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SMART train foes begin repeal petition drive

By STEVE HART
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Volunteers began a push Saturday to repeal funding for the Sonoma-Marin commuter rail project, gathering ballot petition signatures at shopping centers from Corte Madera to Santa Rosa.

They found strong feelings on both sides of the issue.

“Either they’re really into it or they’re really not,” said Joanne Hansen of Santa Rosa, who was soliciting signatures outside the Safeway store on Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa. “I thought one man was going to spit on me.”

Still, she had two dozen signatures of people who want another vote on the $380 million Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) project.  RepealSMART’s Facebook page was helping drive interest, she said.

Voters agreed to finance the rail project in 2008 with a quarter-percent sales tax. The group’s initiative asks voters to repeal it.

The Novato-based group intends to gather more than 40,000 signatures by Jan. 28 to put the measure on the ballot in Marin and Sonoma counties. If it qualifies, it would go before voters in June or November 2012.  But the group may need only 15,000 valid signatures to qualify the measure because election law is unclear on the number required.

Since 2008, the rail project has run into funding problems, forcing SMART to reduce the North Bay rail line from 70 to 37 miles. Commute trains originally were slated to run from Larkspur to Cloverdale starting in 2014, but initial service now is planned for a shorter San Rafael-to-Santa Rosa segment.  The project also is expected to cost more and take longer to complete than originally forecast.

SMART is an example of a big government program that doesn’t deliver, Hansen said Saturday.

“I’m tired of getting promised stuff that we don’t get to have,” she said.

Jim Bennett of Santa Rosa said he signed the petition because SMART is “an enormous waste of money.” He said the project is part of a misguided social-engineering scheme that dictates future development around public transportation hubs.

SMART chairwoman Valerie Brown couldn’t be reached for comment, but said last month that voters still support the project.

“When you look at our transportation problems and the effect of having commuter rail, it’s positive for the people of Sonoma and Marin,” she said.

She called the repeal effort “ill-conceived” and said the rail project is moving forward. “This will not affect SMART at all,” Brown said.

On Saturday, RepealSMART volunteers collected signatures outside eight Safeway stores in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Windsor, Rohnert Park, Novato and Corte Madera. They also circulated petitions at a town picnic in Tiburon.





44 Responses to “SMART train foes begin repeal petition drive”

  1. Kirstin says:

    @Decline: you don’t know what you are talking about. I think John Parnell’s recent comments on the breadth of people participating in Repeal SMART might help you get straightened out:

    “We have recently heard a number of baseless accusations that we are backed by the Tea Party. For the record, RepealSMART is completely non-partisan. Although founded by a Democrat, we have members who are Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Libertarians & vegetarians. We just had a member of the Marin Democratic Central Committee pick up petitions for herself & another MDCC boardmember. She l…aughed when I told her about these RepealSMART/Tea Party comments I had just seen, and asked who in the world would believe such BS.

    “We welcome anyone to RepealSMART, regardless of party affiliation. We leave our other differences at the door, as we know that we agree to stopping this waste of a train, but maybe not much else. If people want to oppose us, and our view that the people deserve another chance to vote on SMART, fine…but at least make a legitimate argument, instead of talking smack that is a lie.

    “We are a very good example of how Democrats & Republicans can actually cross party lines to work together. Maybe if this happened more in politics at the local, state & federal levels, then we wouldn’t be in such bad shape. We believe in our democracy, and our right to exercise our voice. We feel that being democratic (with a lower case “d”) is more important than being Democratic or Republican.

    “First we hear that we’re all “sore losers from 2008″. Now, we are all Tea Partiers. What’s next…that we are a secret society hell bent on destroying the world, one train at a time?”

    John
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/StopSmart

    As John pointed out, Repeal SMART has volunteers (for we are all volunteers) who have come together in a common cause for many different reasons. However, many if not most of those are people who voted FOR SMART in 2008 and who have watched the original plan (which was “rosy” to begin with) reduced to about half the train/services for the same money.

    Those who blindly (or deliberately) insist that the SMART board and its outrageously compensated general manager should just be allowed to go forward in any manner they wish really need to look at the facts again. You are living in a dream world if you think that building SMART will reduce emissions and congestion in Sonoma/Marin to any perceptible degree. You are living in a dream world if you think SMART isn’t just an over-priced designer train. You are living in a dream world if you think that it can be built and operated for anything close to the amount specified in Measure Q.

    The measure for which we are currently collecting signatures is simply a measure that will permit the voters to either accept or reject the radical changes that have been made by SMART in the 2008 plan. If passed at the ballot box, it will allow for the considered reevaluation of our options for a train. The voters can decide to fully fund the project as is if they wish. They can also decide to support a train that will still do the same job as currently marketed but will cost considerably less. Etc.

