Business / Economy

COMMENTARY: Streets are in need of repair, but Measure P isn’t the answer

Why Measure P is misguided and shoud fail for not meeting our true needs
In deciding whether to vote Yes or No on Measure P, one must ask a number of questions:

1) Who will administer the estimated $248 million to be raised by the half-cent sales, use and transaction tax?

2) Whose responsibility are two of the primary road projects included in the measure (Highway 25 and route 156)?
   
3) And why should we, Hollister, San Juan Bautista and San Benito County citizens and residents pay for the improvements on those routes when they are the responsibility of the State of California – which is slated for 50 percent of the total funds raised -- or $124 million?

It appears that these politicians are not qualified, incapable or unskilled in the workings of intergovernmental relations (federal, state, county and local) governance and responsibility when it comes to Highway 101, 25 and Route 156.  

Appearing on Tuesday’s June 7 primary ballot and necessitating a two-thirds vote in order for it to be approved, Measure P is far from a certainty. The uncertainty derives mostly for reasons of integrity of those slated to administer the funds (politicians and their appointed minions managing this tempting $248 million fund). Past spending record of those same politicians who have squandered precious tax funds on useless and wasteful projects that had no basis for need, or the benefit of any cost benefit analysis, or truly addressing constituent and community needs, call for continued skepticism.     

Moreover, theses “elected politicians” have seen fit to approve spending for streets and roads that DO NOT need major repairs, such as the one’s listed in Measure P, i.e. West Gateway, Fairview Road, Tres Pinos/Sunnyslope/McCray streets (since speeding was made an issue on this road, I assume that red light speed cameras will be the "improvement"). Instead of focusing the money on Monterey (aka Maraca street), Powell, West, South, Seventh, East, Olive, Park and Sally, just to name a few that require major, major repair work.  

So just like Measure J (disallowing hydraulic fracturing in San Benito County) city and county leaders straddled the fence or outright refused to support their constituents' wants on the measure (a 57 percent voter approval on an off-year election). Regarding the Fourth Street giveaway project (a mixed-use private project with at least 16 unaffordable condos) - another example of elected officials going counter to their constituents and community’s wishes. One would think that these two examples would send shivers down the spine of any politician. But I guess they are banking on us forgetting.

Therfore, Measure P without a dedicated requirement to fix specific streets, as those cited above “most in need” is just another ruse.

Social media lights up as to the fairness of the sales and use tax (a tax levied on the retail price of merchandise and collected by the retailer). A question remains unclear, who will bare the brunt of the tax? – and become one of the highest in the region at 9 percent (Salinas 9.1 percent, Morgan Hill 8.5 percent) and undoubtedly get higher and offering fewer needed services if approved.

It is strongly and fervently believed by ALL who use and attempt to safely travel on the streets and roads of Hollister and San Juan Bautista that they are in need of repair. That they have been greatly ignored by our elected politicians in favor of unnecessary, unwarranted and factually unsupported expenditures is a known and frustrating fact.

I would support raising the sales and use tax for that purpose, if Hollister business will have equal skin in the game. However, the measure needs to make it VERY clear that streets and roads with the “greatest need” in the most needy neighborhoods will be repaired and improved. Without that clear showing, an issue of trust in these politicians and their ability to ethically administer these funds strongly lingers in the air and remains a major obstacle for this and any other proposal they come up with.

Therefore, I have a very difficult time supporting Measure P as much as I see and feel the need as I drive the reality on a daily basis. I agree however, with previous writers that the measure needs a re-write to address what is a local tax for local projects, who pays and why is a local entity paying for a state responsibility - Highways 25 and Route 156 at the tune of 50 percent or $124 million -  while leaving only 48 percent for Hollister, 48 percent for San Benito County and 4 percent for San Juan Bautista streets and roads?

If Measure P funds will be used to repaired and improve safety on streets with major need of repair, than the initiative is a worthwhile one. However, observing the inconsiderate, self-serving and with out the use of best spending practices (needs assessment or follow-up cost benefit analysis) by our city and county councils on projects during off-election years, much suspicion and a total lack of trust exist, persist and causes me to OPPOSE Measure P.

Luis Burguillo

As a student of the media and journalism, I am interested in utilizing the medium in order to assure that the residents of the City of Hollister and San Benito County are alerted, informed and educated on the official actions of their elected officials who are sworn to preserve, protect and defend the US constitution and Bill of Rights. More importantly, their engagement in the political process will hold the leaders accountable for their actions/decisions and lead to an improved governance.