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SMART seeks to OK language on repeal initiative

By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District is considering an election ordinance that lowers the number of signatures needed to put a measure on the ballot to repeal its sales tax.

However, the proposal would send SMART opponents back to the starting line by requiring them to submit a copy of the initiative for approval before it can be circulated.

The critics began circulating petitions in late September and began a public campaign at shopping centers on Oct 1.

“The ordinance is in order for the public to be protected, so they know what they are signing and what they are signing is what they are being told,” said Farhad Mansourian, SMART general manager. “It is a process to have a legal person in charge of this, to have a neutral analysis of this.”

Members of RepealSMART.org, which is circulating the petitions, complain the proposed ordinance is unfair.

“It sounds like gamesmanship, it sounds like obstructionism,” said Clay Mitchell of Windsor, co-chairman of the repeal campaign.

At issue is which section of state law or election code applies to the RepealSMART effort to get a measure on either the June or November 2012 ballot seeking to have the 0.25 percent sales tax repealed.

The statutes set differing requirements for the minimum number of valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

Under Proposition 218, which voters passed in 1996, it could be 15,000, but that threshold that has never been tested in court, said Kris Vosbourgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Under a section of the state election code, more than 37,000 would be needed, which is the figure the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters office is advising proponents to use.

That code section does not require the RepealSMART proponents to submit the measure to Sonoma County government attorneys to be reviewed for accuracy.

The RepealSMART petition has a six-paragraph summation of reasons the tax should be repealed, the chief one being the downsizing of the commute rail service because of funding shortages.

SMART attorneys contend that the ballot effort falls under another election code because SMART’s founding legislation does not provide procedures for an initiative, thus requiring the district to adopt them.

The proposed SMART ordinance is expected to be disclosed Friday as part of the agenda packet for the Wednesday meeting of SMART’s board of directors in San Rafael.

However the gist of the ordinance was contained in a letter sent to the opponents on Sept. 23, a day after RepealSMART.org announced that it had begun collecting signatures and nine days before it began a public petition-signing campaign in Sonoma and Marin counties.

It would appoint SMART’s general manager as the election official in charge and require RepealSMART to submit a copy of the proposed initiative so SMART attorneys can “prepare a neutral title and summary of the proposed measure.”

A second letter, prepared by attorney Michael G. Colantuono of Penn Valley, who is special counsel to SMART, was sent to tax repeal advocates on Oct. 7 restating SMART’s position.

“We are playing by the law and our job is to protect and make sure the voters are treated according to the law,” Mansourian said. “It has nothing to do with fairness or unfairness, we all must comply with the law.”

Mitchell said his group is frustrated by maneuvering.

“Why has it taken so long? We put them on notice in June; we asked for guidance in July. We just want straight answers.”





38 Responses to “SMART seeks to OK language on repeal initiative”

  1. sami lee says:

    If SMART is stopped, what great pride people will have in making sure the north bay never had mass transit that works

    As more people arrive in the area the roads will be crowed spewing pollution but you’llbe able to tell your grandkids while your sitting in traffic that you made sure traffic jams would continue

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  2. @Andy Cole-

    You read that letter correctly, and I just read the follow up response to SMART’s special counsel response- it was even more direct.

    I feel safe saying that this was nothing more than a delay tactic, and extremely poor taste on SMART’s part.

    We were diligent prior to launching our campaign- we asked repeatedly for clarification and guidance to make sure that we complied with applicable law.

    I believe that the reality of our effort, and the shift in public opinion is starting to settle in with SMART. They have attempted to marginalize us and dismiss us- Farhad claimed that there were only 13 of us and called us “SMART’s enemies” and told people that our job description was to destroy jobs, many have claimed that we are suffering from “Sore Loser Syndrome”, some say we “just don’t see the vision”.

    As I told the SMART Board back in August, I’m disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be a single statesman among them- someone who could reach out and acknowledge our concerns, and bring us into the process. They left us no other choice but to take serious action with serious consequences.

    Now they are calling in favors- getting the PD and it’s subsidiaries like the North Bay Biz Journal to write or publish a deluge of pro-SMART pieces.

    It is clear to me that they are not interested in a “fair fight”- that SMART is willing to do just about anything to get their way, regardless of the will of the people. They pay lip service, and proclaim that they are not trying to impede a vote, but their actions make their words ring hollow.

