Solano County Board of Supervisors
675 Texas Street, Suite 6500
Fairfield, CA 94533
Solano County MTC nominee #1: Mayor Harry Price, City of Fairfield
Solano County MTC nominee #2: Mayor Bob Sampayan, City of Vallejo
Solano County MTC nominee #3: Supervisor James Spering, Solano County
Subject: February 5, 2019 Board of Supervisors’ MTC Appointment (Agenda Item No. 15)
Dear Supervisors and MTC nominees:
Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) is an all-volunteer organization formed in 2012 to keep up with and respond to ongoing Bay Area transportation issues and events. Our primary objective is to find ways of easing regional traffic congestion by improving the reliability and general appeal of the Region’s passenger rail and bus systems.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is a powerful body that controls billions of dollars of transportation funds and shapes housing policy in the nine-county Bay Area. All 450,000 Solano County residents have a stake in MTC’s decisions. The Board of Supervisors’ appointment to MTC for the next four-year term (2019-23) is therefore very important.
BATWG therefore requests that the three MTC nominees provide brief written answers to the following questions concerning MTC. BATWG also requests that the answers to these and other relevant questions be discussed in detail at your February 5th meeting:
(1) Regional Measure 3 (RM3), which increases bridge tolls by $3.00, a 60 percent increase, was rejected by 70 percent of Solano County voters last June. The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), controlled by MTC, proposed and promoted RM3. Did you support or oppose RM3? Why? Do you agree with the RM3 provision that allows BATA/MTC to henceforth increase bridge tolls without ever again having to seeking voter approval?
(2) The Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) is a major new MTC initiative concerning housing that proposes new taxes and gives MTC significant new powers over residential development in the greater Bay Area. Solano County’s representatives (Monica Brown and Thomas Bogue) voted against CASA at the January 17th Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) meeting. Do you support or oppose CASA? Why?
(3) MTC spent $256 million (53 percent over budget) to build a new headquarters in San Francisco, requiring most Solano County residents to cross a second toll bridge to conduct business there. Do you agree with the decisions to move the headquarters from Oakland and to divert more than $100 million in bridge toll revenue to this project?
(4) MTC lost more than $100 million in a failed Wall Street “interest rate swap” investment scheme. If you were to be appointed Solano County’s MTC commissioner, what actions would you take to prevent such fiscal mismanagement from occurring in the future?
(5) Outgoing MTC executive director Steve Heminger was controversial during his 18-year tenure. As a July 2018 East Bay Times editorial put it, “Good Riddance to the Bay Area’s Transportation Czar. Heminger touts his agency as ‘action-oriented and project-based,’ but that has translated into piecemeal construction, pathetic planning and a lack of long-range vision. The agency merely hands out money for one politically popular project after another with little sense of where it will all lead.” Do you agree? As Solano County’s MTC commissioner, how would you exercise your oversight powers over the MTC executive director? How would you work to ensure that MTC’s regional transportation plans were sound and in the long range best interest of the Region?
(6) Federal law requires “public participation” in MTC projects and programs. Is MTC currently fulfilling this requirement effectively? Why or why not?
(7) Does the MTC commissioner selection process in Solano County currently conform to the Brown Act and the MTC enabling legislation? If not how could the process be improved?
By this letter BATWG submits these questions to the county supervisors who will decide the appointment and to the three nominees. It is hoped that written replies from each of the nominees can be made available by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, February 4th so that we can share them with our Solano County members, Solano County news outlets and the wider public. BATWG requests that at your Tuesday morning Board meeting each of the three nominees be given the opportunity to answer these and other questions concerning the mission, goals and operations of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
As indicated, BATWG regards the forthcoming appointments to MTC to be critically important, deserving of objective and thoughtful consideration.
Gerald Cauthen, President
Bay Area Transportation Working Group
cc: Solano County news outlets
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