Snap Legal Decisions

(Based on my comments before the MTA board of directors on November 30, 2000.)

MTA's board of directors needs to learn how to refrain from asking the County Counsel from making snap decisions to justify their ill-conceived proposals.

Responding to concerns I raised during public comment on the Burbank-Chandler busway proposal, the board asked counsel if MTA would forfeit the state funds used to purchase that right-of-way, and counsel said they wouldn't.

Had the board given counsel time to properly research the question, they would have received a different answer. I did research the original Proposition 108 language that applies, and it says that if MTA constructs a busway on that corridor, they must convert it to light rail within ten years, or they still forfeit those funds ... with interest.

In my Los Angeles Times op-ed article on the subject, I calculated that the busway would cost MTA $60 million in forfeited state funds. If the Authority proceeds without planning for light rail, they had best plan for at least another $20 million in interest. How many hours of transit service can $20 million fund?

If the MTA board thinks they are going to get a waiver on this, they need to realize that since Proposition 108 was a statewide ballot initiative, it would require both houses of the State Legislature to agree to put a new measure on the ballot to create the waiver, then the electorate would have to agree with their votes. What are the chances of all that happening?

It's time for the politicians on the board to stop thinking they're going to get their busway.

(Addendum: The Metro Orange Line has been in service since October 30, 2005; since then, the clock has been ticking toward 2015, unnoticed.)

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