    Our request is clear- let the people vote! If they vote in favor of this project, given the real facts and figures and a clear picture, I’m done opposing it- I have better things to do with my life.

    If the people ask them to take another look, then I’m willing to dig in and help find a better solution. I just want a fair vote based on real info.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  3. Lee Parker says:

    It’s the voters in Cloverdale that put SMART over the top. Fat chance they will be fooled again.

    Lee

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2

  4. Tom Aaserude says:

    Would someone please remind Mr. Mansourian that we live
    in the United States of America, NOT Venezuela.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  5. Jay says:

    clive said “My main concern is that the tea-party has awoken this idea that we have to repeal everything we don’t agree with”

    with all due respect, i tend to disagree with the tea party mentality at my core, but at my core is the belief is that when government does things we don’t agree with, we have a duty and responsibility to repeal them.

    that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

  6. Clive Jones says:

    Soooo….. I guess Tea Party types in SoCo have a lot of time on their hands. Get out those tri-corner hats and head on down to the local Safeway.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 30

  7. Andy Cole says:

    Hello all, check out the agenda packet for SMART’s October 19.

    The California Secretary of State’s office has BIG problems with SMART passing their own ordinance to govern initiatives. The Secretary of State has responsibility for all elections in California.

    It’s a dense letter written by the Secretary of State’s Chief Counsel.

    I’ve read it twice now and it pretty much says that SMART does not need to, and SHOULD not pass the ordinance they propose since the initiative procedure for special districts INCLUDING SMART is already spelled out by Acts of the California Legislature and the State constitution.

    The letter also states that SMARTs proposed ordinance is problematic because it’s apparent intention is to invalidate signatures already collected by RepealSMART.

    So why is Farhad and Smart proceeding even though he will almost certainly face political and legal pressure from the Secretary of State? My guess is that Smart wants a lawsuit to delay any initiative until he can start construction and say, too late to stop.

    Finally, I took a look at that Penn Valley attorney Smart hired. They represented Farhad in a very questionable Prop 218 election in Marin County. They lost that case in Marin court but won on appeal to the State Supreme Court.

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  8. Steveguy says:

    Besides my short comment of ‘ WTH ‘ ? Does this mean if we were to recall a politician, we would have to have them approve the language on their terms ? With their attorney ? Not the elected officials that are in office with a whole department of election expertise ? Ohhh myyyy.

    @ Dave
    I too have found the Press Democrat responsive and have found it very refreshing. I have seen them clarify and improve the reporting on this page. I guess if you win the pension case you go with the story with all the time spent.

    Maybe spend more time looking into the SMART fiasco ? Just sayin’.

    Thumb up 26 Thumb down 3

  9. Grapevines says:

    Smart is like SFO. For years SFO with it’s construction was the place for every mayor and city council person to place their dysfunctional relatives and family at and keep them employed. Now it’s shifted to Earthquake preparedness and the Doyle Drive makeover. Repeal Smart and repeal the sales tax. Otherwise the council will just find something else to waste it on.

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

  10. Dave Madigan says:

    I have to tip my hat to the Press Democrat. (Yes, I am actually saying something NICE about the PD)

    I received an email from a gentleman at the PD stating that my letter wasn’t published because they never received it. He also noted that my letter was too long.

    I was told that I could shorten the letter and re-submit it.

    At this point, I don’t think it matters. The issues I mentioned in the letter are last week’s news.

    As I told the PD person, SMART is, excuse the pun, a slow-motion train wreck. A letter from me won’t make any difference in the outcome.

    Anyway, I appreciate the communication from the PD.

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 2

  11. Joyce Garcia says:

    “The ordinance is in order for the public to be protected, so they know what they are signing and what they are signing is what they are being told,” said Farhad Mansourian, SMART general manager.

    Mr. Mansourian, The public didn’t vote for a half a train. The public didn’t vote for the mandated housing that will be built. The public didn’t vote for the millions more this project will cost. The public didn’t vote for outrageous amount of money that you will be getting. I can go on, but I’ll leave it at that…so my question to you Sir, where is our protection from you?

    Let me answer that for you….it would be to let this go back to the voters…for our own protection!

    Please join us this Saturday at our office in Cotati at 430 Aaron St to sign a petition and/or to pick up a packet so you can gather signatures.

