More Opinion

COMMUNITY OPINION: Why I cannot support Measure G, even as a daily Highway 25 commuter!

Trying to get honest answers to Measure G has been a bad experience. Better to start over and get a roads tax that voters can have confidence in.

This opinion was contributed by Rob Bernosky. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

One of the most painful political decisions I have made is not to support Measure G. As a daily commuter, I can attest to the horrible commute, whether on Highway 25 or the back roads. I feel for the farmers and ranchers who are trying to move equipment and product among the commuters rushing to get to and from work. More importantly, I am going against many of my friends who are active proponents Measure G.

The issues are:

  • We are being sold a widened highway 25, but not all the way to 101.
  • The County has a bookkeeping problem that does not give me comfort that $500 million in funds will truly only be used for roads.
  • Overstated emphasis is being placed on the abilities of the Citizens’ Oversight Committee by Measure G Proponents.
  • Debate on the issues have not included direct responses to direct questions made to proponents of Measure G and inquiries from skeptics have come in the form of attacks.
  • There has been some nefariousness in the promotion of Measure G.

Let me explain.

Measure G funds can only be used in San Benito County, therefore Highway 25 could only be widened to the county line. What good does that do? While there are claims that others will widen the portion of 25 that is in Santa Clara County, we have not seen those promises in writing. My understanding is that while Caltrans District 5 (includes San Benito County but not Santa Clara County) is in favor of widening 25, but Caltrans District 4 (Includes Santa Clara County but not San Benito County) has no interest in widening 25.

The end result will be a huge bottleneck at the county line, so that problem is not solved.

Even though I see and appreciate County elected officials working on the current accounting problem with the Hollister School District funds, it just appears to me that there was not enough resources and attention put on the County’s bookkeeping for many years. Until the past problems get rectified and safeguards are put in place where every government agency gets the funds they are due when they are due, and accounting will always be “ticked and tied." I do not feel comfortable handing over $500 million today and expect we will know exactly where it will go.

Proponents have argued that the oversight will be “unprecedented." A review of the documents reflect a standard Citizens’ Oversight Committee, and my experience has been they do not provide much oversight. Committee seats are filled with proponents of the measure or have individuals who do not have experience in or the appetite for being skeptical, so they spend time talking about what is being built, but not about the appropriateness and details of the expenditures. Reports, especially audit reports, are as dry as can be for reading and written for sophisticated parties. Oversight Committee members have no authority and only have what is given to them. My experience has been asking for additional information is overt frustration of the effort.

True oversight would be requiring that funds be segregated in separate bank accounts. No check or transfer could be made to another government entity, but only to vendors that build roads, insuring that Measure G funds only went for roads and not secreted to the general fund or other non-road purposes.

The personal attacks against those asking questions have to stop. Asking hard questions should not be responded by a County Supervisor with “There you go again, spreading mis-information” when one is simply asking honest questions.

At the Benitolink/Farm Bureau/Youth Alliance Candidates' Forum, it was announced that both [political] Parties had endorsed Measure G.  I know that one Party took two votes at two monthly meetings, and each time the result was to stay neutral. The spokesperson for Measure G was simply fed wrong information by bad actors. 

I recommend voting NO on Measure G, then do a re-write that gives taxpayers the truth and guarantees what will happen with their funds. Include a provision if Highway 25 is not widened, the monies will be returned to the taxpayer, have listed steps as to how the public can be assured that funds will not be transferred to another government entity or general fund or used for boondoggle projects.

Let there be no doubt that I support fixing our roads. However, having insight into the accounting of public funds in San Benito County, I want the maximum protections possible before we hand over $500 million to those who are still (in good faith) trying to figure out where we are with school funds.

 

 

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About:
Rob Bernosky (thepracticalcon...)

Rob Bernosky is a chief financial officer, Regional Vice Chair for the California Republican Party, and is an elected school board member of the Hollister School District. He formerly served as a member and secretary of the Citizens' Oversight Committee for the Hollister School District. Rob is a former elected trustee of the North County Joint Union School District, and has served on numerous other boards, including the Heritage Foundation of San Benito County, a local water company, chairman of the San Benito County Republican Party, and was a member and president of the San Benito County Committee on School District Organization. Rob is married with 3 children, including 2 who are teachers in public schools and 1 in college.

