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SMART is on the Ballot After All

Why the Assembly race between Michael Allen and Marc Levine is a referendum on SMART.

I’d like to apologize for my work with Repeal SMART.  I am so sorry that we aren’t voting on SMART this week. All I wanted was to give us that opportunity.

The outcome of the election was really not as important to me as just having one. I would like to thank the almost 15,000 people who signed our petition, the hundreds who gave their time and money, and special thanks to Clay Mitchell for being my partner in the effort to give the people a voice.

I will always regret that I didn’t do a better job with the petition management. It really was my fault that we failed. It’s wrong to think it was due to SMART support. I think SMART runs about even with the bullet train — about one-third of the voters would like to change their vote. I felt that it is the people’s right to decide the fate of this train in light of the major cuts, and not an unelected board.

SMART is anything but smooth right now.  It was red-tagged last month for environmental violations in San Rafael, and must stop work until the spring.  There has been major resistance in San Rafael and Santa Rosa over the zoning changes to build for the train. Also, SMART is quite happy that nobody has asked what happened to those 1,000 new jobs they had promised by now.

In order for SMART to now succeed, it needs to get the people behind it again.  To own it again, and not just be the ones paying for it.  The only way this can happen is if the SMART board becomes directly-electable by the voters.  It would be nice to see Val Brown and Al Boro to be able to continue on with their passion despite retiring from elected office.  It would also be nice to see someone from the bike community, such as Andy Peri on the board, as well as a critic or two. Giving the people a voice in SMART again will be the only way that SMART could ever ask for the second tax it will need to finish the project.

I was very optimistic when I heard both Michael Allen and Marc Levine promise to introduce legislation to make the SMART board directly-electable, at the Marin Grassroots debate in April. However, I was disheartened to see Mr. Allen go back on his promise just a few weeks later. He said that things at SMART had changed, although the only thing that really changed was that Mr. Allen won the primary. Mr. Levine says he still means what he said.

So SMART is on the ballot after all. If elected, Marc Levine remains committed to introducing this legislation, while Michael Allen will most definitely not. SMART hasn’t been an issue in this Assembly race, but it should be. A vote for Marc Levine will give people a chance to have a voice at SMART again.

Please vote. It really does matter.

