I thought that arenas and baseball stadiums brought out the most dramatic, intense, and even incendiary discussions, but I stand corrected—for now. It seems that currently in our valley, the mention of BART is enough to send many normally sane blokes to the ramparts, girded for battle.
The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will vote Thursday to put a new sales tax measure on the ballot. It will be one of a score of measures—state, city and county—that will be on a very crowded ballot and one of presidential importance.
Much of the impetus and a good deal of the muscle to get this transit measure on the ballot (and BART done) is contained in the person of Carl Guardino, the CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG)—the most prestigious gathering of companies in the state, perhaps the planet. Guardino is not one to say “been there, done that.” He has had this role before and his batting average of success is higher than anyone on the A’s or Giants.
It is clear, I believe, that without more monies from the local source that no more federal money will be forthcoming and, hence, no BART. It is not an outcome that a can-do valley takes lightly.
So on with the future. Let’s do it. It’s time to get the nonsense of the “secret poll” and all the supposed clandestine activity questions into the proper perspective. While we’re at it, let’s get Mr. Guardino and the SVLG in perspective too. It’s not a big deal. Honest. Guardino has pushed and pushed hard, and in a valley where public leaders with backbones are scarce, almost non-existent, what’s wrong with some prodding and pushing? And looking ahead, what’s wrong with this dimension of leadership?
The issues should be joined and stated clearly, fought fairly and resolved with no smoke screens. Do we in this valley want BART to be a part of our future? Will the VTA assure the many neighborhoods and small businesses in the path of this progress that they will not be sacrificed needlessly or even for a reason? Is it certain that the VTA can pull this off with the money they have.
I have always had grave reservations about the VTA’s competence, accountability, and its clarity of action. Yet, on the question of building a vital transportation link that will allow San Jose and this valley to compete and hopefully prosper in an ever-changing and challenging world, we must be willing to reach for that future. It is imperative that all who wish to lead this effort do it with the most honest and straightforward actions. That has not always been the case with mass transit in this valley, but to succeed, this measure must fully comply with that simple direction.