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New SMART chief receives $312,788 compensation package

Farhad Mansourian

By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The new general manager for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district, a veteran Marin County public works administrator, has a compensation package that puts him near the top of the pay scale for North Bay public officials.

Farhad Mansourian will be paid $246,000 a year in salary, receive an additional $36,900 in deferred compensation and $29,888 in benefit and expense allowances.

It is a 40 percent increase over the $176,000 annual salary of the previous general manager.

SMART officials said Wednesday they are convinced Mansourian is the best person for the job of building the commute rail line between Sonoma and Marin counties.

They also said the pay is necessary to get someone who is qualified to do the job, even though Mansourian doesn’t have a railroad background.

“What he brings is a knowledge of Sonoma and Marin counties, a knowledge of public works management and a knowledge of administration,” said SMART Chairwoman and Sonoma County Supervisor Valerie Brown. “Having someone who knows how to run a train can be brought on board later.”

SMART critics question whether the compensation is fiscally responsible.

“The substantial increase in salary and benefits are a concern, especially for someone without rail experience,” said Clay Mitchell of Windsor, a member of Repeal SMART.

“And it is our understanding their stated goal was to get someone with rail experience. While by all accounts he has a track record of pursing large public works projects and getting them done, the staff seems light on the rail side,” Mitchell said.

The Repeal SMART group is planning to gather signatures in a bid to qualify a ballot initiative that would overturn the quarter-percent sales tax passed by Sonoma-Marin voters in 2008 to pay for the railroad.

Critics say SMART is not delivering on its promise to build a 70-mile Cloverdale-Larkspur line by 2014. Instead, the agency, beset by a funding shortfall attributed to the recession, has scaled down its plans and is moving ahead with a $360 million line between Santa Rosa and San Rafael.

It also has warned that the start of commute train service could be delayed by one to two years.

Mansourian did not returns calls to his cell phone Wednesday requesting comment.

As Marin County’s public works director, Mansourian, 57, earned $213,000. The county also paid $15,000 for medical coverage and $37,670 in retirement costs and other allowances.

The SMART board on Monday selected Mansourian as the general manager, filling a slot that had been vacant since Lillian Hames retired in January.

Hames had been the general manager for nine years.

Mansourian had been on loan to the commute rail agency in a temporary position of executive director to review costs and revenues while while retaining minimum job duties in Marin.

Mansourian on Monday informed the chairman of the Marin County Board of Supervisors of his intention to leave to work for SMART, but how the transition will be handled is unclear.

He was not a candidate for the general manager’s post and was not among the pool of who applied for the job. He was recruited by the board after the top three choices were interviewed, SMART officials said.

Officials also said his compensation is in line with the results of a survey of transit industry executives. The board did not specify a pay range when it started soliciting candidates, however.

“This is not a typical public works project, nor is he a typical hire,” said SMART Director Carol Russell, a Cloverdale councilwoman and retired professional recruiter. “I am very comfortable with the package he has. This is a guy who can deliver one of the largest projects this area has seen and do it and not spend a penny more than we have to.”

The agency’s 2011-12 budget provides for a hefty increase in employee salaries and benefits, from $1.4 million to $2.8 million, as it relies less on consultants and ramps up hiring as it moves closer to construction.

Mansourian has a five-year contract that provides a total annual compensation package of $312,788.

It includes $246,000 a year in pay plus $36,900 in deferred compensation, which can be set aside for retirement. SMART is not contributing to his pension. He also will receive $13,848 annually toward medical benefits, $11,040 for auto and cellphone expenses, up to $5,000 a year for seminars and training and 23 vacation and 12 sick days a year.

Mansourian’s predecessor, who was general manager for nine years, received a salary of $176,150 a year, plus $12,320 a year in deferred compensation and a car allowance of $634 a month.

The general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge District, Denis Mulligan, is paid $248,000 a year, plus $23,000 in retirement and deferred compensation and use of a car.

Sonoma State University President Ruben Armiñana is the highest paid North Bay public official, receiving $331,000 a year in salary.

