Measure R Funds to Join the 710 Coalition? Metro Says Its Fine

Last week, a mini-furor was passed around by opponents of the 710 Big Dig project. The Pasadena Independent reported that the City of Rosemead is using a portion of the over $500,000 it receives annually in Measure R Local Return funds to pay its membership dues in the 710 Coalition. From the Independent:

Paid for with Measure R dollars?

According to the staff report, the Coalition is requesting membership dues in the amount of $6,000 a year to be paid through Measure R monies…

…The 710 Coalition’s proposal, submitted for the Rosemead City Council’s consideration, states that funding for participation in the 710 Coalition would be paid through Measure R monies – revenue generated by the sales tax initiative approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

Measure R established a one-half cent sales tax to be used for public transportation purposes, ending in 2039.
Among the benefits from joining the Coalition, the City of Rosemead will be able to work closely with other members to determine and develop public messaging in support of the I-710 Extension project, according to the staff report.

The idea that Measure R funds are being used to advocate for one of the most controversial and expensive projects in the state doesn’t sit well with many. However, according to Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero, this use of funds is well within Metro funding guidelines.

“The Measure R Local Return Fund Guidelines allow for the planning, coordination, engineering and design costs incurred toward implementing projects for traffic congestion relief,” Sotero writes. “The City of Rosemead made the request to use their Measure R Local Return apportionment for the 710 Coalition and it was approved.”

Sotero also stated that no community other than Rosemead has requested to use their Measure R Local Return dollars for membership dues to the 710 Coalition.

So what does the 710 Coalition actually do?

According to their website, they are a “The 710 Freeway Coalition is a grassroots collection of interests united in their desire to see the 710 Freeway completed as soon as possible.” According to the Independent and the City of Rosemead, they “work closely with other members to determine and develop public messaging in support of the I-710 Extension project.” According to the Sierra Madre Tattler, they pay push polling firms to confuse and obfuscate the issue.

Pasadena and Glendale area residents have been receiving a lengthy telephone survey that asks where they live, their opinion about traffic in the area, their opinion about the proposed 710 Tunnel, and then provides many positive statements about the benefits of a tunnel. Those of us who oppose the tunnel have not commissioned or requested a telephone survey, nor can we afford such an effort…

…Name of the Polling Company: If you go to 800notes.com you find that 1-231-224-2033 is assigned to Mountain West Research. Their site: http://mwrcenter.com. Some folks called by them – according to 800notes – are asked questions relating to sensitive political issues…

So there you are. We here in Sierra Madre are quite familiar withMountain West Research. Back in early 2011 they were brought in to do a push polling operation to manufacture support here for the kinds of SCAG Housing the Buchanan/Mosca/Downtown Investor’s Club crowd were hoping to bring in.

 

  • JaneD

    This is clearly a misuse of Measure R funds.  I don’t care how Metro rationalizes it.  The 710 is still in the alternatives analysis beginning EIR phase, and information from Metro / 710 Coalition about the tunnel alternative is conflicting and contradictory at best.  Why should the 710 Coalition be allowed to use public funds to lie to the public?

  • Joanne Nuckols

    Just had to laugh at the fact that the staff report states “work closely with other members to determine and develop public messaging in support of the I-710 Extension project.”  The first thing the staff should do is their homework on the project itself.  This segment of the freeway/toll tunnels is not an interstate but a state route SR.

    Another city lead along by the nose by the coalition and their spinners and not questioning and spending tax dollars to push a project through cities that don’t want it that are 5 miles away.  

  • locals only

    Title needs some grammar work. Sigh.

  • Susan Bolan

    I would like to see a “membership” list of the 710 Coalition.  They are hardly a grassroots organization of concerned citizens.  Although a secret, their membership seems to include paid lobbyists working for Alhambra, unions from the ports, and San Gabriel Valley cities that want this dangerous tunnel.

  • Rick Madden

    How is it possible that while Metro is evaluating “alternatives” they can fund an organization clearly lobbying for one of the alternatives?  This is a kangaroo court.

