Finally our Commissioners are starting to use their cocos. You will remember that last week Commissioner Gimenez led a well intentioned, but ill fated attempt to abolish the CITT. Since that proposal was a bad idea (and died when put to a vote), the Commish has proposed his Plan B, a more practical approach to the Surtax problem. Here are some of the changes:
- The Trust will have 17 members (rather than 15), and simplifies who appoints members.
- Surtax dollars can only be used on projects in the People’s Transportation Plan (Exhibit 1).
- Any future changes to the PTP must be approved by 2/3 of the Trust and 4/5 of the Commission. (This is a tricky one!)
- Any Existing Contractual Obligations that were not part of the original plan, and were not executed must be approved by 2/3 of the trust and 4/5 of the Commission. Similarly, any Contract that was executed and up for re-approval, but was not part of the original PTP must also be voted 2/3 Trust, 4/5 Commission. In either instance, if the projects are not approved the money must be reimbursed to the Trust.
This is a really good step in the right direction. It addresses how the funds are to be used from now on, and provides a mechanism for correcting the previous expenditures. My concern is that it still provides the Commission a say in the Plan. For the CITT to be a truly independent body it has to cut ties with the Commission. That is what I voted for and that is what I expect. Under Gimenez’s proposal, the Commission would choose 3 Board members, and so would the Mayor (creating an even political playing field). Beyond that the Commission should have NO say in what projects are in the PTP or how Surtax dollars are spent.
In a similar piece of legistlation, Commisioner Rebeca Sosa has proposed her own changes to the CITT. As with Commissioner Gimenez, Commissioner Sosa is off the mark with regard to the Commission’s continued control over the CITT, this time for projects more than $2 million in value (as most major expenditures will be). What she gets right, and what is lacking in the Gimenez Plan, is a mechanism by which the PTP is regularly updated and re-evaluated. She suggests every four years, but maybe this is an opportunity to put Commissioner Moss’ proposal for yearly transportation summits to work. Once a year the Trust should hold a series community charrettes that identify future transit opportunities, and evaluate the work done-to-date.
Making the Trust truly independant and providing for regular community inspired plan updates will make the plan relevant again, and push us toward a less car-dependant future.
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