Earlier this week the Transportation Corridor Agencies filed a complaint against Smart Mobility, preparers of planning studies for opponents of the TCA's Foothill-South (241) toll road extension. The complaint alleged that Smart Mobility's engineers, who are unlicensed in California, “are violating California law by practicing civil and traffic engineering without legal authorization.” It seems the agencies don't like the Vermont-based firm firing spitwads at the TCA's toll road from the far side of the country.
When we last reported on this, the TCA was described as “playing a bit dirty and grasping at straws”, and even “the pot calling the kettle black.” TCA even undermined its own argument when a spokesperson claimed the study contained no engineering whatsoever. But what say Smart Mobility? And where?
Here what say Smart Mobility! Lucy Gibson, a principal at the group, says the complaint is “completely without merit,” using law which sounds relevant but does not in fact apply to the task her group performed. Gibson describes their reports as “planning studies. We did not sign and certify the documents,” says Gibson, “which is what you need a license for. What we’ve done does not require us to be licensed engineers in California.”
This is strange. After all, why would the TCA file a meritless complaint? And why not take legal action? According to Gibson, “It seems like they are trying to silence us – sort of a 'kill the messenger' situation.” But why would they do a thing like that? Perhaps because Smart Mobility prepared a report for the Save San Onofre group which, in Gibson's words, “demonstrated that there were alternatives more effective than the toll road.”
And the twisted legal wranglings of the toll road agency actually start to make sense! Had the TCA taken legal action against Smart Mobility to slap the group for criticizing the efforts to extend the 241 toll road, the case sounds like classic SLAPP material – a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. You may remember how Dr. Fitzgibbons prevailed over the wicked Integrated Healthcare Holdings in a like manner – his case is already being taught in law schools as an example of this. If the TCA's claims are meritless as Gibson alleges, their case would fall victim to an Anti-SLAPP motion to strike, revealing the agencies' efforts to be little more than an attempt to stifle the Constitutional rights of those at Smart Mobility to speak out on an issue of public concern. Maybe those TCA lawyers aren't as unforgivably thoughtless and stupid as everything they've ever done would lead any reasonably decent person to believe.
Sorry. Sometimes I black out and when I come to there's legal crap on the screen. Long story short, Smart Mobility says the TCA is full of crap. End of story.