Mike Antonovich’s Tortured Point and How the Mayor Should Have Reacted

Villaraigosa, Antonovich, and Frank McCourt in the Dodger Shuttle. For the past two seasons, Antonovich has found the funds to keep the shuttle running. Photo:##http://www.flickr.com/photos/mike_antonovich/4455049664/sizes/z/in/photostream/##Mike Antonovich/Flickr##

Yesterday, at a meeting of the Metro Board of Directors Construction Committee, L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich became the first public official to throw cold water on Mayor Villaraigosa’s transit dreams by denouncing plans to place an extension of the Measure R half cent transportation sales tax indefinitely.

Much of the coverage of Antonovich’s complaints have focused on his choice of words and the Mayor’s reaction.  Even in the sometimes childish world of the Metro Board of Directors, “gang rape” qualifies as over heated rhetoric.  In response, the Mayor walked out.

While I understand the sentiment, it’s always better to disengage from a bully than roll around in the mud, the Mayor also missed a teachable moment.  Lost in the theatre of the day is that the idea that Antonovich’s rural and suburban Supervisor District is not being served by a thirty year transportation tax.  While I can appreciate the Mayor’s reaction, it would have been better if he had let the Supervisor have his say, and then responded with some facts.

Gang rape?  Really Mike?  Gang rape?

Let’s look at what the 5th Supervisor’s District gets out of Measure R, and then you tell me what is and isn’t ‘gang rape.’

Let’s talk highway projects.  Freeways throughout the 5th District will see capacity increases and other improvements as a result of Measure R.    The I-5 will see HOV lanes from the Kern County Border to Route 190.  The High Desert Corridor and the SR-710 tunnel are back on the table.  The Alameda Corridor is seeing upgrades.  The Arroyo-Verdugo is seeing upgrades.

I understand you’re not happy that nobody is trying to fast track these projects as I am trying to get the federal government to help fast track the transit projects.  Every year, 20% of the Measure R funds go towards highway and road construction.  Not a dime of that money will be spent in the City of Los Angeles.  If you want to find a way to bond those funds to pave freeway through the desert or dig a hole under South Pasadena, go right ahead.  Nobody is stopping you.  For me, and for Los Angeles, the transit projects are more important, that’s why they’ve been my priority.  You see, I’m the Mayor of Los Angeles.  This is my job.

But let’s not pretend that your district doesn’t benefit from the transit side of things.  Every person that steps on a Metro bus, train, light rail car, carpoool van or handicapped access vehicle pays less because of Measure R.  That includes people that live in rural and suburban L.A. County.  In addition, you might remember there was a pretty large train crash in Chatsworth.  Measure R is providing the funds to upgrade the safety features to make sure that doesn’t happen again.  And those improvements you want to the Antelope Valley Line?  Where do you think the money for them is coming?

And that’s to say nothing of the Orange Line and Gold Line extensions.  The Orange Line extension will actually open soon, right in your 5th District.

Only 3% of Measure R funds are being spent on Metrolink, but just about all of that is being spent in the 5th District.

Thanks to the local return policy, 15% of every dollar earned in a municipality goes back to the municipality.

Measure R costs the average L.A. County taxpayer $25 a year.  The funds are distributed equally throughout the districts.  If you think that’s too much to pay, well, you’re welcome to your opinion but nearly 2/3 of the people in the 5th District disagreed with you in November of 2008 and according to our poll even more disagree with you now.

  • Anonymous

    That’s not the current 5th District map anymore.  It can be found here:


    Antonovich seems to forget about the Orange Line and the Gold Line extension east of Pasadena.  And I wonder how many of his constituents drive to the Westside, since that is such a job center and the lousy service west of Koreatown makes the journey by car worth the hassle over taking Metrolink via Union Station.

  • Anonymous

    Listen to the fossil opine here:


    Time to retire to your fat pension, Mike?

    P.S. There are no “towns” in California, or have you not noticed that in the past 30 years?

  • Josef Bray-Ali

    I understand the value of Measure R – but with it came value destroying massive investments in exurban sprawl friendly highways. We need money for maintenance and transit, bike and pedestrian needs.

    LA is 30 years behind on road maintenance. It has a backlog of sidewalk repairs that is over $1 billion in cost.