    Thumb up 49 Thumb down 5

  12. Really Big Fish says:

    Sonoma County and the north coast is a great place to live but is clearly on the decline with no positive political leadership. This is a chance for them to lead for the betterment of the county and yet they all silent.The SMART train, if completed, will go down, other than illegal immigration, as the single most destructive element in northcoast history.
    Just think construction union workers, legal and illegal,farmworkers from the south and east bay can enjoy anice train ride to take away local jobs.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 4

  13. On To Truth & Justice says:

    All of this is another unsmart scheme to delay and circumvent the repeal election in June or November.

    This is an unsmart attempt to pass an ex post facto law to stop the tax repeal vote.

    If unsmart didn’t have an ordinance when they created smart, how can they now say they can enact an ordiance to regulate an election to repeal the sales tax?

    Smart needs to follow the election laws and forget the games. This is typical of how these unelected unsmart board autocrats want to operate.

    Repeal smart!

    Thumb up 43 Thumb down 4

  14. kyle says:

    SMART has gone from voter-supported project to self-serving bureaucracy in record time.

    Congratulations, Mr. Masourian, your arrogance and political gamesmanship may well be enough to get more centrists to realize that this project, while never viable in the first place, has been from day one a train to nowhere.

    I want my 25c back. And I want you and your ilk to move to the east coast where population density makes mass transit viable.

    Thumb up 45 Thumb down 4

  15. Steve Klausner says:

    Very clever. Farhad Mansourian is worth every penny of his high salary!

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 4

  16. Steve Klausner says:

    @Dave Madigan
    Your letter had to many words. Letters must be kept to 200 words. That may have been the reason you didn’t get published.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  17. Graeme Wellington says:

    Recalls are not supposed to be easy. But stick to it. This is one more in a long list of things SMART has done to demonstrate they are not worthy of public support. Every move SMART has made and every statement from their spokespersons and leaders supports the recall effort.

    What if they decided to defend SMART on the merits? I don’t think that could be done because the recall effort has debunked every “merit” anyone has come up with. So of course they have to come up with a trick of changing the recall law or locking in expensive bonds.

    Our local rail system must be done right or not at all. What they want to build isn’t what we voted for. What they want to build won’t solve the problems SMART was supposed to solve. And the cost of building and operating the system they want to build can’t be justified rationally.

    The SMART leaders have made maximum effort to feather their own nest regardless of whether or not SMART is built or not and regardless of whether or not SMART succeeds or fails. We’re not building infrastructure for the future. We’re wasting over a billion dollars to create and preserve a bureaucracy and a boondoggle.

    We’ll get it right at some point in the future. What is happening now with SMART can’t continue. Please sign the recall petition. What SMART has done is completely nuts. The politicians won’t help because they have to pander to people to keep their jobs. They are being condescending to you. (Condescending means talking down to you.)

    The citizens MUST do this. No one else is going to. If you don’t you’ll be saddled with a billion dollars of costs for no tangible benefit and billions in government subsidies for life going right down the toilet to keep it operational. That’s serious money we can spend on many better things.

    The people who still favor SMART believe the dream we had when we voted in this thing. They may never wake up and examine the reality here. They will argue as if the dream was still real. Every defense of SMART on WSC has been a claim to the effect that the dream is reality.

    The reality is that a big mistake has been made and it must be corrected. SMART has to be repealed not just to save the money, but so that a proper system can be realized in the future. Repealing SMART isn’t killing the dream. We must be lucid dreamers here and get it built right rather than wasting so much money on what bureaucrats have turned our dream into.

    If we can learn from the errors made by SMART the actual goals of Sonoma and Marin County can be realized. It’s up to the people. This is what democracy is all about. Look how nervous and reactive the bureaucrats are getting. Repeal SMART is doing something right.

    Thumb up 44 Thumb down 4

  18. George Pidgee says:

    A bad idea keeps getting worse. It would require 4 changes of transportation just to reach San Francisco. What commuter in his/her right mind is going to put up with this? The SMART people have made sure to take care of themselves with lucrative pay and pension packages while shortchanging funding for what is necessary. Let’s cut our losses and stop paying these people for a bad idea.

    Thumb up 39 Thumb down 4

  19. Originalist says:

    The Attorney General wants to look at white collar crime? Sonoma County, Dumb Train and state govt would be excellent starting places!

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 3

  20. John Parnell says:

    SMART can obstruct us all they want. They can try to be the ones that write our summary, validate our signatures, or even count the votes. We aren’t going to let their shenanigans prevent this from getting to the ballot. The people are going to be heard, whether or not SMART wants to listen. This train is not what we voted for in 2008, so we just want to vote again.

