Sunday, March 12, 2006

BART-to-San-Jose riding on county sales tax

You might not know it based on their history of disrupting grassroots protests and bizarre letter-writing campaings, but it turns out the Silicon Valley Leadership Group isn't totally politically tone deaf.

Realizing that a second BART-to-San-Jose tax was unlikely to pass, this association of corporate lobbyists is gambling $2.5 million on a half-cent sales tax that the county can use for whatever the hell it wants. The measure only requires 50% approval, not the two-thirds of a specific tax, and has the added benefit of helping the poor, sick and elderly. But for BART to get built, the tax doesn't just need to pass, the supervisors also need to vote to give $70 million or so to the VTA every year.

The leadership group spent $2m campaigning for 2000 Measure A, outspending their opponents by at something like a 9-1 rate (one reason most people aren't familiar with the drawbacks to the BART plan). That tax passed, but didn't bring in enough revenue for the VTA to build the projects it had promised. I wonder what the leadership group will do if this tax doesn't pass, and they're sitting around having spent $4.5m of their members' money with nothing to show for it.

I wouldn't want to be Carl Guardino if that happened.

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