be the least of their worries.

These “woke” executives know not what they unleash.  Concentrating on their own self-enrichment – likely one factor in their using shareholder funds to appease the woke mob, so that they can go back to counting their stock options – these MBA’s are ignorant regarding the history of Leftist (Progressive) movements, particular how revolutions occur – and about the aftermath.

For instance, it seems safe to say that few if any of these corporate pooh-bahs have ever read The Gulag Archipelago.  Likely most of them, anxious to “do business in China,” have no conception of Mao’s genocide by famine, or more pertinent to present conditions in this country, his “Cultural Revolution.”

If they knew, the parallels to today would not require a spreadsheet to analyze.  Today’s “woke” corporate executives – along with academics and media personalities and many Democrat officeholders – are incurious and unquestioning lemmings following big lies over a cliff, after which they’re destined to experience a hard-landing into totalitarianism.  For many, if not most, that will prove fatal.

“Lead, follow, or line up against the wall!”

They are essentially spiritual descendants of the (Russian) Mensheviks, believing that they are the vanguard heralding in a better world, but naively and disastrously paving the way for a Bolshevik takeover.

Just look at the transformation of the Democrat Party from Truman / JFK to “community organizer” Barack Obama to now, home base for “the squad” and BLM and Antifa.  In the Leftist world, the radicals – who by nature are the more aggressive species – eventually displace the more moderate factions.  History shows this, over and over.

In what was to become the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” the Bolsheviks eliminated the no-longer-useful Mensheviks – many by middle-of-the-night disappearances, public show-trials and executions, and the remainder by transfer to an open-office design gulag.

The woke executives don’t realize that the people they are supporting today fully intend to eliminate them tomorrow.  This is not a new observation: “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Variously attributed to Lenin or Stalin, it is widely known for it rings true.

Consider, oh woke capitalists, that a few short years ago the “Occupy” movement was decrying your wealth (not without some justification, it must be observed).  Occupy was displaced by the Antifa arm of the Progressive movement; Antifa is openly spouting Communist dogma (not surprising, given that Antifa originated as a Communist group in the 1930s).

You woke executives are useful – for now – but for how long after the revolution (which they now openly espouse as their goal)?  Watch this video from the 1980s from an expert – a KGB defector – revealing Soviet (Communist) subversion techniques for precipitating a revolution, and notice how those techniques uncannily parallel what has been taking place in the U.S. over recent decades.

Then pay close attention toward the end of the video, when he mentions what the revolutionary leaders do to the “useful idiots” who made the revolution possible with their subversion, but are no longer necessary once the new power is in place. Hint: it involves people being stood up in front of walls and “assault weapons.”

Think it can never happen here?  The elders of the current movement were seriously planning for this very thing back in the 1960s!

This is America, so for now, at least you have every right to sell all the rope you want to the revolutionaries.  But as you do, you should consider renaming your company “Useful Idiots, Inc.”
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I am the author of the book Communiqués From the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy – a substantial work – available on Kindle (only $2.99) and in paperback (only $12.99). Please consider enjoying my work by purchasing and reading. Thank you.

04/28/20

Economic Shutdown is Bringing Americans Together Against Tyranny

By: Jason Brown | Gulag Bound

For those that are not students of history and not knowledgeable about the U.S. Constitution and our country’s founding, the general public view on most political issues tends to be dependent on one’s personal experiences or world view. Many people have a hard time relating to political issues that do not have a direct effect on them or their immediate family.

A disconnect seems to be present when there is no pain to reinforce the reality of the issue at hand. Let’s use the surveillance state that has been established in America piece by piece since 9/11. How many times have you heard someone say that they didn’t care if the government is spying on citizens because they haven’t done anything wrong? To those of us that pay attention, this is an obvious one-way ticket to serfdom. What would it take for this person to change their tune?

