Metro Board Passes Sales Tax Proposal


Asm. Mike Feuer and Boardmember Richard Katz Chat With the Press After Tax Proposal Passes

After hours of debate, the Metro Board passed a virtually unchanged proposal to add a half cent sales tax increase, dedicated to a specific project list, to the fall ballot.  Only Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Duarte City Councilman John Fasana voted against the proposal, with San Gabriel Valley’s Gloria Molina abstaining.   The rest of the Board voted in the affirmative, except Don Knabe who was celebrating the birth of his grandson. 

Assuming the state legislature and County Board of Supervisors approve the plan by August 8, voters will have their chance to "vote to tax themselves" with the funds going straight to Metro for a pre-approved list of projects.  The ballot proposition needs two-thirds support to pass in November.

Before the public could comment on the proposal, Board Chair Villaraigosa offered an amendment that would use operations funds to delay the fare increase planned for 2009 and freeze fares for seniors, students, and the disabled for another five years.  He closed his speech with a plea for "the region to come together."  While the Board may have come together in a strong show of support for the sales tax, there’s still a lot of work to be done before the community comes together.

Because there were a lot of issues that were discussed, I’m going to break down the rest of the post by section to make it easy for readers to find what they’re most interested in.

Two Amendments on Equity Issues Voted Down 

Antonovich and Fasana each offered motions to correct what they deemed the "equity" issues with the proposal.  Both argued that smaller municipalities were not getting their fair share so that West LA could get the Subway to the Sea. While each measure ultimately failed, each garnered the support of five Board Members illustrating the unhappiness that still exists with Metro’s proposal.

Director Molina took the time to repeatedly ask any legislator who testified their views on "equity."  When Assemblyman Mike Feuer, the state legislator who authored and is now promoting legislation in Sacramento that would allow the sales tax proposal to move forward, answered that he hadn’t read the equity proposals and needed to confer with fellow legislators before answering; Molina chased him down as he left the podium and placed a copy in his hand.

Molina, who has been a lightning rod in the press on this issue pleaded that the San Gabriel Vally didn’t deserve a second class rail system so that the Westside could have a first class one.  Personally, I always thought the Gold Line was nice. 

Zev Yaroslavsky, the County Supervisor for the Westside, listed some made up statistics to show that congestion isn’t just created where people live, but also where they work.  For example, the City of Santa Monica has a residential population of 86,000; but during the workday that number swells to a quarter of a million.  While Yaroslavsky’s math wasn’t exact, his point was clear.

Villaraigosa also noted that when you look at the entire package, instead of just the rail projects, that there is a close correspondence between regional population and sales tax funds spent regionally.

LA City Councilman Bernard Parks also argued that equity concerns would also need to take into account transit dependency.  People living in his Councilmanic District tend to not own cars so they need better transit to get to and from non-local destinations.

No Set Aside for Bicycle or Pedestrian Projects

During the public comment period, Green LA and the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition presented the rationale for having a set aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects in terms of what it means for a community to have complete streets with safe amenities for people who travel without a motor.  Later, I presented the letter signed by myself and 200 of my closest friends asking for a 1% set aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Unfortunately, the Board, for all its talk of equity, ignored our ask and continued its tunnel vision focus on transit and highways as the solution to LA’s transportation woes.  Apparently equity concerns don’t apply unless you rely on a vehicle to get from point A to point B.

After Mayor Villaraigosa vowed that the City of Los Angeles would use some of its Local Return for bicycle and pedestrian projects, Ingrid Peterson closed her testimony asking the Mayor, "how much?"  Villaraigosa ignored the question.

But the highlight of the bicycle-pedestrian portion of the meeting was Josef Bray-Ali, who brought his baby daughter to the meeting and briefly charmed the entire audience.  Bray Ali said his piece and resisted using his daughter as a prop.  Later, Director Fasana wouldn’t be as constrained.

Bus Rider’s Union Still Opposed

The Bus Rider’s Union used their ten minutes of public comment to make clear their opposition to the plan as proposed.  Calling the measure an "unmitigated environmental justice and civil rights disaster" the BRU noted the high amount of funds being spent on "greenhouse gas emitting highway widening projects." 

While some people would look at Metro’s proposal and see 20% of the funds being spent on buses and fares, the BRU sees 80% of the budget being wasted on rail and road projects.  Unlike last month’s meeting, the BRU was clearly the dominant group in the audience with bright yellow shirts crowding the first several middle rows.  Whether their t-shirt power leads to defeating the proposition at the polls remains to be seen.

