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TAM Board Doesn't Reconsider SMART Vote

Despite protesters and a lawsuit, the Transportation Authority of Marin pushes forward with its move to approve an $8 million bailout of the controversial train project.

The vote took all the air out of the room and most of the people in attendance at Thursday night's meeting of the Transportation Authority of Marin.

Anyone hoping for the TAM board would reconsider its decision to help bail out SMART on Thursday left angry and disappointed.

TAM commissioners moved 8-4, with one abstention, not to revote on the approval of an $8 million transfer of funds to the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit project. Supervisor Susan Adams (San Rafael), a staunch opponent of the SMART project, was not present.

Protesters stood outside the Marin Civic Center before the meeting with signs opposing the grant and SMART. There were audible gasps and a few pointed comments as the vote was taken. Although there were supporters of SMART present, any applause was drowned out by the grumbling of opponents as they left the room.

Larkspur Mayor Larry Chu moved to rescind the June 23 vote with the hope that a second vote would clear the waters surrounding the agencies. A new vote also could have opened the door to change the language in the funding agreement.

With the failure of the motion, the TAM board did not take up the issue of the $8 million transfer and there was no change in the board's position toward the SMART bailout.

"The whole SMART issue has been cloudy. We're only now getting some information we should have had before we voted on the tax increase. I wonder if some of that cloudiness is making its way into TAM now, too," said David Randolph of San Rafael. "We should rescind the vote, meet again with the public attending the vote, getting the people's comments and reactions."

The initial June 23 vote of the TAM board ended in a 7-7 tie, but after some reconsideration by board members, a second vote that same day ended 8-6 in favor of the grant. Larkspur's Joan Lundstrum changed her vote in favor of the bailout.

Members of the public Thursday expressed some concern and bewilderment over the change, even suggesting that sone board members were coerced into changing their votes.

RepealSmart, led by Novato resident John Parnell, filed a lawsuit against TAM on Wednesday, accusing the board of violating the open-meeting laws at the June 23 meeting.

"I don't think we need to be fearful of the outcome of another vote. The merits are there," said Michael Rex of San Anselmo, who warned not taking another vote could add ammunition to RepealSmart's lawsuit. "Doing it in this manner will help rebuild trust between TAM and the community."

TAM's executive committee meets July 11. SMART's July 20 meeting has been cancelled and the board won't meet again until Aug. 17.

Tom James July 08, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Glenda Corning, for you to believe that population densities in Marin/Sonoma will ever approach those in Europe and New York implies that you must have your head in the sand. Why would voters in Marin keep supporting open space and parks if they didn't prefer low density development? Like many others I voted for the sales tax increase. I was taken in. If another vote were held today, I'm certain SMART would go down in flames. As another writer noted, running a commuter train on a single track is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. When I voted, I foolishly assumed our "leaders" knew what they were doing. What a boondoggle. It is certain to fail, and people in Novato fear that SMART will bring demands for additional affordable housing simply to try to increase ridership. (Carol Dillion-Knutson do you hear your constituents? Your support of SMART will likely cost you your seat in November).
alex easton-brown July 09, 2011 at 01:00 AM
By the next election, the smell of the SMART albatross hanging around these politicians' necks should be pretty bad. Bye Bye Bimbos. Alex Easton-Brown, Treasurer, Marin Taxpayers
Mark Schoenbaum July 09, 2011 at 04:34 AM
Let's hope so. It seems that most of the voting public is the antonym of SMART.
Lloyd July 11, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Yep all the conveniences. Too bad they didn't plan to have the train stop anywhere convenient to actually give riders a chance to ride their train to nowhere.
Lloyd July 11, 2011 at 02:01 PM
The fix was in. Never has it been so openly shown. I hope that Larkspur representative that changed her vote was given appropriate "payoff" while she sold the rest of the County down the river with this boondoggle that will end up bankrupt or bankrupting any chance at mass transit .

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