Capitol Alert: California high-speed rail official caught nodding off in meeting
firstname.lastname@example.org (Torey Van Oot)
Posted: 09/27/2011 9:24 PM
The action at a recent California High-Speed Rail Authority apparently wasn't fast-paced enough to keep the attention of one agency official.
Lance Simmens, HSRA's new deputy director for communications and public policy, was caught nodding off at a public meeting held in Kern County last week. His brief snooze was recorded on camera by a local resident attending the meeting and later posted on the agency's Facebook page and YouTube.
The incident irked local residents and project critics on hand to comment on the proposed bullet train.
Simmens' blamed lack of food and water, not lack of interest in the discussion, for his slip, according to a Facebook comment reported by the Hanford Sentinel:
"I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to those in Hanford last evening," the comment by Simmens read. "After arriving just in time to the public hearing from Sacramento, I had not had the opportunity to have either breakfast or lunch and was dehydrated due to the heat. Although I tried to tough it out, it got the best of me and for a while I felt as though I was going to pass out. After hydrating with sufficient liquids, I was revived and attentive to the comments being voiced by all of those attending last night's event. I only wish I had the chance to do so earlier and want to assure all concerned that I was trying my best to stay alert through the entire hearing. Once again, there was absolutely no intention on my part to either shirk my responsibilities or offend those in the audience. I am sure you will appreciate my embarrassment and ask that you focus on my attentiveness for the bulk of the five-hour hearing and not on the short period where I was struggling to not pass out altogether. Thank you."
A HSRA spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
The brief video of Simmens snoozing is posted below. Read the full Sentinel account of the incident at this link.