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Battle of the Political War Horses: Transit Tax Measure R-2 with Your Future Quality of Life at Stake

Like two old war horses going to battle each other yet again as they have done so often for so long — Antonovich and Yaroslavsky, two county supervisors, politically untouchable, masters of the game of power.

This time there is so much at stake — billions upon billions of dollars for public transit and highways that will affect the quality of life throughout the county for decades to come.

The setting for Monday’s combat between Antonovich and Yaroslavsky was a forum put on by the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments — a one-year-0ld quasi-governmental agency that for the first time brings Burbank, Glendale, Santa Clarita, San Fernando and the 1.4 million residents of the LA who live north of Mulholland Drive together to try to fight for their common interests.

The operative word is try. Unlike other COGs that cover almost the entire county, the Valley COG must have unanimity to act and gets almost no funding from the two county supervisors or from its seven LA City Councilmembers who are members. None of the Valley members even bothered to show up Monday.

The issue was the recent decision by the MTA board to ask voters to approve extension of the Measure R one-half percent sales tax approved for 30 years in 2008 for another 30 years until 2069 with the goal being to borrow all 60 years of projected revenue and spend it now to speed completion of the projects promised four years ago. (see timeline below or view file MTAprojects)

Antonovich, noting he was joined in MTA opposition by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe, talked about the promises that were abandoned after passage of Measure R-1: Extension of Gold Line to Claremont, Green Line to LAX among others.

Along with Councilwoman Marsha McLain of Santa Clarita, he condemned the continued use of 2004 population numbers for divvying up transportation money when LA is losing population and the North County and East County are gaining population.

Most of all, Antonovich sounded like a populist Democratic, calling the decision to go forward a “rush to judgment” and referred to much of what is going on as “stupid.”

He said Measure R-2 was going forward without re-evaluating the original project list and bringing all the communities in the county into the discussion. He noted the MTA board is stacked against the county’s 87 cities with six million people get four seats while LA with four million people also gets four seats.

Antonovich-COG-1   Antonovich-COG-2   Antonovich-COG-3

For his part, Yaroslavsky also stuck to his talking points mainly focused on this being an historic opportunity to expand public transit: the subway to Westwood, the Expo Line to Culver City and Santa Monica, the Crenshaw Line, the Orange Line busway extension to Chatsworth and the downtown connector which will finally provide a link between the various rail lines and subway.

Low interest rates — assuming bonds can be sold for revenue 60 years out — and high unemployment in the construction trades provide the chance to build badly-needed infrastructure in the next 10 to 12 years instead of decades from now.

He dismissed questions about equity, fairness, even if these are the most worthwhile projects, arguing to reopen the discussion now could blow the chance to put the construction industry to work and build critical infrastructure while we can.

Yaroslavsky-COG-1   Yaroslavsky-COG-2   Yaroslavsky-COG-3   Yaroslavsky-COG-4

It wasn’t a close call on who was right from where I sat as someone who fought against Measure R-1 as unfair to the Greater San Fernando Valley which was served by my newspaper.

The charts above supplied by the SFV COG show just how great the disparity is: 37 percent of the people in LA get 13 percent of the Measure R money, 15 percent of the county’s population gets 5 percent of the money.

The reason traffic congestion is so bad throughout the county is precisely because we have not thoroughly discussed and evaluated with full public involvement our options, our goals, our needs, values and interests.

It has always been about who makes the money, the contractors, unions, developers, designers, engineers, consultants, lobbyists and so on — and not about the greatest good for the greatest number.

I get Yaroslavsky’s expediency: it’s so frustrating going back to the table when everyone who shows up has his hand out demanding more without regard to others interest.

I get Antonovich’s newfound commitment to open and transparent democratic processes: His record of getting what he wants is impeccable.

But look at their records: Yaroslavsky with Marvin Braude got kudos for a no-growth ballot measure that did little or nothing to stop the city from becoming one of the densest in America and with the MTA mired in one scandal after another, he got the one-half percent sales tax for subways abolished — something he help restore with Measure R-1 and now with Measure R-2.

For his part, Antonovich helped scuttle any hope of the Valley ever getting a light rail by muddling the issue and fragmenting political support with his ballot referendum on monorail all the way to Pasadena.

