* I am appalled by the plan to steal money that the public has voted for public works transportation improvement projects.
As a former member of the Orange County Transit District Board of Directors, the predecessor agency to the Orange County Transportation Authority, I remember when we began saving that money, about 19 years ago. Some of us in government then had the foresight and values to know that, if you want to buy something big, you save for it until you can afford to pay for it. We didn't save it so the Republican "mismanagers" whose greed and incompetence brought this rich county into bankruptcy could steal it with the connivance of their colleagues in the Legislature to get themselves off the collective hot seat.
Public office is supposed to be a public trust, and members of the public will never again in our lifetimes authorize a bond measure or a special tax now that they know their instructions and their monies can be diverted from the stated purpose. This quick fix will cripple county government for decades.
This action causes long-term harm in another way because it puts in jeopardy state and federal matching funds for major transportation projects. The tax dollars we have already spent at the pump will now go to build roads in Texas, not here. When we sit in three-hour gridlock traffic jams in the year 2001, we can thank [Garden Grove Republican Assemblyman] Curt Pringle, [Supervisors' Chairman] Gaddi Vasquez, [Supervisor] Roger Stanton and their cohorts.
There is a clear analogy here: Your neighbor takes all his money, goes to Vegas to gamble and loses it all. His car and home are being repossessed. His solution? To come over and steal your car, your house and your 20-year-old bank account. If you think this is right and fair, you must be an Orange County supervisor or legislator.
This plan is wrong, unfair, and it can't possibly be legal.
* If the Orange County Transportation Authority is so flush with cash, why not lower the fares?
* Those who oppose diverting Orange County Transportation Authority funds into paying off the bankruptcy have it right about the adverse effects. Matters become even worse than they predict, however, when the consequences of diverting funds are carried all the way through.
If tax money for operating expenses is diverted, replacing the money with Measure M money cannot be counted on. Orange County voters restricted the use of those funds and only the voters can remove those restrictions. Given that Orange County voters may not approve such a diversion, what we have to assume is that bus service will be severely cut back.
If that happens, not only will many seniors, handicapped people and mothers with small children will not be able to get to the doctor and to the market, but workers who depend upon buses will not be able to get to their jobs. If workers cannot get to their jobs, businesses will be short of employees, and this will affect them adversely. If businesses are affected adversely, it will affect the county's tax base and put the county into a worse tailspin than it is now.
Those responsible for solving the bankruptcy problem need to find a solution that will not make matters worse. Most solutions now on the board will make matters worse in one way or another.
* So Orange County Republicans want to repay bondholders at the expense of thousands of workers who depend upon the bus system to get to work. Now isn't that a typical conservative Orange County Republican solution!
Unfortunately for those of us who ride the bus to work, Los Angeles County liberals have a similar need to extract money from their transportation authority. Put the two together and you have the decimation of Orange County's system, which is already slated for major cutbacks in October. I have to wonder what Orange County businessmen who depend upon those workers think of this latest solution.