    We need to fund these things, and not system expansion of anything except the transportation improvements that can pay their own way over the lifetime of their existence through increase property values, sales taxes, etc.

    Further, to raise this money through sales tax is criminal in this era. Sales taxes hit the poorest the hardest. We need another means of generating a tax base for maintenance that doesn’t hit the poor as hard.

    I think that our transportation planners need to focus on the economic effects of their decisions. LA builds streets that degrade its property and sales tax base by valuing auto throughput over local revenue generation. It’s planning department focuses of code compliance instead of reducing the cost to develop and building by reducing the parking requirements that hamstring urban infill.

    Just my two cents, but they are given here freely and not through extortion through yet another regressive tax.

  • Anonymous

    sales tax sucks. But there’s just no other way to convince the public to pay for something otherwise and sales tax from cars sold is not too shabby right?

  • Anonymous

    Taxing based on Engine Size, and collecting a surtax on Heavy vehicles and the excessive parts they need (extra oil, larger tires, etc.) would also be a start. 

  • Anonymous

    When I think of rape, it ain’t the politician in the above photo I think of.

  • calwatch

    That shows your ignorance, TAPman. Antonovich has created numerous unincorporated area town councils that provide advisory services to the Supervisor and a forum for the local community to discuss issues and express their views. Acton, Agua Dulce, Quartz Hill, Lake Los Angeles, Sun Village, West Ranch, Castaic, Altadena, Monrovia/Arcadia/Duarte, Crescenta Valley all have town councils just to name a few. The Antelope Valley Press called them “the purest expression of democracy” and I agree. 

  • calwatch

    Antonovich’s primary concern is that the city councils, town councils, and chambers of commerce have NOT vetted the idea, not that he is automatically opposed to it. If you listened to his statement before he made the outrageous comment, that was the point. This idea just came out of Villaraigosa’s brain, and he made no effort to sell this extension to the 60% of residents of Los Angeles County who don’t work or live in the City of LA. 

    For example, how does the Antelope Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, or the Pomona Valley, who doesn’t have MTA bus service in their communities, benefit from the fare freeze? Where’s the money to fund the High Desert Corridor, and not just the environmental study? Or the I-5 truck lanes (not just the environmental and preliminary design)? The San Gabriel Valley politicians are making noises that they might support R+ if it funds the Gold Line to Claremont. That’s a start, and the kind of moves that the Mayor needs to make if this is to have any chance of passing.

  • Nathanael

    “Sales taxes hit the poorest the hardest. We need another means of
    generating a tax base for maintenance that doesn’t hit the poor as hard.”

    That requires state support.  You can do it with the income tax.  Or the estate tax.  Or you can do it with the property tax IF you repeal Prop 13.  Either way, it can’t be done below the state level.  Sales tax is the best option the local governments have available to them — “fees” are even MORE regressive.

  • Dlk825

    I am so glad that someone has guts enough to run against Good Old Mike in the upcoming election,on June 5th 2012. How refreshing and LONG over do.
    The mark of insanity, is to do the same thing over and over again and expect change.
    Truly I will vote for the new challenger because a new broom sweeps clean.

  • Anonymous

    You are referring to glorified home-owners’ associations.  I stand by my statement though I admit that under the GC, a city can call itself a “town” if it wants to.

    Better yet, how about we sell the majority of King Michael’s district to Kern County?

  • Anonymous

    Can’t really blame Mike, I guess, since the GOP fears taxation more than it does physical assault on its sexual organs.

  • calwatch

    The unincorporated area town councils have elections like other bodies. If anything they are similar to those political party central committees.

    And it’s not like Antelope County, or Canyon County (Santa Clarita), haven’t been floated in the best, in the 1970’s. Ironically that had some to do with former Supervisor Baxter Ward’s train obsession. Monorail Mike was seen as more fiscally prudent.

  • Carnageassassin

    I’m sorry but this is where I draw the line.Mike I am so happy someone is running against you I believe the chaps name is Raj and I am very open to a fresh new mind because I honestly think Mike has lost his.

  • Carnageassassin

     Tapman I agree with you that is why I am open to the man running against him we need some new blood In there and I do believe It is time for a change he has been there since the 80’s way way WAY to long. 


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