Remember that right and wrong in this era of big government is relative.  White is black, and black is white. What is good is evil and vice versa. The ideological force that is behind a local/state/federal government determines the extreme nature of the law and enforcement of that law. An example would be California, as they have criminal charges that coincide with a person using the wrong gender pronoun and offending someone. This was a result of legislation signed by former Governor Jerry Brown, and yes, it is real.

Let’s go back to the person that thinks that they are a model citizen and that government surveillance doesn’t affect them. Let’s say that this individual lives in a state that uses this surveillance technology and the state government decided that this individual was doing something that they do not condone in the confines of their own home and they responded with a 4 AM no-knock raid, that results in this person’s arrest and the death of his dog.  For the sake of this discussion, let’s say that this raid was a direct result of the state’s surveillance program as a drone was frequently left hovering outside this individual’s window documenting the said, “violation.” How do you think this will change this citizen’s opinion on the surveillance issue?

People seem to be OK with government snooping until the consequences of that snooping affect them directly.  It is sad that an otherwise reasonable person, with the ability to observe and think, cannot see the societal consequences of this government overreach. Have we become so collectively narcissistic, that we will sit and watch our neighbor suffer because we are doing fine and not suffering with them?

The reason why we are not sitting by and allowing this abuse that is on the table now, is because everyone seems to be directly affected by what is going on.  Millions of people are losing their jobs every week and not many people can say that they are not feeling the pinch.  That is one of the main reasons why we have such unity at this time. Almost everyone is feeling this one.

A great example of this is a post-war confession written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller.  This powerful piece demonstrates just how apt we are to stand by and allow terrible things to happen around us, as long as it doesn’t affect our world.

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

– Martin Niemöller

What makes this COVID-19 pandemic a significant event? It is not the virus itself and I don’t think it is the response, even though a global shutdown is unprecedented. In this particular case, it has been the American people coming together to stand against a common threat to our constitutional republic.

Seeing all of the protests in states that have revoked constitutional rights in the name of safety is reassuring and it has brought people together. We came together on 9/11 for a short time, but I feel this breeds a deeper connection between average people. A connection that is free of political posturing and shows just how we are different from the rest of the world.

Most people in the world would love the opportunity to stay home from work and get a government check to accommodate their needs.  Here in America, we take pride in a hard day’s work and we appreciate the fact that we have an opportunity to contribute part of ourselves to society.  Not with our money, but with our blood sweat and tears. This is American exceptionalism at its best.

04/15/20

Getting Back to Work and Back to Church

By: Cliff Kincaid

The Washington Post claims “constitutional experts” have “no idea” where President Trump got the idea that emergency powers give him the total authority to reopen the U.S. economy. It took me less than one minute to find a report from a liberal group, the Brennan Center, which noted that “the president has significant discretion to declare a national emergency” and “there are no statutory limitations, beyond the word ‘emergency’ itself, on what type of event qualifies.”

Does an economic depression constitute a special event requiring emergency action?  Do food shortages constitute a special event requiring emergency action? You betcha.

Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, under the National Emergencies Act, relating to the coronavirus. The Brennan Center found 123 statutory powers that are available to the president when he declares a national emergency.

The problem in America is not Trump but outlaw governors and mayors who have, in the case of Greenville, Mississippi, banned drive-in church services.

Critics of Trump who assert his claim of total authority is hogwash are ignoring what scholars call the “Emergency Law Regime.” Trump didn’t make this up. It’s been on the books for decades. Congress gave the president these powers. They are what political science professor Clinton Rossiter called the “Constitutional Dictatorship,” which is also the name of his 1948 book.

Presidents of the past using these powers have been swooned over by the liberals. One was Abraham Lincoln, who didn’t even have emergency powers granted by Congress. He simply exercised raw power. Another was FDR.

With the prospect of food shortages, in addition to massive unemployment, it’s very easy to see how President Trump can use these emergency powers to control and expand the national economy, including interstate commerce.  On Tuesday, he said he would rather work with the governors than order them around. But he made it clear he has the ultimate authority, and he’s right.

