Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cargo ships stack up as L.A. port strike in seventh day

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/03/us-usa-port-losangeles-idUSBRE8B21BH20121203

LOS ANGELES | Mon Dec 3, 2012 6:41pm EST

(Reuters) - Freighters with no place to unload cargo lined up at anchorages off Los Angeles and Long Beach for a seventh day on Monday as shippers and striking clerks resumed talks to end a labor dispute that has idled most of America's biggest container port complex.

With mounting economic losses estimated at several billion dollars, the strike marks the largest cargo traffic disruption at the twin Southern California harbor facilities since a 10-day lockout of longshoremen at several West Coast ports in 2002.

Unlike the labor clash a decade ago, which took place in the fall, the latest dispute is unfolding after the busy pre-holiday shipping season, limiting the scope of its ripple effect.

Major U.S. retailers, including Target and Home Depot, said they have so far been largely unaffected by the strike because the bulk of their Christmastime inventory has already made it to store shelves.

But the National Retail Federation has asked President Barack Obama to intervene, warning that a prolonged strike could have a "devastating impact on the U.S. economy."

The brunt of the latest dispute at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together account for nearly 40 percent of all U.S. cargo container imports, has been borne mostly by dock workers and truckers in the region.

Terminal operators also worry about lost business as some cargo is diverted to competing ports.

Striking port clerks remained at loggerheads on Monday with shippers and terminal owners over the future of union representation for clerical jobs after employees retire. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 has so far resisted calls for outside mediation.

The 800-member clerical workers unit of the ILWU local walked off the job on Tuesday, with some 10,000 longshoremen and other union members refusing to cross picket lines, forcing a shutdown at 10 of the twin ports' 14 container terminals.

SHIPPING TRAFFIC STALLED OR DIVERTED

Four other container terminals remained open, along with facilities for handling shipments of automobiles, liquid fuels and break-bulk cargo such as raw steel.

The overall economic impact of the strike has been estimated to run at more than $1 billion a day - including lost wages of dock workers, truckers and others idled by the walkout and the value of cargo rerouted by shippers.

The strike has prompted at least 11 freighters to change course and take their cargo to ports in Northern California, Mexico and Panama, according to the non-profit Maritime Exchange of Southern California, which tracks shipping in the region.

Another 11 ships were waiting at anchorages outside the Los Angeles-Long Beach complex, unable to discharge their cargo, said Dick McKenna, executive director of the Maritime Exchange.

"Shippers are a conservative bunch. If there is no reliability at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, they'll go someplace else," said Steve Getzug, a spokesman for the Harbor Employers Association, representing shippers and terminal operators in the labor talks.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent a letter to negotiators for both sides on Monday urging them to bring in a mediator to help resolve the dispute and to stay at the bargaining table around the clock until an agreement is reached.

The Harbor Trucking Association, representing 8,000 truck drivers, called on Monday for the Federal Maritime Commission to bring greater pressure to bear for a settlement.

Marathon negotiations over the weekend, capped by another exchange of proposals, failed to produce a breakthrough.

John Fageaux, head of the ILWU Local's clerical workers union, criticized management's negotiators for calling a break in the talks on Saturday night, saying, "We were prepared to bargain all night."

Getzug, of the employers association, said they were "trying to move this thing along as quickly as possible," and that the companies would welcome a mediator.

ILWU leaders are demanding that jobs traditionally performed by their members remain classified as union work and subject to the union's contract terms, even after employees holding them retire. The employers insist on reserving the right to fill only those jobs that need to be filled.

HOLIDAY-SEASON SHIPMENTS UNSCATHED

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together handled more than $400 billion in goods arriving or leaving the West Coast by ship last year.

The two ports directly or indirectly support roughly 1.2 million Southern California jobs - workers involved in moving freight to or from the shipping complex, experts say.

A number of retailers told Reuters their holiday-season merchandise was already in the supply chain and that they were using other ports around the country as needed to divert incoming shipments.
Companies such as Lowe's and clothing retailer Aeropostale said they have yet to feel a pinch from the strike, though they were prepared to make adjustments as needed.

"We're asking ourselves why the striking union waited this long to act, when it would have had more leverage with a big threat to the holiday season," Caris & Co analyst Dorothy Lakner said in a research note.

Shippers agreed that it was mostly a wait-and-see game for now, though the season was in their favor.

