Sunday, October 26, 2008

Retiring County Executive Pete Kutras finds VTA/SVLG relationship troubling

In an interview by Scott Herhold on County Executive Pete Kutras' upcoming retirement:

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?

A. Yes.

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.


Anonymous said...

Carl Guardino is out of control. His handling of measure B and the 2006 measure A demonstrates he cannot be trusted.

There are numerous elected officials who have grown tired of his lies and threats and bullying tactics like trying to remove people from the VTA board who disagree with him. Outrageous behavior.

The "leadership" group needs a new "leader".

David Packard is rolling in his grave.

Anonymous said...

Having seen Carl Guardino speak, I rather agree. I used to be fairly neutral on this whole BART issue, and thought the talk of "downtown delusionals" was itself a little wacky. But then I saw Carl Guardino, at an event that was about bicycle safety. But he took every single opportunity he could to bring up BART and how BART will make San Jose a great city and so on. It was incredibly annoying to say the least, but really, he does seem to have a fixation on BART.

accountablevta said...

The whole Yes on B campaign shows the madness of that.

I guess that you won't anywhere in the country, or anywhere in the world for that matter, where some "leaders" are fixated on a certain brand of trains, and where they would go out of their way to attack anyone who speaks otherwise.