The liberal media are promoting the notion that Trump, if he acts to save jobs and the economy, would be a dictator or King. It seems the Post and its “experts” would rather leave the national economy in the hands of liberal governors who have closed down churches while keeping potheads addicted to marijuana they get from the “essential businesses” selling the dope. Liberal governors want people to remain in a fog, drunk or stoned, and not go to church. That makes them more susceptible to mindlessly accepting anti-Trump propaganda.

President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus without Congressional approval in 1861. But he’s a beloved president because he rescued the nation. Trump can rescue the nation without exercising Lincoln-like powers. He can use the emergency powers Congress gave him. These also include the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

Trump has not acted like a dictator. He has followed the law.

By contrast, some governors and mayors are acting like tyrants by ordering churches closed down and church members arrested or fined. But the liberal media don’t utter a peep. They would, however, probably scream to high heaven if the governors in their states shut down their pot shops and liquor stores.  These journalists, of course, have been designated as employees of “essential businesses” in the states, despite their open disdain for our constitutional system and the legitimate election of Donald J. Trump as president.

Trump has depended on the governors to exercise such power properly. Clearly, however, many governors have gone far beyond what is necessary. Trump can and should assert control over these outlaw governors. Many Americans would welcome federal intervention under these circumstances. They want to get back to work and get back to church.

Congress has never revoked national emergency powers, and it’s unlikely they would intervene, in voting to override an emergency declaration, to stop Trump from getting Americans back to work. Instead, Democrats will obstruct the legislative process of helping those forced out of their jobs through government action. As we have already seen, they are trying to use this crisis to add extreme left-wing agenda items, such as fraudulent mail-in voting, to financial stimulus legislation.

Trump, under current circumstances, is simply contemplating a decision to allow private businesses that have been closed down by the government to get back to work. There’s no legal basis on which to challenge his executive authority. In fact, he’s trying to restore a system of free enterprise, one of our birthrights as Americans.

Congress passed the Defense Production Act (DPA), under which Trump has ordered General Motors to make ventilators. This is acceptable, proper, and necessary.  Nobody disputes the president’s authority in this case. In fact, Democrats asked for it.

The DPA, according to the Congressional Research Service, “confers upon the President a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense.” Once again, we see wide latitude given to the president. Since the law refers explicitly to “production,” it is easy to see how it could be used to justify a presidential decision to get the United States back to work. Trump would simply have to justify the decision as critical to the national security posture of the United States and in the “national interest.” Various sections of the Defense Production Act, such as “Strengthening domestic capability,” are open-ended.

One of the objectives, as mandated by Congress in the Federal Reserve Act is promoting maximum employment. The president can and should declare that to be his objective as well. It’s difficult to see how the “progressives” would argue with that, unless of course it serves them politically to have people out of work, miserable, and starving. If that’s the case, then they are consciously serving the interests of the country which spawned the virus, Communist China.

Cliff Kincaid is president of America’s Survival, Inc. www.usasurvival.org.

04/14/20

Make the Whole Nation an Opportunity Zone

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Having just interviewed for a radio segment, Joel Griffith, an economic expert at the Heritage Foundation, I was motivated to draft this piece about how America re-opens and what will America look like in the coming years.

Years ago, during the genesis of the dot com era, companies across the nation were launching incubation centers where innovation, creators and entrepreneurs were mobilized to advance business opportunities across all industries. Governments at all levels should get out of the way with stifling red tape, permits, fees, regulations, taxes and other bureaucratic measures to unleash business transformations.

So, Joel answered that the whole nation should be an opportunity zone where we used incubation centers… same thing.

Just about to collect some thoughts on this article, here comes an email from my favorite law firm, The Pacific Legal Foundation. The firm just published an economic recovery action plan. This plan is a framework that quite useful in supporting the notions of a nationwide economic zone policy or incubation centers.

