Q. I want to talk a little about VTA and BART, which is not directly your portfolio, but certainly affects the county. When this first came up in 2000, Mayor Gonzales did an end-run around the supervisors and went straight to the VTA to put it on the ballot. And there was a replay this time when they went to the VTA for a one-eighth cent tax. Does the competition with the hospital parcel tax bother you?
Q. Tell me why.
A. Because I think medical care is the number one issue in this county, in this state, in this country. And to say a capital project such as BART should be the priority troubles me. I see the priority as physical health, mental health, and frankly, education over BART. That’s my personal view.
Q. If I could follow that up, I’d like to ask a question about VTA’s governance. A recent public records request from former Monte Sereno Council Member Mark Brodsky suggested that the VTA and the Leadership Group work very much hand-in-hand. Carl Guardino asks Mike Burns to lobby people. Burns provides help for their lawsuit. They exchange information on speeches. This is quite extensive. Should a public agency and a private lobby be that close?
A. No, they should not. We’ve all in this valley looked at that relationship. I’ve seen the VTA board make decisions on private polling that’s been done by the Leadership Group. We have tried over the years to see the polling. The leadership group is very selective. They will show you some questions, some information. Because they paid for it and it’s a private poll, you don’t see it. But there’s always a sense of uneasiness. Is the VTA board making decisions in public based on what is on the public record? That’s what’s troubling. I don’t want to join in any accusation, but I’m troubled by it.
On the November ballot, although Measure A Valley Medical Center bond receives virtually no opposition (not even an opposition argument was submitted!), it is nonetheless competing with Measure B for votes.
Two years ago, it was SVLG, using private polls, that successfully lobbied the county to place a 1/2 cent general sales tax increase on the ballot. Voters saw through the backroom deal to transfer the money to VTA and rejected the measure.
When the needs are clearly identified, like the earthquake retrofit of the only general hospital in the county, political factions will come together. On the other hand, Measure B demonstrates just the opposite. Considering the fact that VTA is still withholding new cost estimates on the BART project, Measure B should never be placed on the ballot in the first place.