This month, The Hill reports, Joe Biden will travel to East Palestine, Ohio, site of a train derailment that spilled toxic chemicals into the community and forcing evacuations. Biden’s visit comes “roughly one year” after the February 3, 2023 incident. As embattled residents might recall, federal Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also took his time showing up.

It took him three weeks” to visit the stricken community, Newsweek reported. Asked if he had done a good job as Transportation Secretary, Buttigieg said he was “proud” of what the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had done. On his own performance the former presidential candidate was rather vague.

Jennie Taer, a reporter for the Daily Caller asked Buttigieg, “What do you have to say to the folks in Ohio, East Palestine, who are suffering right now?” Secretary Buttigieg responded that he was “taking some personal time” and referred the reporter to comments he already made. Asked when he would be traveling to Ohio, Buttigieg said he would “share that when I’m ready.”

Buttigieg acknowledged that he “could have spoken out sooner,” and said the incident was “a lesson for me.” The Secretary told CNN he failed to anticipate the political fallout, despite months of transportation problems such as flight cancellations. Those difficulties did not affect the secretary, fond of taking trips on private jets funded by taxpayers.

By early January, 2023, the Transportation Secretary had taken at least 18 trips on private jets, including a trip to Montreal to receive an award. In April of 2022, Buttigieg flew on a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Cessna Citation 560XL from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to an executive airport near New York City. En route, the Secretary held a 40-minute meeting with Deborah Archer, president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Despite his comfy jet-set ways, Secretary Buttigieg remains a booster of rail projects such as California’s vaunted “bullet train,” which promised to speed passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco at more than 200 mph. In 2021, the federal Transportation Secretary went on record that California’s high-speed rail project could be funded through the pending $2.3 trillion infrastructure program.

At the time, the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) had yet to acquire more than 500 pieces of property from the rightful owners, and money was also an issue. More than three years after the expected completion date of 2020, the $10 billion bond issue has been burned up and the estimated $33 billion for the entire project is now inadequate for the single route from Bakersfield to Merced.

“There is no path to completion for the fantasy rail system that was falsely sold to voters 15 years ago,” observes UCLA economics professor Lee Ohanian. “The only reasonable decision is to end a project that should never have begun.” Buttigieg and Biden don’t think so.

Last December, Secretary Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation, gave the HSRA a grant of more than $3 billion“for continued progress on the country’s first electrified 220-mph high-speed rail system.” HSRA CEO Brian Kelley called the money “just a great leap forward,” and “Speaker Emerita” Nancy Pelosi, issued a “thank you to President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg for their recognition of the importance of high-speed rail to California and to our nation.”

Pelosi’s one-time nephew Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed, “this show of support from the Biden-Harris Administration is a vote of confidence in today’s vision and comes at a critical turning point, providing the project new momentum.” Taxpayers across the nation have a right to wonder about the status of the project at this “critical turning point.”

California’s rail project boasts a Sacramento headquarters and three regional offices. So far it’s working as a sinecure for ruling-class types such as board member Lynn Schenk, a former member of congress and chief of staff for Gov. Gray Davis. Entering the fourth year after the original completion date, California’s bullet train has yet to carry a single passenger. It’s a boondoggle for the ages, with Buttigieg and Biden all aboard.