The "peak transportation season for Christmas holiday has almost been over and it is weak season for container shipment now," Zhang Shouguo, chairman of the China Shipowners Association, told Reuters.

Los Angeles port strike triggers fears, lobbying by businesses

 http://news.yahoo.com/los-angeles-port-strike-triggers-fears-lobbying-businesses-025151606.html

Reuters) - A national coalition of U.S. business groups is urging an end to a strike at the twin California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach amid fears that a prolonged stand-off will cost the American economy many billions of dollars, and could even spread to the east coast.

Trade groups led by the National Retail Federation have sent letters to U.S. President Barack Obama and leading members of Congress asking them to intervene and help end the strike at America's two busiest container harbor facilities. Those industry groups say the strike, which entered its sixth day on Sunday, is already costing $1 billion a day.

The labor dispute has been triggered by 500 clerical workers at the ports, members of the relatively small Office of Clerical Union Workers. Their industrial action and clout has been significantly strengthened because some 10,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have supported them, refusing to cross the clerical workers' picket lines.

Their action has effectively shut down 10 of the two ports' combined 14 container terminals. Four other container terminals have remained opened, along with facilities for handling break-bulk cargo such as raw steel and tanker traffic.
 
Industry groups say they have fresh memories of a 10-day lockout at West Coast ports in 2002. They estimate that dispute cost the U.S. economy $1 billion a day and that it took six months before the supply chains fully recovered.

Groups are also warily monitoring an ongoing labor dispute between the International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance which could affect ports from Maine to Texas.
The employment contract between the two groups expired at the end of September without a new 
agreement. The contract was temporarily extended for 90 days, until the end of this year. A federal mediator has stepped in to oversee negotiations to try an avert a strike that would hit at least 14 ports along the East and Gulf coasts.

"Our members are very nervous and very upset about the impact of the (Los Angeles) strike on their businesses," said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation.

"We have had a lot of feedback. They have very fresh memories of what happened in 2002 and what is happening on the east coast."

Gold said his organization has been working with groups including the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the Retail Industry Leaders Industry Association and the Harbor Truckers Association to pressure lawmakers in Washington to end the stand-off.

The NRF sent a letter to Obama last week asking him to intervene. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, California's two Democratic senators, have also urged both sides to resolve the dispute.

Negotiations ran late into Saturday and continued Sunday. The clerks had been without a contract for more than two years when labor talks with management broke off on Monday. The chief stumbling block has been the future of union representation for jobs that are lost through retirement.

ILWU leaders are demanding that jobs traditionally performed by their members remain classified as union work and subject to the union's contract terms, even after individuals holding those jobs retire. They accuse the management of seeking to outsource union clerical jobs to overseas workers paid far less in wages and benefits.

The Port of Los Angeles, the nation's busiest container harbor facility, and second-ranked Long Beach together handled more than $400 billion in goods arriving or leaving the West Coast by ship, L.A. port spokesman Philip Sanfield said.

Police raid Japan tunnel operator after collapse

 http://news.yahoo.com/police-raid-japan-tunnel-operator-collapse-023650210.html

TOKYO (AP) — Police were searching the offices Tuesday of the company operating an expressway tunnel where hundreds of concrete ceiling slabs collapsed onto moving vehicles below, killing nine people.

Those killed in Sunday's accident were traveling in three vehicles in the 4.7-kilometer (3-mile) long Sasago Tunnel about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Tokyo. The transport ministry has ordered inspections of 49 other highway and road tunnels of similar construction around the mountainous country. The tunnel, on a highway that links the capital to central Japan, opened in 1977.

About a dozen uniformed police were shown on television entering the headquarters of Central Japan Expressway Co. early Tuesday, toting cardboard and plastic boxes.

"Yes they are searching our offices here. We will be fully cooperating with them," said Osamu Funahashi, an official at the government-owned company.

Police and the highway operator are investigating why the concrete slabs in the Sasago Tunnel collapsed. An inspection of the tunnel's roof in September found nothing amiss, according to Satoshi Noguchi, another company official.

An estimated 270 concrete slabs, each weighing 1.4 metric tons (1.54 short tons), suspended from the arched roof of the tunnel fell over a stretch of about 110 meters (120 yards), Noguchi said.

The operator was exploring the possibility that bolts holding a metal piece suspending the panels above the road had become aged, he said. The panels, measuring about 5 meters (16 feet) by 1.2 meters (4 feet), and 8 centimeters (3 inches) thick, were installed when the tunnel was constructed in 1977.