The actual cost to taxpayers for top executives for a total compensation package can include many facets, such as salaries, deferred compensation, allowances for cars and contributions to retirement funds.

In Sonoma County, County Administrator Veronica Ferguson’s total compensation last year was $308,838. That included gross pay of $219,873, including $32,237 of vacation, sick time, holiday hours, car and cash allowance. She also received $10,359 in deferred compensation, medical benefits of $6,606 and $72,065 for her retirement fund.

The total compensation last year for county Public Works Director Phil Demery was $288,044. Components were gross pay of $204,218, including $40,217 in vacation, sick time, holiday hours, car and cash allowances; $9,713 a year in deferred compensation; medical benefits of $7,460 and $66,653 a year into his retirement account.

EDITORS NOTE: The last two paragraphs of this story have been updated to make the distinction between salary and gross pay.





55 Responses to “New SMART chief receives $312,788 compensation package”

  1. Ferrous says:

    I worked for the Marin County Public Works department for 18 years the last part was while Mike Sajadhi was Public Works Director and Farhad was Assistant Public Works Director.

    During the last few years there I became intimate in working details for the Public Works Department especially in Flood Control and, that the way these two indididuals ran that department …I can be assured that corruption and stench will follow along with Farhad.

    If an illegal, back-door deal can be worked out while lining their own pockets… I’m sure he will prove an asset in fleecing the public out of our tax dollars allotted (seized from us) to Smart Train…

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  2. Beana says:

    If Smart is delayed 2 years, does that mean Mansourian will make over 600,000 in 2 years for not doing much? I would like to sign that the Smart petition to appeal it. Anyone know what web site that would be. Appauled Taxpayer

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  3. Major Pension Spike says:

    Not likely that Mr. Mansourian will retire with his 31 years from Marin. Why would he when he can establish reciprocity and retire at a new single year high salary that will provide him an annual retirement benefit equal to his new salary. And for those of you who are watching, yes, unfunded since during his career it was not anticipated he would retire following a 40% increase in salary. Unbelieveable.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  4. Holly says:

    Originally, I was very supportive of the Smart train. I do believe we are stewards of our environment, and less cars on the road would be both a good and convenient thing.

    After awhile, various articles came out which ended at the thus far conclusion that the train would not be what was originally projected. The train would run a much shorter route, cost much more than expected, board changes and the like. I was doubtful, but still on the fence at that point. I wondered if a viable, even if longer term plan could still accomplish the original goals.

    When this latest article came out about this absurd pay package, it bumped me totally off the fence. I no longer question whether or not the people behind Smart have a firm grasp on what they’re doing. I don’t think they do. In short, I do not trust their process. It is probably a good thing Repeal Smart will likely put it before the public to decide again.

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  5. 505Alive says:

    In January, 2011, the newly elected governor of New Mexico “… said no cabinet level agency leader will make more than $125,000 a year.”

    This is from http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/26407731/detail.html

    New Mexico has a much lower unemployment rate than California, but at least someone in the New Mexico government recognizes that everyone needs to tighten their belt until the economy improves. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be true in some California government agencies, including SMART.

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  6. Social Dis-Ease says:

    @ Not A Chance: Look, first of all, I’m quite sure your business card has a rose on it. Which means you took an oath.
    You are defending the largest oppression
    ever. An enormous crucial component of this tyranny is the Smart Train. It is central to the whole soviet model that is Smart, Sustainable Development, ICLEI, et all.
    This represents WAY MORE THAN A TRAIN.
    Kinda like Smart Meters are way more than measuring devices.
    2008 wasn’t about the Free Market.
    ’08 was about the orchestrated, engineered decline of our economy.
    A molestation of trust.
    The biggest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.
    Ask Americans if it ‘stimulated’ the credit market.
    Greed has no end.
    It has a beginning and a middle.
    Agenda 21 is the end.
    The same globalist, banksters, New World Order(and currency)advocates,
    and evil elitists are behind Agenda 21.

