On December 9, 2021 BATWG sent a letter to BART citing the lack of transparency in three key elements of its program; namely, the ongoing redistricting process, its Police City Review Board and its Auditing Committee.
BATWG has major concerns about public transparency and lack of easy access to these and perhaps other BART Board Committee meetings, especially during the pandemic when many meeting are held “virtually.” This problem requires immediate remedial action due to the rapidly-moving BART Board redistricting process. Following are three examples of the kinds of problems produced when relevant public information is kept from the public. Of particular concern right now are the backroom redistricting processes now ongoing, apparently all over the Region.
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BART’s 2021 Redistricting Information is impossible to adequately analyze from what is shown on BART’s website: Since December 9th the quality of the maps has improved. But without a full scale drawing and a means of seeing one map superimposed on another, it is difficult to see precisely how the boundaries of the nine BART districts and their impact on the affected neighborhoods and communities would be affected by Plans A and B. See
In order for there to be meaningful public review and evaluation, there needs to be a better way of displaying the desired changes.
Video recordings of the Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee meetings are known to exist. However, the December 1, 2021 Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee meeting video recording is not available at https://bart.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx To ensure prompt compliance with this request, pursuant to Government Code §§ 6250 et seq., BATWG requested a video recording of the most recent BART Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee meeting. To satisfy this Public Records Act request, BART could upload any such recording to https://bart.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
BART’s Police Citizen Review Board meetings should be conducted with video access and video recordings of its meetings should be available on the BART website. Given the great public interest in recent years in BART’s law enforcement policies and operations, as well as media interest in violent crime and fare evasion within the BART system, it is essential that present and past video recordings of the Police Citizens Review Board be made available for public review and consideration. To ensure prompt compliance with this request, pursuant to Government Code §§ 6250 et seq., BATWG requested a video recording of the most recent BART Police Citizen Review Board meeting. To satisfy this Public Records Act request, BART could upload any such recording to https://bart.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
BART’s Audit Committee meetings should also be conducted with video access and video recordings, available on the BART website. Audio recordings would be insufficient. BART has faced declining fare revenue in the past two years and a surge in construction spending during the pandemic. There is considerable public interest in the BART Inspector General’s reports. BART was reminded of the well-conceived and highly relevant principles set forth in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, principles about Audit Committee independence and of “auditor independence” from corporate management. See: https://www.sec.gov/info/accountants/audit042707.htm These requirements, enacted following the notorious Enron and WorldCom financial scandals, are designed to ensure that auditors are independent of their audit clients. BATWG believes that the open availability of Audit Committee meeting video recordings would help to assure the independence of BART auditors from undue influence and/or control by BART management. Video recordings of Audit Committee meetings would assist the public in evaluating both the independence of the Audit Committee itself and the performance of its members. To ensure prompt compliance with this request, pursuant to Government Code §§ 6250 et seq., BATWG requested a video recording of the most recent BART Audit Committee meeting. To satisfy this Public Records Act request, BART could upload any such recording to https://bart.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
In sum, materials used to develop committee recommendations as well as video recordings of their meetings ought to be readily available, especially during these times of “online”/“virtual” meetings. The BART Board should adopt a policy stating that its committee members should remain “on-camera” during the meetings as much as possible, just as they are expected to remain on the dais during meetings at physical locations, to ensure that the Brown Act’s “public deliberations” requirements are met and that “serial meetings” are not being conducted in off-camera “backrooms.” Past and present video recordings of the important above-listed sub-groups should be placed on the BART website as soon as possible.