By then, the whole political system — including the elected officials who represented the Valley — had killed the legal commitment for a subway across the Valley, which left the Valley with no choice but to accept the busway or get nothing at all. The fact that is the singularly most successful transit project dollar for dollar is testament to the public’s willingness to use transit if it works even modestly.

If the money for Measure R-1 and R-2 had been spent to build busways and rapid buses, street cars and some light rail, LA County could actually have an efficient public transit system that would get millions of people out of their cars within a decade because it would have high frequency and good connectivity — the critical elements that the current plan does not achieve.

In fact, bus services are being cut year after year, fares are rising, and only modest gains in ridership are being achieved.

A decade from now when the taxes have already been spent for the next half century, we will facing even worse congestion, according to MTA projections, and will still be asking when do we get a public transit system that works.

This entry was posted in 2012 Election, City Hall, Glendale-Burbank, Hot Topics, Los Angeles, The Valley, Transportation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Battle of the Political War Horses: Transit Tax Measure R-2 with Your Future Quality of Life at Stake

  1. Anon says:

    What are the historical transit funding patterns? Has the SFV gotten funding in the past where other areas of LA have gotten none and this helps balance things out? That would be a more sensible measure of fairness and equitable funding. You can certainly see how the westside has gotten no transit while other areas of LA, including the SFV, have working lines on them already, but I don’t know the comparison in 2012-adjusted dollars.

  2. MissAnthrope says:

    Who gets what? The Valley always get the shaft. They takes our money and run, which is why we’ve been desperately trying for years to become an independent city, which in turn, the SFV is also big enough area-wise to be its own county.

    The beginning of this piece stated: “…billions upon billions of dollars for public transit and highways that will affect the quality of life throughout the county for decades to come.”

    The problem is no one has a crystal ball and my guess is that no matter what is done now, the quality of life in L.A./SFV will either change for the worse or will stay the same.

    All these grandeous transportation plans are most likely like freeway plans: obsolete the minute they hit the drawing board.

    Assuming that the idiot voters extend the tax for another 30 years and assuming that any of us are around for another 58 years, it’s a good bet that the first three letters of the word “assuming” applies to anyone who actually voted for R-1 and will vote for R-2.

    For myself, I’m sticking with my pledge to vote NO on any measure with a dollar $ign in it, because I don’t trust any of these politicians to know what they’re talking about, or to spend my money properly or even spend it on what they say they’re going to spend it on.

  3. Wayne from Corruptopia and why MY COMMENTS AWAIT MODIFICATION says:

    Chairman Mao-Ron has to put my posts on hold so as to review them and run them through his “party” such as Kevin James and others who think they are running for office but are just useful TOOLS for the Downtown Gang.
    FINALLY! Ron puts the dots in a clear line to show THE VALLEY’S HOMEOWNERS
    ARE THE PAYERS AND THE REST OF THE MOOCHES ARE THE PAYEES!
    Right now as I write, JEWS are trying TO SELL THEIR HOMES IN DESPERATION TO RID THEMSELVES OF LAUSD SCHOOLS, CORRUPT CITY BUILDING INSPECTORS and $5.00/hr parking meters in front of their businesses that they need customers for but have to fear could be ticketed for $65 bucks or TOWED AWAY! JEWS in the Valley see and hear the crap going on, but QUIETLY fight each day to get to the point TO BE ABLE TO CALL 1-800-UHAUL and LEAVE this soon-to-be BANKRUPT CITY! You’ll say Zev is Jewish, right? WRONG–HE sold OUT HIS PEOPLE TO BECOME A COG IN THE MACHINE OF POLITICS! No one with a soul left would vote for this RailRoad crap and leave the 405 years and years in virtual impossible travel speeds! I’ll take a David Vahedi anyday over a Zev. Mr. Mike is also not to be trusted—he’s ROYALTY, LORD ANTONOVICH, remember? WE’RE ALL THE SERFS PAYING OUR FEES TO THIS CREEP AND HIS 4 FELLOW DICTATORS.
    CHAIRMAN RON WILL NOT CLEAR MY POSTS—SO I LEAVE THIS THOUGHT—-ANOTHER MAJOR CALIFORNIA MUNICIPALITY FILED FOR CHAPTER 9 BANKRUPCY TONIGHT!!!!!!!!! That’s 3 so far this YEAR!
    Ron will hit “delete” but hopefully you’ve enjoyed the fact THAT I PREDICTED THESE CHAPTER 9 FILINGS BY CALIFORNIA CITIES AND WHY L.A. CITY WILL BE THERE SOONER THAN LATER!
    Since Ron will be deleting this—GO MITT ROMNEY!!!!!

