Transportation sales tax bid backed by Mayor Villaraigosa and MTA defeated by grassroots coalition
by Eric Romann on Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Coalition to Defeat Measure J sees voter response as rejection of MTA's civil rights abuses and corporate-driven agenda and demands new just, community-oriented transportation vision
The bid by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to extend an existing transportation sales tax until 2069 failed to meet the necessary 2/3 threshold, delivering a setback to the Mayor's gentrifying and polluting vision for transportation expansion. The Coalition to Defeat Measure J hailed the result not as a defeat for mass transit progress, but instead as a rejection of MTA's pattern of running roughshod over civil rights, environmental justice, and community concerns in favor of corporate special interests. The coalition that united the Bus Riders Union with the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Union de Vecinos in Boyle Heights, Northeast LA Residents Against Measure J, and community leaders from Beverly Hills overcame a corporate-funded multi-million dollar campaign for Measure J relying on grassroots tactics.
Comments of coalition members:
Sunyoung Yang, Bus Riders Union:
"Despite a multi-million dollar corporate-funded ad blitz and misleading ballot language, substantial numbers of voters heard our message about Measure J. MTA's record of disdain for the civil rights of the county's working class Black and Latino majority, and Measure J's heavy emphasis on corporate boondoggle rail and highway projects simply did not warrant giving the agency more money. This is not a denial of funds for the MTA. This result forces a shift in the debate on how to redistribute the ample funds from Measure R that MTA already has, with racial equality, social justice, and good transit policy for all at the core. This vote should lead the MTA to, among other things, reverse the elimination of one million hours of punitive and racially discriminatory bus service cuts, return the monthly bus pass to $52, commit to a Leimert Park Station on the Crenshaw rail line, and cancel plans for the 710 tunnel. We call on the MTA to stop its alliance with the highway industry, stop its war with bus riders and let's sit down and work together to discuss a transit future for LA that includes everyone."
Damien Goodmon, Crenshaw Subway Coalition:
"Black community clergy and civil rights leaders from South LA were palpably offended by Measure J, and joined forces with other working class communities of color out of common experience and common purpose. MTA was asking us for more of our money while promising to spend not a penny in our community.Crenshaw vividly remembers when Mayor Villaraigosa and MTA rejected our request for a Crenshaw Boulevard subway and a station at Leimert Park Village. Today's result makes it clear to the Mayor, MTA, and all who were watching that the days of South LA being cut out of fair and equitable resources are over."
John Mirisch, Vice-Mayor of Beverly Hills
"Beverly Hills residents joined this coalition of transit justice advocates precisely because we are concerned about how mass transit will be throughout the region even as we support it being built through our city. With the proposed routing of the West Side Subway, MTA has disregarded the ability of our School District to best serve the needs of future generations of our children by pandering to real estate special interests like JMB Realty and Westfield Corporation. LA County voters clearly saw Measure J for what it is: MTA using our tax dollars to do the bidding of real estate and construction interests. The larger message is also clear: mass transit in the region is too important to give a blank check to an organization which refuses to listen to the very communities it is supposed to serve, whether it be BH, Boyle Heights, or BH, Beverly Hills."
Janet Dodson, Northeast LA Residents Against Measure J
Communities in the Northeast came together against Measure J because our need for mass transit does not include the 710 tunnels devastating our communities. We know how to move cargo from the ports without building any more highways. It is time to move past twentieth century technology and build a modern transit system for all of us.