Recovery work at the tunnel was suspended Monday while the roof was being reinforced to prevent more collapses, said Jun Goto, an official at the Fire and Disaster Management Agency

Yoshihiro Seto, an officer with the Yamanashi prefectural police, said they can't rule out that there are more bodies or survivors in the tunnel, but the possibility is low. Goto said they hope to resume recovery work on Tuesday.

Two people suffered injuries in the collapse.

Thoughts on “The Source ponders Measure J’s loss at the polls” 

 http://thesource.metro.net/2012/11/07/the-source-ponders-measure-js-loss-at-the-polls/comment-page-2/#comments

 


Measure J was not going to pass. There were just too many flaws with it which benefit a few while continue to screw others. It’s just like Metro’s flawed fare system: benefit a few, screw the others.

Metro seriously needs be reminded that not everyone is not going to go along with the “benefit a few, screw the others” ideas that they always tend to come up with.


Super majorities are required because it creates fairness into our democratic system. It would be too easy for anything to pass if all it required were 50% majority.

Would it be fair if 26 states in the nation say “let’s teach Creationism to our children in our schools” and it becomes constitutional amendment because that’s more than half of the states in the US?

Same thing on the state level. It would be too easy for laws that favor the cities to pass with a simply majority because it would be too skewed in favor for those living in the metropolitan areas. Under a simple majority, all it would take is LA, San Diego, and San Francisco banded together to pass legislation such as “rurals areas in our state need to be taxed more to help the cities budget problems” or “take away the guns and rifles for those living in Inyo County; who cares if bears or mountain lions attack them, we want our state to be gun free!”

And it’s the same thing for LA County. Have a simple 50% majority will only favor those living in the City of LA, completely disregarding the grievances and concerns of those that live in the outskirts of the county which see no benefit to such ballot measures.




@IT Guy
Umm what are you talking about. Super Majority votes are usually reserved for changes that affect the Constitution since fundamentally changing how are government functions should be well thought process that should not be done on the whim of a majority.

But for general governance a simple majority (or as some suggest a 55% threshold) should be sufficient. I mean we changed three strikes with a majority Prop 36, passed prop 30 with majority, the county even passed measure B with a majority. Taxes imo are a part of general governance and should not have been elevated to the status of requiring a super majority by Prop 13 ( which itself was not passed with a super majority).




Many Measure J didn’t pass because most of the money was for projects in the City of LA. Come back in two years and include projects like the extending the Blue line to Long Beach airport; The Gold line to the LA/SB county line or ONT and the Orange line or Red Line to Burbank airport.




What’s especially ridiculous is that amending the California Constitution (like Prop 8 and Prop 13 did) only requires a simple majority vote, but any municipality or county that wants to fund services via new taxes needs a 2/3 super-majority. This illogic was the result of Prop 13, which passed with far less than 2/3′s of the vote, and has hamstrung local and state governments ever since.




Great job in reporting on this Steve.
It was amazing to see that Measure J got 64% of the votes and only fell short of the required approval by about 2%.

Proposition 13 tried to make sure that there would be no new taxes added by requiring a 2/3 approval of voters. So it was quite a feat that Measure R met that burden in 2008, but it also had to try and appeal to just about every voter in the county to achieve that.

I cannot think of any area in the county that would not have benefited from Measure J being approved by voters. There are three groups of transportation where Measure J money could be used: transit, highways and funding given to each city by population to be used for such things as streets, sidewalks and bicycling.

The transportation system within the county needs adequate amounts of money for maintenance of what exists and to expand capacity to deal with current traffic congestion or future population growth. Outside of a few wealthy cities like Beverly Hills, most areas in the county have streets that are in less than ideal condition due to insufficent funds to maintain them. Measure J would have given cities a significantly larger amount of money to issue bonds against to repair roads, sidewalks and install bicycle infrastructure. The city of Los Angeles would have had enough money to borrow against to repair all of the roads and sidewalks in average to poor condition. Plus, the bicycle infrastructure would have gone in at a much faster rate and at a lower cost per mile. The costs to drivers from their vehicles moving over poorly maintained roads is much higher than the taxes that they would have to pay to repair the roads.