The plan has 4 simple steps but each one is profound to the principles of economic restoration and practical.

  1. Liberate Healthcare
  2. Embrace Entrepreneurs
  3. Protect Property Rights
  4. Get Bureaucrats out of the Way

As the Trump Administration has gathered political and business professionals for the Economic Restoration Council that includes an estimated 100 business personnel from countless industries, the new guidance will be shared with all 50 governors to use as a framework to reopen their respective states. This is a perfect moment in time to consider and deploy a revolution in ideas, resources and to eliminate vulnerabilities in the whole society such that lessons learned can produce new skill sets and advanced solutions to encourage small businesses across sectors.

How to Be an Entrepreneur in Top 5 Easy Steps - Ejournalz

The marketplace is sure to change not only for America but across the globe as these discussions with unleashed imaginations are sure to alter everyday commerce, education, healthcare, national security, communications, hospitality, entertainment and perhaps even legislation.

New disciplines in our culture may include creative new breakthroughs taken from lessons learned due to this pandemic and self-distancing. Where do ideas come from? They begin with discussions to questions we have all asked like: Why don’t we have… How come no one has invented… How did we get here… What do we do now… How do we make sure this does not happen again…

Our country is in distress so the bigger question that should be asked is how do we succeed as an individual, a family and as a business. Rewards are great when one has planned for risks and strategies during any type of crisis. Self-management and that of all business is the purposeful task of a systematic strategy that fosters mood, creativity, production, perception, and opportunities.

The ‘opportunity zones’ in place today in all 50 states are derived from the TCJA, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Sounds great, however, OZ’s leave behind or omits innovation across all regions. Investment capital generally is habitually applied to known and or proven commercial models, brushing aside venture concepts that take risks unknown and unproven that with some development can be the next Fortune 500 success story.

Breaking Down the Benefits of Investing in the Opportunity ...

The Opportunity Zone concept must be considered in all framework guidance coming from the federal government to the state and local governments to restart the nation, economic liberty, grow the GDP, improve the employment landscape and realize financial victory at all levels.

03/24/20

Democrats Counter-Proposal for Covid Stimulus Spending

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

The disgusting political pork, poison politics of the left are on full display. If for nothing else, we have learned another level of the nasty appropriations injected into crisis spending. This should never be overlooked or forgotten as we go to vote.

If you can stand to read the Democrats 1119 page fleecing of the taxpayer, click here.

If not, here is the Cliff note list which is hardly all of the items, but you get the idea:

  • $33,200,000 for NOAA to get new facilities for operations and research.
  • $100,000,000 for NASA and $100,000,000 for construction and compliance.
  • $278,000,000 to the IRS for taxpayer services.
  • $90,000,000 for yet another HIV program.
  • $36,000,000 for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
  • $7,000,000 for one, ONE Washington DC Charter School called Gallaudet University.
  • $23,000,000 handout to Howard University AND $647,000,000 endowment to Howard University.
  • $300,000,000 to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
  • $500,000,000 for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
  • $1,000,000 for the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Doorkeeper of the Senate.
  • $300,000,000 for Migration and Refugee Assistance.
  • $22,000,000 for the Expansion of Use of Minority Banks and Minority Credit Unions.
  • $300,000,000 to Expand Emergency Food Assistance Programs.
  • $40,000,000 for a new division, the Oversight and Accountability Transparency Committee dedicated to coronavirus.
  • $35,000,000 for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • $300,000,000 to the National Endowment of the Arts.
  • $300,000,000 for the National Endowment of the Humanities.

Add in the following as noted by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas):

  • Removing all current debt of the US Postal Service.
  • Monies for more REQUIRED early voting, same-day voter registration AND registering to vote abilities via Internet registration.
  • Removing off the top $10,000 for every person holding a student loan.
  • Any U.S. corporation accepting Federal government assistance must have 1/3 of their board members chosen by their own employees.
  • Additional provisions for official time for union collective bargaining.
  • The full offset of airline emissions by 2025.
  • Each airline flight must report greenhouse gas statistics (carbon output) of individual flights.
  • Retirement benefits for community newspaper employees.
  • Any and all corporations accepting federal government assistance must pay all employees a minimum wage of $15/hr.
  • Permanent paid leave for all corporations receiving federal assistance.
  • Expansion of wind and solar tax credits.
  • Election Assistance Commission.

