A conservative Fresno assemblyman may have a friend in a Bay Area Democrat running for state office.

Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) has made his displeasure with the high-speed rail project well known. He’s called it fraud, foolishness, and phony.

Earlier this month, Patterson renewed his calls for the state to conduct an audit of the rail project. He asked for emergency measures from the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to look into high-speed rail’s finances and ability to complete the project. The first leg is supposed to connect Fresno to the Bay Area.

“We owe it to the people to demonstrate that the High-Speed Rail Authority isn’t going to skip town and leave us with a partially built track that ends in a field outside Shafter,” Patterson said. “Californians deserve to know what Plan B is — it’s time for a reality check.”

Now, the main candidate running for state treasurer agrees with Patterson’s request for accountability. Fiona Ma currently serves on the Board of Equalization. Before that, she served as speaker pro tempore of the state Assembly, representing San Francisco.

The BOE has had its share of recent controversies. Ma asked Gov. Jerry Brown to create a new state agency to help dispense some of BOE’s duties based on results of an audit showing financial mismanagement.

“I’ve called for three audits of our agency (Board of Equalization). Audits are appropriate and should be used to hold everybody accountable,” Ma told GV Wire at a Fresno appearance when asked about Patterson’s request.

Ma delivered the keynote address at the weekly downtown Fresno Rotary meeting.

Patterson’s Audit Request Denied

Unfortunately for Patterson, a short time after Ma’s support, his request hit the skids. The committee chair rejected Patterson’s audit request.

In a letter, Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) told Patterson an emergency audit bypassing normal procedures would “deny the full Committee, the state Auditor and the general public the opportunity to review, analyze, and comment on your request in an open meeting.”

The next committee meeting will be in January.

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