Highway Funding Increased Since Last Board Meeting

As expected, funding for highway expansion was increased from 15% of the budget at last month’s Board Meeting to 20% at this one.  Environmental groups joined the BRU in condemning this increase, but there was no movement by any Board Member to strip out the increase from the final proposal.

One new project that was particularly controversial is the I-710 Gap Closure project.  The project would actually build a tunnel to add capacity to I-710.  It’s appearance as a funded project in this plan is strange because unlike every other funded project the environmental studies haven’t been completed and a locally preferred alternative hasn’t been chosen.  The City of Pasadena, who has opposed the project for half a century, led a group of elected representatives questioning why the project was included in the final plan and if its inclusion is even legal.

No, the Legislature Can’t Play with the Funding After the Voters Vote in the Fall

Supervisor Molina was also concerned that even if the voters decide to move forward with this proposal, that the state legislature would come back and change the project list in the authorizing legislation.  Amazingly, Metro’s legal counsel agreed.  After a shocked Villaraigosa argued that they’d have to dissolve the entire MTA to do so; Mike Feuer strode up to the podium to set the record straight.

Speaking as both the author of the legislation and a lawyer, Feuer made clear that this is local money and the legislature can’t overturn the will of the voters.  The Board can still make changes to the project list after the fall, but only if a project goes under- or over budget.

Feuer actually showed a crack in his affable demeanor when he tossed his folder in frustration on the podium when returning to the podium to answer a question from Molina.  Later when she commented that this has been a rough process, Feuer responded, "Every moment has been a piece of heaven."

The Five Amendments the Board Did Pass

In addition to Villaraigosa’s fares stabilization amendment, there were four other changes to the final proposal.

Richard Katz put forward a motion that better funded the Expo Line Phase II Construction to the tune of nearly $350 million more funds.  The motion passed without a dissenting vote.

Showing that parochialism isn’t limited to regions within the County, the Board also passed motions requiring the allocation of funds to Metrolink to be spent within LA County and another requiring that all contractors who are paid with sales tax funds come from within the County.

But the most interesting change, which also passed by consent, allows CEO Roger Snoble to go to court to overturn efforts by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors if they attempt to hold up the sales tax proposal.  I’m not sure what the grounds would be, but by giving Snoble this power the Board is sending a clear message to discontent Supervisors Molina, Antonovich and whoever else might be thinking of stonewalling the proposal that Metro is prepared to go around them if need be.

Photo: Damien Newton

  • What a meeting.

    Never have I seen someone speak so long-windedly and repetitiously only to “abstain”.

    Antonovich believes “equity” means the money being distributed by subregion by population only.

    Yaroslavsky astutely pointed out that “equity” could also mean distributing by where people are commuting TO, not just from. Santa Monica has three times the population during the day it has at night. Only 5,000 people live in Century City, but how many people work there, or live in downtown as compared to work there. Should equity involve those areas paying the most in sales taxes receive the most? Should equity mean distribution by the greatest need of transit dependency? Antonovich’s argument doesn’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny. It should be mentioned that when Yaroslavsky was making his point about “equity”, Antonovich walked out of the room and didn’t even listen.

    Perhaps there is some formula that could have been created that had a certain percentage of the pot distributed based on the population where people live, a certain percentage based on where people commute to (work/school), and a certain percentage based on the greatest “need”. I thought Kymberleigh Richards was right on when she said, “ridership” should be the prioritizer.

    In any event, even though they project list will make no one 100% happy, not even me, I will enthusiastically support and vote this sales tax measure for it is the only realistic manner on offer to fund these desperately needed transportation improvements.

  • Also, the so-called Bus Riders “Union” wear yellow t-shirts that say “Billions for Buses”. Well, here are those billions are and the BRU states they will organize and vote against those billions, just because highway and rail projects are included.

    Such a misguided organization. It’s a shame, because bus riders need advocates who can be taken seriously. Fortunately, there are other organizations like Southern California Transit Advocates and the Transit Coalition which support a strong bus system AND needed rail improvements too, and work constructively to achieve both.

    This sales tax measure would provide dramatic improvements in bus service, but it is clear the BRU isn’t really interested in solving transportation problems, only in crusading against “the man”.