    The voters have every right to pass judgment on the “half train” plan that is currently being pushed by SMART. As voters are being approached by petition volunteers, they often indicate their appreciation for the chance this measure will give them to say yes or no to that half-baked and non-voter-approved plan.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  2. Social Dis-Ease says:

    @ Decline to sign: what’s your point. Some of these posts are worthy of framing. It’s exactly what’s goin’ on.
    ‘Unsavory’? What we ‘savor’ is the America that the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Democracy and The Free Market stands for (not stood for),
    if the rules all changed then we have a lot of ‘public servants’ in treason as most took an oath to uphold same.
    I find a paid political figure passing themselves off as a citizen ‘unsavory’.
    The denial days are so over.
    The cat is out of the bag.
    The Train has NOT left the station.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  3. Kay Tokerud says:

    @Decline to sign. Thanks for re-posting the excellent comments regading United Nations Agenda 21 Sustainable Development. It is 100 % correct. One hundred and seventy-nine nations including the United States signed UN Agenda 21 in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. The entire document is on the internet on the United Nations Website. People can just read it anytime they want. Also, ICLEI.org lays out how they are implementing UN Agenda 21 in over 600 United States cities. ICLEI is involved in county, state and regional boards as well. The EPA has been giving ICLEI grants of over $1million a year.

    The cat is out of the bag so you are the one wearing some kind of funny hat, perhaps a dunce’s hat.

    The transition into the UN Agenda 21 reality is being accelerated at an alarming rate. Regionalism, the common good, social equity, open borders, public-private partnerships which by the way is the definition of fascism. The environmental movement has been hijacked by international power brokers. Our government is completely controlled by big money.

    Our system of individual rights is being systematically replaced with…what? Well, what else is there? Systems of governance where it’s all for the common good and individual rights must take a back seat for the good of the whole. Every communist regime used this rhetoric, didn’t they?

    You support the unions, yes I know who you are, but as businesses are closed down due to excessive and unreasonable government regulations, more jobs will be lost. So, as you support the government’s absurd amount of new job-killing supposed ‘green’ rules, union jobs will be lost. Do you think the new regime will want to pay $20 to $50 an hour? Right now, those calling themselves progressive democrats are duped into thinking that ‘going green’ will help them. These are the useful idiots being used by the giant mega corporations that are poised to make huge profits by selling carbon credits. After being used, these progressives will be thrown under the bus. Wake up prog dems and get a clue as to why things are happening the way they are. It’s not in your interests to support the rhetoric being thrown around that are the tenets of UN Agenda 21 Sustainable Development.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  4. Decline to Sign says:

    DECLINE TO SIGN

    The official sponsors of the Repeal SMART campaign keep insisting that they are just normal citizens who are concerned that the project should be killed because it is rolling out in stages, rather than on the original schedule. By that standard, virtually every major public works project ever conceived would be canceled. That leads many of to recognize that there is another agenda at work. What is that agenda? There are two main groups: 1) The Tea Party faction, the radical Grover Norquist anti-government, anti-tax crowd 2) the paranoid UN Agenda 21 tin-foil hat types, who oppose the whole concept of sustainability and smart growth. Do you really want to be in bed with these unsavory characters? Decline to Sign.

    In case you think that I’m making this up, these guys keep writing my material for me. Here’s a sample of some recent commentary.

    *****************************************
    The planning revolution consisting of implementing the UN Agenda 21 Sustainable Development plan, with its ‘change agents’ operating under the guidance of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, are purposefully destroying the economic and social fabric of America in my opinion.

    FACT: Agenda 21′s stated goal is to ‘de-industrialize’ the US
    (read: ruin our economy).
    FACT: Agenda 21 promotes ‘the abolishment of private property’.
    FACT: ICLEI is the local implementation arm of A21.
    FACT: Sonoma County and it’s Cities are members in xlnt. standing.
    If your local government acts in a way that seems counter intuitive to our well being, that’s why.

    SMART = just another bloated government scheme.
    Government is all about self enrichment, self sustaining, self promotion schemes.
    Government at the local, state, and federal levels have entirely ruined our culture. Time to dismantle as much of government as we can and prevent it from expanding, like with SMART, wherever we can.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

  5. Clay says:

    Dem-

    I echo Kirstin and Phil’s comments.

    I would welcome an effort such as you are proposing, and would gladly jump on board with you. In fact, I’d be happy to meet for lunch to discuss the possibilities.

    As Kirstin mentioned, we didn’t undertake this effort lightly, and discussed at length the various options. And we have been disappointed on several occasions about how complex and inaccessible (to the common, unfunded citizen) this process is at times.

    But if we can find common ground that we can build on, that would result in greater accountability from SMART to the taxpayer, and a more reasonable, effective and viable project, I’m ready to go. Trust me- there are things I’d rather be doing with my limited free time than taking on the entire hegemony of Sonoma politics.

