Sunday, November 11, 2012

Did the 710 Tunnel Help Kill Measure J?

Ron Kaye, the somewhat legendary journalistic solon of Los Angeles County politics, and who has written for more sites and publications than even I know about, summed up the defeat of Measure J in a most eloquent way. And there is nothing that invites eloquence more than a well-deserved beating at the ballot box. This from the Glendale News Press:

We can’t keep on destroying the public transit system in order to save it — that surely is the lesson we need to learn from the defeat of Measure J on Tuesday.

We all want a real public transit system. We want to park our cars and ride comfortably to where we want to go. But Measure J was phony, a taxpayer rip-off that was brought down by an extraordinary coalition of the rich and poor and so many from virtually every corner of the region. It was historic and offers a blueprint of what people can do in defense of their own interests if they respect the interests of others.

For more than a century, the rich got richer profiting from sprawling development of this giant county. The demographics may have changed, but greed knows no racial or other boundaries, and so they are seeking to profit from vertical — rather than horizontal — development without building the kind of public transit system that is needed. 

The King of Greed in L.A. today, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — in a desperate effort to salvage his own political legacy — drove support for Measure R four years ago knowing full well the $30 billion from a one-half-percent sales tax hike over 30 years was a fraction of the cost of building the subways, light rails, freeways and bridges he sought.

The transportation lobby — with generous aid from contractors, consultants, construction trades and naifs, like cyclists — managed to fool two-thirds of voters.

Needing a lot more money, they lobbied Congress — Republicans and Democrats alike — for billions as if the largest city in the largest state that always votes Democratic has any real leverage. The result was they got far less than needed, so they came up with Measure J to borrow against another 30 years of sales tax revenue — as much as $90 billion — to have a chance to deliver what they had promised.

One of the problems that Measure J faced is that it required the approval of 2/3s of the voters to pass. California law states that if you wish to raise a local tax, which is what this half a penny on the buck sales tax increase would have been once you got past the year 2039, it needed to get over 66.67% or so of the vote. Measure J only received 64.64% of the vote. Measure R, the 2008 counterpart and the foundation of Measure J, passed with 67.22% of the vote.

At 8.75% Los Angeles County currently has the second highest sales tax rate in all of California. Only Alameda County has a higher sales tax rate. A little something for those of you who like to refer to the "price of a latte'" tax index.

Most of the press analyzing Measure J's defeat does cite what Ron Kaye called an "extraordinary coalition." With something called the Bus Riders Union, a somewhat militant "working class" organization dedicated to the cause of the transportation oppressed, getting a big share of the credit. However, many of these are publications that concern themselves with L.A. City issues, which in part explains their focus on that particular organization. Here bus riders are not quite so common, and likely lack the numbers or initiative to make very much noise. We do see occasional buses here in Sierra Madre, but only rarely do you ever see more than a few people on them. Not many of them look particularly militant.

For the record, I have nothing against the Bus Rider's Union. Quite the opposite, actually. I pretty much am sympathetic to any organization or group that stands up for the rights of citizens against dishonest government. And by slashing bus budgets in favor of such gentrified interests as "the subway to the sea," people like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa deserve everything that the BRU has thrown at him.

So here is where we're going. Many San Gabriel Valley cities voted against Measure J at a higher rate than they did 2008's Measure R. And vote to approve declines here were in line with declines seen throughout Los Angeles County. While Measure J did get above an irrelevant 50% of the vote in most of our area cities (and far less than in L.A. City proper), it did so at percentages that were less than in 2008. And with local tax measures requiring 2/3s of the vote to carry in this state, any incremental vote declines can prove devastating.

Here is how the Measure R (2008) versus Measure J (2012) vote to approve percentages broke down in the area cities most effected by Metro's attempts to build the 710 Tunnel:

Arcadia: Measure R 56.1% / Measure J 55.2% (- 0.9)
Glendale: Measure R 65.1% / Measure J 63.8% (- 1.3%)
La Canada Flintridge: Measure R 52.8% / Measure J 49.6% (- 3.2%)
Monrovia: Measure R 60.3% / Measure J 56.8% (- 3.5%)
Pasadena: Measure R 69.2% / Measure J 62.8% (- 6.4%)
San Dimas: Measure R 55.9% / Measure J 51.5% (- 4.4%)
Sierra Madre: Measure R 57.8% / Measure J 54.9% (- 3.0%)
South Pasadena: Measure R 66.3% / Measure J 62.7% (- 3.7%)

So what is the overall local concern that would have driven Measure J's portion of the vote down here in happy valley? I don't think it was the bus issue. Rather it would have to be the 710 Tunnel. Metro, which would have been the big $90 billion dollar beneficiary had Measure J passed, is the "lead agency" in the attempt to link the 710 freeway with our own 210 freeway. Something that would have devastating ecological and traffic congestion related effects for folks such as us.