Beverly Hills does not need money to maintain their roads or sidewalks which are already in great shape and the city does not have any bicycle infrastructure, nor do they seem to care to have any significant amount of it ,or transit for that matter, since almost all of their residents drive. However, putting in a subway in the area would remove some of those pesky people that get in their way on some of the most traffic congested streets in the Los Angles area. Getting a light-rail system to the city of Santa Monica would also remove some of cars that are driving on Wilshire Blvd through Beverly Hills.

But what about another extreme example like the city of Vernon, which has a population of only about 90 people or Palmdale which is far north of Los Angeles? Unless the residents of Vernon are just content sitting on their porch on their off hours to take in the smell of the meat packing plant or the view of the industrial buildings, they probably want to drive somewhere else occassionally and that would probably involve getting on a freeway. Their freeway travels to other cities would be improved by Measure J. Palmdale residents are heavily dependent on traveling to Los Angeles for jobs or recreation. Freeway improvements between these two cities would greatly benefit residents of Palmdale.

County residents in the cities to the east of Los Angeles are also heavily dependent on the Los Angeles area for their livlihood and either go to, or through that city for recreational purposes. Freeways are used for regional travel. There are not many people who get on a freeway to go down to the grocery store thats located a mile or two away from where they live. Improvements to the freeways would improve transportation capacity in the region.

Cities south of Los Angeles and into Orange County would get freeway improvements that would benefit their travel in the region also.

The city of Los Angeles would get the bulk of the transit improvements, but according to a UCLA professor, having these put in over a thirty year period of time is not enough of a expansion in transportation capacity to decrease the traffic congestion. Measure J would have quickened the pace of construction and thereby expanded the transportation capacity at a much greater rate in the near term than under Measure R.

Borrowing against future tax revenues that would occur under Measure J would enable billions of dollars to be invested by government into the county economy at a time when the housing market is weak and consumer spending is at a lower rate. This is when a economic stimulus by government is needed to counter this in the short term. Measure J would have provided this much needed boost to the economy in the county.




One of the main reasons that I voted No on J was because of the lack of accountability of those that control the tax distribution and use. Metro wants to use our taxes to fund projects that are in their and in their wealthy friends’ interest. Metro is in favor of and is pushing for outmoded and harmful ways of moving people and goods such as the 710 extension and expansion. As long as there is no accountability to communities of color and local oversight by the communities most affected, as long as politicians continue their racist practice of ignoring the needs of people of color and the poor, I and many others will continue campaigning against any future transportation tax measure. Either Metro practices environmental justice, expands its bus fleet and expands affordable rail for all or the NO on any of Metro’s plans will grow. We have to prepare to get the No vote above 50%. Thank you for your consistent hard work BRU!!!




Close to 65% percent of the people voted for this measure and without the lack of a combined and concerted effort on the part of local officials to get the message out about the benefits, it failed. The biggest cheerleader could have been Major V. but he was missing in action. A bigger PR push could have succeeded in obtaining an additional 1.97% to push it over the top.

Metro may have had their hands tied by Antonovich but his days are numbered.




I’m a big supporter of public transit, voted Yes for Measure R, but No on Measure J even though I live on the Westside. Obviously the majority of the county supports public transit otherwise it wouldn’t have achieved 64%.
Here’s why I voted No:
1) Too soon, too long: We just passed R four years ago, I want to see how Metro handles that money. Tax in 2069 for projects planned today? Maybe they should extend the tax in 8-12 years increments.
2) Expo and Crenshaw lines: Ignored community requests for a better project. Now that same community united to Vote No on J, even though they benefit greatly from the economic development it will bring. Metro needs to listen to community input if they want to continue to receive its support. These votes alone would have pushed Measure J into passing.
3) BRU: Again a community group that benefits from Measure J funding not supporting it because of Metro’s actions.



I voted yes on Measure R, but no on Measure J.

My reason is Metro is not getting their priorities in order. Majority of the tax funds were to go to highway projects instead of more rail lines. We don’t need anymore new highway projects, we need more rail projects.

In addition we need to also focus on keeping up with the maintenance of what he have today. The Blue Line is in serious need of fixing. It has frequent delays and the stations are becoming cesspools for criminal activity.

We also have increasing issues with Metro’s fare system and TAP grievances. All of these cost money too and we need to get all these sorted out first before we go full steam ahead with others. It’s just going to cost us more money to fix all of these issues per each station built if we don’t act today.