  4. Shayna Kasbee says:

    Sounds like the community needs to be engaged, however; this seems like a common problem. How do we learn about these meetings and get the valley involved?

  5. Wayne from Corruptopia subbing in for Ron says:

    Ron is apparently taking off from the blog-0-spear. Ron likes liberals so since I’ve decided to fill in Let’s give a hand to the HUFF-POST!!! YES, EVER SINCE I’VE BEEN BLOGGING ABOUT THEIR PRESIDENTIAL O’BUMMER (coined by Mike Savage) vs. Romney “map” showing OBummer DOWN TO 240 ELECTORAL VOTES PROJECTED (YOU NEED AT LEAST 270 to win) GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TODAY?
    Yep, the Communists at Huffy Post HAVE OBAMA up to 271 electors!!!!!!!!!
    Wow, how did that happen? HUFF POST HAD THE GAUL TO GIVE OHIO TO OBAMA AS “LEANING BLUE” YET THE STATE SHOWS A MAJORITY HAVE A NEGATIVE JOB RATING FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA-CARE! Then they tossed in VIRGINIA too—despite a Republican Gov and majority Republican legislature. Thus, somehow, someway, what I say moves the turkeys to do what they like to do best—do the dumbest things!
    Romney as a V.P. will if he believes this crap put this Portman guy on the ticket FROM OHIO of course to fight to win Ohio. No republican has EVER won UNLESS HE CARRIES OHIO. Romney WILL CARRY OHIO FOR SURE! The war will be OVER FLORIDA===THAT’S THE ONE THAT WILL DECIDE IT. Thus if Romney takes CUBAN republicrat Rubio as vp,. hell be able to sell THE FIRST LATINO VP in history as well as A FLORIDIAN on the ticket.
    But Huffy Post wants to deflect this, and FOOL THE REPUBLICRATS into taking a guy from Ohio AND PASSING ON THE RUBIO guy, so they can accuse Romney of RACISM FOR NOT TAKING A LATINO ON HIS TICKET. See how this game is played? CRUEL, NASTY, AND ROTTEN–that’s politics!
    VOTE ALL REPUBLICAN on this year’s ticket—If you allow these present day DUMBO-CRATS to win it all—it’ll go from worse to worser! All you can do is put a small brake on these liars, cheats, and crooks we have in elected office. Don’t be lulled into giving national ONE PARTY RULE to these lunatics. Both parties are HORRIBLE, but one of them is WAY OUT OF CONTROL and you know who that is. Bush was an EMBARASSMENT AND A ROTTEN HUMAN TO HAVE DONE THE CRAP HE DID PLUNDERING THIS NATION IN DEBT. Make no mistake, however, that Obama has added to this thinking of Bush! Maybe, just maybe Romney could veer away from this 12 years of utter stupidity.

    • ex valley says:

      California to vote republican? But how will all the takers get their goodies? Also California will most likely need bailout very soon and Obama is their only hope to get it. Who cares about over 12% unemplyment. As long as the benefits are flowing and unions are getting fat paychecks and luxurious retirement – there will be enough takers to vote democratic.

  6. Tyndon Clusters says:

    Hey idiots above, we spend $300 million a day for the wars. How about we take 10 hours of that spending and wipe out LA city’s deficit.

    Oh, I forgot killing Iraqi’s who never threatened us is keeping me safe.