Now understand how the items referring to domestic corporations is actually a quid pro quo or rather extortion or rather nationalizing corporations in America.

Now this list, while being somewhat abbreviated, is not something just recently concocted by Democrats for this pending spending bill… consider these are items that have been sitting on the wish list for quite some time and these items are just like those that get injected into spending legislation all the time at the last minute when members of Congress get 30 minutes or less to read bills before they vote.

Pelosi’s $2.5 Trillion Virus Bill Delays Mortgage, Car Payments

For those in the many domestic industries affected by being shuttered due to governor decrees, remember the hold up in financial stability, jobs and loans sit squarely in the lap of the Democrats led completely by the master legislator… Speaker Nancy Pelosi, third in line to the presidency. Scary… no terrifying.

03/10/20

California Bullet Train, Shut-up About Fleecing the Government

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Exactly how come Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein have nothing to say? Pelosi? Nah…

When Mark Styles was hired in October 2018 to help oversee Central Valley scheduling for the California bullet train, he soon learned he had walked into a mess.

California officials knew all along bullet train wouldn't ...

Over the previous half-decade the project had repeatedly fallen behind schedule, and the cost by 2018 had jumped from $64 billion to $77 billion in two years.

California is Building High-Speed Rail | High Speed Rail ...

A core problem was the project’s operating culture, in which managers for WSP, the bullet train’s lead consultant, threatened to punish or terminate employees if they failed to toe the company line, Styles said.

“I was told to shut up and not say anything,” said Styles, a career construction manager who was hired as WSP’s senior supervisory scheduler in the project’s Fresno office. “I was told that I didn’t understand the political arena the project was in. I told them I am not going to shut up. This is my job.”

The atmosphere described by Styles has been corroborated by a half dozen current and former senior officials knowledgeable about the project’s Fresno office.

The officials say it helps explain why California’s high-speed rail endeavor has barreled ahead for more than a decade, despite warnings it was structured on risky assumptions and could run out of money before any trains operate.

WSP spokeswoman Denise Turner Roth rejected Styles’ claims. “We always work carefully with our client to evaluate the demands of each project and to prepare realistic and transparent recommendations regarding schedule and budget,” she said.

But other ex-WSP employees in the Fresno office, including engineer Vera Lovejoy and project controls coordinator Todd Bilstein, say they were also discouraged from sharing bad news with bosses.

“I wanted the project to succeed,” said Lovejoy, who left the project in 2019 after one year. “I was eager to help deliver it. But I couldn’t stay. If you rock the boat, you are labeled as not a team player.”

Bilstein also left in 2019 after a nine-month tenure.

“If I was to give a talk at a construction conference, I would say they were not following generally accepted project management principles,” he said. The company’s failures, he said, ran the gamut of estimating costs, scheduling construction and managing change orders.

“Revealing bad news was discouraged,” he added. “I just couldn’t continue to work there. I don’t work that way. American professionals don’t work that way.”

Styles, who has no lawsuit or other legal claims, is also no longer with WSP. He left in November, calling it “the worst job of my career,” and moved to a new construction job out of state.

Brian Kelly, chief executive of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said in a statement that the agency “takes seriously any claim of wrongdoing by an employee or contractor. We have procedures in place for any such claim to be raised and reviewed. We have an expectation that all employees act within the law and that our contractors meet the requirements of state and federal law.”

He added in an interview, “Our focus is on the mission in front of us.”

In the last half-year, Kelly has moved to make changes in his organization’s culture, replacing numerous middle-level management officials, orchestrating more documentation for its plans and vowing to improve transparency in the agency operations.

