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Villaraigosa Responds to Supervisors 'No' Vote on Transit Tax

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The LA County Board of Supervisors voted not to put Metro's proposed half-cent sales tax increase that would raise $30 to $40 billion towards mostly public transit projects on the ballot in November. It could still be voted on, just via a separate (and confusing) ballot process (as Steve Hymon notes, remember Super Tuesday's "double bubble" trouble?). And it would cost millions.

"Either the taxpayers will be stuck with costly legal bills resulting from the MTA’s litigation against the County on this matter, or the taxpayers will be on the hook for an additional $3 million required to run a confusing dual-ballot election in November - which would create a logistical nightmare certain to disenfranchise untold thousands of County voters," Mayor Villaraigosa wrote in a letter to the board urging them to reverse their decision (the full letter i posted below).

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Fifth District County Supervisor Mike Antonovich was one of the dissenting votes yesterday. However, an inside source tells LAist that the supervisor is blaming Villaraigosa "for not lobbying harder to get a third Supervisor to vote yes." Antonovich wanted the tax to be more evenly spread across the county instead of a heavy emphasis going towards the Westside with the Mayor's "Subway to the Sea" campaign promise and the Expo Phase II project. Too bad he doesn't understand that the less cars driving in the city's most dense part means less cars for his constituents to battle when they drive in the region. Just some butterfly effect food for thought.

Full letter to County Supervisors from Mayor Villaraigosa

Honorable Supervisors: I am writing to urge you to reconsider your vote today regarding the
countywide half cent transportation sales tax approved for the November
4, 2008 ballot by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation
Authority (MTA) Board of Directors last month. Specifically, I am
urging that you place the MTA measure on a consolidated ballot on
November 4, 2008.

There is simply no legitimate basis for failing to consolidate the
November ballot. No matter how you cut it, the taxpayers and voters
will be the ultimate losers if the Board refuses to place the MTA
measure on the general election ballot.

Either the taxpayers will be stuck with costly legal bills resulting
from the MTA's litigation against the County on this matter, or the
taxpayers will be on the hook for an additional $3 million required to
run a confusing dual-ballot election in November - which would create a
logistical nightmare certain to disenfranchise untold thousands of
County voters.

I think we all agree that our long-term transportation needs require
significant public investment in mass transit alternatives. The MTA
sales tax measure is a down payment toward the many transit and highway
improvements this County needs to support our economy, our environment,
the needs of the transit dependent and an overall high quality of life
for the people we represent.

The people of Los Angeles County should have the right to decide for
themselves whether they want to invest in their future. And the most
transparent and cost-effective way to do that is through a consolidated
November 4, 2008 ballot.

I am optimistic that you will reconsider your vote and consolidate the
MTA measure with November's general election ballot.

Sincerely,

ANTONIO R. VILLARAIGOSA
Mayor