There is also the matter of Metro's arrogance and untruthfulness as a bureaucracy. Their disingenuous attempts to peddle the 710 Tunnel as only one of many possible options being considered during this so-called "process" has not impressed. It is clearly obvious that the 710 Tunnel has always been Metro's only real focus, and any attempts to convince people otherwise merely public relations and marketing.

It could very well be that voters in our part of the San Gabriel Valley helped to put a stake through the 710 Tunnel when they voted in increased numbers against Measure J. And while we are not getting a whole lot of credit for this breakthrough in civic consciousness, it is quite a victory nonetheless.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

55 comments:

  1. Perhaps they voted against Measure J to stop the Tunnel, but then why did they vote so overwhelmingly for Chris Holden, tunnel advocate?

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    1. The swing in the anti-sales tax vote in this area averaged around 5% to 6%. Perhaps Holden might have gotten 5% more of the vote if he had actually represented the interests of this area on the 710 Tunnel question? It was enough to help kill Measure J, but not enough to stop the Great Pumpkin. And let's face it, the political machine that runs LA County could run a jar of pickles for office and most of the idiots would vote that way.

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    2. Holden's opponent, Lowe, was identified from the beginning as a Tea Partier. I know people who were opposed to Holden and the tunnel, but voted for him anyway, because they considered Lowe an extremist.

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    3. Holden is a lockstep party functionary completely in the palm of special interests. How can that not be considered extreme?

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    4. Next to the Far Right?

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    5. I'd be comfortable saying they might be considered two sides of the same picture. It is all we seem to get these days. Slug butt party hacks and radicals. It is not a pretty picture. Personally I'd prefer the radicals. At least they'd go to Sacramento with the purpose of turning the place upside down. As opposed to what it is now, which is a den of fat thieves.

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    6. That's me, 10:17 am! Count me in that group. I'm not 100% behind Holden but I know I'm 100% against Lowe. It's a clear case of a "the devil you know" choice! Nicely pointed out, by the way.

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    7. If you are for Holden, then you are 100% behind.

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    8. It's true Lowe would shake things up - but imagine Lowe gaining power and numbers. Still think it's a good idea?

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    9. Los Angeles County is run by a one party government that is considered to be among the most corrupt in America. Some argue that even Chicago itself is now #2 on that list. The Hahn/Holden political machine has been a contributing factor to this malaise for decades. You really expect me to vote for that? Really?

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    10. So who is Holden beholden to?

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    11. Holden is beholden to unions, Democratic Party and name recognition. Remember, his father has been active in politics for years. You who were so afraid to vote to send Lowe to Sacramento contributed to the worst legislature in California history. Now they are able to raise taxes, repeal Prop. 13, and go full steam ahead for their development agenda of stack and pack with no opposition. Thanks, non-thinkers.

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    12. The Democrats saved the middle class. For dessert.

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    13. Tim Donnelly is still my Assemblyman.

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  2. Holden received 57.6% of the vote. Anthony Portantino, running in much of the same district in 2010, got about 5% more of the vote than Holden. So yeah, there could have been a tunnel effect.

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  3. If that is what makes you feel good about yourself then who am I to deny your false assumptions.

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    1. Quick question. How's that Measure U working out for you?

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    2. 8:52 if you could be just a bit more specific?

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    3. I think 8:52 does not want anyone to believe that people can vote with the interests of their communties in mind.

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    4. It's just that it's such a bratty remark, I'd like to respond, but it really isn't clear what s/he is referring to - it's a free floating slur without a point.

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    5. It's an ad hominem. All the trolls do it.

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  4. I have been voting in this great country for 50 years, and I cannot remember a time when I voted for who I thought was best. It's not like that. You vote against people, not for.

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    1. Good. I voted against Holden.

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    2. I voted against Lowe. Looks like we canceled each other out.
      Wonder what it's like to actually vote for someone?

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    3. I voted for Lowe. You voted for a third tier pol.

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    4. You voted for a dangerous small-minded zealot.

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    5. Your vote abetted a criminal enterprise. You should fall on your knees and thank God that you live in a country where the ballot is secret.

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    6. The attraction to extremism is clear.

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    7. Is 11:54 talking about going after people because of their vote? Must be someone checking in from the Middle East.

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    8. Either that or someone from the LA County Democratic Central Committee.

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    9. Probably Eric Bauman. The guy who does all those robo-calls for those guys.

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    10. Can someone please explain to me why it is extreme to want to lower taxes and reduce the number of onerous regulations that are driving businesses out of California.
      Please be specific so I can understand your position.