  7. Wayne from Corruptopia subbing in for Ron... says:

    Ron still is out, thus I’ll do my best. I’ll warn ex-valley that the Dumbocrats DON’T need to bail out California—our SCHMUCKS will vote for them NO MATTER WHAT, thus spend the 12 BILLION on SWING STATES TO BUY VOTES! If the idiots in California would VOTE REPUBLICRAT it would become IN PLAY POLITICALLY AND THEN, YES, CALIFORNIA WOULD GET THE BAILOUT AND NEW GOV’T JOB CONTRACTS LIKE THE “Old Days.”
    As for the idea to give the L.A. City BASTARDS 3 BILLION to bail out L.A.—-That’s like Giving a Terrorist Highjacker a new AIRBUS! Again, because of the DUMBOCRATS chokehold on elected offices, THE WASHINGTON GUYS DON’T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THE L.A. GUYS!
    There is, however, two People who ARE REALLY REALLY WORRIED about losing a huge multibillion dollar fortune—MAJIC JOHNSON AND TIME LIE-WEEK-E! As I see it, the L.A. Bankruptcy will cost AEG the football stadium and team, and cost Magic his Chicago-Boys getting a new Dodger’s Stadium and the Angeles moving to L.A! IF YOU CAN SELL YOUR HOME AND LEAVE L.A.—NOW IS THE TIME!
    The O’Malley family did that—they just bought the San Diego Padres and FLED L.A. LIKE THE SMART PEOPLE THEY ARE. The L.A. Times ex-owners the CHANDLER family FLED L.A. AND SOLD OFF THE TIMES MIRROR FOR A COOL BILLION PROFIT before the tumbling of the paper.
    If the BUSS family had a brain left they’d put up the LAKERS for sale and get a fortune for the TEAM BEFORE THE CITY OF L.A. TEARS ITSELF APART. Take a short walk from L.A. Live—go East, West, North or South and what do you find? POVERTY, HOMELESS, AND TRASH EVERYWHERE! Staples and AEG KNOW their plan to “energize Downtown” IS THE BIGGEST MUNICIPAL FAILURE OF THIS CENTURY!!!!!!!! Surrounding Dodger’s Stadium is GRAFITTI, Trash, and Homeless EVERYWHERE SURROUNDING IT! White, Asian, and upper class Blacks and Latinos WONT GO TO THESE VENUES and risk their lives over this.
    Want to see the Future of L.A? Try looking at the City of Agusta, Georgia. You know, the Masters Golf Club. The Course may possibly be the finest one in existence (next to my Pebble Beach.) Surrounding the Course is a GHETTO of a City. That’s the L.A. of Tomorrow—Small islands of beauty in a SEA OF CRAP. Actually, its NOW.

  8. transit advocate says:

    Why Antonio and his cronies are taking credit for accelerating Gold Line extension, Crenshaw, Expo.? These projects are fully funded . Gold Line and Expo are under construction , Crenshaw (MRT voted against the Measure R extension, Crenshaw being his pet project)) soon to start. Somebody should also call Boyarsky. He appears to have entered the stage of senility.

  9. JOHN WALSH says:

    THE PERCENTAGE OF TRIPS COUNTY-WIDE TAKEN ON MASS TRANSIT HAS ACTUALLY FALLEN SINCE REACHING PEAK RIDERSHIP IN THE MID-1980′s. THIS HAS HAPPENED DESPITE THE PASSAGE OF THREE SALES TAXES:PROP A, PROP C AND MEASURE R IN 1980,1990 AND 2008 ,HWHICH WERE SOLD TO THE VOTERS AS SURE BETS TO INCREASE BUS AND RAIL RIDERSHIP.
    H
    COMBINED THESE SALES TAXES HAVE ENRICHED THE COFFERS OF MTA BY MORE THAN $35 BILLION SINCE 1981.

    CURRENTLY YOU’RE PAYING ONE AND A HALF PERCENT TAX ON EVERYTHING YOU PURCHASE IN L.A. COUNTY WITH THE EXCEPTION OF EDIBLES AND SERVICES.

    NEVERTHELESS ,MTA IS NOW $TEN BILLION IN DEBT DUE TO BORROWING AGAINST FUTURE SALES TAX REVENUE. THAT’S WHY MTA WON’T TELEVISE MEETINGS OR AUDIO RECORD ON ANYTHING BUT CASSETTE TAPES ….TO SAVE MONEY!
    A VOTE FOR PROP R PLUS WILL ALLOW MTA TO COLLECT AN ADDITIONAL
    $45 BILLION IN COUNTY SALES TAX FROM THE YEAR 2038 THROUGH THE
    YEAR 2068 WHEN BARACK OBAMA’S SASHA AND MALIA WILL BE IN THEIR
    LATE EIGHTIES.

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