    I’m not against trains, bikes, responsible planning(or you).
    I’m against being deliberatly impoverished, oppressed and lied to.
    I’m against Agenda 21 and all of its socially engineered warm and fuzzy green disguises.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  7. Kirstin says:

    “Pay raises may edge up 2.8% next year” for the American worker this article forecasts: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/year-313369-average-increase.html. But Mr. Mansourian is so special, so important that the SMART board hands him 40%? That’s over 14 times the average! Absolutely unacceptable.

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  8. Mr. Obvious says:

    @ not a chance: You are a precious one. But a little bit “out there”. In reality, 5 years from now nobody is going to be riding a train to anywhere.

    More likely, 5 years from now Mansourian will be enjoying his $369,000 in severance collected years earlier, and SMART will be remembered as a bad idea gone worse.

    I’m not sure where you were going with all of that other gibberish, but I get the idea you are keen on jumping off buildings in shame if the venture you managed failed.

    That seems to be a bit extreme. I don’t think the SMART Board should jump off buildings in shame over their failed venture. Would you be OK if they all just jumped in a lake?

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

  9. GAJ says:

    Lets not forget also that ever escalating management salaries simply leaves less for the rank and file and less money for the actual work.

    Believe me, department heads in other City and County positions with far more responsibility are looking at this “deal” as a new benchmark to shoot for.

    The inevitable result, assuming taxpayers don’t allow significant increases in taxes to continue wage inflation, is cuts to programs that benefit the weakest amongst us; the poor, the young and the elderly.

    It appears that people like NotAChance could care less about such things.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  10. Not A Chance says:

    @GAJ

    I don’t disagree that its a ton of money, I don’t disagree that it is likely more money than the position calls for. But what I disagree with is using this as a tool to smash the merits of the project. The rest of the bay is allowed public rail, New York, DC, London have all benefited greatly from having rail systems connecting the “greater area” whether any of you want to recognize it connecting the North Bay will be a huge benefit, I think its unfair that I don’t have that option as it stands.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 27

  11. GAJ says:

    As a point of comparison the Governor’s base pay is $206,500.

    This guy made more than that as Public Works director in Marin and now $40,000 more per year in base pay in his new position running this White Elephant.

    To say that is ridiculous for such a tiny program, even when completed, would be an understatement.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

  12. Not A Chance says:

    @Social Dis-Ease

    Bro, you need to cool off “pure evil”? its a train. Seriously, give that some thought, inanimate object.

    “Free Market Capitalism works(remember?)”

    2008, remember that? That whole free market was on the verge of complete destruction and who swooped into rescue what was “too big to fail” OH YEAH! THAT’S RIGHT! IT WAS THE GOVERNMENT! Before you continue to get all righteous look at the evil on Wall Street, when the economic collapse of the 20′s occurred businessmen knew they were responsible, they jumped off of buildings in shame of what they had allowed to happen, they wrote books apologizing; fast forward 80 years and the executives want MORE MORE MORE tax payer money, when they screwed up, again. We’ll never see that money again, we’ll never be able to enjoy that money, with a high speed train we’ll be able to touch and ride our investment, in benefits the public as a whole. Now I’m not saying executives today should be jumping off buildings but they could at least show a little humility.

    “I COULD NEVER DO THIS TO YOU. NEVER.” :’( HOW DARE YOU BUILD PUBLIC TRANSIT!!! How outrageous, I’m sick and freaking tired of listening to you all cry and cry about a train, again I ask you where is the outrage at how the free market is just running around with its hair on fire steeling my money, your money! Two unjustified wars? IM MAD AS HELL, TOO! I think invading innocent nations and ruining them at the tune of 10 billion a month is “pure evil” to borrow a phrase from our drama instructor Social Dis-ease.

    Seriously, put this project into perspective, things don’t always come in at cost, ask private industry they’ll tell you a projected cost is an estimation not a guarantee. This train is going to benefit us greatly, and when you conservatives are barreling down the highway in you lifted trucks and mini vans you’ll notice, there is less traffic and smoother roads. 5 years from now, you all be riding it to the city. And I’ll be silently vindicated.

    XOXO

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 33

  13. JAMES WESLEY says:

    ALL THAT MONEY WHAT IS SO SMART ABOUT THAT?

    Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  14. Marin Is Concerned says:

    What an oxymoron SMART has turned out to be? This thing exceeds the wildest dreams of the wizard or wizards who thought up this evil brew. Giant stacks of tax money flushed. Led by an incompetent non-elected Board, a group of bureaucrats guessing about ridership, time frames, build requirements and most importantly costs.

    Not a light rail, not a high speed rail, not an electric rail, but a diesel rail towing a few cars between San Rafael and Santa Rosa. Is that what we wanted or were we sold a load of coal?

    And now this latest outrage, the SMART Board hires and pays another general manager hundreds of thousands of dollars for a person with no, with the emphasis on NO experience in rail. All of this after an 8 month recruitment search.

    Are the taxpayers and residents being shafted or what by this ongoing stage play of tragedy? It is well past time to put a stop to this waste and end the boondoggle. Precious tax dollars are in very short supply. Just look at any city in Marin or Sonoma County.

    Repeal SMART NOW!

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

  15. Jim says:

    And yet, people STILL think the whole SMART thing is about building a train. I have been saying for months and months that this is just a way for connected people to give bloated salaries and benefits to their friends. ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS!!?!?!? I bet you could get 25 qualified applicants for this same position at a salary of $125,000.

    This guy HAS NO train experience. Yet he gets a 40% higher salary than the last guy?!?!?

    WHY ARE VOTERS SO FREAKING STUPID???

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  16. Joe Right says:

    It’s a lot of money to manage a railroad that has no tracks or trains.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

  17. Farhad Mansourian is Worth How Much? says:

    Some call Armstrong & Getty Radio show or Micheal Savage and talk about this fraud. I am blown away how Sonoma County residents just site back and take this? While every one cry save the trees, save the river what about save the future for our kids? This SMART board are a bunch of Crooks! I guess we do live in a aristocrat society. “Long Live the Queen” & ” O’Father in Heaven have mercy on use”

    Thumb up 37 Thumb down 1

  18. John Parnell says:

    I was dumbfounded when I read it, because I thought that the Press Democrat was pro-SMART at all costs, but look at this editorial. I praise their journalistic integrity.

    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110825/OPINION/110829677/1043/opinion03?Title=PD-Editorial-What-was-SMART-board-thinking-&tc=ar

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

  19. John Parnell says:

    Mr. Obvious et al,

    Petitions can not be printed or signed online. We must do this old school, with a big booklet of a petition. Be on notice next week. If you would like to circulate a petition, please sign up at

    http://www.repealsmart.org

    Also, I encourage everyone to fill out a Sonoma Co. Grand Jury Citizen’s Complaint Form. The more people that do so, will encourage the Grand Jury to give this a look. The form is at:

    http://sonoma.courts.ca.gov/sites/all/assets/pdfs/general-info/grand-jury/complaint1.pdf

    Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

  20. doodles says:

    This should be a lesson, to everyone, the next time you are faced with voting for a ballot measure that asks you to commit funds to a project. Voters need to scrutinize these projects more; read up on the history of these types of projects; seek out unbiased perspectives — use independent sources like the Rand Corp to get balanced info; evaluate the assumptions of the arguments–do they seem realistic?(e.g. ridership estimates); do sponsors or opponents have a financial interest? The ballot box is becoming the place to go to get money these days—-be cautious and stingy…and don’t vote with emotional, wishful thinking. Otherwise we will vote ourselves into the poor house!

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  21. Mr. Obvious says:

    @ not a chance: You make an interesting point when you say “I’m happy to be a government apologist, I’ve seen government succeed greatly and fail greatly, but at least when they fail they’re held accountable.”

    SMART has failed. Why aren’t you screaming for some accountability?