    It’s a tough road- don’t know if you’ve done an initiative before. We’ve easily got $10,000 worth of lawyer time into crafting this one- and it was pretty straightforward…. Not to mention all the volunteer time.

    Feel free to email me at your convenience- clay@repealsmart.org

    I would LOVE to see an efficient and effective rail system operating here- heck- that’s why I voted for it! I’m even willing to go against my limited government underpinnings and support a modest public subsidy for such a system- if it’s reasonable. The benefit for the community could be substantial.

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  6. Kirstin says:

    @Dem, if you actually do all the research, analysis, consultation, etc. that Clay and John have done in the last six months, you will find that an initiative addressing the matters you have listed would not be a practical one due to legal and other impediments. Those of us who talked about what kind of initiative to propose considered those and many other issues before deciding on the one for which we are currently, actively gathering the requisite signatures.

    But hopefully you’ll continue to question what is going on with SMART and looking for answers on how to fix it.

    Our petition is the only thing out there that will give the people here their rightful vote on the massive changes that SMART has made in the 2008 plan. We would welcome your signature too.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  7. Phil Maher says:

    @Progressive Dem- First, a point of clarification: SMART is not light rail.

    That said: as one of the original group of RepealSMART members, as well as perhaps the most conservative, and the only one who did actually vote against Measure Q in 2008 because of the fact that the numbers and projections made absolutely no sense at all, I would wholeheartedly welcome your efforts (although I somehow doubt they’ll materialize in any way, shape, or form). In doing so, however, please also include a proposal for a funding mechanism beyond the 1/4 cent tax that SMART’s supporters knowingly and admittedly had full knowledge of as being inadequate to accomplish their goals, but instead realized as politically convenient in light of the previous (failed) attempts to garner voter support with the necessary 1/2 cent sales tax….after all, railroads don’t exactly run on merely good intentions.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  8. Progressive Dem says:

    @Clay – Ok, I’ll bite!

    So, if I get together a counter-ballot measure that makes SMART accountable by overhauling the oversight committee, overhauling the board, and fixing their wasteful spending – you and your colleagues would abandon your effort to repeal SMART and instead support my effort? (which I guarantee a majority of the communities of Sonoma and Marin would support!)

    If you pledge your support, I will happily comply! (But I sense from our previous discussions on this forum that your interest lies only in killing
    light rail rather than fixing it).

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 17

  9. @Progressive Dem- You are mistaken- there are only 13 of us, according to Mr. Mansourian.

    But let’s be clear about a couple of things- first, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation about the need for fixing and accountability from SMART if it weren’t for RepealSMART’s efforts. Citizens have been complaining and asking for answers for years- and SMART has just ignored them and brushed them off.

    With no independent oversight (the Citizen’s Oversight Committee is appointed by the very people they are supposed to oversee, and describe themselves as “true believers”- hardly independent or critical), and most political and community groups drooling over the taxpayer dollars they hope SMART will throw their way, there has been no calls for accountability. None.

    So help me out here- just how do you propose to “fix” SMART? You make it sound easy- if it were easy, we would have done it already. We voted for the thing, and wanted to see it work. If they hadn’t botched it so badly, we wouldn’t be here.

    When the ordinary citizen has no power, no method of redress, the ONLY way to get results is to threaten substantial and serious action, and be willing to follow through.

    It’s easy to criticize, and more difficult to pitch in and make a difference. So give it a shot, Dem. Let’s hear your plan to suddenly create some accountability to the voters.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 2

  10. Joseph says:

    This type of noise is very common for these projects, people have a hard time with change and the railway will change Sonoma county, making it far easier for people to commute here. The same thing happened with the sprinter in San Diego, We ended up with the coaster first, and then a couple of decades later the sprinter from Escondido to Oceanside was completed. This train will be built and any delays are just the nature of the beast.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 22

  11. Progressive Dem says:

    Obviously there is a core of 66 people who feel really strongly that our failed experiment with more freeways and automobiles is the right way forward.

    But please note that the SMART train has won every election it’s ever had (the last one by the overwhelming majority needed to pass a salestax).

    The voters HAVE spoken – what a waste of resources to put this misguided attempt of the losers to have their way anyway!

    If the SMART board/management is broken (no argument there) – then FIX IT! This whole effort is way off base.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 24

  12. joe right says:

    If “SMART” looks soooooooooo good and valuable to the voters in it’s current form, it has nothing to worry about in a referendum vote. But I think the cost/benefit will have it scrambling to survive.

