Bay Area residents have been critical of how Metropolitan Transportation Commissioners are selected. Most recently, the Nine-County Coalition wrote about the success of Solano County residents in forcing their council members to follow proper procedure in the Commissioner selection process.
Last week, February 15, the Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) sent to the MTC Commissioners a detailed report of violations made by the MTC and the county selection committees during the selection. PDF of the report is attached here. Introduction to the report states,
This BATWG report will set forth and describe recent instances where some members of the
MTC Commission were appointed to their four-year terms by Bay Area’s local and county
selection process that violated either the MTC Enabling Act or the Brown Act or both.
This unsatisfactory situation has evolved in recent years in part because MTC did not do all it
should have done to provide public information about the existence of the once-every-four-years
selection process and on how the public could observe and provide input to the proceedings.
The MTC Enabling Act clearly states that anyone with “special familiarity with the problems and issues in the field of transportation” may be selected for the MTC Commissioner position. In order for a member of the general public to make himself/herself available for the position, selection meetings must be properly announced. That does not often occur.
Also last week, February 14, Lafayette resident Jason A. Bezis filed demand letters with the Contra Costa County and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to “Cure or Correct Brown Act Violations” at their selection meetings. PDF of one of the letters is attached. The aim of the Brown Act is to ensure residents are aware of what their public servants do on residents’ behalf.
In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
The point Mr. Bezis has made in his demand letters is that more often than not neither the MTC nor county selection committees observe the transparency requirements of the Brown Act. This is unfortunate since, as BATWG noted,
… the decisions made by MTC Commissioners have a direct effect on the mobility and transportation choices of the 7.4 million people living in the nine MTC Bay Area Counties.