    Thumb up 35 Thumb down 3

  22. Social Dis-Ease says:

    @ Not a Chance: is that what you tell yourself at night to sleep better?
    The charade that passes itself off as a genuine democratic process…is just that.
    Wow, we tried-it just doesn’t work.
    Historically, socialism has been referred to as ‘the third way’.
    It takes root in the wake of a failed democracy.
    Right now-they’re making it fail.
    Free Market Capitalism works(remember?).
    Provided there is some skeletal framework to prevent government tyranny(the Constitution). By aligning yourself with this Agenda,
    you are in bed with evil, period.
    Especially if you are in public service.
    There is no apology for this.
    I COULD NEVER DO THIS TO YOU. NEVER.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  23. Golden Handcuffs says:

    When you study Agenda 21 lots of dots get connected. Lots of things start to make sense. In your heart of hearts you know a sharp honest college student, or many of us could do much better than we’re getting. Based on the America we were taught in civics class. Much of what we are seeing seems to sabatage our way of life. We are finding that the handfull of services we traditionally associated with government are increasingly not funded. However the domain that should be filled by the private secter is being funded,(in a big way) and monopolized by our government(facsism).
    Public/Private Partnership? Isn’t that an oxymoron? THIS is Agenda 21.
    But this is the part that keeps me awake at night.
    What makes these people go for the program,you know-drink the Kool-Aid?
    Looking after numero uno. Do you think these ‘public servants” could approximate($)these positions in the private sector right now?
    When I think of ‘Sustainability’, I think of these traitors sustaining their jobs. What ever happened to the ‘greater good’?(socialist retoric adopted by A21)
    Another reason they are complicit is that they are constantly fed the same crap over and over by layers of acronyms and agencies.
    Wanting to belong? Going along to get along? Being on the winning team?
    Security. ICLEI is very pervasive(especially in Ca.). If you have a history of playing ball, have the right ‘training’ in your file…
    Ever wonder why they bring in people from Colma or Lodi?
    If you don’t play ball, you could be municipally unemployable in Ca..
    Agenda 21 delivers a one-two punch in communities through ICLEI(Redevelopment).
    It empties the towns coffers while
    simultaniously installing infrastructure and policy designed to oppress.
    Smart is representative of the New World Order, not us.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

  24. John Parnell says:

    Now that the entire Bay Area will be paying for SMART with the MTC bail-out next month, and thus also paying this obnoxious pay raise, this should be a concern to everyone in the Bay Area. The SMART Board said the main requirement of the new GM had to be rail experience, so what happened? What justifies the $100K raise, especially in light of the fact that he has no experience in rail? We knew that we had major problems with SMART, but hadn’t realized that SMART is the new Bell.

    In seeking the trifecta bailout money from MTC, SCTA and TAM , Mr. Mansourian recently told TAM that he was unaware of these new $70+ Million cost overruns at SMART, while his staff did know weeks beforehand (we have the documents), but they were keeping these new costs from him, yet telling MTC? Either many employees at SMART committed fraud, or Mr. Mansourian lied to the TAM Board to get their money. This does not represent the new “transparency” or type of permanent GM that we had hoped for, but it might relate to the question of justification for the outrageous raise.

    Instead of giving this $100,000+ raise to someone with no experience in rail, the SMART Board could have paid for half of the ticket-vending machines, which are a requirement they think we can do without. Wouldn’t that have been a better use of funds? Was this a prudent decision or a political one?

    Our SMART issue has just become a county pension issue. We already knew that SMART pays both employer & employee pensions to its employees. SMART continues this, despite being chastised for this a year ago by the Marin Grand Jury. But now as the first “retiree” employee, Mr. Mansourian will start collecting on his Marin County pension while we in Marin & Sonoma pay him this outrageous salary. Why are we paying him $14,000/year for health care reimbursement if his healthcare is covered as part of his county pension?

    Thumb up 39 Thumb down 3

  25. Not A Chance says:

    Before I rant I’ll be relevant: Is this guy making a ton of money? Yes. Does he deserve it? I have no clue, I don’t make those decisions. I’m not going to level personal attacks against him because he was deemed “worth” that money.

