By Doug Porter
Andy Keatts story at Voice of San Diego about SANDAG (San Diego’s Regional Planning Agency) prompted one of those “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” moments for me yesterday.
He’s obtained emails showing the agency’s executive director and other high-ranking officials deliberately misled the public regarding economic forecasts with significant errors overstating sales tax revenues expected for transportation projects included as part of Measure A.
Four months after receiving the staff presentation, SANDAG approved putting a tax measure on the ballot that promised to raise $18 billion for transportation projects. That total relied on the forecast that officials had already been told had major problems.
Likewise, officials did not use the new information to adjust their plans for TransNet, the tax voters approved in 2004 to fund regional transportation projects. Nowhere in TransNet’s plan of finance or in documents given to that measure’s oversight committee did SANDAG acknowledge that its own modeling team and chief economist had discovered the spending total approved by voters – and therefore the list of projects promised to voters – was no longer realistic.
Voters rejected Measure A. If it had passed, SANDAG would have been able to use the new money to plug TransNet’s shortfall. Now, the agency has disclosed it has a funding shortfall of billions of dollars and no clear way to address it. The agency is already discussing another potential tax hike.
It’s time to clean house at SANDAG, says activist Andy Kopp, and I agree:
The SANDAG Board of Directors goes on a retreat this weekend and we have to make it clear that when they return from that retreat, we expect new staff leadership – no excuses.
This coming Thursday, February 9th, we need to light up the switchboard and express the following:
“The Executive leadership of the SANDAG staff has violated the public trust. I’m calling today to ask that the Board move to terminate the contracts of Director Gallegos, Chief Deputy Kawada, and Chief Economist Major.”
Three calls to change the corrupt nature of one of our most important regional agencies:
Board Chairman Ron Roberts: (619) 531-5544
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer: (619) 236-6330
Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas: (619) 691-5044
The SANDAG 3-day retreat (Feb 8-10) at Barona Resort is open to the public, so if you’re up for a road trip, in person comments are possible.
“Members of the public may address the SANDAG Board of Directors on any issue not related to Retreat agenda items during Public Comments/Communications. Members of the public wishing to speak to the Board on an agenda item will be called on at the end of that session. Please complete a speaker’s slip and present the slip to a SANDAG staff member. Public speakers are limited to three minutes or less per person…”
It just so happens on Thursday, Feb 9 (9:45am, Oak 1 Ballroom) SANDAG has an agenda item on Measure A. You’d think they’d be talking about the fudged numbers, but noooo.
Rob Rundle, Principal Regional Planner, SANDAG
In this session we will review precinct-by-precinct data to see how people voted last November on Measure A, a countywide initiative to fund transportation and environmental improvements. While 58 percent voted for the measure, it did not clear the two-thirds hurdle needed to pass. Who supported it, who didn’t, and what we can learn from the numbers?
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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