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Jun 20, 2013

Editorial:  Metro board must OK more of Gold Line —-  Pasadena Star-News

Editorial published in the  Pasadena Star News / SGV Tribune / Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

June 20, 2013

An excellent motto for investigatory journalists is “follow the money.”  For government entities it should be: “Follow the wishes of those who gave you the money.”

For a year now, though, the powers that be at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have defied that simple ethical standard and ignored the wishes of the voters of Los Angeles County who passed the half-cent sales tax imposed by Measure R.

In the language of that measure, approved in 2008, support for the completion of the extension of the Gold Line light-rail project was defined in specific terms as being from its current terminus in east Pasadena to Claremont.

That was how the sales tax increase, which everyone who buys anything in Los Angeles County pays, was sold to voters.  The language was inserted into the text of Measure R to ensure support from voters in the eastern part of the county and especially the San Gabriel Valley, who had often felt left out when it came to Metro spending on transit projects.

But in June 2012, Metro CEO Art Leahy formally reneged on that promise in a public speech:  “Some of you are going to think I am monster for saying this: The Gold Line is funded to Azusa. Period.”  He claimed with zero proof, that the original intent was to spend a certain amount of money - $758 million – to get the Gold Line as far east as it could go on that money alone, rather than get the line to a specific place, as the measure actually said.

The Gold Line Construction Authority has not given up on Metro someday fulfilling its broken promise.

As this page noted at the time, we’re not quite sure whether, when a governmental organization’s management is caught telling a massive lie, it should make us feel any better that it admits it told that lie.
Measure J last year would have changed the language, but it failed and doesn’t count.

The Gold Line Construction Authority has not given up on Metro someday fulfilling its broken promise.  Last month, hoping against hope that Metro would operate on the up and up with residents of the San Gabriel Valley, the Gold Line submitted a request for funds after Metro released its notice of a public hearing on local transit needs and costs.  Metro again simply ignored the project, though all that was submitted was the original Measure R proposal approved by voters.  It was ignored without any feedback from Metro.

Construction is proceeding in a timely manner from Pasadena to Azusa.  But the Gold Line Construction Authority also has, unlike virtually any other project in Los Angeles or on the Westside being promoted by Metro, ownership of the right of way and an approved Environmental Impact Report all the way to Claremont.  After that, it would be just a short and logical hop to Montclair and then the proposed Ontario Airport Extension that makes all the transit sense to the world. 

Metro executives are heading to Washington, D.C., to seek federal funding for its projects.  The Metro Executive Board will convene today to approve what that funding request should be.  Its members should know what their ethical mandate is:  Approve seeking the estimated $900 million to get the Gold Line to Claremont.  That’s what voters have instructed them to do.