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Al Dugan November 05, 2012 at 02:13 AM
John, well said. I voted for Marc Levine as a change in the politics as usual which includes saying whatever needs to be said to win and past documented conflict of interest issues. Unfortunately I believe SMART will be a fiscal disaster that we will be subsidizing for many years to come with no real value provided.
M. Calwald November 05, 2012 at 05:10 AM
I am voting for Marc Levine too. We need someone who represents all of us, not just developers and special interest groups. How many Allen flyers did we receive in the mail and then more bashing Levine? What kind of leader is that? Go Levine! John: Can SMART be fined for their environmental abuse in San Rafael? Here they claim they want to get cars off the road for the environment and then abuse the environment. Farhad Mansourian does whatever he wants to do and to heck with anyone else.....pretty bad for being the highest paid public servant in California.
Marvin B. November 05, 2012 at 05:43 AM
Only in Marin would a train be built THEN high density housing around it to provide ridership. In the past trains were built to go to the cities where housing was already established.
Regan Taylor November 05, 2012 at 03:17 PM
And all this time I thought all they both wanted to do was flood the landfill with their daily....sometimes two a day...fliers.
Mark Burnham November 05, 2012 at 03:21 PM
The Allen flyers were obnoxious in their sheer volume. I received 3 from his campaign in one day alone. Message to Allen's handlers .. either drop the picture of this guy from the marketing or enlist plastic surgery to fix his "smile". I can't tell if he is in pain or grinning.
Bob Ratto November 05, 2012 at 03:51 PM
John Do not blame yourself for the failure of the SMART petition effort. You faced very long odds against very staunch opposition as well as a lack of awareness from the populace as to what SMART is really all about. It is not a simple coincidence that all of this TOD/PDA "plan" came out well after the petition. SMART is not now, and will never be, a viable transportation solution for anyone in Marin. Well, perhaps it will support ridership to the new Casino going in up in Rohnert Park, but that will likely be just another Allen legacy. Thanks for all your hard work on this, and I really appreciated your efforts!
Clay Mitchell November 05, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I've received several robo-calls and live calls from the Allen campaign (to a former home-office number in AD 10 that forwards to my cell) containing statements of questionable veracity. For example, claims that Levine favors "high density development" but Allen does not- I kid you not! It doesn't get much more high density than the transit villages being proposed around SMART stations, and Michael Allen, may I remind you, pushed through that gut and amend bill earlier this year that took away one of the last accountability methods left for local communities- advisory review on station design. I'm curious just how many of those 1000 union jobs that the Allen's union buddies fought so hard for (translation: yelled at and intimidated our elderly volunteers for) actually materialized- then again, accountability and follow through has never been part of the corporate culture with SMART leadership. John- thank you for having the guts to stand up and fight- to take the abuse and vilification that was unfairly heaped on you. The community is better for it, as is the SMART project (though it still has substantial, even fatal flaws).
Howard Blum November 05, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Excuse me, but SMART came into being by a vote of the people. It took a 2/3 vote BY WE THE PEOPLE OF MARIN COUNTY to get the funding through. You must have slept through that. Too bad.
Mark Schoenbaum November 06, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Sorry Howard, please check your facts. SMART Did not the required number of votes in MARIN COUNTY and it was only the creation of a 'special district' that allowed SONOMA COUNTY to trump Marin. You must have slept through that. Too bad.
Scott Stokes November 06, 2012 at 12:23 AM
I'm sorry you did not mention the heinous bill sponsored by Allen that removed all local planning commission reviews of the station designs. That is a big issue. Talk about removing local input form this runaway group that sucks one million dollars out of the economies of the two counties every month and the Marin Backup on 101 will continue even after the train to nowhere starts it's deficit operation. Remember, they are trying ot do this on a single track system with no trains for 4 hours in the middle of the day for freight trains.
Jimmy Fishbob Geraghty November 06, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Scott, the back up on 101 will continue for the fools that use 101 as their commute plan, for the rest of us, the Smart Train will allow us to remove ourselves from the idiots parade. I'll be sure to wave, yes, even when they are spending more billions for more lanes... enjoy the glorified parking lot.
Kevin Moore November 06, 2012 at 12:54 AM
John, thank you for the effort. Jimmy, are you going to commute to a job at Target? SMART won't remove 1% of the commuters from 101. SMART's own white papers and Caltrans traffic survey show it. 101 will still be a parking lot. Up to 15,000 cars pass San Pedro road an hour. SMART has 156 seat trains leaving every half hour. And they want to add 600 more housing units to Terra Linda? The net effect will be a negative impact on 101. Talk about "one percenters" looking for special treatment. A bus system would have been more flexible and easier to expand. CalTrans Traffic Data (search for San Pedro and Sonoma) http://traffic-counts.dot.ca.gov/2011all/Route101.html SMART is all about building more housing in an area where jobs are not expanding. We did that in the Bush era. "Build housing and jobs will come." Stockton would be booming if that were true. Sustainable jobs should drive housing. Water limits housing.
Kirstin Merrihew November 06, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Thank you, John -- and you, Clay -- for all the hard work you put in for Repeal SMART. Without you both, the attempt would not have been made at all. You are courageous men, and I and many others appreciate you for it.
John Parnell November 06, 2012 at 07:59 AM
Or should we all write-in Farhad Mansourian? Thanks for the kind words.
Andrew R November 06, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Parnell, and we will all be glad that your obnoxious pomp and bluster will be put in the history books after tonight.
John Parnell November 06, 2012 at 11:24 PM
"Obnoxious pomp & bluster" is now on my wall next to "tea party jihadist" - thanks for the chuckle. But Andrew, I think I missed the first part of your insult...was that a typo or is this actually your complete thought?
Bob Ratto November 06, 2012 at 11:27 PM
John I think you could develop a sitcom with all the names you have been called!
DINAH MATTOS November 07, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I am so happy to hear all the positive news about SMART. I am also happy to hear about Toni running for supervisor. Please correct me if i'm wrong....we have a very poor turnout in Novato when it comes to voting. If I have one complaint...it would be that. Thank you John and Toni for all your hard work and dedication. I'm ready to get to work for my town again.
Al Dugan November 07, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Like many things in politics we were sold the pig in the poke....look at what people thought they were getting a what cost and see what they are getting and it's cost and future cost. We all were given the three card Monty and it is a lesson learned moving forward. And yes unfortunately, I actually believed in what was said would be done. My mistake, but it will not happen again. Thanks for framing this issue.
diane November 20, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Good point Marvin!!
diane November 20, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Oh my gosh, was it Allen that sponsored that! I voted for Levine anyway, but who knew that?
diane November 20, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Marin had it good when lack of water caused a moratorium on building permits. Then the Water Dept. put it's customers on rations two years in a row so that they could coerce them into voting for a pipeline. Like SMART, it had failed in other elections, so it passed after that by short sighted people. SMART only passed because the work on 101 caused such terrible delays. But it's interesting that the work was finished just 2 short months after the election, whereas it was supposed to be finished sometime around Oct.
diane November 20, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Ditto!
diane November 20, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Marin County did not have 2/3 vote. It was 50 something percent, just barely over 1/2 of Marin County, which isn't considered enough to win. It was Sonoma County that made it 2/3. And we can thank Joe Nation for that because he's the one who combined Marin with Sonoma on this SMART issue because they needed more money. Marin has little use for SMART. Need I say that I never voted for Joe Nation again. ...
Scott Stokes November 20, 2012 at 07:19 PM
TAM and their ED (DS) specifically designed the Lincoln Hill bike/ped path to block any south bound 101 auxiliary exit lane into Central San Rafael, thus insuring the Marin Backup every morning! Why, easy.. to ultimately insure the eventual misguided vote to approve SMART (get the other people off the road syndrome). Now we have both a useless single track money hole and the crushing economic and environmental disaster Monday through Thursday on South bound 101!! Bunch of lazy, short sighted political lifers if you ask me. Where are the enlightened heroes? I'm betting on Tony!

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