    Fortunately for everyone, the BRU is declining in influence if not in volume.

  • Tony Fernandez

    I can’t say that I disagree with the BRU when they argue against freeway widening. There goes money that could be spent on much more worthwhile projects to the black hole called freeways.

    Well, at least I can always hope that the 710 tunnel will never come to fruition and that the money which was supposed to have gone to it can fund something that will actually do something good for this county.

  • I still think that the money for the 710 tunnel should go *DIRECTLY* to bicycle and pedestrian projects.

    !!

    Live the Dream!

  • The BRU is a front organization funded secretly by automotive interests. Believe it. The people who make up that misguided organization have no clue and that’s how the auto industry likes it. The irony is that they whine to no end about rail projects even though rail is the only hope of seeing faster bus service. If we abandoned all rail projects and put 1000 busses on the street you would still be locked up in traffic and busses would take the usual 2 hours to get anywhere in a sea of traffic because ain’t nobody going to get out of their cars to get in a bus that moves at less than the speed of a car where as they WILL get out of their cars to get on a fast moving rail line. Dumdums. Not to mention that rail lines are more efficient at transporting bodies per amount of greenhouse pollution. With more rail draining car drivers from the streets, busses would actually begin to move faster and make life better buys riders. REAL SIMPLE

  • They are smoking some serious crack if they think that 710 tunnel is ever going to ever get built. Have they not been paying attention to the Big Dig? I wonder how I’ll vote…

  • It pained me to hear clueless talk from some of the public speakers talk about “congestion relief” in reference to highway construction and widening. If ever there was a bigger lie in transportation planning, I have never seen it.

    I am going to vote “no” on this sales tax increase, and I am going to do my what I can to see that it fails.

    No money for bicycle and pedestrian transportation – and stupid grins when I brought up how easy it was to change their frickin’ Local Returns funding guidelines, “Duhh … what? Nah that’s for them cities to look after.”

    The MTA holds the local return (and Transportation Demand Management) money behind a wall of project standards that are entirely based on the movement of private automobiles. No pedestrian or bike projects are allowed to interfere with any car infrastructure, past, present, or future.

    Carol Inge’s Countywide Planning and Development Department needs to be held accountable for the way they judge the Local Returns projects.

    “No” to this idiotic highway expansion tax, and “no” to the MTA’s ridiculous Local Returns funding guidelines.

  • The BRU is run by a racist who exploits minorities for his personal gain.

  • Well I’ve got one to top all of that! I heard the BRU hates puppies AND kittens!

    Okay, on a serious note, here is a survey for anti-BRU people to take:

    I am bitter about the BRU because:

    (a) I didn’t get one of those cool yellow t-shirts
    (b) My transit advocate friends are not smoking hot, mixed ethnicity, college girls
    (c) I hate it when BRU drones waste everyone’s time with pointless vitriol
    (d) All of the above

  • Alan Fishel

    We all know that they have to fund some highway projects in order the get the 2/3rds vote and people living in the North County also need funding to improve their roads but will not be riding the Subway to the Sea. But adding the 710 tunnel is a “deal killer” for many of the voters of the County. (Remember the Big Dig from Boston) Also bike and pedestrian projects would not cost much but would help with improving the quality of life for many. The projects that need the most energy and funding are the Expo Line to Santa Monica, The Downtown Connector connecting the Blue and Expo lines at 7th St Metro Station to the Gold Lines at Union Station, The Foothill Extension of the Gold Line to at least Azusa, the Crenshaw Corridor Line to LAX as a LRT line not a bus line, the Subway to the Sea maybe from Hollywood as well as Wilshire but keep the funding down as to not take much of the rail funding for a single project. Some BRT projects will help speed traffic and some highway projects opening up bottlenecks etc. The question is can this proposal get the 2/3rds vote with the 710 tunnel? As much as I agree with the needs of many of the projects and paying for them, I would have a hard time voting for any proposal that would give funding to the 710 tunnel.

  • Alek F

    Bus Riders Union, with their pathetic yellow T-shirt, should all burn to hell, because they are doing NOTHING except going against common sense and trying to prevent vitally important projects from happening.
    And – to a comment by Militant Angeleno, totally agree with you; well said!
    BRU is a racists group, and they don’t care about efficiency of mass transit, they only care about less-than-mediocre bus service, and only for minorities. They also are against Rail developments because they don’t want any TOD that Rail projects involve; they want to live in cheap dumps and prevent the city from developing and improving.
    Shame on BRU!

