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Friday, January 13, 2012

SMART Train Opponents vs. Supporters


Just so you know -  I haven't heard from the ANTI-SMART Train people, so what you see here is the PRO SMART Train people who have submitted material. - Vesta

Dear Editor:

Critics insist on spreading half truths and outright falsehoods about the SMART Train and Pathway project in a misguided effort to stop it. With the deck stacked against new taxes by having to jump through a two-thirds threshold, the critics seem to be upset because they may not be allowed to have a tiny minority make all of us go through an expensive election all over again.  That’s not democracy, that’s minority rule.

Twice in the last ten years the voters have awarded the project substantial majorities.  The petitioning to ask citizens to vote yet again is adding significantly to project costs and delaying the award of some contracts that would provide more jobs. The anti-SMART folks have offered no alternatives to the project and are now paying hired guns to gather signatures for them.

The anti-SMART folk have been trying to portray themselves as just good citizens, public watchdogs over government excess and bureaucratic mismanagement. “I voted for the project,” many of them insist. But if you take the time to go back and listen to the audio recordings of SMART Board meetings, a very different image emerges. Residents of Novato became enraged over misinformation that had been fed to them by no-growth and anti-tax zealots—misinformation about 2200 low-income or transit-oriented housing requirements that Metropolitan Transit Authority was supposedly going to impose at each SMART station. The information was false, but the opposition remained. Opponents insisted to the SMART Board and wrote to the newspapers that “SMART will ruin Marin; that “Highway 101 congestion is Sonoma County’s problem and not Marin’s”;  and that SMART has no plans to ever extend the line to Cloverdale and Larkspur. All completely false; but SMART’s opponents know that if you throw enough stuff against a wall, some of it is bound to stick.

The campaign against the train and pathway has already added $17 million to the cost of financing the project—funds that could have been used to upgrade track, build stations, install crossing gates, replace bridges, and so forth. Moreover, SMART staff has had to take time away from building a project to defend its back side against any and all opponents—whether or not their causes have merit and irrespective of whether they are telling the truth about their motives. If the repeal makes it to the ballot, several million additional taxpayer dollars will be taken from the project to pay for ballots, public information, and the legal challenges that are certain to follow. Even worse, if Measure Q were repealed, we taxpayers would be left owning an unfinished and non-operable railroad and an obligation to pay millions of dollars in cancellation penalties for rail car and construction contracts. And our chances of seeing an alternative to driving Highway 101 in our lifetime will most likely vanish along with our tax dollars.

SMART now has a great team in place and is moving forward with purpose and efficiency. Sure times are tough.  All the more reason to make this critical infrastructure investment in our future, which will give a boost to our local economy through much needed jobs and acting as a catalyst for attracting more businesses.  Ignore Anti-SMART paid minions and walk past their petitions.

Jack Swearengen
Chair, Friends of SMART
3324 Parker Hill Rd
Santa Rosa, CA  95404



Supporters of the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Train & Pathway are stepping up public outreach efforts to protect the project from a small but vocal group working to repeal the sales tax measure that funds SMART.

The SMART Riders Coalition is a group of individuals and union, business and environmental organizations formed to support SMART. Responding to news that SMART opponents are using paid signature gatherers, the SMART Riders Coalition seeks to balance the public debate by leafleting in busy locations in Marin and Sonoma Counties.

“We know SMART continues to have broad-based public support,” says Chris Snyder of Operating Engineers Local 3. “At the same time, SMART opponents are spreading a lot of misinformation to confuse voters. With more than 1,000 jobs at stake in 2012 alone, we’re not taking any risks – we’ll be out there to spread the truth about SMART.”

Those leafleting for the SMART Riders Coalition will be trained and required to adhere to a written code of conduct.

“We’ve been working to educate the public about the benefits of SMART throughout the life of the project – and the public spoke loudly by approving Measure Q in 2008,” says Sonoma County Conservation Action Executive Director Dennis Rosatti. “It’s a real shame that a handful of detractors are seeking to undo the clear voter mandate for the SMART Train & Pathway project. I hope our efforts will help clear up the confusion.”

SMART Riders Coalition expects to leaflet through January 27th, the deadline by which the repeal SMART campaign must file its petitions.

The SMART Riders Coalition now has more than 30 organizational members, and dozens of individual endorsers, including many local elected officials.

Additional information about the SMART Riders Coalition can be found at  A roster of member organizations can be found at 


Shift into high gear to protect 
SMART Train & Pathway
Big wins this week, but your help is needed to defeat repeal
A huge “hooray!” for the SMART Train & Pathway

On Monday, the Sonoma Marin Area Transit (SMART) Board of Directors awarded a $103.3 million contract to the firms that began construction on Tuesday. According to the contractor, Stacy & Witbeck, this construction phase will provide at least 1,000 jobs.

This contract is for the first phase of construction on the Initial Operating Segment (Santa Rosa to San Rafael) and will provide backbone construction for the train from the North Santa Rosa Station (which has been added back to the initial segment) to Marin Civic Center (including Atherton, which has been added back in.
The contract for the second phase of construction on the Initial Operating Segment is expected to be awarded later this year, and will include theMulti-use Pathway and building out the rest of the train infrastructure to Downtown San Rafael.

This project phasing is in-line with what the SMART Board approved in Spring of 2012, when it decided to build the project in phases.

The SMART Riders Coalition applauds SMART for making good on its promises.

At the same time, SMART is more threatened than ever

The SMART Riders Coalition discovered last weekend, and the Repeal SMART movement declared publicly yesterday, that it has hired paid signature gatherers to circulate its petition.

This is a very serious change in strategy, and the SMART Riders Coalition needs your help this Saturday to help make sure the Repeal campaign fails in its mission to destroy our North Bay Transportation Future.

Please join us this Saturday (January 14th, 2012) morning at 10:00 a.m. in Rohnert Park for a brief training/dispatch meeting. At the meeting you will be trained how to offer educational materials to counter paid and volunteer signature gatherers, you will receive signs and flyers supporting SMART, and you will be dispatched with a partner to a location in Marin County. We are asking you to commit 6-8 hours this Saturday to protect the North Bay’s transportation future.

RSVP as soon as possible to or call 707-478-9663. You will receive location details upon RSVP.

It is critical to our success to have as many people out as possible in order to spread the truth about the SMART Train and Pathway.

Let’s work together to win this fight!

Annie Dobbs-Kramer
Sonoma County Conservation Action
KYN Coordinator