WSP and Parsons Brinckerhoff, which merged in 2014, have been on the project since the 1990s. The Montreal firm, one of the largest infrastructure engineering organizations, is working under a $666-million contract. When he arrived at the project’s Fresno office, Styles said, he found a dysfunctional operation like he had never seen before — a pressured environment that aimed to contain bad news that could damage the project’s fortunes.

At the time, the rail authority was confronting delay claims, resulting from its slow acquisition of land, and change orders — both amounting to millions of dollars in higher costs.

Within days, he asked to see the detailed justification documents for the change orders. He said he wanted to understand the delays and how they would affect future construction, a routine part of a scheduler’s job.

WSP management, he said, told him that he didn’t need to see the documents. WSP was pushing to “keep the numbers looking good,” which in some cases involved altering reports written by its staff to make construction progress look better, he alleges.

Styles and other sources speaking off the record say that the bullet train schedule, which calls for installing 119 miles of track and a complex signal system from Madera to Wasco by 2022, is “impossible,” even though the project’s budget is predicated on the completion date.

To install track by 2022 would normally require all of the bridges, viaducts, trenches and other structures to be completed beforehand. As a stopgap measure, the rail authority now plans to install tracks in five-mile discontinuous segments, which the Federal Railroad Administration has criticized as illogical.

A more likely scenario would have the current construction completed between 2025 and 2028, which would drive costs up and force the state to either find new money or curtail the project, Styles and others said.

Rail authority spokeswoman Annie Parker said the agency has acknowledged repeatedly that “the deadline is a challenge.” It will require boosting monthly construction spending from the current $46 million to $70 million, said chief financial officer Brian Annis, who added that its construction pace is improving.

Sylmar-based Tutor Perini, which is building rail structures in Madera and Fresno counties, said a week ago it will complete its work in 2023. The company’s contract was initially $1 billion, but delay claims and change orders have doubled the amount.

Chief Executive Ron Tutor told security analysts in a recorded telephone call on Feb. 26, “With our extending the completion date from the end of ’21 to the first quarter of ’23, once again, we are in discussions with the owner to resolve payment for that further delay. However, it seems certain that given all of the results and resolves over the last 90 days that that should be the final end date for high-speed rail.”

It would mean that the rail authority could not begin to install track and signals until after that construction is completed.

When The Times asked the rail authority if it had commented on Tutor’s statement, it received an email Friday from Tutor saying his statement to investors had caused “some confusion.” He said that he hopes that “substantial completion” of his company’s work would occur in early 2022, leaving “paperwork, acceptances and contractual documentation” to be completed early in 2023.

Turning around the multibillion-dollar project has proved difficult for years, given California’s complex governance structure, flawed contracts, and past decisions, officials close to the project say. Executives in civil engineering firms say the rail authority lacks technical resources.

Exactly how come Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein have nothing to say? Pelosi? Nah…

When Mark Styles was hired in October 2018 to help oversee Central Valley scheduling for the California bullet train, he soon learned he had walked into a mess.

California officials knew all along bullet train wouldn’t … source

Over the previous half decade the project had repeatedly fallen behind schedule, and the cost by 2018 had jumped from $64 billion to $77 billion in two years.

California is Building High-Speed Rail | High Speed Rail …

A core problem was the project’s operating culture, in which managers for WSP, the bullet train’s lead consultant, threatened to punish or terminate employees if they failed to toe the company line, Styles said.

“I was told to shut up and not say anything,” said Styles, a career construction manager who was hired as WSP’s senior supervisory scheduler in the project’s Fresno office. “I was told that I didn’t understand the political arena the project was in. I told them I am not going to shut up. This is my job.”

The atmosphere described by Styles has been corroborated by a half dozen current and former senior officials knowledgeable about the project’s Fresno office.

