Now that the entire Bay Area will be paying for SMART with the MTC bail-out next month, and thus also paying this obnoxious pay raise, this should be a concern to everyone in the Bay Area. The SMART Board said the main requirement of the new GM had to be rail experience, so what happened? What justifies the $100K raise, especially in light of the fact that he has no experience in rail? We knew that we had major problems with SMART, but hadn’t realized that SMART is the new Bell.
In seeking the trifecta bailout money from MTC, SCTA and TAM , Mr. Mansourian recently told TAM that he was unaware of these new $70+ Million cost overruns at SMART, while his staff did know weeks beforehand (we have the documents), but they were keeping these new costs from him, yet telling MTC? Either many employees at SMART committed fraud, or Mr. Mansourian lied to the TAM Board to get their money. This does not represent the new “transparency” or type of permanent GM that we had hoped for, but it might relate to the question of justification for the outrageous raise.
Instead of giving this $100,000+ raise to someone with no experience in rail, the SMART Board could have paid for half of the ticket-vending machines, which are a requirement they think we can do without. Wouldn’t that have been a better use of funds? Was this a prudent decision or a political one?
Our SMART issue has just become a county pension issue. We already knew that SMART pays both employer & employee pensions to its employees. SMART continues this, despite being chastised for this a year ago by the Marin Grand Jury. But now as the first “retiree” employee, Mr. Mansourian will start collecting on his Marin County pension while we in Marin & Sonoma pay him this outrageous salary. Why are we paying him $14,000/year for health care reimbursement if his healthcare is covered as part of his county pension?
Much as Martin Luther is said to have posted up his Theses on the church door, and the Founding Fathers felt compelled to create a Declaration of the reasons for their course of action, I too, feel compelled to post a “list of grievances”. This is by no means comprehensive, but serves as the basis for my opposition to the SMART District and it’s project.
When the SMART Board violated our trust last month by cutting the train in half, they also violated the Brown Act (Govt Code section 54956) by casting a vote which was not previously placed on the agenda. RepealSMART.org has notified the SMART Board of its Brown Act violation and asked them to fix this mistake by voting again as an agenda item at their next meeting on December 15. If they are going to change the scope of the project by 43%, they can at least follow proper legal procedure.
The letter to SMART:
PO Box 5144
Novato CA 94948
December 2, 2010
Ms. Debra Fudge, President
SMART District Board
750 Lindaro St, Ste 200
San Rafael, CA 94901
Dear Ms. Fudge,
The agenda for your November 6 special board meeting did not provide notice that the Board of Directors would adopt a construction segment, but merely that the matter would be discussed in a workshop format contemplating no specific action. The inclusion of "board direction" under the agenda description "Workshop on Project Funding and Phasing Options" does not constitute notice of the action which was taken by the Board at the Workshop because the notion of "workshop" infers a briefing and response, not action. The reference to "board direction" suggested that the board's review of the issues would lead to the matter being directed to be placed on a forthcoming agenda for specific action, of which the public might have notice and opportunity to address the board prior to the action being taken. In fact, one of the directors recognized this issue. It was thought that at least that the Board would place the matter on the agenda for action at the November 10 meeting, but even this accommodation of the public was not forthcoming.
Government Code section 54956 relating to special meetings requires specification not only that which is to be "discussed," but also specification of that to be "transacted." The agenda for the November 6 meeting did not specify any action which would be taken and therefore did not comply with the specific requirements of the Brown Act.
This letter constitutes a demand for the SMART Board of Directors to cure and correct the foregoing violation of Government Code 54956; specifically to revoke any action taken by the Board of Directors to construct the Santa Rosa Downtown -Marin Civic Center project in preference to that which was described to the voters in 2008 as a Cloverdale-Larkspur project which was indefinitely postponed by the action taken at the November 6 meeting.
If the matter is not cured and corrected by properly placing the matter on the agenda for action, this notice reserves the right to seek a judicial determination as to whether or not the action taken by the SMART Board of Directors on November 6 should be declared "null and void" pursuant to Government Code 54960.1, and any other appropriate remedies under such section.
cc: Ed Berberian, Stephan Passalacqua
SMART employees are fleecing us with their pensions. SMART fully pays both employer & EMPLOYEE contributions . The Marin Grand Jury's investigation concluded: "As a recently formed entity, this generous policy does not seem reasonable or sustainable....It is not clear how SMART will be viable". Despite that recommendation, the pension double-dipping continues.
RepealSMART.org is now online. Please register, so we can coordinate the repeal process together. This is an uphill battle, and we need to work together to derail this train wreck. We may need close to 40,000 signatures to get on the ballot - registering here is the first step. (your information will not be used for anything but communicating with you about the repeal process.)
A discussion board will be up shortly, as well as a calendar of upcoming events & a commenting system. In the meantime, you can help by notifying your Town Council members & County Supervisors. Go to the meetings. Voice your concerns. We look forward to working with you to derail this train wreck.