Steve, I currently live in NYC but am an LA native so I certainly have some strong opinions on this this issue as a transit booster. Here my thoughts/questions…

1) The 2/3 threshold for measure approval has got to go. Why is it even in place when it’s obviously a recipe for gridlock and inaction? I’m not sure if this requirement is exclusive to LA County or if it’s due to state law but if it’s the latter, how is it that the California tax hike passed with a simple majority?

2) The fact that Measure J was needed is an acknowledgement of the fact that Measure R was badly written. Knowing that a very difficult 2/3 threshold was needed for approval, it seems inconceivable to me that another transit measure would be presented to voters only 4 years after Measure R. If a 30-year tax revenue stream was insufficient to fund transit project in a timely manner, why was Measure R not designed to last 60 years? Instead, we had a situation where we needed another measure to go before the voters in a bad economy and knowing that a simple majority would not suffice. Did the creators of Measure R not foresee this? It seems clear to me that Measure R, while visionary and brilliant conceptually, was terribly incompetent in its design and application. Thus we’re now facing the prospect of funding projects we might not see for decades to come.




Hi Harold;
Thanks for your thoughtful comment and I think you raise a very good point.
As I’ve said in the past, Measure R was a transportation plan heavily shaped by the political process.

It was also something that was heavilly polled beforehand and shaped by that polling — i.e. it was assembled to be something that could muster two-thirds approval at the polls. On that level, it certainly succeeded, getting 67.9 percent of the vote.

In my view, R has to be given a lot of credit for reviving a long list of transit projects that had no funding whatsoever and were basically pipe dreams. Was the list too long? Would it have been better to focus on only the highest-ridership projects? Should R have been for a longer period of 30 years? Would R have still been approved if it had fewer projects, proposed a permanent tax and only focused on the subway and a handful of other transit projects? Great questions. I don’t know the answers.

It was after Measure R was approved that the reality began to set in: many of these projects also would not be built for years because Measure R money flows into coffers over time, not all at once. That began a talk about accelerating them, leading eventually to Measure J. As you suggest, I think a good public policy debate on J is the timing: was it too soon? And was J the best way of accelerating all these projects? I think this is a debate we’ll see unfold over the next several years as local officials and Metro decides whether to return to voters.

As for the two-thirds issue, that was part of Prop 13. I can understand wanting to have a super majority for things like taxes; on the other hand, maybe the super-majority requirement was just a cynical way to stop pretty much everything but a few tax increases that manage to squeak by (like Measure R). With Democrats in control of the state Legislature, it will be interesting to see if they pursue lowering the threshold to 55 percent. They could rightly claim they’re not increasing taxes, only giving voters a better shot at making such a choice. Their political foes can also claim that’s Democrats taking the lead on increasing taxes. So we’ll see.

I personally believe a supermajority on a transit issue is possible. As with any election, a lot of things have to break right. They didn’t for J; I think everyone, particularly Metro, needs to spend some time contemplating what didn’t work and why. Turnout, in my opinion, was certainly a factor — but not the only factor.

Again, thanks much for taking the time to compose an interesting and thoughtful comment and post it here. I really appreciate it. The best way for this region to create a great transit system is to get people like you to engage in the process.
Steve Hymon
Editor, The Source




Hi Steve.

No mention from you of the efforts of the Bus Riders Union and locals who campaigned against Measure J? Why no mention? You are not aware of such efforts? Surely you are. Or that you currently work for Metro is the reason you’re hush-hush on it?

They’re efforts had impact. Impact on me with some effect on my decision to vote No on Measure J. Interesting issues too. Bus service has been slashed in LA, especially in communities which will be less affected or untouched by Measure R projects, and by Measure J’s quick-track super-long-term debt financing. Bus service is the most economical, efficient, quickest built and effective means of addressing public transportation needs (safer too?, I wonder). Bus service does not entail costly and long-time-to-build rails, or freeways, and access it creates is much more readily available and productive. Bus service is a no-brainer, yet no brains have addressed significant bus service options in Measure R and subsequently Measure J.
Hhhmmm, Metro. What is up with that?

I’m personally for more rail projects as well, with freeway expansion last on the list. All that very very expensive work on the 405 and no rail being put in instead of another silly lane each way? Yes, rail is expensive, but fast and efficient once installed.

Eduardo’s comment above makes strong points about maintenance of our current rail system and stations. And yes, TAP is slow to access and fund, initially and continually confusing to most, and requires more than one TAP card to be most economical for the rider. This with Metro’s claim of how “simple” and efficient TAP is. You can regularly see people new to TAP, who miss train after train as they attempt to figure out how to access and pay for a ticket to ride (as Metro no longer provides cash purchase option to pay to ride buses and subway without an electric TAP card, at extra cost too).