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 4

  13. Really Big Fish says:

    @ Kay

    Thank you for simply laying out what Obama’s true agenda is. Obama wants the U.S. to fail so he can be the god that says us and the hoorible world. He is clearly a puppet of this global phenomena and is quite astonishing that this could happen in America. What I find staggering is the absolute ignorance of much of the American public that has family members that have died or sacrificed their lives to protect and preserve the sovereignty of America so that others could prosper and do good things for the world community. They have thrown their relatives and heritage under the bus for a few bucks. Sadly they can not recognize their own hypocrisy and that their(our) children who are living in the shadows will suffer. And so will the world. Obama is full of rage (he was given hope, freedom, change,money,opportunity and education but is still full of rage…read his books)but now very desperate with enormous global funding behind him. Agenda 21 is only the beginning of the downfall of the U.S.unless it is stopped.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  14. Kay Tokerud says:

    @Dumb Move Those without arguments resort to name calling as you have. The comments supporting Repeal Smart are coming from educated people from all party affiliations. Some question the reason why our elected officials would knowingly embark on a plan that is sure to fail?

    When I first heard about ‘Planned Failed States’ as in the installation of the Taliban in Afghanistan, I began to wonder if that tactic was beginning to be employed in our country. Why were things falling apart so rapidly? Where was the money going? And who would do a thing like that? In order to overthrow the government of a country it works better to install a leader that’s planned to fail. Then, when that collapses the new regime must come in to rescue the country. I believe we are experiencing a planned failure now.

    The planning revolution consisting of implementing the UN Agenda 21 Sustainable Development plan, with its ‘change agents’ operating under the guidance of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, are purposefully destroying the economic and social fabric of America in my opinion.

    Our regional boards such as ABAG and the MTC are affilliate members of ICLEI that pay dues and are charged with disemination ICLEI’s policies to every city and county within their region. The Counties and cities are also members that pay dues. ICLEI is a non-governmental organization NGO with special consultative Status to the United Nations. They operate in relative secrecy and work with the unelected regional boards all over the country. Not all cities are members yet but most cities have made pledges to ICLEI’s policies.

    Some in the progressive camp have talked about ‘rebuilding America upon its ashes’. Does that mean they want our country to be destroyed? What will happen after that? What regime is waiting in the wings to come in to ‘save us’?

    This may seem out there to some but if you have a better explanation of what’s happening I’d like to hear it.

    The job killing policies that are supposed to be saving the planet are obviously planned failures. Smart is a perfect example of this. They are fixing non-existent problems that create problems such as failed businesses and unemployment. I don’t worry about being called names, I’m confident in the information I’m talking about. Keep up the fight, America is worth saving.

    Read the new book BEHIND THE GREEN MASK: UN Agenda 21, by Rosa Koire for more information.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 8

  15. Social Dis-Ease says:

    @ Graeme Wellington:
    great observation and comments.
    We are not alone.
    The globalists that are UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development are affecting policy all over the world, where ever they can. Those that don’t wish to participate in their carrot and stick brand of leverage are punished, called ‘terrorists’ or worse.
    They employ a similar template all over. That template(complete with software, training, grant money etc..) provides for our containment, which is central what ‘Smart Growth’ is all about.
    Search: Dr. Micheal Coffman/Smart Growth
    FACT: Agenda 21′s stated goal is to ‘de-industrialize’ the US
    (read;ruin our economy).
    FACT: Agenda 21 promotes ‘the abolishment of private property’.
    FACT: ICLEI is the local implementation arm of A21.
    FACT: Sonoma County and it’s Cities are members in xlnt. standing.
    If your local government acts in a way that seems counter intuitive to our well being, that’s why.
    They impoverish and sabotage the traditional services and funding mechanisms, while SIMULTANEOUSLY funding infrastructure pursuant to their oppressive goals
    (Redevelopment is the perfect example).
    That’s why they PURPOSELY waste such exorbitant amounts of money.
    How do you tell people that their own government is signed up with a plan that is DESIGNED to orchestrate our personal, civil and economic demise.
    That is the burden of those involved in the resistance. At times I’ve felt shame or embarrassment for speaking the truth. Those that would allow us to pay them to do this to us should be ashamed. We will remember them for the traitors they are.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 5

  16. Steveguy says:

    @ Clay, John and all of the concerned.

    All we can do is keep getting signatures, hopefully have some legal action, but that is an iffy thing.

    Remember, those hundreds of millions have been bought and paid for by those that stand to gain. The politicians have been bought by the same. It is truly sickening how they give money from us to themselves. Hard road to hoe.

    At least we can have our voice now, but I would hate to say ” I told you so” after $600 MILLION is thrown down a rat-hole.

    Our cities and counties are going broke, and SMART wants hundreds of millions . They think it is their right to squander our future. So sad.