  • Why don’t the BRU haters go start a blog, or better yet an automated script that jumbles up shit-talking and spits it out as news.

    Besides bitching about the BRU, what do you have to add to the conversation?

  • I think my point of view is just as valid as anyone else’s, and this is one bus rider who is no longer willing to let the BRU pretend to speak for me. If that bothers any BRU apologists out there, too bad.

  • Brayj, I think that voting against this sales tax because it doesn’t do enough for bikes or because of a 710 tunnel that probably won’t even happen is a very bad idea. I think actively campaigning against the vote because of it is downright irresponsible.

    What exactly do you propose as the solution to this county’s massive transit deficiencies? This sales tax proposal will be massively better for bicyclists and everyone in the county. I agree they should’ve set money aside specifically, but that doesn’t change the fact that everyone in the region will benefit from these projects. And while I also agree that highway widening is the wrong way to go, this sales tax would be impossible to pass without the promise of significant highway spending. Remember the phrase, don’t destroy the better because it’s not the perfect.

    As for the 710 tunnel, I’ve heard arguments for and against this project that made sense. Some people say it would provide a very valuable alternative that would take a lot of traffic out of overly congested roads. My guess is that it’s not going to happen anyway and the money will just end up going to the rail projects that haven’t had inflation adjusted into their prices.

    I don’t expect that I’ve changed your mind, but what I’m just trying to say is that this plan will clearly improve the city and provide massive improvements in transit infrastructure, and you seem to be saying it’s just not good enough, even knowing that there’s no viable alternative possible in the next ten years.

  • Shorter summary of my thoughts: The status quo is completely unacceptable. This bill would be a gigantic improvement.

    The bill will make things better, and I actually believe that if we don’t do something, this city is going to become unlivable in the next twenty years.

  • This bill is far from perfect. However, it is the only one on offer. Things will be much better with it than without it.

  • Daniel

    While not perfect, this increased funding proposition for improved transportation in LA county is very much needed. This proposition would fund many very good rail, bus, & road projects, which have no other likely funding source for many years in the future. Expo line extension to Santa Monica, LAX Green Line connection, Metrolink, subway to the sea, San Fernando Valley Orange line extension, downtown connect, and Gold line Foothill extension all need to be built ASAP.

    710 freeway tunnel.
    In addition to the numerous rail projects, we also support the 710 tunnel project to connect the 10 freeway to 210 freeway in Pasadena. The new tunnel route will have significantly less impact (almost no impact) on the city far above.

    “The City of Pasadena, who has opposed the project for half a century, led a group of elected representatives questioning why the project was included in the final plan and if its inclusion is even legal.”

    When Pasadena citizens voted in 2001, 58.2% of voters approved this measure:
    “MEASURE A. Shall an Initiative Ordinance of the City of Pasadena be adopted to declare the policy of the City of Pasadena to be in favor of completing the 710 Freeway extension between the I-210 and the I-10 Freeways, and to declare that such policy could not be changed or repealed without a vote of the people?”

  • I would immediately reverse my position if the MTA would revise their funding guidelines for funding Local Returns projects.

    The Countywide Planning and Development Department of the MTA uses only car-volume and car-throughput metrics to judge Local Returns projects. If the MTA board were to alter the metrics (I have specific recommendations), I could see a coalition of bicyclists fighting for this sales tax increase.

    Otherwise, fuck that shit. The whole autotopia, happy motoring, 20th century consumer experiment is going to come crashing down soon – so there will be more room for bikes anyway. I’d rather deal with the consequences of that than have to answer to my daughter as to why I didn’t take a stand for the one thing that matters to me anymore (since I totally gave up on any political movement outside of L.A. County).

    I have a feeling a lot of bike riders and pedestrians in L.A. would understand that perspective.

  • Again, I don’t expect to convince you, but I think your stated goals are at odds with your position.

    They’re not going to change the funding guideline and it’s unlikely they’ll change the metrics (though I believe Pam O’Connor did discuss that at some point). I think there should’ve been money specifically set aside for bikes, but there wasn’t. The question becomes, will bicyclists be better off with or without this bill?