    SMART doesn’t get to change the rules like this. Farhad Mansourian is not going to run this election. Anyone who publicly says he wants to go all the way “to the Supreme Court to beat their ass”, instead of to the ballot box should not be responsible for any election (even dogcatcher); and furthermore in my opinion, should not be running any public agency. (He said it at the Sept 7 SMART Citizens’ Oversight Committee.) I see a wee bit of conflict-of-interest, don’t you…with his huge Bell-like compensation at risk?

    We know that this is absolutely ridiculous, and just as ridiculous as what we were told recently about the signature threshold we need to reach the ballot. The Registrar told us that SMART will be the one to decide whether we need 15,000 or 40,000 signatures. Prop. 218 changed the threshold that SMART needed to pass Measure Q to 2/3 majority vote. SMART may complain that it is unfair that we need a simple majority vote to repeal, whereas they needed a super-majority to pass, but the law is the law, per Prop. 218. Prop. 218 also changed the signature requirement specifically for tax repeal initiatives, therefore why is it so ambiguous and why should SMART get to decide that part of the same law?

    @ Ricardo Sorentino – I think you’re right on the money, about the money. Get the bond money as quickly as possible, before more cost overruns come to light, and try to spend it as quickly as possible, even though you’re delaying for years. And then you can try to cry contract impairment, even though it’s a bit cart-before-the-horse. And yes, our website sucks. We are working on that, so please be patient.

    @ Dave Madigan – Great letter. Change the ‘your’ to ‘their’, and send it to the IJ. They might print it.

    Thumb up 36 Thumb down 4

  21. Kirstin says:

    Ricardo, apologies for misreading your name. Sometimes I skim when I shouldn’t. As someone whose own name is often mispelled, I generally try to do better.
    Hope you’ll be at our office on Saturday.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  22. Ricardo-

    Thanks for your constructive criticism. While we have been less organized that we would have liked, we are putting great effort into leveraging the support of our volunteers, and magnifying our efforts.

    Admittedly, we’ve gotten off to a rather slow start, but the momentum behind our efforts is going parabolic. In other words, it took us a month and a half to get the first petitions printed and distributed. It took us two weeks to get the first public signing event organized- we had almost 40 volunteers out collecting signatures on October 1st.

    Now, 2 weeks later, we have over 500 petition sections out in the hands of volunteers. While not all of those are being circulated at this time, they are being distributed, and the more we get out there, the faster the signatures come in.

    One of the challenges we are facing is the size of each petition section- each booklet has 95 signature lines. This means that the average volunteer is keeping their petition longer, filling out all those signature lines.

    This means that we don’t have results coming in as quickly as we otherwise might- with a one page petition, the are returned much more frequently.

    We also have an office and volunteer staff set up, which will accelerate and coordinate our efforts even further.

    The push will come over the next month or two, and we are confident that we will meet the required threshold.

    But if SMART wants to loan us one or two of their paid staff, it certainly wouldn’t hurt! ;)

    Thumb up 50 Thumb down 9

  23. Grey Whitmore says:

    As someone who as vehemently support SMART for years, I now have changed my mind.

    The reduced run, the salary raises and this current power grab is too much.

    I’m not sure what is up with SMART recently. But they seem to have become an entitled group that wants what it wants. And maybe that as it should be.

    I guess I had hoped that government would function differently. Guess not. I’m voting to overturn their taxing authority.

    Thumb up 53 Thumb down 11

  24. Kirstin says:

    Richard Sorentino, Social Dis-Ease, and everyone else, please join us this Saturday at our office in Cotati at 430 Aaron St. We are holding a petition event there. Sign one, pick up a petition kit to collect more signatures yourself, or drop off previously signed petitions from 11 AM to 4 PM. Check our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/StopSmart) for more. Repeal SMART is an all volunteer group, and it will get more done faster with your help.

    Clay may also wish provide information about other hub sites where supporters can go to sign or obtain or return petitions this Saturday. I’ll leave any of those details for him to share.

    Thumb up 44 Thumb down 8

  25. john Lennon says:

    Clive

    This isnt a tea party , republican, democrat thing. Both Republicans and democrats hate this train equally because basically what has happened is fraud.

    Imagine ordering a Ferrari from a car dealership at a set price. Then, the dealership doubles the price and delivers you a Yugo ,not giving you a chance to opt out of the contract.