    Thumb up 35 Thumb down 3

  17. Social Dis-Ease says:

    This issue will have a positive outcome regardless of how it unfolds.
    Unfortunatly we may witness some corrupt
    state of the art shananigans.
    However with this many eyes on the ball the people will really see what our government has morphed into. Hopefully serving as a catalyst for more citizen involvement. A wake-up call.
    I beleive it’s way too much of a land slide to manipulate the count, (although I wouldn’t put it past ‘em) this is ‘gonna get very interesting.
    As will everything in the coming months.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 3

  18. Steveguy says:

    They will spend millions and millions. That is a given. Where is the subsidy going to come from even if they operate ? We are broke. Take $10 Million a year from schools, treatment, jails ? I dunno

    This scam is a money pit, and should be stopped in the courts, and then the ballot box.

    I signed, and will be a volunteer ( am pretty busy now) This waste of public funds for the benefit of the bankrupt developers should be stopped.

    Even if we fail, it is a good cause that Thomas Jefferson would be proud of.

    If we do fail, the money pit will drive us further into depression, and the bus service will be cut drastically, for their monies are being stolen.

    I am looking forward to standing outside of Safeway Mendocino. Or anywhere else needed.

    If you look at the revenue from the Train, compared to the cost, oh my what a debacle.

    Steve Mosher

    Thumb up 42 Thumb down 5

  19. @Canthisbe-

    You’re right- there are legal risks on multiple levels, which is why the attorneys on both sides are considering this. And these questions likely won’t be answered by casual discussion in a forum like this.

    The question that has not been answered is the status of this issue specifically when the electoral action precedes the issuance of bonds. In essence- how can SMART enter into a contract with investors and guarantee payment on bonds when the repeal process of their primary source of payment is already under way?

    And you are correct- SMART is rushing to issue bonds because they believe that the legal case for contract interference is “bulletproof”, which they believe provides them a safe harbor from the results of an election.

    Which is a truly sad commentary on the value that these elected officials place on the will of the people- you’d think that they would have a bit more respect for the process that got them where they are.

    Anyway, it may end up being settled in the courts based on technicalities. Unfortunate, but a reality that we are prepared to face and pursue as needed.

    One thing is certain- since SMART is unwilling to acknowledge the need for voter ratification of the changes they’ve made, this issue will NOT be settled based on the will of the people if we don’t make the effort, collect the signatures and put it on the ballot.

    So in the meantime, we and our volunteers put in the effort to make it possible for the voters voices to be heard, and leave the legal wrangling to the lawyers.

    Thumb up 44 Thumb down 4

  20. Graeme Wellington says:

    Supporters of SMART need to Google “LRT boondoggle” and you’ll see a list of newspaper stories in other cities in the USA and Canada that spent the money and regret it tremendously.

    It’s the same story everywhere, really! Just read a few of the stories in other cities and you’ll see eerie similarities to the exact things going on here.

    If anyone that supports SMART can come up with a simple Google search criteria that locates even one LRT success story anywhere in the USA or Canada — please let the rest of us know about it. There isn’t one.

    So why can’t we learn the lessons of so many other cities that have tried or built virtually identical systems to the one proposed here and spent the money? Why don’t we NOT spend the billion and learn the lesson and not be so darned stupid and/or not insanely believe in a Utopia?

    This isn’t the first trip to the LRT rodeo people. SMART defenders had a dream. I did too because I am a lifetime public transit user hoping and hoping for that fast train ride into the city. But we’re building something for the hell of it, not to accomplish anything useful. And thing of the subsidies — hundreds of millions of tax dollars forever just to keep operating this thing at a loss. You don’t create a supply and hope there will be a demand.

    Just Google the story of the LRT system in Greece — that was one of many insane entitlements that bankrupted that country. Their accountants said it would have been cheaper to pay taxi cabs to handle the train passengers instead of operating that train system.

    Sonoma and Marin Counties can’t spend this money like this. Every possible effort must be done by regular citizens to stop it. The politicians won’t. They pander and lie to dumb people. They are thinking of re-election, not the taxpayers.

    Repeal SMART and don’t re-elect any politician that supported it or rationalized it to get votes. It’s a mistake, so let’s correct it.

    Thumb up 42 Thumb down 5

  21. Canthisbe says:

    Clay Mitchell –

    Appreciate your response – but I have questions about it.

    SMART’s actual knowledge of the repeal effort and a letter requesting that the Board take no actions in furtherance of issuance of bonds may have no legal effect. The letter is certainly not the equivalent of a court issued injunction. In fact, it may spur the Board on to get bonds issued before the potential vote on repeal.

    The real question is not whether the sales tax can legally be repealed as a general concept. The real question is if SMART issues the bonds while the sales tax is legally in effect, can the sales tax subsequently be repealed or would the law say that since the bonds were issued legally and the buyers of the bonds were legally entitled to rely on the sales tax to repay the bonds, can the sales tax legally be repealed after the bonds were issued?