    @Rick Perry, oh, I mean GAJ

    Alright guys, I am now firmly behind GAJ, if anyone in government does anything we don’t agree with we should sentence them to death! This is a seriously well thought out argument. Even better, if anyone in the private sector does something wrong, we give them a tax payer funded raise, so they can comfortably fire more people. Where is the outrage when the private sector brings us to the brink!? HUH?! Where is it!? My frustration steams from the fact that every time government does something the opposition cries foul; in order for government to create jobs they need to spend money. We tried giving tax credits to the private industry, we’re rolling back regulation, we have literally bent to the will of private industry to create private sector jobs yet they still hide their money overseas so they can avoid their fair share of taxation. “Corporations are people too, my friend” if that’s a true statement then they should pay the exact same tax rate as the middle class. Then you know what happens? The government can pay for public good projects with ease, without raising taxes because we had the money in the first place. We need to find an agreeable tax code, close loopholes, and never give another tax cut just for the hell of it. If you guys want a “balanced budget” which could include projects such as SMART you’d have to agree to never again lower taxes, it would have to be permanently consistent tax rate likely 2001 levels, which by global standards is a flippin joke.

    If I am a “government profligacy advocate” than you’re nothing more than a denier about private industry, they buy politicians to restrict workers’ rights, pay them as low a salary as possible, give shoty benefits (unless a union holds them accountable :D), and pay those at the top as much as is economically possible. I’m happy to be a government apologist, I’ve seen government succeed greatly and fail greatly, but at least when they fail they’re held accountable.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 29

  26. Mr. Obvious says:

    @common sense “From the Marin Independent Journal – Mansourian is also eligible for 18 months’ severance pay — $369,000 — if he is terminated before the end of his five-year contract.”
    Hopefully he can begin enjoying his severance very, very soon.

    Are petitions posted online for download?

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 2

  27. Steveguy says:

    In order for me to go to San Rafael from Windsor, SMART thinks that I will take a bus to take the train when I can hop on a Golden Gate transit express bus and be there in a decent amount of time, cheaply.

    This is a real estate scam, trying to build fake ‘transit hubs’ with crammed in housing. The developers make big bank, then bail out when the pie in the sky plan doesn’t work.

    SMART brags about how they control $BILLIONS$ of real estate, yet no real bank would loan them any money. If I had billions, a $600 million loan would be just signing papers. SMART has to steal other transit money for their own greed.

    I hope someone can stop the issuance of the Bonds especially because it looks they want to delay 2 years, yet get $200 Million up front. Delay the Bond issuance, or keep it under a certain amount.

    Thumb up 38 Thumb down 5

  28. GAJ says:

    @Not A Chance:

    In the private sector this project would have been binned long ago.

    What part of the guy has zero experience in this sector don’t you understand? What part of “this is not what the unwashed peasant taxpayer voted for” don’t you understand?

    You and other government profligacy advocates are sounding more like Marie Antoinette.

    You know what the unwashed peasants did to her, right?

    Thumb up 30 Thumb down 4

  29. David says:

    @ Not A Chance

    Ask “Public Service” employees why they took the job they have. If they are honest they will tell you, good pay, good benefits, steady employment, and a guaranteed retirement. Only the lying politicians will tell you they took their job to serve the public good.

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 7

  30. Phil Maher says:

    When you weigh Farhad’s compensation package against his ability to leverage his influence and muscle in political and funding circles as a long time insider on SMART’s behalf, I’m sure that the SMART Board viewed this as a no-brainer. Their payoff has the potential to be exponential. Let’s also not forget his retirement package from Marin as their Director of Public Works for somewhere just short of another couple $100k or so. As it stands, Smart will have created another millionaire in less time that it’s going to take them to create a train that actually runs. Add a doubling of staff costs next fiscal year, as well as the bureaucracy it creates- before they even bring someone on board that actually knows about running a railroad, and it’s pretty obvious that transportation is the last thing they have in mind. And of course, let’s not forget all the developers who have yet to see their fair share of the taxpayers’ pie. Crazy and getting crazier. I guess it gets harder to hide these things when they begin to actually materialize for all to see.

    Thumb up 38 Thumb down 2

  31. Greg Karraker says:

    Here is Paragraph 1 of the current SMART website:

    “Imagine a North Bay with a transportation network of buses, shuttles, ferries, trollies, bike paths and sidewalks all connected with a centralized rail line that makes it possible to easily travel around Marin and Sonoma counties without ever getting behind the wheel of a car.”

