San Diego Mayor Faulconer: Sells Out Taxpayers/Voters/Honest Elections

Would you vote for a multi-billion bond to build roads, if you knew after it passed the money would instead be used for money losing public transportation and instead of roads for al, toll roads for the rich—with YOUR bond money?  That is what San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is suggesting.

In a San Diego Union Tribune article this was noted:  

“The agency’s top brass also has called for shelving a number of highway projects to free up funding and limit greenhouse gases from cars and trucks. While the projects were part of a voter-approved half-cent sales tax known as Transnet, the agency is facing a nearly $16 billion revenue shortfall through 2048 and is far from meeting state-mandated targets to limit driving.

“We must focus on all modes of transportation for a complete network. It means roads and transit.”

Faulconer’s proposal called for prioritizing highway and transit improvements on a number of the corridors in question, including state routes 78, 52, 67 and 56, as well as upgrading an interchange where state routes 94 and 125 meet.”

San Diego Mayor Faulconer: Sells Out Taxpayers/Voters/Honest Elections

Stephen Frank, editorial, California Political News and Views,  7/16/19  

How do you trust the words or promises of an elected official when they “broker” a deal to violate the terms of a bond measure?  The people of San Diego were promised INDEPENDENT oversite:

Independent Oversight Promised With Last … – Voice of San Diego

SANDAG’s TransNet measure to pay for infrastructure projects included the creation of an independent watchdog committee to oversee the funds. • It’s not clear, though, how independent the committee actually is, or how strictly they’re policing the funds’ use” 

Insteasd they are getting politicans ripping off money meant for specific projects to pay for toll roads and government transportation, at a time all government transportations systems are in a death spiral of riders fleeing the system.  In San Diego, they have lost 23% of their riders—meaning the taxpayer are financing money trains and buses for fewer people.  Roads projects promised by bonds, though are behind schedule.  Why?  Because the money is being siphoned off by unions and special interests, the donors to the politicians.

Who benefits when Faulconer violates the terms of a bond?  Unions and special interests and he losers are the families and businesses of the area.  I guess when you are considering running for Governor you need to make these “hard decisions”>

But it gets worse.  In the same Union-Tribune article it notes that even by misallocating previously approved bond money, it will not be enough for these tax hungry folks.

First you have a conflict of interest—and going around the Independent oversite committee:

“More than two-thirds of voters approved the TransNet measure proposed by the region’s planning agency, SANDAG.

Now, as SANDAG considers another tax increase, it’s not clear at all how independent the oversight committee actually is.

The current chairman of it also represents contractors making millions on the project and lobbies the very government officials he’s overseeing.

Officials say the arrangement doesn’t violate state conflict-of-interest laws, but experts still see problems with the situation.”

Then you have the massive new cost.  Of course, there are no guarantees THAT money would be spent as Faulconer and other politicans tell the public—if you can take this Transnet money and use it for something else, why not use the new money for your newest pet projects and friendly unions and special interests?

“Looking ahead at a new infrastructure bond, D’Elia with the Little Hoover Commission suggests SANDAG “should take a hard look at whether what they put in place in 2004 is adequate and consider bolstering its independence.”

The worse par is the obvious lack of independence of the oversite committee.

“Brad Barnum heads the TransNet Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee, a role that involves receiving staff reports, hiring and overseeing an auditor, advising public officials periodically – and, as needed – about the program’s efficiency and project costs, schedule and bond debt.

He’s also a registered lobbyist with the city and county in his role as government relations director for the San Diego chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America.

Barnum lobbies for 1,100 contractors, who he says perform 85 percent of the region’s commercial, industrial, general engineering and heavy highway construction.

A decent chunk of that work comes from SANDAG, and millions from the TransNet bond measure specifically, public records show.

AGC San Diego contributed $500,000 to help pass TransNet in 2004, and Barnum recently met with officials to discuss campaign strategy for a new tax hike and bond measure that may go on the ballot as early as this year.

How indepeopndet can this LOBBYIST for special interests be, when the organization he represents gave half a million dollars to pass the bond—and his members get the jobs from the bond?

That is why the action of Mayor Faulconer is so friustrating.  His brokered deal left out the people who voted for the bond and the projects it was to pay for.  Instead, he is representing the unions and special interests that want to use the bond money—even though it will harm the people of San Diego. 

The only good news is that this is not finalized yet.  It will take a mobilization of the people to demand a new Independent Oversite committee, with no one on it that financially benefits from the actions.  And, to demand the Mayor stand with the voters, not the special interests.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.