    I think they’ll be vastly, vastly better off. More trains and more buses means it’s more viable to ride your bike for those crucial first and last mile distances. It means heading out your door with just a bike could mean traveling anywhere from the beach to Pasadena to the valley. And we can assume that at least some money (admittedly not enough) will in fact go to livable streets and other bike-friendly projects.

    I don’t think your alternative is true. If we don’t pass it, it’s not that “autotopia” is just going to up and die. Instead the roads will degrade, as will the bus system and existing train lines, and the city will slide towards unlivable over the next twenty or thirty years, but there won’t be some big cathartic moment where everyone gets smart and supports bike and train policies that make sense. More likely, this is as close to that moment as we’re gonna get, and if we don’t take it now, it’ll only be harder. Every year you don’t build needed infrastructure it gets harder and more expensive to build and you regret it more and more. Imagine if we’d actually built a proper subway line in the 90s and were talking about expanding that now instead of building all these new lines from essentially scratch?

    If these projects get built, it’ll be much easier to improve bike lanes and livable streets once people get out of their cars and start using the new trains. This project is necessary just to get people to realize roads aren’t the answer, and if this project passes, we can still campaign to get Metro to change their metrics as well as campaign for projects for the money that local cities get. The fight for the local return money didn’t end this week. If the bill passes, that money can still be fought for.

  • One of the dirty little secrets, though, is that much of the operating revenue in this measure will go to filling MTA’s structural deficit. Without the sales tax, you can look at potentially 30% of bus service lopped off in June (it will take a few months for the service change machinery to wind its way through the process). See this link back when they talked about the fare increase early last year (the $25 million the fare increase generated did not do that much). You would immediately see a dramatic fare increase proposed soon afterward. The roads will continue to degrade, and Metro will complete the remaining rail extensions but have hardly any money to operate them. That’s the choice we have, and it’s not good.

  • I agree that there is a sense of urgency about this sales tax.

    I would support it no matter what because I know the MTA is basically having an emergency bakesale to promote a really sweet dream.

    A few years ago, the gold line didn’t exist. I grew up in Eagle Rock and went to school in South Pasadena. No Gold Line existed.

    Now it does. I love taking the gold line out to Pasadena with my bike and riding home to Echo Park. I would love to do the same trick on other trains.

    That is why I support the sales tax! I want the trains and buses and bikeways and walkways to EXIST!!!

    I sincerely believe that if they got the money, the MTA would be so excited and if we kept solid pressure on them from dedicated bicyclists and pedestrians, that we could secure some of those funds once they were available.

    Or, would have nothing.

    After all Villaraigosa did commit to a percentage of local retuns.

    What percentage Mr. Mayor?

    Amend the funding guidelines. Include bicycles as a solution and enchancement to a transit system.

    I hope they/we get it.

  • Simon,

    The massive, capital intensive, highway and transit project that are allegedly going to be funded through this tax increase will do little to directly help the lot of cyclists.

    I rode my bakfiets 30 miles yesterday, from Lincoln Heights down to Gardena and back, to pick up about 200 lbs. of tools and equipment. I rode by the 110 bus lane, I rode alongside the Vermont rapid buses, I passed by the Blue Line station, I rode in the Figueroa bus only lane – and it fuckin’ sucked.

    The transit projects that are allegedly going to getting funded do next to nothing to make my life, as a cyclist for every trip, better. They do next to nothing to insulate our economy from high fuel and energy prices. They do not allow the many thousands of people who have come to transportation-based cycling in the past few years have a better life.

    The MTA can delete one paragraph from page 19 of its Call For Projects funding guidelines, and I’ll be happy. Until I see something from the MTA, I am going to work to see this sales tax increase fail. That is how it works, and I’m not buying any of the bullshit arguments apologists and rail junkies throw out there.

    Cyclists are not asking for much! Do you know what the total cost of building out the (already planned and designed) L.A. citywide bikeway network is? The bikeway network that would turn 5% of L.A.’s car traffic into cyclists? The total cost? $60 million.

    The massive amounts of money that go to the stupid big projects is a waste when compared with real, cheap, solutions, like roadway modifications to make bicycle, pedestrian, and bus access fast and safe. I’m not talking about anecdotal improvements to our lives and economy – I’m talking about real measurable, tangible, improvements in our quality of life by spending pennies on the dollar for what these stupid highway expansions and railway construction projects cost.

    They need 2/3 – good luck a**holes.