Comments

I have read the recently received “Supplemental Voter Information Guide Measure G” and have had this deep seeded feeling that something was amiss. It wasn't until I read Mr. Bernosky’s opinion piece that I realized what the missing piece was. Santa Clara County and Caltrans District 4’s role in the widening of 25! Has COG taken this into consideration? What assurances do we have as voters and taxpayers that Santa Clara County and District 4 are going to have some skin in the game so the widening will come to eventual fruition. 

John Freeman's picture

Mr. Scargill,

Please read my orginal comment below. Santa Clara County (VTA) has approved their part of the project. A new interchange (sorely needed) at 101 & 25 and extending the four lanes to the San Benito County line. There part of the project will be done before ours.  Why are both you and Mr. Bernosky hung up on a totally moot point?

 

Submitted by (Robert E. Bernosky) on

1) Because the link you provided does not work.

 

2) Because when I asked a county supervisor, someone I regard as a friend too,  for “proof”, he was not able to provide it.

John Freeman's picture

Mr. Bernosky either forgot or misstates a few facts in the above opinion piece. He states that highway 25 will only be built to the county line and not completed to the 101 interchange. He is correct that Measure G funds will only be used for the improvements in San Benito County. But he leaves the impression that the remainder of highway 25 to the 101 freeway will not be built because it is out of our county. Nothing could be further from the truth. VTA and Cal-Trans are building a NEW intersection and new highway 25 to the Santa Clara county line. At the county line the two four lane projects will hook up. I would be happy to bet Mr. Bernoshy a dinner at his favorite San Juan Restaurant that the Santa Clara part of this project gets built first. Here are the details:   http://www.catc.ca.gov/.../US101-SR25-Interchange

So please vote yes on G and get to Gilroy a lot quicker.  Plus the lack of timely access means that many businesses consider Hollister to be too isolated to built plants or offices in our county.  Economic Development, jobs and businesses depend upon good transportation infrastructure.  So vote yes on G for that reason alone plus many others.

 

Submitted by (Dominic Paz) on

I wonder why Mr. Bernosky hasn't responded to you're informative post yet.  Clearly he must have realized how clueless he was and now the cat's got his tongue.  He and his wife were probably hoping this measure would fail so that Hollister residents had more money they could divert to projects that benefit the elitist school district in Spring Grove, and the McMansion residents in the area benefiting from all the housing projects that are making life miserable for all the average-joe commuters.  Thanks for the information packet you dropped by my house on Wednesday, Mr Freeman ... I found it very honest and accurate, unlike the snake oil bobby here is trying to sling.

Submitted by (Rob Bernosky) on

Mr. Paz,

Thank you you for your comments.

I did respond.

As an elected member of the governing board of tve Hollister School District, my loyalty is to their schools and not another school district.  My wife and I live in Ridgemark, and definitely not in a “McMansion”.  If you were on other outlets, you would see I have been writing a lot...no cat has this tongue (or hand).

I have no interests in developers or helping them pursue reckless development.  In fact, if you up-to-date, you would find I have been very vocal about at the very least, making sure the Hollister School District gets the fees it was due from developers and holding those responsible accountable so that we can build new schools to accommodate the growth..

John, I support Measure G and agree with most of what you said, especially regarding the issue of economic development and transportation, unfortunately the San Juan Bautista member of COG did not see it that way when he previously voted to remove Highway 25 from the Caltrans priority list.

I believe that full disclosure is important and we should remind the public of why Santa Clara County is driven to improve 25 - it's not for our benefit, but for theirs.  They want to drop a new road down from 152, through San Benito Country, and on to 25 to divert southbound traffic from the Gilroy area.  So, Santa Clara has a real incentive to do the improvement.

We could have been 5-years ahead on this if the SJB member of COG had not thrown a monkey-wrench in the works.  Less than 2,000 people were allowed to kill a project to benefit 35,000.  Since SJB already had 4-lanes going to its front door I believe this was just a political payoff to a member of the Board of Supervisors who opposed improving Highway 25 at the time.

So, one of the reasons we are now fighting this uphill battle is the previous irresponsible actions of SJBs member of COG.

Marty Richman

 

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