Acting in the face of growing controversy in political circles and from the community, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, acting as MTA board chairman, has decided to end the planned $4.2 million “informational” marketing campaign the agency launched with public funds for the Measure R half-cent sales tax hike.
The campaign for the $40 billion measure sparked widespread criticism with its website PR effort and a full-page ad in the Times that many felt crossed the line into outright promotion — an illegal use of the public’s money — and with a $1 million mailing of a 16-page color brochure to the nearly four million households in L.A. County.
The brochure itself, carefully gone over by lawyers, skirted the law but left out vital information about the timeline for the vast wish list of projects contained in Measure R and failed to acknowledge that many road and transit projects will never be completed since there are now real cost estimates and substantial funding from the state and federal governments are unlikely to come through given the financial climate.
The word on the street is that county Supervisor Gloria Molina has grown highly critical of the campaign in the face of the need for money to make safety improvements to prevent another Metrolink train disaster and was prepared to escalate her attacks.
Fear not, you will still face a blitzkrieg of TV ads and mailings from outside the MTA in a campaign financed by the usual special interests that will profit from Measure R: Contractors, consultants, unions and the various lobbyists, strategists and operatives who live so well off their “access” to the politicians.