Pete Marovich / McClatchy-Tribune

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, chairman of a subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials, wasn’t happy that federal administrator Joseph Szabo missed a hearing.

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  • Election watch

    The Silicon Valley investor proposing to carve California into six states has parked a chunk of his money behind the nascent effort. Tim Draper, a Republican venture capitalist, donated $750,000 to his own cause, state records show. Draper’s Six Californias include a northern state of Jefferson, North California, Central California, Silicon Valley, West California and South California. Draper must collect 807,615 signatures by July 18. If approved by voters, the proposal would then need an OK from Congress.

    – Christopher Cadelago

The Buzz: Denham to rail agency chief: Call me, maybe?

Published: Saturday, Mar. 1, 2014 - 12:00 am

Lawmaker gets into it

with railroad regulator

Sparks flew briefly at a House of Representatives hearing Wednesday, the first in Congress to examine a series of recent rail accidents.

It began with some unfinished business between Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, who chairs the rail subcommittee, and Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo.

Denham scolded Szabo for not showing up at a hearing last month on California’s beleaguered high-speed rail program.

Denham said he’d delayed the high-speed rail hearing by six weeks to accommodate Szabo’s schedule, which included his agency’s investigation of a rail crash in New York.

Denham blamed Szabo for delaying the hearing on rail safety.

“You’ve held up our committee based on your schedule,” Denham said.

Szabo responded that he’d agreed to testify on Jan. 14, but the hearing was changed to Jan. 15.

“I let you know I would not be available,” he said.

Denham said he only found out through a press release.

“You’ve got my cellphone,” he said.

“I don’t,” Szabo replied, “but I’d be happy to take it from you.”

– Curtis Tate

Worth repeating

“We’re distracted all the time. If our distractions cause us to drive erratically, we should be arrested for driving erratically.”

STEVEN SPRIGGS, Fresno driver who won appeal of fine for looking at a map on his phone.

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