Bates: Fishy

If only it were a smile contest…

I thought the Transportation Corridor Agencies were getting desperate when I saw their ads on cable. But now it looks like they're going so far as to cobble together campaign mailers for supporters.

I say this because Pat Bate's latest mailer, which uses TCA endorsements, graphics and basic formatting, looks like it could have come straight from the toll road agencies. It lists her supporters from the Senate and Assembly Transportation Committees, OCTA, and both boards of the TCA. All told, Supervisor Bill Campbell's name appears three times; he likes to refer to Bates as “my former colleague in the Assembly.”

The mailer identifies Bates as the only candidate for County Supervisor who supports the 241 (Foothill-South) toll road extension. This extension is the same environmental disaster that would pave through the Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy, San Onofre State Beach and a Juaneno Indian burial ground, while at the same time worsening the county's traffic problems and souring our relationship with San Diego County.

No wonder she's the only candidate supporting it.

It's ridiculous that anyone can claim the 241 extension will relieve traffic and keep a straight face. A decade ago the 73 (San Joaquin) toll road opened, and what happened?

“At one section of I-5 below the infamous El Toro Y, the average number of daily vehicle trips increased by more than 8,000 from 1996 to 1998. “That's really shocking,” a Caltrans official said after double-checking the agency's traffic count. “You wouldn't think that would be the case, would you?”

Recently the TCA put forth a study which cites all sorts of fanciful figures for time, money and gas saved thanks to the toll roads. Of course it was full of crap – but don't take my word for it. Survey says?

Not so fast, says Dr. Michael McNally of UC Irvine's Institute of Transportation Studies. He says the study contains 'very misleading statements,' and, what's more, evidence says OC toll roads don't make traffic better and may actually make it worse.

Perhaps the most irksome part of Bates's mailer is the following sentence: “Not only will the Foothill South extension help relieve traffic on I-5, it will also provide South County residents with an important evacuation route in times of emergency.”

Not only is that awful grammar; not only will Foothill South NOT help but in fact hinder traffic relief, but it will also serve as a relatively insignificant escape route.

Months back I spoke with Ray Golden, PR guy for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station:

“…and he made it clear that SONGS has no position on the toll road. He did point out that residents ought to know they already have alternative routes. 'You have PCH. You have the 74,' he said, dispelling the illusion of 175,000 evacuees clogging up I-5 while radioactivity cooks the stragglers in their lifted pickups and SUVs like Atkins meals in microwaves”

Why would SONGS fail to endorse the toll road if it was such an important emergency escape route? After all, it meets I-5 practically across the street from the titanic tit-like reactors.

The more pertinent question to ask is this: why does Pat Bates feel she needs to lie to the voters in order to get elected?

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