Let me be the first to formally oppose what is now Measure J on the ballot in November, the sequel to 2008′s Measure R that was supposed to raise $40 million from a 1/2 percent sales tax increase for highway and transit projects over the next 30 years.
We can only guesstimate what Measure J will bring into the Metropolitan Transit Authority coffers over an additional 30 years — until 2069 — but we do know they say they will borrow against both measures and spend the money as fast as they can so they complete the promised projects faster unless they choose to fund different projects.
But first a diversion into the corrupted form of democracy that we call Los Angeles, greater Los Angeles in this particular case since we are being robbed — not just of our money but of our hopes and dreams of a sustainable society that honors the spectacular beauty and environment of Southern California and gives everyone of us an honest shot at a decent life for ourselves and our kids.
I went searching for how much money was poured into the campaign for Measure R four years ago. I looked on the county’s LA Vote site and the states’s Cal-access and FPPC sites. I reached out to Common Cause, the experts in campaign financing.
Nada — nothing at all except information on candidates, nothing on county ballot measures.
So I called the Registrar-Recorder’s office in Norwalk at after long computerized info messages got to a clerk who was totally committed to help, to doing his job. He checked with his supervisor and reported:
“Right now, we don’t have to put information on contributions and spending on county ballot measures on our website. The law doesn’t require, the county’s law, so we don’t do it. But you can come to Norwalk and look at our records.”
He was able to share that “Yes on Measure R” reported raising $102,718 from Jan. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, $1.625,000 from Oct. 1-18 and $2,,148,481 more through the end of the year — nearly $4 million in total — versus nothing from opponents. That doesn’t included the millions the MTA spent — sometimes in violation of the law — on its informational campaign.
This is important to know because in the 2008 election that carried Barack Obama into the White House, nearly 75 percent of LA County voters cast ballots — 3 million out of 4.1 registered voters — and MTA’s Measure R got 67.93 percent when it needed 66.67 percent approval. That is a margin of victory of roughly 39,000 votes out of 3 million although supporters call it an overwhelming victory since “68 percent want this.”
Nothing was ever said about lobbyist-transportation expert-former Democratic Assembly Leader Richard Katz’s ingenious idea to take the 30 years of sales tax revenue, bond it and spent it now — 30/10 or Move America Forward as it was called, the justification for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s numerous trips to Washington to lobby and party with beautiful and important people.
This time, the turnout will be nothing like that. Romney-Ryan is spending a billion to suppress the votes of everyone but their supporters and Obama-Biden is spending nearly as much energize disaffected Democrats, Latinos and even blacks and everybody knows the outcome in California. So why bother to vote?
Measure J will almost certainly fail and probably bring down Gov. Jerry Brown’s soak-the-rich-pick-the-pocket-of-the-poor’s tax hike scheme with it, at least in LA County where they need a huge majority.
But back to Measure J or Measure R2 and what’s wrong with taking out a 60-year mortgage that your great-grandchildren will have pay for and live with in a Blade Runner city of untold millions broiling in 100-degree global warming temperatures most of the year with quotas on how much water they can use unless they are rich and can pay the premium.
What’s wrong with it is this: It is not a transit transportation system. It is a boondoggle for contractors, consultants, construction workers (most of them from other counties) and a vast array of green-washing environmental green-washers, naive biking advocates and various labor and other non-profits and front groups posing as something they are not.
Even the most ardent advocates can do no better than to call it the framework of a transportation system for the future.
It’s about destroying neighborhoods in Arroyo Seco with a spectacularly expensive and destructive 710 Freeway from the harbors to the 210 in Pasadena; about a $1 billion per mile subway-to-the-sea to justify skyscraper development from Hollywood to Century City to Westwood and Santa Monica, about running trains at grade through South LA without even stopping at Leimert Park, the soul of the community.
Wake up, you little people out there.
The MTA, which is paying for a lot of this nonsense by slashing bus services to the transit dependent, has set aside $10 million for a perverted marketing campaign to deceive you and the profiteers and phony do-gooders will sell you hard with millions more to lure with with false promises a better world tomorrow.
(MORE TO COME)