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    11. Government employees in particular find it to be extreme because one of the effects could be that they will have to go out and fend for themselves in the private marketplace. Something they are far too tender and sweet to do successfully.

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  5. I have another theory as to why Measure J failed the 2/3rds vote level.

    So many problems surfaced after Measure R was was passed, some felt the money was wasted in worthless lawsuits connected to shady political actors in local governments.

    But the cherry that topped this all off was, Nick Conway and his SGVCOG failures, some of the same local government political actors were involved with SGVCOG and Measure R and then connected directly to Measure J.

    In the voters minds, who were not going to KEPP feeding a broken system or another play filled with BAD political actors anymore.

    The electorate is more than will to wait and see if all those BAD political actors are brought to justice and removed from the system completely once and for all.

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    1. The Conway effect! Yes.

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  6. Is there any money pot around here that Conway and his pals didn't have a tentacle or two in?

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  7. What do ya know, Conway did us a favor. Corruption so obvious, that even the most uninvolved citizen's had to notice.

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    1. Yeah, but there are still plenty of crooks involved.

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  8. Is it just me, or do some of the posters today seem upset about linking "No on Measure J" votes to Metro's bad faith on the 710 Tunnel?

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    1. Defeats are hard to process.

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    2. Measure J was far more impactful regionally than the 710 Tunnel. The Tattler is somewhat myoptic in that regard. I can't imagine the San Fernando Valley or La Habra Heights cared nearly as much about the issue as those of us who live in the San Gabriel Valley.

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    3. The article, should you get around to reading it, points out rather specifically that the 710 Tunnel was only one aspect in many that contributed to the demise of Measure J. There are some neighborhoods in LA County where people are not all that impressed with Metro, and those living there did not see much wisdom in handing them $90 billion more dollars with very few strings attached. Enough of them took it out on Measure J, and it failed.

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  9. Why would you not want a tunnel discharging daily: thousands of trucks and cars sending tons of carcinogens into our communities; or the replication of the 10 Freeway industrial ribbon running on both sides from DT LA to the 15 Freeway distroying any chance of residential uses; big rigs "having their way" with cars; noise ricocheting off the many hills that line the 210; expanding the "210 commuter parking lot" currently from 7 to 11 A.M. and 3 to 7 P.M. to god only knows when? And of course there is the earthquake looming in our future. I am sure Cal Trans along with Consultants can guarantee this will not cause any problems because of our super duper construction knowledge and reassurances of contractors, which reminds me of the comment from the farmer when his cow died; "thats the first time she ever did that!"

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    1. Freight out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach should be put on trains and taken inland that way. That is how they do it in real cities. Putting Wal*Mart and Target bound junk on our freeways is insanity. The air and the crowding is bad enough as it is. You can only wonder whose pockets are being filled by these trucking companies.

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    2. Please research Alameda Corridor and Alameda Corridor East...geesh!!!

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    3. Dear Geesh - Tell us why neither of them do anything worthwhile.

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    4. Rail is only a viable option for the goods going further than 500-700 miles from LA. There are good projects to unload containers directly from the ships at the port, then move them to rail to move to railyards where the containers can be broken down - projects like the SCIG. But in the 500-700 mile radius around SoCal, there are tens of millions of consumers who need goods, and those goods are most cost effectively moved by truck. So we're going to need to support goods movement by truck whether we like it or not.

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    5. Who's we, Sam?

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  10. Not From Your Town, Though It Is Nice ThereNovember 11, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    You folks do realize that Metro will try this again. $90 billion is a lot for them to leave on the table. Get ready.

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  11. Don't hold your breaths - read in the paper today that Prop. J is teetering on the edge with many more votes to be counted.

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    1. Check the date. Remember, it is now November 11, 2012.

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  12. First Metro has to seperate ACE from SGVCOG.

    SGVCOG broke a "golden rule" never bring undo attention to your self, never get caught and if you do remove and bury that person or person's quick as possible.

    SGVCOG will be given a choice very soon, seperate from ACE or you'll have to drink the kool-aid and you all will fall away.

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    1. Most of the cash the COG got was Fed in origin. And the Feds won't touch them any more. Too dirty. ACE knows the COG is dead, that is why they are trying to claw their way out.

      The only people who don't seem to know this are the COG people who attend those stupid meetings.

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  13. For me the real problem is the fact that Metro has been given the power to move forward with tax proposals at all! The agency is not one created by the public or who has representatives who are specifically elected to the Metro board.

    These clowns will continue to spend OUR money to throw different tax schemes at us until they get one that sticks.

    Metro board positions should be elected positions so that we can throw them out of office when they misuse our funds.

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    1. What I want to know is the source of Metro's power. Who is pushing them to build this tunnel? They can't be making these decisions on their own, can they?

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