Today we spoke with Cassie DeYoung, candidate for Orange County Supervisor. She has an uphill battle against Pat Bates, a former Assemblywoman and cog in the Republican Party machine. Bates has the support of Congressmen Ken Calvert and Gary Miller, the OC GOP, the Transportation Corridor Agencies, Assemblywoman Mimi Walters and pretty much everyone else who makes me nauseous. DeYoung on the other hand has earned her party's enmity for courting Democrats and detailing certain aspects of the lock-step party politics against which she is campaigning. Her most notable disadvantages stem from her opposition to Calvert and Miller's beloved tunnel, and also her more recent assertions that the 241 (Foothill-South) toll road extension is a pathetic excuse for traffic relief, one which will in fact make traffic worse.
Who would have thought?
Tell me about the 241
Well, a recent OCTA study [the South Orange County Major Investment Study] shows that traffic in Orange County will increase by one thousand percent on the streets and roads, and over two hundred percent on the I-5 South—with the fully completed 241 extension, given the alignment they came up with. There would be virtually no traffic on the 241.
The real issue is that the I-5 needs to be improved, first and foremost. The 241 was billed to everyone and represented to everyone as a traffic relief measure for the I-5 , based on OCTA recommendations. This study shows that it won't do anything to relieve congestion. And that's very very troubling.
Another troubling thing is the non-compete clause with the 241 extension. If you improve the I-5 after the 241 is completed, taxpayers would have to pay the TCA for their loss of revenue.
The TCA says the I-5 improvements, or any regional transportation plan aspects, will not affect the non-compete clause, but it's my understanding that the only improvement to the I-5 they're talking about is the addition of a single HOV lane.
That's exactly right. And that's not the improvement that we need. We need major improvements. Why not have them give it up today? Have them say, “Okay, there is no more non-compete clause.” We don't want to have to pay twice for the improvements to the I-5 freeway, especially when it shows that there will be no traffic on the 241 extension.
What does “no traffic” mean exactly? No congestion?
No congestion. In fact the graphics show the I-5 Freeway as red – that's Level F: severely congested conditions. The study shows the 241 as actually grey; absolutely uncongested.
I don't know if they have; they've been real workhorses in terms of getting earmarks for the Riverside to Orange County tunnel. They got $15 Million for the tunnel; I don't know if they got any earmarks for the 241 extension.
They did. TCA likes to say that not a dime of taxpayer money has gone to the toll road. But in the SAFETEA-LU bill, Ken Calvert got an $8 Million earmark for the 241 with the help of Gary Miller. When I spoke to Miller about it he said he had definitely sought out that money, that $8 Million, and wished it had been $10 Million as the money was for environmental studies.
I noticed that Miller and Calvert are not only supporting your opponent but attacking you.
Yeah, they're writing nasty letters because I came out against the tunnel. That's their pet project. The cost of the tunnel is six to eight Billion dollars. The impact to south Orange County would truly be devastating. It would dump 120,000 cars on our streets and roads where the tunnel ends. When you look at the traffic from Riverside to Orange County, the vast majority is headed from Riverside to North Orange County, then up to Los Angeles. The tunnel, however, diverts the traffic to South Orange County. The problem is, what happens when the traffic dumps out at the tunnel's end? It then has to proceed north, so a bottleneck in essence is created at the 405 and I-5 where that traffic would ultimately end out. As those commuters continue on their journey, we really have the potential to create two new El Toro Y situations.
I asked OCTA what improvements would be there for the South Orange County freeways, particularly the I-5 and 405 freeways, to handle this traffic? They said, “Well, there are none.” The plan is not only exorbitant in terms of the cost, and they may tell you it will be privately funded, but not one private entity has stepped up to fund this tunnel. The only money so far has been federal taxpayer and local taxpayer money. Calvert and Miller got $15 Million for the tunnel, and OCTA and Riverside transportation agencies had to put in $3 Million to get the $15 Million. So now we're at $18 Million taxpayer dollars.
Sure they're both mad at me; they're representing their constituency and their constituency is basically Riverside. I'm representing our constituency is South Orange County and our traffic is bad enough. We can't have them dumping traffic in here.
They like Pat [Bates] because Pat supports the tunnel.
They're not the only ones. The OC GOP also seems to like Pat.
Again that came from the two congressmen; they are behind Pat and are not supporting me because of my position on the tunnel. So because I staked out a position for our residents in South Orange County, I took a hit for that.
Is that what's responsible for the OC GOP's endorsement of Bates over you, despite their rules about not endorsing candidates in non-partisan races?
You know, the OC GOP was based on representatives from the state assembly. Each congressman has a representative too. My friends came up to me and said, “We can't help you because we have directions from the state legislators to support Pat.” They're all part of the same system. It just shows that it's an old-boy system and very, very difficult for somebody new to come in. I've been loyal to the party for all these years, but once you're part of that system, that state assembly system, they all stick together.
Some of them have the opinion that you're being somewhat less than loyal in your attacks on the party this election cycle.
I have never attacked the party. I have laid out exactly what Congressman Calvert has done with this tunnel and Congressman Miller and that's the extent of it. It's a non-partisan race, but they took umbrage that I would go speak to Democrats. I go and speak to all different organizations and the speech is almost always the same. I talk about transportation and the need for transportation funding, and I talk about the terrible, terrible waste of funding on a tunnel that would create havoc on our streets and roads.
The point is, we should be getting transportation improvements that help us, not hurt us.
I often point out that it's the pet project of two Riverside congressmen.
Any comment on Miller and Calvert being named to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress list?
I think that speaks for itself.