The officials say it helps explain why California’s high-speed rail endeavor has barreled ahead for more than a decade, despite warnings it was structured on risky assumptions and could run out of money before any trains operate.

WSP spokeswoman Denise Turner Roth rejected Styles’ claims. “We always work carefully with our client to evaluate the demands of each project and to prepare realistic and transparent recommendations regarding schedule and budget,” she said.

But other ex-WSP employees in the Fresno office, including engineer Vera Lovejoy and project controls coordinator Todd Bilstein, say they were also discouraged from sharing bad news with bosses.

“I wanted the project to succeed,” said Lovejoy, who left the project in 2019 after one year. “I was eager to help deliver it. But I couldn’t stay. If you rock the boat, you are labeled as not a team player.”

Bilstein also left in 2019 after a nine-month tenure.

“If I was to give a talk at a construction conference, I would say they were not following generally accepted project management principles,” he said. The company’s failures, he said, ran the gamut of estimating costs, scheduling construction and managing change orders.

“Revealing bad news was discouraged,” he added. “I just couldn’t continue to work there. I don’t work that way. American professionals don’t work that way.”

Styles, who has no lawsuit or other legal claims, is also no longer with WSP. He left in November, calling it “the worst job of my career,” and moved to a new construction job out of state.

Brian Kelly, chief executive of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said in a statement that the agency “takes seriously any claim of wrongdoing by an employee or contractor. We have procedures in place for any such claim to be raised and reviewed. We have an expectation that all employees act within the law and that our contractors meet the requirements of state and federal law.”

He added in an interview, “Our focus is on the mission in front of us.”

In the last half year, Kelly has moved to make changes in his organization’s culture, replacing numerous middle-level management officials, orchestrating more documentation for its plans and vowing to improve transparency in the agency operations.

WSP and Parsons Brinckerhoff, which merged in 2014, have been on the project since the 1990s. The Montreal firm, one of the largest infrastructure engineering organizations, is working under a $666-million contract. When he arrived at the project’s Fresno office, Styles said, he found a dysfunctional operation like he had never seen before — a pressured environment that aimed to contain bad news that could damage the project’s fortunes.

At the time, the rail authority was confronting delay claims, resulting from its slow acquisition of land, and change orders — both amounting to millions of dollars in higher costs.

Within days, he asked to see the detailed justification documents for the change orders. He said he wanted to understand the delays and how they would affect future construction, a routine part of a scheduler’s job.

WSP management, he said, told him that he didn’t need to see the documents. WSP was pushing to “keep the numbers looking good,” which in some cases involved altering reports written by its staff to make construction progress look better, he alleges.

Styles and other sources speaking off the record say that the bullet train schedule, which calls for installing 119 miles of track and a complex signal system from Madera to Wasco by 2022, is “impossible,” even though the project’s budget is predicated on the completion date.

To install track by 2022 would normally require all of the bridges, viaducts, trenches and other structures to be completed beforehand. As a stopgap measure, the rail authority now plans to install track in five-mile discontinuous segments, which the Federal Railroad Administration has criticized as illogical.

A more likely scenario would have the current construction completed between 2025 and 2028, which would drive costs up and force the state to either find new money or curtail the project, Styles and others said.

Rail authority spokeswoman Annie Parker said the agency has acknowledged repeatedly that “the deadline is a challenge.” It will require boosting monthly construction spending from the current $46 million to $70 million, said chief financial officer Brian Annis, who added that its construction pace is improving.

Sylmar-based Tutor Perini, which is building rail structures in Madera and Fresno counties, said a week ago it will complete its work in 2023. The company’s contract was initially $1 billion, but delay claims and change orders have doubled the amount.

Chief Executive Ron Tutor told security analysts in a recorded telephone call on Feb. 26, “With our extending the completion date from the end of ’21 to the first quarter of ’23, once again, we are in discussions with the owner to resolve payment for that further delay. However, it seems certain that given all of the results and resolves over the last 90 days that that should be the final end date for high-speed rail.”