    When you get to Paragraph 6, they finally tell the truth about what a dinky part of this fantasy is scheduled to be built.

    On the same site, there is a glowing press release about Mr. Mansourian’s zippy new job. There is not a word in it about his bloated compensation package.

    Note to any attorneys who may be reading this: Don’t these statements tip-toe right up to the legal edge of fraud?

    Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

  32. Graeme Wellington says:

    You can’t spend a billion dollars creating a supply hoping there will be a demand. If there was demand, there would be a supply. The SMART train project can’t break economic laws. There is no possibility of success whatsoever.

    Thumb up 46 Thumb down 3

  33. Not A Chance says:

    Gotta stay competitive in the market, right conservatives? If this guy qualifies for this job I’m betting he could be doing equally as well in the private sector, but he chose public service. Just because its a government gig doesn’t mean the work is any less or different from a private sector job.

    Just because you are paid with tax payer money doesn’t mean you have to be paid below the workload required. Deal with it.

    P.s. You ever think the price tag on the job went up because of public scrutiny and/or personal verbal abuse of the incumbent GM? I could only hope that you guys and your pitch forks made the position so unappealing that the price was raised.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 51

  34. Frank says:

    effective immediately no state employee shall excede the state median income

    and don’t give me this we need to hire talent/money fish carp
    cuz i will work for that much
    think of the incentive

    Thumb up 37 Thumb down 4

  35. Ricardo Sorentino says:

    RE: “Officials also said his compensation is in line with the results of a survey of transit industry executives.”

    Yeah, let’s see the rest of that criteria. The pay is probably in-line with other executives that actually have a ‘railroad back-ground’ and they actually have trains running. As in ‘today’, not two to three years out.

    This has to be one of the worst jokes ever foisted upon the tax-paying public.

    Not that we needed one, but just one reason to put this to a public vote.

    Thumb up 48 Thumb down 2

  36. Kevin says:

    Amortize that $38o million over twenty years, assuming 1200 riders per day.
    That would be $43.00 per ticket. To this we must add the interest that SMART, that is, the taxpayers will also have to pay. This breakdown doesn’t even include additional yearly operating expenses, which will surely be another several million per year. And I guess we need to anticipate that SMART will award its staff enormous salaries.
    All of which means that the taxpayers will be paying a huge majority of the cost of every ticket ever sold. The longer this fiasco goes on the more the people of the north bay will be damaged and bled. $50 dollars per ticket? $80 or more. And these costs will not be paid by the passenger who uses the train but by all the rest of us, who never will ride this train to nowhere. These insanely disporportionate expenses will never end as long as this train lasts.
    Perhaps we should see this boondoggle for the cancer it is and kill it now.

    Thumb up 51 Thumb down 1

  37. Frank says:

    welfare doesn’t work, taxpayers do

    i have been saying this for years

    OMG, how wrong can i be

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 2

  38. Dogs Rule says:

    Only in California can you sell voters a fake train, spend billions of dollars on nothing and hire a guy for $300K to superintend the scheme, and call that SMART.

    Thumb up 50 Thumb down 3

  39. common sense says:

    From the Marin Independent Journal – Mansourian is also eligible for 18 months’ severance pay — $369,000 — if he is terminated before the end of his five-year contract.

    Outrageous!

    Thumb up 44 Thumb down 3

  40. Steveguy says:

    Has Mansourian ever ridden on a train ?

    Did he have a train set as a kid ?

    Never mind, he must be great for that kind of money.

    Thumb up 51 Thumb down 4

  41. Pearl Alquileres says:

    It’s good to see the sheeple finally starting to grow some fangs!

    There’s no shame in making a bad voting decision when that decision was based on lies.
    But shame on ALL OF YOU who continue to base your vote on information received from the same people who told you those lies.

    Thumb up 54 Thumb down 6

  42. Grey Whitmore says:

    Opinions about the project aside, a 40% salary increase is ridiculous.