  • I’d like to throw this out there to future readers:

    I’m sorry I used profanity in the above posts. It was unnecessary to make my argument and that type of language tends to kill a good debate on issues.

  • First off cursing is good.

    Second off though this has nothing to do with the conversation, but the press in the above picture I think that press’ name is Steve Hymon of the Bottleneck Blog/LA Times. I’d bet cash money on that.

    Browne

  • Yeah, that’s Steve. That’s Sue Doyle of the Daily News with her back turned. Streetsblog standard format has all captions not going over a line and I couldn’t fit all four names and stick to the format.

  • I wasn’t trying to show my knowledge (I hate that person, that person who makes a comment just go I know and you don’t.) I seriously wanted confirmation that my hunch was right.

    Thanks Newton.

    I’ve only seen Steve via his picture on the LA Times site, oddly he is one of the few people who actually looks better in real life.

    This conversation is getting silly and very LA, so I’m going to stop now.

  • David

    I’m with Brayj. My family will vote against this tax increase. What cyclists are asking for is the splash of a drop in the bucket. Plus, everyone better read the fine print so that this money can not be stolen for the general fund or any other source like our state gasoline tax money is stolen practically every year. I just can’t trust our current city leadership to use any money given to them wisely. Remember the trash fee increases that were to add 1000 more cops?

  • METRO is going to steal our money. Asking METRO not to steal our money is like asking a politician to not lie. I think what we have to do is find the bright side of this, maybe we could imagine a bright side and just make up our own reality. That’s what METRO does. Isn’t that METRO’s new campaign. They actually have an ad that says: imagine a train that goes all the way to LAX? What the hell?!! They built it? Why the hell are they imagining stuff they should have done in the first place as if that makes it all better.

    And what’s up the imaginary 710 freeway. That thing should never exist, why is that even in the bill?

    I think we need to get rid of Roger Snoble, maybe that would be step one in getting out of Imagination Land.

    Browne

  • I do not believe there will be a second bite at this apple. If the sales tax fails, there won’t be any large pool of money for bikes, buses or pedestrians. The perfect is often the enemy of the good.

    It would be a tragedy in 30 years to be looking back at basically the same lacking transportation system we have now, only with 3 million more people in the county, much greater density, choking congestion and pollution, even more automobiles without a viable alternative, and certainly no bike or pedestrian improvements.

    Oppose this imperfect sales tax if you want, but I don’t believe there is a better alternative coming down the pike later.

  • Dan,

    Where bikes and pedestrian projects are concerned, there truly is no need for massive amounts of money. A few bits of leftover General Fund for most cities could transform their streets into bus-, bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly places.

    It helps to have an agency like the MTA handing out “free” money for projects (less staff time), rather than having to dig into your department head’s (or city manager’s) budget, so I can see where the MTA’s sales tax proposal will help non-car and non-train modal groups.

    However, it isn’t really doing that much for non-car and non-train users.

    The existing, multi-billion dollar, MTA sales tax income can have its funding formula re-oriented slightly (i.e. away from highway expansion and car-only projects) and we won’t need to levy this tax.

    I would prefer a measure that would strip out the exclusive auto-only funding provisions of Proposition A and C, personally.

    That, of course, isn’t on the table right now.

    If the MTA found a way to re-orient their guidelines for local returns money, and Transportation Demand Management money, to go to pedestrian, bus, and bicycle projects then I could see a coalition being formed to support this “big project” sales tax. With changes like that, a coalition of support could come together in support of this tax even if the lame highway projects included in the tax increase stay.

  • If you want the facts about the BRU just look at the information Kymberleigh Ricjhards and I have compiled.

    http://transit-insider.org/master.html?http://transit-insider.org/bru/index.htm

    There is nothing to indicate it is “is a front organization funded secretly by automotive interests”. Or even gets money from labor unions, as some often assert; in fact I know its relationship with the labor mobvement is rather rocky–note that the Labor Federation is gung ho for this tax. Evidently mostly cluleless westside liberals pay the freight for the BRU and their large staff, suite of offices in the Wiltern complex, etc. The BRU bylaws make clear the members have no say how the millions raised in their name is spent. And the Planning Committee that calls the shots includes LCSC paid staff. Those folks in the yellow shirts are stage managed and manipulated — most know zero about transit funding or policy and their trauining is soley in how to chant and where to stand for the cameras. Sad.

    http://busridersunion.org/engli/JoinUs/member-bylaw.htm

    Those who want to cut off their nose to spite their face are welcome to do so. Meanwhile the rest of us have 100 days to seize the future.