    Even if the issuance of the bonds while a potential repeal of the sales tax is pending could amount to a showing of “extremely bad faith” on the part of SMART, I am not sure that that would prevent the sale of the bonds or that a court would use the Board’s actions to penalize the bondholders or other third-parties who entered into contracts with SMART to do work on the project.

    I’m not for or against trains and am not arguing with you. I do think that voters should control the people running the government and not the other way around and issues should be decided on the merits and not technicalities and I see the potential for this issue to be decided on technicalities and not the will of the voters.

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 4

  22. Money Grubber says:

    With regard to the claims that Sonoma County “needs” a rail line for all the commuters who supposedly would use it, I just have to point something out that was pointed out to me.

    We already have public buses in Sonoma County and throughout California.

    Drive by any public bus maintenance yard and look at all the private vehicles in the lot from the public transit employees.

    They want YOU to ride, cramped, in their buses so they can keep their public jobs. But, alas, the employees of public transit all use their private vehicles and cruise around in style :)

    Thumb up 30 Thumb down 11

  23. Rick says:

    It would appear the people who are in favor of SMART do not fear the petition or the voters. Interesting. If the voters choose to take away the funding because they are upset about the handling of the issue, what then? I remember the estimates when the project was proposed. I saw the revised estimates after the votes were counted. Had it been my project, I certainly would have fired the contractor and would have had to rethink a system that would be half the size, cost twice as much, and seems to be spending money on public employees like it was going out of style. Did the people in favor of this really think no one would care? I won’t ever ride SMART because it does not go anywhere I go. If we have long range plans for massive housing growth in the north county areas, someday it might have a purpose. I don’t see them replacing those vineyards with houses anytime soon. Who can afford to ride it? If they could afford it, where is the advantage? Good luck with this one people, the only interest I have is how much the sales taxes will be raised to support it. Another issue to push business and sales away from Sonoma county. SMART? THEY think so.

    Thumb up 39 Thumb down 8

  24. Kirstin says:

    I’ll correct myself and note that the first SMART estimate, of 2860 trips, is based just on the initial segment from San Rafael to Santa Rosa being built. The other estimate for twenty years later is based on an assumption that the total 70 miles would be constructed by then, thus, in great part, accounting for the larger number.

    Also, SMART only projected one-way trips. The guestimate of how many people those projections would actually represent is mine.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

  25. Charlie Metcalf says:

    OK, so they’ll repeal the train funding. 20 minutes later some appeals court judge will order California to start giving licenses to illegals, thus greatly increasing the traffic flow everywhere, with no mass-transit solution on the table.

    One more reason why we’re not planning to remain in Sonoma County.

    Thumb up 26 Thumb down 9

  26. Kirstin says:

    @ Engineer,by SMART’s own projections, the 70 miles of SMART (if ever built in its entirety) would only be used by about 1500 (2860 one-way trips) people in 2015 and about 3500 (6545 trips) in 2035. This assumes most, but not all, people will want a round trip. Sonoma/Marin has a total population of over 750,000 now and between 100K and 200K cars move up and down the 101 corridor every day. So, SMART is NOT going to alleviate traffic concerns. It will only serve a tiny percentage of our population. But it will cost in total over $1 billion. This is not an efficient use of taxpayer money which should go toward projects that will benefit the maximum number of people possible.

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  27. Engineer says:

    The cost of energy is going up, and everyone knows that a new lane on the freeway just moves the bottleneck a few miles down the road. So why do the critics get so excited that SMART has had to defer the less-heavily used parts of the project? They hope that by making a lot of noise they can force a delay of the project.

    So long as the business, environmental, and labor communities maintain their consensus that the SMART Train and Pathway are essential, it’s hard to see that this petition is more than an interesting diversion.

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  28. Frank says:

    wouldn’t need smart train or have to commute if Sonoma County was equal for all business

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  29. truth in law says:

    Every third world nation has a rail road…but we decide rail transport is too below us. What a crock. If the folks running this are comitting a criminal act, go after them. Leave the rail system intact so our children have the benifit of rail travel.

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  30. Joyce Garcia says:

    @ Roger, it’s unfortunate you views are so narrow while you use such a broad brush to paint your inaccurate portrait on the issue at hand and on those who support something you are opposed to.

    “When are people going to learn that we have to provide alternatives to automobiles before they become obsolete?”

    We have alternative transportation…trains, planes, boats, buses, bikes….(need I go on) yet, cars live on. It seems to me that the pipe dreams of the evil automobiles being replaced by something “SMART” and “Green”, you know, something that has not been invented yet, will become obsolete before cars.