It would mean that the rail authority could not begin to install track and signals until after that construction is completed.

When The Times asked the rail authority if it had comment on Tutor’s statement, it received an email Friday from Tutor saying his statement to investors had caused “some confusion.” He said that he hopes that “substantial completion” of his company’s work would occur in early 2022, leaving “paperwork, acceptances and contractual documentation” to be completed in early in 2023.

Turning around the multibillion-dollar project has proved difficult for years, given California’s complex governance structure, flawed contracts and past decisions, officials close to the project say. Executives in civil engineering firms say the rail authority lacks technical resources.

“They have all these people in top jobs with no technical background,” said a top executive at a major European engineering firm, who worked on the project. “They are politicians. They never disclose the full cost. They give you incremental truth. They believe that is a successful business model. They should cancel the contracts and start over.”

The Federal Railroad Administration, which oversees billions of dollars in grants, has long warned the rail authority it risked missing deadlines and was headed for big cost overruns. In December 2016, the FRA warned the statethat the cost of the Central Valley construction could jump by $3.6 billion. After The Times obtained a copy of the confidential report and published its findings, the rail authority denied the legitimacy of the analysis. Today, the cost is even higher than the FRA projected.

WSP said it stands by the job it is doing for the bullet train. “To the extent WSP prepares cost and schedule estimates for the program as a whole, WSP brings world-class talent to the project that prepare professional estimates based on client needs and the information available when generated,” Turner Roth said.

Styles said he was shut out of work not long after taking the job at WSP, though the company did not fire him. Over many months, Styles, who was being paid $170,000 annually, said he kept advising management about the problems and writing procedures for contract compliance.

In a Facebook posting in June, Styles wrote that he had been warned by a co-worker “to be careful” and “you know too much” and to take a lower profile. “I’d rather be dead than a coward,” he wrote.

Styles filed an ethics complaint against his former employer in June, which was examined by a management committee in Chicago. “The committee concluded there was no proof that WSP violated ethics with the state,” he said.

Turner Roth said, “In 2019, an employee — who has since left the company — raised a question about the schedule data submitted to WSP by the construction managers and construction contractors. In response to this question, WSP thoroughly investigated the matter, and concluded there was no wrongful conduct by WSP employees in their review of contractor submissions.”

As for Lovejoy, whose career includes engineering jobs at major public agencies and corporations, she said problems started more a decade ago when the Obama administration issued a $2.5-billion grant from its economic stimulus program, intended for “shovel-ready projects.”

The grant came about four years before the first construction contract was issued, and actual work did not begin for two more years. “It was so far from shovel-ready,” Lovejoy said.

Another former WSP employee, who spoke anonymously out of concern that he would face retribution, supported Styles’ assertion that monthly and annual reports submitted by staff often were changed by WSP management before they were reviewed in meetings and sent to state executives.

“We gave them the bad news and they wouldn’t accept it,” he said.

The Times has previously reported that the project has struggled to relocate pipes, electrical lines and other infrastructure that stands in the way of securing parcels and laying track. Today, the rail authority is short by 497 of the 2,042 parcels it needs, according to its most recent progress report. In December, the authority acquired only five parcels.

In late 2018, Hemanth Kundeti, a database manager, was hired into the project to help improve property records, but he lasted only several months.

Kundeti, an employee of a subconsultant to WSP, said he developed his own software tool that could track the work more accurately. It would have allowed the state to replace a subcontractor that was charging $2 million annually to maintain the records, he said.

When he proposed the tool to WSP and state officials, it was rejected. In February 2019, he was twice reprimanded for “insubordination” for continuing to promote his software, according to a copy of the reprimand. In response, he wrote on his warning letter that management “without healthy debate is dangerous for any organization.” He was terminated a few weeks later.

“I am still reeling from the after-effects of being terminated for trying to save taxpayers’ money from being wasted,” said Kundeti, who has found a new job.