Behind the Scenes: Metro sales tax Measure M
2 Urban Girls has to give props to the mayor of Carson Albert Robles. Citing “fairness and equity”, Carson and six other cities have filed a lawsuit in regards to the language of the measure to increase the sales tax to fund Measure M. A measure put on the ballot by the LA County Metropolitan Authority. The irony is the catalyst to this action could be rooted in the Metro Express Lanes project and its language that took away millions from South Bay cities. A Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of Metro that language for Measure M does NOT have to include how much will be collected. Judge Mary Strobel is making quite a negative impression of herself in the South Bay cities with a previous controversial ruling.
Judge Mary Strobel previously ruled to restart the oil refinery process in Torrance, CA, after a series of issues at the plant. The SBCCOG markets itself as “pro environment” but remained quiet on oil related issues in Carson, Hermosa Beach and Torrance. She was appointed judge in 2002 by former Governor Gray Davis and previously worked at the city of Santa Monica and could be considered an ally of Metro board member Pam O’Connor. O’Connor is council member with the city of Santa Monica and is their SCAG representative. SCAG does regional transportation planning of the non South Bay COG covered cities who brought forth this lawsuit.
The South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG) is a joint power authority that has the right to act on behalf of the 16 south bay cities that make up the COG. Each city pays the COG annual assessments. Three of the cities attached to the lawsuit are members of the COG. Ironically, the COG’s executive director is a former elected official in one of them.
COG Executive Director Jacki Bacharach is a transportation guru. She worked for Metro back when we knew it as RTD. She was also a member of the Rancho Palos Verdes city council. She used that council to decrease the reinvestment of tolls back into local cities. Those cities haven’t forgotten.
The COG was instrumental in getting Measure R passed and also served on its oversight committee. There are also many transportation projects the COG wants to finish via the new tax funds. The COG also has consultants on staff, who assist with drafting the measures language.
Carson, Rancho Palos Verdes (RPV) and Torrance vividly remembers being screwed out of transportation funds that would have originated from the toll lanes on the I-110 but RVP was used to take that funding away. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas spoke out about the proposed action but the language allowed for the changes.
Insiders are whispering that Bacharach could be losing some of her power amongst the membership. At one point another Peninsula city wanted to withdraw from the COG citing “effectiveness” concerns.
Carson, Commerce, Norwalk, Torrance, Santa Fe Springs, Rancho Palos Verdes and Signal Hill have filed an emergency lawsuit on behalf of taxpayers in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Now that a judge has ruled in favor of Metro, how many of the 16 South Bay cities will resume paying for services from the South Bay Cities Council of Governments?
2 Urban Girls guess is Carson, Hermosa Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills (Estates) and Torrance have some SERIOUS thinking to do when those annual renewal invoices arrive at city hall.