Special election is tabled for more discussion at undetermined time
By Eddie Rivera, June 1, 2016
There will be no November special election to repeal Measure A after
an hour-long Pasadena City Council public discussion resulted in the
matter being tabled for another time, as yet unscheduled, effectively
ending the idea.
The outcome was a blow to Mayor Terry Tornek, who wrote the
recommendation for the proposed special election, which would have
overturned the 2001 measure that supported plans to close the 710
Freeway gap via a surface route.
According to Tornek, the city’s “hands would be tied” and Pasadena
would be unable to take any action against the proposed 710 tunnel
project while Measure A was still in effect.
Councilmember Steve Madison disagreed. Madison, a longtime opponent
of the 710 extension plan, pointed out that the Southern California
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) does not currently have
the funds to complete such a project. In addition, Madison added, the
upcoming R-2 Measure, which would make permanent a half-cent sales tax
for transportation projects, does not include the 710 tunnel project.
Councilmember Victor Gordo explained that even though $800 million
has already been budgeted for the 710 tunnel project, the project is
estimated to cost $5-6 billion.
“Metro would have to look for money to finish this,” he said. Gordo
recommended that the council schedule a special election once Metro
makes a formal move forward to attempt to complete the project. He also
suggested a community education campaign to inform the community about
the project, instead of an election in November.
“It would be dangerous to place this on the ballot,” Gordo added. “This is all academic without a move by Metro.”
But Mayor Tornek countered, “What good is an education campaign without a campaign? I want to be out front on this.”
“At this point, will people even care?,” asked Councilmember Andy
Wilson, who echoed Gordo’s feelings about the matter being ‘academic.’
“I think we should do it,” said Wilson, meaning to oppose the project,
“but I want to get a win.”
Council member Margaret McAustin admitted, “This is a different
electorate now, than the one who voted for this measure.” She questioned
whether an education campaign is something that the city could even
spend money on.
City Attorney Michele Bagneris told the council that any education
campaign would have to be ‘even-handed and informational’ and that the
city ‘could not take sides,’” at which point Masuda joked, “I want a
campaign, but not a balanced one.”
Council member requested that the council ask Metro CEO and Pasadena
resident Phil Washington to come before the council and explain Metro’s
goals for the 710 project. Kennedy concluded, “I just don’t see the
urgency here yet.”
Madison also explained that Metro “took the 710 project off the table
with regard to R-2, because they didn’t want to face all the politics
that would create.” He added, “ I learned as a young lawyer not to
snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and I don’t want us to do that
Council member Tyron Hampton, siding with the Mayor, continued to
insist that “voices should be heard,” in asking for the November vote.
Hampton, however, also sought reassurance from City Attorney Bagneris
that the council could still oppose the 710 Tunnel project on
environmental grounds at some later date.
In the end, only Hampton and Mayor Tornek voted for the special
election, and the item was voted down, 6-2. The council will now embark
on more discussion and the creation of a “long-term strategy.”