  • Anonymous

    This is silly – it’s just accounting. They could just as easily cut the DPW budget by $6,000, pay their 710 dues with that money, and allocate the Measure R money to the DPW. No different than Beverly Hills getting Measure R money at the same time they’re fighting Westside Subway.

  • Brian in Koreatown

    Metro actively working against the interests of SoCal residents? Who knew?!

  • Agaves

    Metro keeps lying to the public, but every so often it bends over and shows it’s panties.  For example, in the telephone survey mentioned in this article, one of the questions was… (really a statement to which they wanted you to decide if you were “very Convinced”, found it “Convincing”, or were “not convinced” as your answer to their statement): “The tunnel is the key to our State’s Transportation Network.  It will improve the traffic flow and make it easier for trucks to move Cargo from Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach up State and across the Country!”

    Metro representatives keep denying the freeway is being built for the ports and shipping companies at all of the “informative” (BS) out-reach meetings they waste our tax dollars on,  but they are liars as the polling question above has revealed.  

    Here (http://m.metro.net/news/simple_pr/metros-highway-program-shifts-high-gear-18-new-pro/) is another press release from Metro that makes it clear they want us all to wrap out lips around their freight truck tail pipes and inhale. Scroll to the bottom and start reading at “While this year’s 18 projects and the I-405 are designed primarily to give people a better commute, three other high-profile projects in various planning stages but not yet scheduled, address the demands of commerce — specifically goods movement from the twin ports of L.A. and Long Beach, the two busiest ports in the country, and goods movement from California’s Central Valley, America’s bread basket.”

  • Agaves

    I noticed the link to Metro’s news release where Doug Failing (executive director of highway programs ) states the 710 freeway, including the 710 tunnel, is intended for goods-movement (not commuters) doesn’t work, so here is a work-around link for the statement below:

    http://tinyurl.com/adu5346

    “While this year’s 18 projects and the I-405 are designed primarily to give people a better commute, three other high-profile projects in various planning stages but not yet scheduled, address the demands of commerce — specifically goods movement from the twin ports of L.A. and Long Beach, the two busiest ports in the country, and goods movement from California’s Central Valley, America’s bread basket.
    The I-710 south from the Pomona Freeway (SR-60) to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will involve a freeway widening and possibly a separate freight corridor that could be tolled.
    The 710 north gap closure between the I-10 and the I-210 would complete the natural goods corridor that was begun several decades ago. Metro has been holding a series of conversations and outreach with the community, in an effort to collect ideas on best options.
    A third, the High Desert Corridor, will be a brand new 63-mile east-west freeway between SR-14 in Los Angeles County and SR-18 in San Bernardino County. It would create a shortcut for goods movement from the Central Valley to the rest of the United States and trim back goods congestion through the L.A. basin. 
    Like infrastructure investment, goods movement investment is an investment in our future, Failing said.”

  • Agaves

    I noticed the link to Metro’s news release where Doug Failing (executive director of highway programs ) states the 710 freeway including the 710 tunnel is intended for goods-movement (not commuters) doesn’t work, so here is a work-around link for the statement below:

    http://tinyurl.com/adu5346

    “While this year’s 18 projects and the I-405 are designed primarily to give people a better commute, three other high-profile projects in various planning stages but not yet scheduled, address the demands of commerce — specifically goods movement from the twin ports of L.A. and Long Beach, the two busiest ports in the country, and goods movement from California’s Central Valley, America’s bread basket.

    The I-710 south from the Pomona Freeway (SR-60) to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will involve a freeway widening and possibly a separate freight corridor that could be tolled.

    The 710 north gap closure between the I-10 and the I-210 would complete the natural goods corridor that was begun several decades ago. Metro has been holding a series of conversations and outreach with the community, in an effort to collect ideas on best options.

    A third, the High Desert Corridor, will be a brand new 63-mile east-west freeway between SR-14 in Los Angeles County and SR-18 in San Bernardino County. It would create a shortcut for goods movement from the Central Valley to the rest of the United States and trim back goods congestion through the L.A. basin. 

    Like infrastructure investment, goods movement investment is an investment in our future, Failing said.”

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