TAP is so blatantly programmed to cost a rider more than they need to pay that it makes me think the best way to fund Metro projects is to slash the managers and board supervisor’s salaries by 75%. I guarantee you there are well qualified people, also more than willing, to do their jobs just as well, at 25% of the annual salary some to most of these guys get paid.

Another reason to Vote No for Measure J; the seemingly misaligned priorities of Metro decision makers.
Metro Executive Compensation:
http://www.metro.net/about/board/executive-compensation/




Honestly, Metro failed on so many levels with their outreach and CLC’s (Community Liason Committee’s). They spent $4,000,000 of our tax dollars and could NOT deliver the information that people were asking and demanding they provide. They didn’t answer our questions about costs for high profile projects like the SR-710 Extension that includes, dual tunnels (Northbound and Southbound) that would be 14 miles of underground double decker toll lanes. And then it was uncovered by the public that the PPP (Public Private Partnership) would keep the toll monies. And the cost of the tunnels was never shared. It was also reported that the Seattle tunnel (SR-99) would cost the Washington taxpayers $7,000,000 just for the electricity to light the 1.7 mile tunnel per year. But it was also uncovered by the public that it wold cost somewhere around $20 billion dollar and up to build this one project which is part of the 5 alternatives that Metro is “recommending” to the MTA Board of Directors. Metro compared the cost of this project to the SR-99 in Seattle. WSDOT (Washington State Dept. of Transportation) estimates that their tunnel is costing 1.97 billion dollars a mile to build. And that they don’t believe that the PPP will even be able to recoup the cost overruns from the set toll amounts. In otherwords, the tolls will go to the PPP private investors, not the public and that they will have to raise the costs of the tolls and now are concerned that traffic (both cars and trucks) will divert from this route onto surface streets due to prohibitive daily costs passed on to the public. It is estimated it would cost over $4.00 per car and $12.00 for trucks to use the tunnels. So the defeat of Measure J has been what is necessary to bring Metro back to the table with a transparent plan that gives the public more fiscal and environmental accountability. Now we just have to hold them to it. Go to Facebook, “No on Measure J” and “No 710 Freeway Extension”.




Hi Tina;
I just wanted to point out that the 710 gap project was not on the list to be accelerated by Measure J. It’s also worth pointing out that several alternatives remain under study — no decision has yet to be made to build anything. As for the tunnel alternative, the funding Measure R provides for the 710 project is not enough to build it; additional funding would be needed either through a public-private partnership (likely involving tolling of the tunnel) or some other source.
As for the SR-99 tunnel in Seattle, WSDOT says it will cost about $2 billion to build the two-mile tunnel under parts of downtown Seattle — it replaces the old viaduct. Along with some associated projects, the total cost is estimated at $3.0444 billion. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Viaduct/Schedule/Budget
Steve Hymon
Editor, The Source


Measure J fails by 14,000 votes, Metro still confident 

 http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_22117751/measure-j-fails-by-14-000-votes-metro

 By Lauren Gold, SGVN
Updated:   12/03/2012 08:01:21 PM PST
 
 
 The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's half-cent sales tax extension, Measure J, failed to pass by less than one percentage point, according to final election results released Monday.
The measure received 66.11 percent of the vote, but needed 67 percent to pass. The difference boiled down to about 14,000 votes, officials said.

The Bus Riders' Union and members of the "No 710" group were among the measure's major opponents, protesting Metro's reduction in bus services and the plan to extend the Long Beach 710 Freeway through South Pasadena.

"At the end of the day, we opposed Measure J not out of opposing transit projects, but more to get (Metro) to be much more accountable to the people," Bus Riders Union spokeswoman Sunyoung Yang said. "This is a good lesson for (Metro) to stop their punitive practices on communities and really side with community concerns."

If it had received the necessary two-thirds vote, Measure J would have extended Measure R's half-cent sales tax for another 30 years, through 2069, and accelerated some transportation projects.
Despite the loss, Metro officials said they are taking the nearly two million votes the measure did receive as a "vote of confidence."

"Nearly 2 million Los Angeles County residents expressed confidence in Metro and the Measure R program," the agency said in a statement Monday. "Progress will continue as Metro remains focused on delivering a dozen new transit projects and 15 highway improvement projects that voters approved four years ago in passing Measure R."

