If it’s “private” why remove a public funding prohibition?

Closed door meeting, and why?

“North American High Speed Rail Group” I don’t see a lobbyist principal registration. Joe Sperber, Chuck Michael… don’t see lobbyist registrations for them either. And who else is missing?

And if it’s private investors, why do Rep. Drazkowski, Rep. Garafolo, Rep. Norton, and Sen. Senjem think there needs to be any legislation?  What’s the bill for?  Why would government need to be involved?  Oh… right… because they want to lift the prohibition of public money being used, yeah, that’s it… If it’s private development, why lift the ban? How could that possibly be made worthwhile for these legislators? And how is that in the public interest?!?!?!

From the video:

“Representative Pat Garafolo reached an agreement with the group…”

“Rochester lawmakers are concerned about a law prohibiting public money being used on the Zip Rail, and think a public/private partnership might be a better route.”

Say what?!?!

Here’s the video:

And in the Post Bulletin:

Long rail ahead for private rail developer

From the article:
During an interview after the meeting, North American’s CEO and president, Joe Sperber, said the company believes it can do something that has never been done in the United States before —privately build and operate a high-speed rail system. The key to making the plan a success is that it would not rely simply on the rail. Instead, Sperber said the project would including economic development tied into the project.

“Rail by itself isn’t always going to be economically viable, so you look at rail, you look at real estate development and then you look at the economic development that comes out of all of that,” he said.

Also from KTTC in Rochester, which identifies Joe Sperber as a wheeler-dealer on this project (what’s his interest?):

State legislators meet with business proposing privately funded Zip Rail plan

Ali Killam

Mar 20, 2015 8:55 a.m.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) – Days after the announcement of a privately-funded plan to build a Zip Rail line from Rochester to the Twin Cities, state and local officials got some answers on Thursday. In a private meeting, business leaders expressed their seriousness in pursuing an idea that has been in the making for years.

The North American High Speed Rail Group got in front of lawmakers in St. Paul to reveal its plans moving forward with the rail line, without eminent domain, or the use of taxpayer dollars. It’s an idea that seems almost too good to be true, but it’s one many legislators are on board with.

“They really are serious about a privately run rail in the state of Minnesota,” said State Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester.

In a closed door meeting, NAHSR Group got out from behind the rumor mill and in front of state and local leaders to discuss its plan for an elevated Zip Rail linking the Med City to the Twin Cities.

“The corridors had a lot of great work done already in it,” said NAHSR CEO & President, Joe Sperber. “So, I think the need, the justification, the opportunity is there.”

Currently, the Highway 52 corridor seems to be the most viable option to both business leaders and legislators. It would be done without a cent of taxpayer funding and has lawmakers ready to help clear the path for rail tracks.

“We’ll be developing a bill that will protect the public’s interest, while respecting the ability of any private venture to go forward,” said State Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa.

However, not everyone is on board. Many concerned homeowners along the proposed rail route questioned the economic advantage for their communities and if the plan would encroach on their property.

The NAHSR group has vowed to take as little land as possible while providing economic opportunity.

“If you don’t get a stop, you might get some opportunity to get some of the other economic development that comes along with the rail, such as operations and maintenance bases and things like that,” said Sperber.

The rail still has many kinks to be worked out along the way, but lawmakers are ready to get the wheels turning.

“You link these two powerful research institutions, Mayo Clinic and the university, and these two powerful economic engines of the state together,” said Norton. “I think it’s pretty mind blowing.”

The group’s first environmental impact study should be completed by the end of the year, but other feasibility studies and permits also have to be completed. Norton said the group would most likely be leasing state land to build the Zip Rail. Sperber also points out the rail would be able to withstand any kind of weather, so Minnesotans fearing wintry impacts have nothing to worry about.

If all goes as planned, the group would like to see the Zip Rail operating by 2023 and transporting passengers between the two cities in approximately 30 minutes.

One Response to ““Private” Zip Rail… yeah, right…”

  1. Alan Muller Says:

    Seems like all the real government business in Minnesota is done behind closed doors.

    I cannot imagine that a privately-funded Zip Rail project could be profitable for investors. Something is fishy here.

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