After about two weeks of little more more than “shoulda-knowns” coming out of SANDAG, as well as Chairman Ron Roberts in essence telling his fellow board members during the organization’s recent annual retreat that there’s nothing more to see and he has things under control, a group of elected officials is stepping up and taking appropriate action on the organization’s hide-it-from-the-public scandal…
February 16, 2017
Dear Chair Roberts,
Given the recent coverage of Measure A’s controversial revenue forecasts we appreciated hearing staff’s comments and perspective at the Board retreat. We also appreciated learning from Gary Gallegos that further discussion of this topic is planned for SANDAG’s February 24 Board meeting. However, discussions alone fall short of what will be necessary to regain the public’s trust.
SANDAG’s credibility relies on its accountability. Therefore, we believe it is imperative for the Board of Directors to commission an independent examination of all materials and personnel relevant to the issue. None of us are suggesting the result of such an examination is a foregone conclusion — it may indeed exonerate SANDAG — but for the public to be well-served an impartial and thorough examination must be conducted. At the very least we, and our constituents, need answers to the questions: Who knew about the revenue forecast discrepancies? When did they know? What was known? Who was the information shared with? Why wasn’t the Board or Executive Committee informed?
Such a review may be inconvenient; time-consuming and expensive. But the need to restore confidence in the agency is of the utmost importance.
Accordingly, we request that the Measure A revenue forecast item planned for the upcoming board meeting be listed on the agenda in a manner that allows the Board to take action.
Steve Vaus, Mayor of Poway
Dianne Jacob, County Supervisor
Richard Bailey, Mayor of Coronado
Catherine Blakespear, Mayor of Encinitas
Bill Wells, Mayor of El Cajon
Kristine Alessio, La Mesa Councilmember
Jerry Jones, Councilmember, Lemon Grove
In a nutshell, they’re telling their constituents, “We’re going to do everything in our power to get answers for you.” Kudos to these officials.
Given the entire SANDAG brouhaha is about the organization’s accountability and transparency, not simply about partisanship, it’s pleasing to see more than just Republicans on the SANDAG board willing to do the right thing. A few of those listed above probably walked out of the SANDAG retreat wondering if they’d be nearly alone in signing such a letter. So, it’s equally refreshing to see officials from seven of the 19 SANDAG jurisdictions as signers.
Authoring a letter isn’t the entire measure of anything, of course, it’s where the votes come down. Yet, until the votes are cast, it has to be asked why some on the SANDAG board appear to be so quiet? Where are the mayors from a handful of other cities, such as Carlsbad’s Matt Hall, Escondido’s Sam Abed, Oceanside’s Jim Wood, San Marcos’ Jim Desmond, and Santee’s John Minto?
Mysteriously quiet, it appears. Even more mysterious, some of those being terribly quiet about the SANDAG mess have either announced their candidacies for County Supervisor Bill Horn’s open seat in 2018 or are at least giving it some thought. At least one SANDAG alternate member is also running.
Do any of them think that “quietly moving on” and “hoping it’s gonna go away” are the appropriate approaches when wanting voters to perceive them as fighters for their communities?
If the 2016 presidential election taught nothing else, it’s that what voters — especially activists and volunteers — really desire is some anti-status quo straight talk, whether it be manifested in the likes of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.
If any elected official thinks that by fighting hard to right the ship at SANDAG, you’re somehow going to make anyone angry other than the organization’s staff and leadership, please step forward.
Then we’ll have a discussion about whether those in the staff and leadership at SANDAG are your voting constituents.