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said the approach failed because it wasn't inclusive.

"Our county's 88 cities and 134 unincorporated communities voters spoke - Measure J was not the answer to developing a cost-effective regional transit system that meets our entire county's current and future needs," Antonovich said in a statement issued Monday. "Unlike Measure J, a new plan will not lock funding to communities at their 2004 population percentages, paralyzing the Santa Clarita, San Gabriel, Antelope Valleys and the South Bay's ability to meet their transit needs."

Others who opposed the measure argued that its defeat was a result of grassroots efforts among citizens who were skeptical of what they called a "blank check" for an agency they felt wasn't listening to the community.

No 710 activist and Highland Park resident Charles Miller said many local activists didn't trust Metro after the 710 EIR process, which some have criticized for lack of adequate public outreach. Though Metro claimed Measure J would not affect the 710 either way, many were still skeptical.

"I think (Measure J's defeat) is tied to 710, because we had a built-in group that was already activated and talking to one another, and really when we realized a great deal of money could be siphoned off to fund the project ... we didn't trust the fact that they wouldn't do that," Miller said. "I think they misjudged how the public could organize."

Metro spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap said the agency is in the midst of a "post-election analysis" to determine why the measure failed to pass, but that she did not think the Long Beach Freeway project played a role.

Cities such as Los Angeles and South Pasadena opposed the 710 but endorsed Measure J, and the measure had more yes votes than no votes in nearly all of the cities along the proposed freeway route, according to the Los Angeles Count Registrar-Recorder.

Measure J supporter Denny Zane, executive director of Move LA, said Metro should not be discouraged by the results, blaming the measure's failure on the requirement for a two-thirds vote.

"I think (the results) encourage the belief that the voters really want to do this and there will be the right moment in a slightly different environment with slightly different partners, maybe a little bit different program and you'll have a winner," Zane said. "Meanwhile I think we all have to start thinking about how to amend the California constitution to lower the voter threshold to something reasonable."

Ortiz-Gilstrap said Metro has not yet decided whether it will place another measure on the ballot. For now, the agency said it is focusing on the projects already funded under Measure R.

 
 

No on Measure J Interview with Lauren Gold

Posted by Charles E. Miller on No on Measure J Facebook Page

Was just interviewed by Lauren Gold from the Pasadena Star News on my opinions regarding Measure J not passing.

My major points:
- Metro first and foremost has eroded public trust with citizens and elected officials
- Metro feels like they can be indifferent as they as an organization will outlive and outlast individuals and politician's terms.
- Did not commit to how the funds would be spent - opening a blank check to allocate as they see fit -- using Metro Board voting procedures available to them
- Made a tactical mistake not asking for Measure J funding in Measure R 4 years ago (coming back to the well shows mismanagement on project estimates/projections)
- Underestimated citizens that can better organize now than 4 years ago as we have in this effort -- across political, class, race and income lines. This has worried government orgs like Metro that can't do the same thing. (thanks SGV, NE L.A., BH, BRU and Crenshaw!!!)
- Only a small margin was needed to defeat Measure J so tactically our opposition could make the difference.

What are your thoughts on where we go next?

Add them to the comments here as we get ready to oppose the tunnel and present our alternatives to Metro in the meetings this month and ahead into 2013/2014.

Metro statement on Measure J losing

 http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2012/12/metro_statement_on_measur.php

 

As I noted yesterday, the ballot measure that Mayor Villaraigosa and Metro hoped would provide the funding base for an acceleration of transit construction lost by 0.56 of a percentage point. It needed two-thirds of the votes cast and got 66 percent and change, just shy of the minimum needed. That's still a lot of support. Metro posted a statement today on the agency's blog, The Source:

 The ballot effort to extend the Measure R transit sales tax by another 30 years fell just short of the necessary two thirds voter approval. In the final vote tally, 66.11 percent of voters, nearly 2 million Los Angeles County residents, expressed confidence in Metro and the Measure R program. Progress will continue as Metro remains focused on delivering a dozen new transit projects and 15 highway improvement projects that voters approved four years ago in passing Measure R. In fact, within two years Metro should be overseeing simultaneous construction of five major rail projects. Also the Measure R transit sales tax for transit – approved in 2008 – continues until 2039, so Metro directors have the option of asking voters in the future if they wish to extend the program.