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 Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit 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 SMART project to help close a $43 million budget gap for the initial construction of the rail. 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 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 some board members were coerced into changing their votes.

RepealSMART, led by Novato resident John Parnell, , accusing the board of violating the Brown Act 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 August 17.

kenn July 08, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Michael July 08, 2011 at 04:38 PM
aside from following procedure... you do have to wonder why they would take time to vote about not voting? Wow! SMART continues to be a series of mis-steps, mis-leading information, missing information, poor planning, poor budgeting, incorrect assumption making and bungling. Seems the only people who are benefiting from SMART are the ones that are a part of the bureaucracy this has created. And those involved seem to be paying themselves quite well with our tax dollars. $8 million more going into the black hole known as SMART. Why we allow any votes to be made in private that will send any taxpayer money is absurd. So many back room deals being made here with OUR money. Not so SMART is yet another in a long line of public transportation projects that end up costing the taxpayers far beyone the 'projections' made by the politicians. We are awash in debt and her comes SMART to add to it. We have now created another government bureaucracy that benefits who? And wasn't it conveniennt that Adams, the "staunch SMART supporter", was not even present at this meeting. Nice.
Phil Maher July 08, 2011 at 11:48 PM
And from my understanding, Susan Adams specifically told Steve Kinsey that she wanted the opportunity to vote at any scheduled special meeting when she was queried about her attendance availability . She told him that she was out of town until the 8th, he then decided to schedule for the 7th...the rest is history. Kinsey is simply a SMART shill of the highest magnitude who also happens to be angling for a wedge issue in his support of Jared Huffman's congressional bid. When did we stop electing the "best and the brightest" and begin settling for people like him? We're run by underhanded, conniving imbeciles.
John Parnell July 09, 2011 at 12:29 AM
This is a great article, and is the only one I have read about this meeting that truly describes how it played out. I would like to clarify though, that I am only one of those involved at RepealSMART. I might have started it, so I guess you could say "founder", but I can't say I am the "leader". Kirstin, Phil, Clay, Liz & others have stepped up, which is why we are where we are today.


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