Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Shocked?" "astonished?" ...more like "we told you so!"

At yesterday's VTA board workshop, the boardmembers who naively believed in Michael Burns' words last fall now found themselves "shocked" and "astonished" over the bleak financial projections presented by staff and consultants.

They were also "surprised" to hear that the BART project could only be built in phases. VTA released its updated costs for the BART project, which VTA insisted that it must be withheld from the public before last year's election. Overall, the total cost for the line to Santa Clara has grown to $6.1 billion, which is not escalated to the year of completion, and does not include financing cost.

For us, there's nothing shocking:

Given the results, it is unlikely for voters to approve a third tax for the same project in the next 8 years, if not longer. VTA will have no choice but to build a shorter line (which was never put on the table before by VTA until right after the election) with the funding it already has. At the end, it may not be a win for the downtown delusionals who want nothing but a subway.

And that Guardino and Burns cheated the county taxpayers:

Although it may seem like an outcome of the Measure B vote, the Berryessa segment is actually a project that VTA could undertake without Measure B. VTA intentionally delayed in committing a feasible funding plan so that VTA could pretend that they really need the tax. Perhaps Measure B opponents like Rick DiNapoli and Bill Baron were right that the tax was actually to backfill VTA's inefficient operation.

Michael Burns knows as much as we do, but what he did was that he controlled the flow of information. Before the election, he said that VTA had the money to build the entire BART project but not to run it. Today, he said that VTA could only afford to build the line to Berryessa. Last month, VTA presented a revised operating plan for July that is supposed to keep the same level of transit service with no budget cuts. Now, transit service is on the chopping block. Also in January, Burns asked the VTA board to approve an updated Short Range Transit Plan that has an operating reserve of $50 million, which would continue to grow for years to come. Today, Burns presented a new projection that would eat up all the reserves.

The economy was already in poor shape months before the election. It should be a no-brainer to know that VTA would be in a deep crisis soon. Burns withheld information at the time when voters were deciding whether to trust VTA, and only release bad news when voters no longer matter to VTA.


Nick said...

Now's the time to keep on asking the question: is BART from Fremont to Berryessa really better than commuter trains from Fremont all the way to San Jose?

accountablevta said...

I doubt that the VTA will pay attention. Some of the board members are still shocked about it and are in the denial mode.

If it weren't for the board members' delusions and professional negligence on the part of Michael Burns, VTA wouldn't be where it is now.

Anonymous said...

Here's an overall update: the VTA recently overpaid on their new bus procurement to the tune of $20,000 each. Multiply that by every 100 buses they buy at a whack and the County loses $2 million.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, how much does Michael Burn's make in total? You too would be shocked...