  • The whole hating the BRU is silly.

    Up until a very few years ago they were the only ones fighting for the rights of people who had took public transit in LA. The problem is METRO not the BRU. Every organization is going to do what they are going to do to fight for their constituency. Now if 10 years ago I had seen any of these new groups as of late fighting for people who took public transit I might have more of an open mind in regards to listening to the side of people who have issues with the BRU, but as of now, no. Regardless if you agree or not with the BRU or the sales tax, they brought up some points that should have been brought up.

    In my opinion the real problems people have with the BRU is the fact they bring up race a little too often for the delicate sensibilities of the average citizens of LA. Every group is a front for someone else. Every group has members who are clueless as to what’s actually going on. The way the BRU is set up and funded is really not all that different than the vast majority of effective advocacy groups.

    I have issues with the sales tax and the measure, but I’m pretty afraid to not vote for it. I do not like the position I’m being put in now, but I’d have to agree with the sentiments of Ingrid, though with a slightly less optimistic slant.

    I want to put aside what I want and try to think what would be best for the people around me, because in the end everyone else’s happiness or unhappiness will eventually impact my life. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. What’s the most altruistic way for me to vote. This could be a huge thing for LA. I don’t want to be part of the reason it did or did not happen depending on my actions and the actions of others.

  • “In my opinion the real problems people have with the BRU is the fact they bring up race a little too often for the delicate sensibilities of the average citizens of LA.”

    —————-

    Nonsense.

    The REAL problem I have with the BRU is their anti-rail, bus-only platform, a transportation vision that will not improve mobility, nor help Southern California be economically prosperous and environmentally sustainable.

    It isn’t “style” that causes me to object to the BRU, it’s SUBSTANCE.

    ———————

    “The whole hating the BRU is silly.”

    ———————

    My disapproval with the BRU is not “silly”. The BRU pursues a transportation vision which I firmly believe is counterproductive. Nothing less than the future of Los Angeles is at stake.

    Los Angeles needs a strong bus AND rail system, not a bus-only system, and I won’t apologize for speaking out against the BRUs bus-only agenda.

  • Well Dan you can hate them all you want, the LA Times has given them a platform to present their side. I’m thinking whatever they are doing, they are doing it right.

    They don’t care about what you think. The BRU focuses on one target METRO and the people who hate the BRU focus on the BRU and that gets what accomplished exactly, oh yeah nothing. Because again the BRU doesn’t care what you think and since they don’t control the budget well you see where this is going.

    You’re not going to discredit them by going on blogs and saying you hate them over and over decorated with some greenie-eco rhetoric that has no facts attached to it.

    I mean you continue to do it, but it’s a bit of futile thing. Sort of like this conversation we are having right now.

    Now you want people to listen to your side. You want to discredit the BRU. Then come up with some easy to read facts about METRO.

    Facts that discredit the BRU facts on METRO point by point.

    Not about Eric Mann involvement in a sexy orgy or baby sacrifices or how he’s funded by the drug lords of Afghanistan, because most of us don’t care about that kind of thing.

  • http://transit-insider.org/master.html?http://transit-insider.org/bru/index.htm

    Dana and Kymberleigh have done a pretty good job compiling information.

    http://thetransitcoalition.us/BRUtruth.htm

    The Transit Coalition also has a BRU truth site.

    ———————-

    “Facts that discredit the BRU facts on METRO point by point.”

    However, you have given a good suggestion on how to more effectively stand up to the BRU and that I appreciate.

  • I’m not sure that the only way to discredit an activist group is by promoting the agency which they critique. After all, the groups that attack BRU such as SOCATA and the Transit Coalition are hardly Metro cheerleaders.

  • My beef w/the BRU is how they waste their platform in the Times, etc. to trot out phantom phony soundbite slogans that are outdated shams and (this kills me) they know are a fraud but don’t care. Eric Mann is all about ME ME ME and MONEY MONEY MONEY. Sort of like a lot of the gasbag opinionleaders who crowd the media.

    Actually, Browne Molyneux, we BRU critics mostly work on issues, educate ourselves, try to build alliances, etc. And if you think the BRU are great, attend one of their meetings. That should prove to be an eyeopener…

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