    “The “Repeal SMART” group is stuck in the past and wants us to continue our self destructive love affair with cars!”
    No one is out there pushing people to love cars. Cars are in demand by people who choose to buy them for convenience and lifestyle…commuting to school, work, shopping, vacations, chores. It’s freedom to do whatever, whenever a person chooses. Personal freedom. There is nothing self-destructive about that.

    Should you ever choose to listen to others opinions, (I’m not asking you to agree) your narrow views may widen and the broad brush you paint people with may allow you to see that your reflection in the mirror is not so tolerant.

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  31. @Reality Check-

    The issue surrounding signature count is a complicated one- it took over a month for us to get a response from the registrar’s office on that very issue (cause they had to consult with their counsel, etc).

    I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version:

    Originally, we approached SMART’s counsel (who happens to work for Sonoma County Counsel) asking for guidance on the election process. His answer was predictably ambiguous, and he referred us to and recommended that we ask the Sonoma County Registrar for guidance on the procedure to follow. We were informed by the Sonoma County Registrar’s office that elections officials from the two counties had conferred, and that they had agreed to have the Sonoma Registrar act as elections official, and that we would submit to them.

    We did so, and when we submitted our notice of intent to circulate petitions, we were given an informational sheet that indicated the expected number of signatures required for this type of initiative petition, based on the California Elections Code for Special District initiative measures. This was just under 40,000, or 10% of the district’s registered voters.

    Upon further review, it became clear that there was a provision in the California State Constitution (which trumps elections code) that provided a lower signature threshold (5% of voters from last gubernatorial contest) when the initiative is affects a special tax… which this does.

    So we asked for clarification- and a month later, the clarification was that the registrars offices would accept any number of valid signatures that we submit, and they would certify these to SMART- who is then responsible to call the election. The feeling with the registrar was that if we only submitted 15,000, there is a greater risk that SMART would simply refuse to call the election as required by the State Constitution, which would in turn require legal action to compel them to act as they should.

    We are seeking further clarification directly from SMART in this regard.

    In the meantime, we could not wait any longer to collect signatures, and instructed our attorneys to craft petition wording that would be appropriate and comply with either signature threshold- and here we are today.

    While it is substantially more complicated than that, I hope that gives you the basics.

    @Canthisbe-

    According to SMART, bonds were supposed to be issued 3 months ago; despite their claims of moving full speed ahead, we are still waiting (thank goodness!).

    SMART has known since June that this action was coming. From our June letter to the board, in addition to explaining that we would be taking this issue back to the voters, “….we request that the Board take no actions in furtherance of issuance of any bonds or contractual obligations until the voters have had an opportunity to vote on these most important issues.”

    If SMART insists on bulldozing ahead regardless of the will of the people, knowing full well that this is coming down, the real question is not whether the sales tax can legally be repealed (for the answer is most certainly yes), but more appropriately did SMART act in bad faith by entering a contract that it knew there was a substantial chance they could not uphold?

    If they try, it would not surprise me. They have shown a blatant disregard for the concerns of the people, and a pattern of actions without accountability for the results.

    Can they really invalidate the right of the people to make their will known, simply by issuing debt and entering an obligation? And especially when they knew that this was coming well in advance?

    To do so would show extremely bad faith.

    In the meantime, I’m just going to collect some more signatures from willing voters.

    Too bad that the SMART Board didn’t just call this election themselves- Marin has a general in November, and we could have been done with this question much more quickly.

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  32. Western Cluebird says:

    Thanks to all the informed citizens that signed my petition Saturday.

    Thanks to those willing to debate the issue in a civil manner.

    The few hostile people that do not like volunteers trying to make sure the voters have a voice may eventually see the value in what we are doing.
    If not, I won’t be losing any sleep over it.

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  33. Liz says:

    Saturday went great!! I think Smart will find out very quickly that more people than they realize are with us and what to sign the petition.

    @Roger “The “Repeal SMART” group is stuck in the past and wants us to continue our self destructive love affair with cars!”

    If you have been paying attention to anything we have been saying from the start you would know what you state is untrue.
    We are not stuck in the past and we do not have a love affair with cars, we are against a project that is so grossly different from what it was originally supposed to be. I am only ok with a fully funded train from Cloverdale to Larkspure, what I voted for. I am not ok with anything less. And right now we are getting way less. And with a director making $400,000 + a year I think everyone should be upset that is where their tax dollars are going.

    There will be many places to sign petitions as well as an office location open 3 days a week. Keep checking our website and Facebook pages for all the details. Facebook.com / stopsmart or repealsmart . org

    Thank you all for your support

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  34. Repeal SMART=Dumb Move says:

    Don’t sign this petition. There is a hidden agenda here that becomes very obvious when you see who is behind this repeal drive. This is the same motley crew of tea party fanatics, anti-government & anti-tax cranks, and the latest generation of the old John Birch society “US out of the UN” fringe group, which has now morphed into the “Agenda 21” cult, which see a vast internationalist plot to subjugate the American people to their nefarious urban planning schemes. You are joining forces with the most retrograde right-wing elements in the county when you sign this petition. Please don’t encourage them, just walk away briskly when they approach you at the market. Go back and read through the comments over the last few weeks on this topic, and the record will prove my words.

