NO on AB 1487 Coalition Letter to Governor Newsom

c/o Law Offices of Jason A. Bezis
3661-B Mosswood Drive Lafayette, CA 94549-3509
(925) 708-7073

September 25, 2019

The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor of California
1303 10th Street, Suite 11 73
Sacramento, CA 95814
[VIA and U.S. MAIL]

Re: Recommendation to Veto AB 1487 with Message to Legislature to First Enact Reforms of MTC

Dear Governor Newsom:

This office represents a coalition of organizations, including the Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG), which urge you to veto AB 1487 with a message to the Legislature to investigate the struc­ture, activities and effectiveness of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and to enact necessary reforms of MTC first. MTC is ill-suited to govern a “Housing Finance Authority.”

AB1487 would give significant new power and taxing authority to a “Transportation Commission” that is not qualified to handle housing. Every four years, the eighteen voting MTC commissioners are “selected for their special familiarity with the problems and issues in the field of transportation.” Government Code §66504. The new four-year term began in February 2019. The selection process did not include ‘housing.’

The MTC commissioner selection process is opaque and undemocratic. Our coalition found legal irregularities in seven of the Bay Area’s nine counties in the 2018-19 selection process. ln many cases, commissioners were appointed with literally nothing in writing: no application, no statement of qualifi­cations, not even an e-mail requesting appointment. The Brown Act violations are too numerous to dis­cuss herein. MTC sent letters to many jurisdictions that explicitly asked them to re-appoint the incum­bent. In one case, a 32-year incumbent was re-appointed to another four-year term during a six-minute “special meeting” held in the backroom of an Italian restaurant four days before the November election.

As evidenced by oppressive Bay Area traffic congestion levels and its weak and disjointed “network” of trains and buses, MTC continues to fail in its core transportation mission. This failure sterns in large part because instead of undertaking authentic “regional” transportation analysis, MTC continually funds “pork barrel” projects designed to satisfy parochial political interests rather than meet regional needs. Despite the billions spent on public transit capital projects and implementation of MTC’s SB 375 ‘Sustainable Communities Strategy,” per capita transit usage in the Bay Area has declined over the past 40 years.

In seeking to carry out the objectives of its parochial components, MTC frequently resorts to dishonest practices. It has been known to alter EIR language to make a favored project/program look better and the alternatives worse. In some cases it has refused to even consider viable alternatives. Last December, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) made an extraordinary finding that BART illegally used public resources to influence voters to pass bond Measure RR in 2016. The FPPC publicly called upon Attorney General Becerra and Bay Area district attorneys to open criminal investigations. Now the FPPC is investigating similar misconduct by MTC to influence voters to pass the Regional Measure 3 toll increase in 2018. MTC likely would be alead agency for the proposed $100 billion Faster Bay Area “mega-measure.” As indicated, given this pattern of abuse, instead of vesting MTC with new taxing authority, the State of California should conduct an objective and detailed investigation of that agency.

For these reasons, BATWG and the coalition urge that you veto AB 1487 and call for reform of MTC.


JASON A. BEZIS, Attorney for “No on AB 1487″/BATWG coalition

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