Claremont Insider: Measure R Goes to the Voters

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Measure R Goes to the Voters

LA Times transportation writer and blogger Steve Hymon has an article describing Measure R, the LA Metropolitan Transportation Authority's half-cent county sales tax increase ballot measure. The measure is on next Tuesday's Los Angeles County ballot.

Measure R's potential revenue is supposed to fund traffic and transportation projects such as the so-called Subway-to-the-Sea on LA's westside. The measure has been opposed by some San Gabriel Valley groups and politicians who argue that the money generated would be not be evenly distributed and is unfairly LA-centric.

The article lays out the measure's supporters and opponents:

Who is for and against Measure R?

There is a healthy list of elected officials on both sides of the issue. Editorials among daily newspapers have varied -- The Times, the Daily News, the Daily Breeze and La Opinion are for Measure R and the Press-Telegram, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and the Antelope Valley Press are against, to name a few.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce support it.

Among prominent politicians, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) have been the most vocal proponents.

Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe and Gloria Molina have been fighting the measure, saying the MTA's spending plan favors the Westside and denies other parts of the county their fair share of sales tax revenues.

The MTA and Measure R supporters rebut that, pointing to a variety of projects that would be built in different parts of the county.

Claremont Mayor Ellen Taylor recently had an opinion piece in the Claremont Courier that argued against the sales tax proposal. Taylor mentioned the MTA decision earlier this year to deny $80 million in MTA funds to the Gold Line Foothill Extension with the promise of Measure R funds. The trouble was that the the MTA's failure to fund the $80 million resulted in the Gold Line Extension being denied $320 million in federal funds for the project. The feds were requiring MTA to supply the $80 million as matching money.

Instead, MTA is dangling the prospect of $735 million from the Measure R honeypot for the Gold Line. However, there is no guarantee that LA Mayor Antonio Villarigosa, who is the primary force behind Measure R, won't raid the promised Gold Line funds to fund other projects in his city, including the westside subway. Taylor's article states that "the last time the MTA committed mass transit funds to the San Gabriel Valley was nearly 3 decades ago," so according to line of thinking, there is probably no reason to believe that the MTA would suddenly change 30 years of behavior once the election is over.

It is more than a little ironic, though, to see Taylor and the city of Claremont having to fight a much larger governmental entity. Karma's a bear to deal with, as Taylor may be learning by getting a little of the ol' Taylor treatment thrown back at her. There are always bigger fish in the local agency sea, and one would hope that Taylor and the city would remember the experience of being unfairly snubbed and ignored the next time a Claremont area resident comes before them with a objections to a city project or initiative.