Every Question, Concern and Criticism from SANDAG's Board When it Learned of Its Massive Shortfall | Voice of San Diego


Every Question, Concern and Criticism from SANDAG's Board When it Learned of Its Massive Shortfall

SANDAG officials insist local oversight, not Sacramento control, is the best way to deal with the agency's burgeoning scandal. We took a look at the rigorous oversight they provided when staff first disclosed the $17 billion shortfall facing the agency.

A bill in Sacramento would overhaul SANDAG , and board members for the regional agency have settled on their argument against it.

Local control.

SANDAG collects tax revenue and spends it on major transportation projects throughout the county. The board is made up of local elected officials.

But now the agency  is facing a scandal , which is why Sacramento took notice.

SANDAG staff relied on a false forecast for a tax measure last year, misleading voters on how much revenue the tax would bring in. The agency also spent a year pretending its spending plan was $8 billion cheaper than it really was. Leaders have since admitted both of these facts, and that SANDAG is now facing a $17 billion shortfall. They’re hiring a law firm to investigate what happened.

Dealing with these problems, board members say, is a matter best left to them.

“Reforms of this type should start, be debated, and decided locally,” said SANDAG board chair and County Supervisor Ron Roberts at a recent county board hearing.

We decided to look into a recent example of that oversight.

In December, SANDAG staff delivered a 37 minute presentation outlining for the first time that it had been relying on a false forecast and that its project costs increased by $8 billion.

Here’s how the board reacted to that revelation.

Photo by Sam Hodgson

San Diego Councilwoman Lorie Zapf: “In the interest of time, I’m going to move on, I have to leave here too, so.”

Roberts: “In the interest of time I’m going to applaud your action.”

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and National City Mayor Ron Morrison were absent that day. They didn’t get to say anything either.

What do you think?