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NA: SMART to sue over opposition ballot argument
Wednesday 27 Aug 2008, 06:04
Filed under: Marin, Railroad, SMART

So far no word about them suing NCRA/NWP. This might of been their emergency meeting.

Says wording is false, misleading

Staff Report
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 10:59 PM PDT

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District Board Chairman Charles McGlashan will ask a Marin County judge to delete more than half a dozen statements from the opposition ballot argument against SMART, alleging that the document is rife with false and/or misleading claims about the proposed 70-mile passenger train and pathway project through Marin and Sonoma Counties.

Citing repeated misrepresentations of fact by the opponents of SMART’s Measure Q on the November ballot, McGlashan will ask the court to order the Marin Registrar of Voters to excise the falsehoods from the argument that will be sent out with Voter Information Pamphlets before the Nov. 4 election.

“Our opponents have been misrepresenting the facts about SMART for years,” McGlashan said. “They have done it at public meetings, they have done it in letters to the editor, they have done it with their own mailings.

“But now they are asking taxpayers to cover the cost of putting this stuff into the mailbox of every voter in the county, and we’re asking the court to put a stop to it.”

SMART opponent Mike Arnold said, “This is a veiled attempt on the part of SMART to keep the voters of Marin from learning the truth.” Arnold said Tuesday night that he hadn’t yet seen SMART’s official paperwork in the matter.

The SMART Board of Directors last week authorized McGlashan, a Marin County supervisor, to pursue the legal remedy. The action is expected to be filed on Wednesday, with arguments in the case expected within the next few days.

McGlashan’s filing alleges that the opposition’s ballot argument is littered with falsehoods, beginning with the very first sentence: “SMART would not serve Marin’s transit needs according to SMART’s own studies.” None of SMART’s studies reach that conclusion.

“When I read the anti-Q ballot argument, I was amazed at how much they were distorting the truth. It was filled with misinformation,” said McGlashan. “I feel very strongly that the voters should vote based on the facts, so I want to stop the opposition from being able to say things in the ballot argument that are just plain not true.”

McGlashan said he is particularly troubled by comments about freight rail service. He said there is no way that freight could ever go south of Highway 37 in Novato, but the opposition’s argument claims “Passenger trains, and freight trains up to 60 cars in length, would run at all hours through Novato, Terra Linda and San Rafael.”

The anti-Q argument also misleads voters by claiming that if Measure Q passes, it will “facilitate” gravel mining that will damage the Eel River. McGlashan said, “I am strongly opposed to gravel mining in the Eel River, as are most environmentalists. It is simply false to say that the SMART train would in any way facilitate gravel mining.”

Also singled out in the challenge is the claim that Measure Q is “Perpetual taxation �-that would cover a fraction of the costs.” McGlashan said SMART’s financial reports and expenditure plan clearly show that the costs would be fully covered for the train operation for 20 years. “The opposition can’t say that the costs aren’t covered when they are,” said McGlashan. “This is a blatant attempt to raise fear and doubt in the voters’ minds.”

In all, McGlashan’s petition asks the court to delete or amend seven separate statements from the opposition’s argument.

“And those are only the statements that are flat-out wrong,” McGlashan said. “The rest of the argument is full of half-truths and misrepresentations, but we’re confident the voters will see through those and recognize the many benefits of SMART when they vote on Measure Q on Nov. 4.”

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