    Its fraud and its criminal. Its not about politics. People trying to make this about politics have a hidden agenda.

    Thumb up 55 Thumb down 9

  26. Ricardo Sorentino says:

    My guess is that this is nothing more than a ‘delay’ tactic by SMART. Drag things out as long as they can, delaying the voting as long as possible, so they can issue contracts and try to get to a ‘point of no return’.

    Just another example that SMART knows full-well that more than 30% of the voting public don’t want the GravyTrain. They read the Press Democrat, and even an ‘informal’ poll with results showing more then 70% wanting an opportunity for a revote doesn’t bode well for SMART.

    I do wish that RepealSMART would get out more information to the public. I’ve checked their website and to date, have seen no current tallies on signatures that have been collected. The upcoming schedule posted seems a little shy of what it’s going to take to collect 40k or even 15k signatures.

    Thumb up 51 Thumb down 7

  27. Billy C says:

    One really has to question the motives of SMART. Are they Openly opposing a re-vote?
    Last I heard they where not worried in the least. If I where them I would worry.
    every one I talked to (save for one) where
    more than happy to sign the petition.

    Thumb up 50 Thumb down 8

  28. Social Dis-Ease says:

    We pay them to pay an attorney to figure out a way to find a procedural loop hole. A way to not honor the citizen’s wishes, our money or our legal system. Obviously the reason it took a while to get back to RepealSmart is because they were scrambling. “Their founding legislation does not provide procedures for an initiative”. What a bunch of crap, these people supposedly work for us!
    Let’s demand that each of our local city governments GET IT HANDLED! Let’s see who they really work for.
    Like I’ve said, we’re ‘gonna see just how rogue our government has become.
    Evidently pretty damn rogue.
    Clay, John, everyone at RepealSmart, let us know where and when you want us to convene and we’ll be there.

    Thumb up 50 Thumb down 7

  29. Dave Madigan says:

    Even More Deception?

    On October 5th, I sent a “Letter to the Editor” of the Press Democrat regarding the PD Editorial claiming deception on the part of Repeal Smart. The PD did not publish my letter. I will copy it here.

    Editor:

    I am truly amazed at the length that the Press Democrat has gone in order to demonize the citizens that support Repeal SMART. Your headline speaks of deception. Do you refer to the fact that the SMART board of directors proposed one plan to voters and is now building a much smaller plan without voter approval? Do you refer to the fact that the SMART board of directors conducted a nationwide search for a general manager with railroad experience and then hired a gentleman that has no railroad experience? Do you refer to the fact that SMART speaks of creating hundreds of local jobs and then goes overseas to buy railcars? Do you refer to the fact that the SMART board said they would not ask that money be diverted from other transit funds and now they have diverted millions of dollars from Marin County transit funds, Sonoma County transit funds and from the State?

    Your editorial makes it sound as though it is the responsibility of Repeal SMART to have alternative plans ready to go in case the repeal is successful. That is not the job of the Repeal committee. Repeal SMART is simply trying to look out for the average citizen/taxpayer. The SMART board seems to have no problem spending taxpayer money on salaries and benefits that don’t exist in the private sector. Repeal SMART has repeatedly attempted to have a dialogue with the SMART board. The reply from the SMART board has been to ignore or belittle the citizens who ask legitimate questions. Whatever happened to requiring accountability from elected officials?

    Your editorial complains about the number of signatures needed to qualify a repeal initiative. That requirement is not the fault of Repeal SMART. If you don’t like the law as it is written, petition our legislators to change the law.

    The “deception” seems to be on the part of the SMART board and some members of the Press Democrat Editorial Board. I fully support the Repeal SMART petition drive.
    (End of letter)

    With this latest news, the Smart? Board seems to be up to its old tricks.

    Thumb up 52 Thumb down 8

  30. Greg Karraker says:

    “It would appoint SMART’s general manager as the election official in charge and require RepealSMART to submit a copy of the proposed initiative so SMART attorneys can “prepare a neutral title and summary of the proposed measure.”

    I always thought Fah-raud believed he was Cornelius Vanderbilt. Now it’s clear he thinks he’s Hugo Chavez.

    Thumb up 46 Thumb down 8

  31. john Lennon says:

    This move shows great insight about the people that are running SMART. They definitely don’t care about the will of the people or what they have to say.

    Can any of their actions be considered criminal in regards to money spent and changing the plan that voters asked for? It would be nice to see some of these people indicted. The taxpayers are definitely being taken advantage of here , similar to Soylandra.

