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Election 2008

A Look at the BRU’s “No on the Six” Ballot Campaign

So far we've mostly looked at the "Yes" campaigns for Measure R and Proposition 1A, but there are strong "No" campaigns for each of them also.  While most of the "No" arguments are based on the details of the proposal and have caveats such as "I like the idea of more transit" this campaign doesn't give any ground.

The Bus Rider's Union is leading a "No on the 6 Ballot Props" against Ballot Propositions 1a, 4, 6, 8, 9 and Measure R.  Putting aside the propositions that don't have to do with transportation, let's look at their arguments against Measure R and then against Proposition A.

In their view, Measure R is about building highways and subways for rich people and about tearing apart the bus system.  Pointing at the regressive nature of sales taxes in general and at the billions of dollars being spent on highway projects and rail projects versus the smaller amount reserved for buses and the BRU argues that the Measure R plan is actually a form of "reverse Robin Hood" where the well of have their transportation needs paid for by those less well off.

One of the BRU's more creative arguments is to look at the total cost of all rail projects proposed in Measure R and noting that the total cost is $80 billion, a much larger number than the total funds that would be generted by the half cent sales tax.  They argue that the MTA will be faced with a choice to cut bus service to pay for the rest of these projects ignoring that there are plenty of funding sources at the federal and state levels that would help pay for new rail projects and that the firewall that has prevented the MTA from using operating funds to pay for capital construction has held better than in other parts of the country.

The BRU also discounts Metro's claim that future planned fare hikes will be put off as a result of the funds generated by the sales tax.

And while MTA officials, rail boosters and corporate developers willhighlight the additional “funding” for buses and the “whopping”one-year fare freeze guaranteed under this sales tax as they attempt towin over bus riders; the reality is that MTA officials and StateLegislatures have created a flimsy, vague and ultimately raid-ablefunding category with no real detail and no real language to expand thebus system or to reverse MTA’s plan to increase fares every two yearsover the next 30 years.

Their arguments against Proposition 1a, the bonding for high speed rail, again note the high cost to taxpayers of the project and the perceived negative impact it would have on those of lesser means.

We know that going from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours mightsound cool but it really isn’t when you do a true cost accounting ofthe social consequences it has on our communities.  At the end of theday, the winners will be the state-wide rail lobby, who will fattentheir pockets, getting mostly upwardly-mobile and often white trainriders from LA to San Francisco, while most inner city and rural familyare worried if they can travel cross town as fares go up and busservices are slashed statewide.

As we near the end of the campaign, after all a week from today is election day, we'll see if the BRU's campaign gains any traction outside of South LA.  Metro is counting on an overwhelming vote from the City of Los Angeles to pass their sales proposal.  By crying racism, the BRU is limiting the appeal of their message, but if they can convince enough voters in South LA to vote against the tax, it could be enough of a push to keep Measure R from reaching its two-thirds vote threshold.

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