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 :
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.