The Commonwealth Club of California presents a panel discussion on High Speed Rail: The future of the Fast Track. Prior to recent changes in the High Speed Rail Authority’s proposal for the controversial, multi-billion dollar project, critics had labeled prospects for high speed rail in California a “train to nowhere.” With a reduction in price tag of almost $30 billion and a new plan for connecting the Bay Area to Los Angeles, the project is regaining some traction. Given the political, financial and social climate surrounding the high speed rail project, what is the best approach going forward? Our panelists will provide a broad-based long- and short-term economic analysis of California’s high speed rail project and discuss lessons learned from systems already in operation worldwide."
Will Kempton is the chief executive officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), serving in the position since 2009.
The OCTA is responsible for planning, financing and coordinating Orange County's freeway, street and rail development as well as managing bus services, commuter-rail services and paratransit service. OCTA has 1,500 employees, a $1.1 billion annual budget and is governed by a 17-voting member board of directors.
Prior to joining OCTA, Kempton was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the director of the California Department of Transportation. For five years, he oversaw a nearly $14 billion budget and 22,000 employees, and was responsible for managing the daily operations of California's transportation system, including more than 50,000 miles of highways. Kempton also has served as the City of Folsom's assistant city manager for community services and was a member of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission for eight years.
Kempton's career has spanned nearly 40 years in transportation, public service and government affairs. He is recognized as an authority on public infrastructure financing, sales-tax programs and project delivery. He is known for his results-oriented leadership style, his consensus approach to problem solving and for developing innovative solutions in order to achieve positive outcomes.
Samer Madanat is the Xenel Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and the Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
He received a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Jordan in 1986, and a M.S and Ph.D. in Transportation Systems from MIT in 1988 and 1991 respectively.
His research and teaching interests are in the area of Transportation Infrastructure Management, with an emphasis on modeling facility performance and the development of optimal management policies under uncertainty. He has published extensively in refereed archival journals and conference proceedings.
In 2000, he received the Science and Technology grant from the University of California Office of the President, an award given annually to one faculty member in the UC system. From 2001 to 2011, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems. Several of his former students are faculty members at universities in the US and abroad.
Dr. Ian Mitroff is widely regarded as the founder of the discipline of crisis management. He specializes in crisis prevention, strategic planning, and the design of ethical work environments. Known for his thinking and writing on a wide range of business and societal issues, Dr. Mitroff has published over 350 papers and articles and 29 books, including Swans, Swine, and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of Mega-Crises and Mega-Messes and Why Some Companies Emerge Stronger And Better From A Crisis.
He is a frequent guest on national radio and television shows, including "Marketplace" (National Public Radio), "Window On Wall Street" (CNN Financial News), the "Dick Cavett Show" (CNBC, New York), and "Late Night America" (PBS TV).
Dr. Mitroff is Professor Emeritus at the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, an Adjunct Professor in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley, and an Adjunct Professor of Health Policy in the School of Public Health at St. Louis University. He is also a Senior Research Associate for Catastrophic Risk Management at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. He is the president and founder of Mitroff Crisis Management.
Paul Saffo is a forecaster and strategist with over two decades experience exploring long-term technological change and its practical impact on business and society. He was initiated into the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus in 2000 and is chairman of the Most Important Committee.
Saffo is Chairman of the Samsung Science Board, and serves on a variety of other boards and advisory panels, including the Stanford Advisory Council on Science, Technology and Society, and the Long Now Foundation, as well as the boards of several public and pre-public companies located the United States and abroad. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and has served as an advisor and Forum Fellow to the World Economic Forum, which in the late 1990s named Saffo one of its "100 Global Leaders For Tomorrow."
Futurist Paul Saffo argues against skepticism aimed at the creation of a California high speed rail system. Citing the Golden Gate Bridge's construction during the Great Depression, he posits that California was built on such "bold moves" and large public investments.