    I think this move will also put off a lot of people the previously supported the train. Its a pretty devious and unethical move. If the people actually want this train, they should have the right to vote on it.

    Thumb up 48 Thumb down 7

  32. Kirstin says:

    By the way, to all you Repeal SMART supporters, this article and SMART’s political maneuvers don’t affect what we’re doing out in the field at this time. As noted on Repeal SMART’s FB page, http://www.facebook.com/StopSmart:

    “Keep those petitions circulating. Keep signing. Nothing has been decided, and until SMART changes the rules of the game, we stay on our original course.”

    Thumb up 42 Thumb down 7

  33. Clive Jones says:

    I seem to have posted too hastily (forgive my typing), but I don’t think I’m the only one doing that here. My main concern is that the tea-party has awoken this idea that we have to repeal everything we don’t agree with.

    It obviously can’t be about the funding as all major infrastructure projects (including transportation) tend to take years to fully fund and have their own ups and downs along the way. I don’t see the anti-train folks campaigning against health-care or freeways; at least not in Sonoma County.

    It’s harder to be positive and put your efforts into making things better instead of just screaming to tear everything down. We’ve got to change the tone in this country. I challenge everyone commenting on this article to be more constructive.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 47

  34. Clive Jones says:

    I’m don’t have the legal background to call this either way, but I’ve found Farhad Mansourian to be the model of decency and the whole repeal effort sounds a tea-party crusade.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 53

  35. Kirstin says:

    This is a decidedly desperate political maneuver on the part of SMART. They know just as well as Repeal SMART does that the prevailing opinion of authorities is that Repeal SMART’s ballot measure does not require any approval from SMART to quality for the 15,000 signature threshold. Furthermore, Repeal SMART has consulted with SMART and the Sonoma and Marin Registrars of Voters all through this extended initiative process and has complied with all directives. It is absurd for SMART to try to redefine the rules at this stage — just as Repeal SMART is activating its signature drive. This attempted obstruction of the set, approved, and legitimate voter process should be recognized by all for what it is and rejected.

    Thumb up 55 Thumb down 8

  36. There are so many things wrong with this idea, I don’t hardly know where to begin.

    I’ll start with a little history- RepealSMART asked SMART’s attorney for guidance regarding election procedures back in late June. The response that was given (to paraphrase) was, “Go talk to the Registrar of Voters and see what they require.” We did, and were informed that the current procedure was the correct one, and that the interested parties had conferred, and decided that the Sonoma County Registrar would act as elections official for this election (and would work in conjunction with the Marin Registrar).

    On the very day that RepealSMART announces signature collection activities (3 months after the initial request), SMART’s “other” attorney sends this letter, claiming that SMART is exempted from the code section that we were told to follow, and that they get to (again, paraphrasing) make up their own rules for how the election will go. What?

    First, one has to wonder why it took them so long to decide this… and second, if they weren’t sure, why didn’t they tell us that they weren’t sure? Third, the timing is a bit suspect- sure seems like a move that is calculated to delay the people getting to vote on this issue.

    What Mr. Mansourian fails to mention is that under the California Elections Code section that we are operating under- specifically Section 9313 (which SMART wishes to change), the requirement IS set in place for an impartial title and summary to be created for the ballot measure once the petition qualifies for a ballot measure. This is to be done by the county counsel of the most populous county in the district, and fully “protects” the voters.

    Is it really proper for SMART to take elections matters out of the hands of our elected elections officials, and set the rules of the election themselves? Can the people expect to get a fair shake when the livelihood and legacy of the elections official may be at stake?

    And what kind of message does this send to ordinary citizens who seek to use the electoral process to seek redress for their concerns? If government can just jerk you around, and change the rules mid-stream, what is the point of having laws in the first place?

    And if the SMART Board is willing to make their own rules and change them midstream, how does that inspire confidence from the public in their commitment to carrying out the will of the people in regards to their project?

    Thumb up 65 Thumb down 9

  37. GAJ says:

    A true sign of blood in the water for SMART.

    Thumb up 53 Thumb down 9

  38. Levi says:

    Obviously, despite what the SMART officials say, they are **** a brick over this repeal effort. At this point, they know they are wrong and are trying everything in their power to preserve this personal gravy train.

    This is a picture perfect example of what is wrong with our government.

    Thumb up 58 Thumb down 9

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