The CEO and board of directors of Caltrain are doing a major “dis-service” to the residents of San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco counties with Measure RR.
Their proposal to address and remedy the Caltrain loss of revenue problem is to place on the backs of the total population another tax initiative, while only a limited few will directly benefit if this measure passes.
One, the tax is regressive and negatively impacts the families with household incomes of $50,000 or less, which is more than two-thirds of families in these 3 counties, significantly harder than the families who are directly benefiting from this measure passing.
Remember Caltrain ridership, 80% of those individuals have a household income greater than $200,000.
Two, the measure is asking the public to commit to this tax for 30 years…..Caltrain, is dying, a dinosaur, even before the pandemic, ridership has been steadily decreasing….now after the pandemic, the world has changed….we work from home, our bay area’s companies will never return to employment levels pre-pandemic, and ridership will never approach yesterday’s numbers.
The bottom line is, the board and CEO have failed their fiduciary responsibility……they should have foreseen this coming at least 5 years ago ……they did not and did nothing…now with their backs up against the wall, they offer a remedy that lacks any strategic thought, does not consider today’s technology direction, no consideration for the existing and future work patterns, and chose to ignore the impact another tax has on the lowest wage earners, to name a few. One question I have is why no reduction in headcount, salary expense, or their fully paid pensions and medical benefits?
We should not suck out of the public another $100,000 million annually, taxes to provide a service for less than 1% of the population….let me remind you that 1% are the wealthy 1%……and again, make this law for 30 years! This board and CEO have not demonstrated they are worthy stewards the public can trust….and the measure has no allowance for independent oversight and reporting back to the public.
Think of the impact these tax dollars could have on improving our school, housing, health care, youth employment training, and programs, etc.
Before I close, let me address the key selling point of this Measure…….”it will result in less traffic on our freeways”. An empathic No, Caltrain’s impact on reducing traffic congestion is and will be very minimal, less than a 1% reduction may be achieved if this measure passes. It is expensive to ride and inconvenient, for the majority of us to even consider.
In closing, the proponents of this measure were also not transparent in the pre-work/surveys that they used to gauge the level of public support…they did not inform the public they were seeking approval of a measure that will be the law for the next 30 years. Why place this tax on the backs of our children?
I hereby humbly request the board to have the moral compass to withdraw this request to the public.
Former Mayor, Foster City
Jim Lawrence is the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Expertus Inc. A change agent by definition, is active in his community, having served as Mayor of the city of Foster City, appointed to numerous county & Statewide boards and committees, and elected to the board of several nonprofit organizations.