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  35. TOm says:

    These people thieves and in a perfect world would be thrown in jail.

    Greg , where can I sign?

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  36. Wilson says:

    If this just qualifies for the ballot, they won’t be able to sell bonds to finance the project. Even if anybody was stupid enough to buy such bonds, it’s probably not legal to sell them with the possibility of no means to pay them back. Things would likely come to a screeching halt.

    Ms. Brown needs to get her head out of the sand or anywhere that the sun doesn’t shine.

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  37. Money Grubber says:

    David:

    Ms. Brown clearly sounds as if she really does NOT care about what the voters have to say.

    Good thing she is leaving government. One less arrogant California politician who pretends as if the “elected official” job title gives her greater wisdom that the majority of citizens.

    Lets all take note of the politicians who badmouth the petition effort and / or the movement to neutralize SMART.

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  38. Mike says:

    The Repeal is underway and going very well. Thank you very much for collecting petition signatures. You are doing a great job!

    Remember when those of us who spoke in opposition to SMART were called “white noise” by Debora Fudge board member of SMART? Well, it is getting pretty loud now.

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  39. Reality Check says:

    “I spent an interesting four hours collecting signatures . . . ”

    Good for you, and thanks.

    Why the confusion over how many signatures need to be collected? When will you know the number for sure?

    Does RepealSMART plan to release information on how signatures have been collected from time to time?

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  40. Canthisbe says:

    David raises an important issue that PD needs to dig into in much greater detail.

    If Valerie Brown’s comment that “[The repeal petition] will not affect SMART at all” means that Brown thinks the repel petition / vote will fail, then the voters will eventually answer that question.

    However, if Brown means that a successful petition and vote will not affect SMART at all, then someone should analyze and explain why.

    I think we can rule out that she means that if the sales tax funding is revoked that SMART will replace the bond money with money from some other source.

    If the petition drive succeeds, the vote will not be until June or November 2012.

    According to SMART, SMART will have issued bonds based on the sales tax by then and will have entered into contracts for millions of dollars. Can the sales tax legally be repealed? Or is this whole thing going to end up in court with a judge ruling that the repeal petition / vote was a meaningless exercise?

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  41. Roger says:

    Good idea to “repeal SMART” so when gasoline goes to $5 or $10 dollars a gallon we can start “SMART” up again at an even higher cost!

    When are people going to learn that we have to provide alternatives to automobiles before they become obsolete?

    The “Repeal SMART” group is stuck in the past and wants us to continue our self destructive love affair with cars!

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  42. Alex says:

    You are damn right I will sign this. The SMART is about lies that they knew would not be able to be funded with a 1/4 cent sales tax. However, they figured that the dumb voters will then say, well since we are in the hole we minds as well pump more money in it…just like every other program. I only hope that the voters have the sense to understand what a financial drain this will be not just for now but to our children. Look at any…ANY public transportation and see what a financial drain it has become and above all the increase of sprawl and traffic it has created. The very thing is says to prevent is the very thing it will cause. I invite ANY of you who support this failing idea of SMART to ride BART. I am not talking about a quick ride within SF I am talking about 55 miles out much like what will be here. You will understand why this must be stopped. Look at those towns and the problems that BART has not only created but the inefficiency of the public transportation. See the costs and the never ending crime that surrounds it…because no matter how much you may think otherwise, the bottom line is more people equal more problems..and if you work, you will pay for it dearly. End the political gravy train called SMART and not only sign the petition so stop it dead in the tracks but vote to stop it. Take back YOUR money and take back your voice from politicians who think you don’t matter much like Valerie Brown who says about you and I quote “This will not affect SMART at all”…let them know they are appointed or elected they are not and NEVER will be king or queen. They are nothing more than a peasant with a title…vote to repeal it and remind them.

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  43. Greg Karraker says:

    I spent an interesting four hours collecting signatures yesterday. As expected, most people headed in or out of a supermarket don’t want to be bothered with anything remotely political.

    But of the people who stopped and listened to my 30 second elevator speech, the vast majority expressed their disapproval with SMART and either signed, or promised to sign in the future. Only two said they support this half-train.

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  44. David says:

    “This will not affect SMART at all,” Brown said.

    Does this mean she doesn’t think the repeal effort will succeed, or if it does succeed they won’t stop construction? Sounds to me like Ms Brown doesn’t care what the voters want if they don’t agree with her.

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