    Thumb up 62 Thumb down 2

  43. Levi says:

    As Gordon Gecko says “Greed is Good”. At least he was profitable and made money. These people just steal.

    Thumb up 50 Thumb down 5

  44. Brian Brazoot says:

    Offering him a 5-year contract, in this economy, and with such a healthy bump over Smart’s previous GM can only be defended by the notion that such uniquely hirsuit talent always comes at a price.

    Thumb up 47 Thumb down 2

  45. BigDogatPlay says:

    Well if nothing else we all should have a really good idea of why Mr. Mansourian took the job. The one bright spot is that, apparently, he is making the full contribution to his own pension.

    If this kind of abuse isn’t punished at the ballot box, and darned soon, it is only going to get far, far worse.

    Thumb up 53 Thumb down 4

  46. @The Hammer- I’ve been interviewed twice on the KSRO morning news… both times, Farhad was invited to participate as well. He left them hanging… I wouldn’t be quite so mad if they weren’t smugly proclaiming a new era of supreme transparency while still obfuscating and stonewalling.

    Folks, we are working to give you an opportunity to make your voices heard. We are convinced that the only way that SMART will take this back to the people is if they are compelled to do so.

    When we collect the requisite number of signatures, SMART’s allowance will be up for review. We could sure use your help in sending them the message that “We the people” still make the decisions, and that our trust cannot be abused.

    Join the effort- http://repealsmart.org

    We’re just ordinary folks- volunteering our time to hold government’s feet to the fire. We welcome any help…. cause if we don’t do it, clearly they won’t regulate themselves.

    Thumb up 55 Thumb down 6

  47. Billy C says:

    Unbelievable.
    People please remember who is on the “SMART” board when its time to vote.

    This is very wrong, At this rate we
    will not ever get a decent train
    system.

    Thumb up 62 Thumb down 7

  48. Steve Klausner says:

    I think we should make some kind of deal with him; half now and half when the rail line is completed.

    Thumb up 52 Thumb down 3

  49. Try to Drive It Home says:

    The unSMART train wreck continues. Mansourian will not save the train to nowhere. The 12 elfs on the Board will not save the little train that couldn’t. Obama will not save this social program.

    What can be saved is the sales tax and the continuing waste of public funds being spent on this folly. This project needs to be repealed, the Board fired and the tax dollars saved for the roads and essential services, not a pipe dream.

    Thumb up 57 Thumb down 7

  50. The Hammer says:

    I found the following very interesting: I called KSRO radio and spoke with one of the morning show producers. I ask him why I have never heard anyone from SMART on the program. His reply, “We have invited SMART to come on the program and they have refuse each time.”

    So, how can their be transparency in government if government is unwilling to face the people’s questions?

    Thumb up 65 Thumb down 4

  51. Joe says:

    RIDICULOUS!!!! Just stop this DUMB train, and stop handing out more money to any one in the top and rewarding them for doing nothing!

    Thumb up 56 Thumb down 6

  52. Steveguy says:

    Ted Appel is the mod here, and does a fine enough job.Especially with posting up the SMART Train debacle quickly.

    Kudos to Ted, and the PD, I will craft an e-mail to the PD to say so.

    Thanks Ted, for allowing this forum. I mean it.

    Thumb up 40 Thumb down 8

  53. Steveguy says:

    $300 grand is nothing compared to the $400 MILLION rip-off ( more like a BILLION) and even the sponsor developers probably expect a $5 Million pay-off for the campaign contributions.

    When can a court look at this fraud ? When ?

    Thumb up 52 Thumb down 8

  54. David says:

    The SMART(LOL) train should be renamed the GRAVY train.

    Thumb up 67 Thumb down 7

  55. Jon Bixler says:

    Well now that’s just perfect. $380 million for a railway from Santa Rosa to San Rafael. That’s 37 miles of track boys and girls… or just under $2000 per foot. Just to add a little insult to injury, we get to pay the better part of a third of a million a year to this “gentleman” who has absolutely no experience running trains. Just about had enough (and I voted for the damn thing).

    Thumb up 69 Thumb down 7

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