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Editorial: Pull the plug on VTA

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  • 6/29 Gilroy Dispatch
    Published Tuesday, June 29, 2004, in the Gilroy Dispatch Editorial Pull the plug on VTA: elect and reorganize Here are a pair of hearty Amens to two
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2004
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      Published Tuesday, June 29, 2004, in the Gilroy Dispatch

      Editorial

      Pull the plug on VTA: elect and reorganize

      Here are a pair of hearty "Amens" to two recommendations contained in
      an in-depth grand jury report on the Valley Transportation Authority.

      The grand jury concluded that the public transit agency is badly
      managed by a board that is too political, badly distracted and overly
      reliant on staff members, and that building a BART-to-San Jose
      extension will financially cripple the VTA.

      Our first enthusiastic "Amen" is for the grand jury's recommendation
      that the VTA immediately stop spending money on the doomed
      BART-to-San-Jose extension. The report said that BART won't be able
      to afford the project for two decades.

      The 16.3-mile construction project will be bankrupt by 2009 and be in
      a $1.9 billion hole by 2013, according to a 2003 report by the VTA's
      own chief financial officer. Like us, the grand jury is incredulous
      that the VTA continues to spend money on a BART extension as if that
      report were never issued.

      That fiscal doomsday report just addressed the cost to build the BART
      boondoggle. It doesn't even begin to address the mammoth subsidy
      operating the transit system will require.

      Clearly, as we've said for a long time, the VTA can't begin to afford
      to build or operate a BART-to-San-Jose extension. Building the
      BART-to-San-Jose extension means that expanding and improving Caltrain
      service in South County, improving local and regional bus service,
      marketing the transit services the VTA already offers to reduce the
      huge subsidy taxpayers pay for every rider, will not happen.

      Our second hearty "Amen" concerns the grand jury's recommendation that
      the VTA board of directors be reorganized. We like the idea of
      directly electing the board, but we're not so sure about the idea of
      reducing the size. South Valley already shares representation on the
      board with Milpitas, a city with whom we have very little in common.
      Reducing the size of the VTA board will increase the likelihood that
      South Valley will be represented by board members with conflicting
      interests.

      The VTA board needs to be reorganized and directly elected to provide
      a more focused board made up of directors who are directly responsible
      to taxpayers. We are concerned, however, that the grand jury report
      cites the Santa Clara Valley Water District -- the agency that
      recently approved a hefty 25 percent rate increase to help pay for
      rapidly increasing handsome employee salaries and benefits -- as a
      good model.

      The grand jury report carries no legal weight but does require the VTA
      to prepare a formal response. Let's make sure the VTA knows that BART
      to San Jose and a business-as-usual board should be things of the
      past.

      We urge South Valley residents to get involved. The first step is to
      read the report. It's available online at
      <http://www.sccsuperiorcourt.org/jury/GJ.html>. Then, contact your
      city and county representatives to make your views known. Copy the
      VTA's board of directors on any correspondence.

      If we say "Amen" loud enough and often enough, perhaps the VTA board
      will take off its political rose-tinted glasses, take a hard look at
      itself and the BART extension proposal and make some important
      changes.
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