ABAG, MTC chuckle as they plot to restrict public access to December 12 hearing

It’s enormously instructive to listen to the audio file of MTC and ABAG’s boards at their 9-minute meeting Friday(11/9/2012) morning. Their words are saturated with their views about their plans to restructure every aspect of your life—plans you don’t know about—and with their views about you. See summary of transcript below.

December 12, 2012 Meeting Agenda

Audio file of the meeting

The meeting opens with the Chairman of MTC superciliously and gratuitously joking about MTC commissioner compensation for attending meetings. Mr. Chairman, it is not what you are PAID that concerns us! It is what you and your colleagues are DOING to us that raises such grave concerns about how boldly and brazenly you have arrogated to yourselves the power to radically and irreversibly restructure the lives, rights, and liberties of all 7 million residents of the Bay Area, with total disregard for the interests, inputs, or property rights of the cities, towns, counties, landowners, civic associations, and individual citizens.

Then the meeting moves to its only substantive item of business—extending the scheduled timeline for adoption of Plan Bay Area. This is the first time they’ve extended their extraordinarily aggressive timeline for promulgating this plan since they received their initial target date of April, 2013—undoubtedly from their handlers, whomever those powerful shadowy interests are—in 2010.

On the audio, you will hear the staffers claim they needed to extend their schedule due to their extensive consultation with the public and stakeholders [cough, cough!] and due to their use of super-sophisticated modeling software. These are the “magic models” through which they will find that mixing together 5 or 6 coercive, untested, and unworkable policy elements will turn into unicorns, rainbows and skittles for Bay Area residents when these toxic policy elements are put through those magic models.

Needless to say, the staffers and ABAG board members and MTC commissioners assiduously avoid mentioning the elephant in the conference room—the substantive and specific concerns expressed by a broad range of citizens throughout this whole kabuki theater exercise of “securing public input” as MTC and ABAG move their sham process towards its pre-determined conclusion.

You will also note that the staffers, and MTC commissioners and ABAG committee members repeatedly fall all over themselves to gush about the public input they’ve sought, and all the “stakeholders” they have met with. Expect to hear no end of this as they attempt to move this towards their pre-ordained outcome, against the wishes and interests of the average citizens who are aware of this plan. They are trying desperately to get this enacted before the citizenry of the Bay Area wakes up to the detrimental and irreversible sweeping changes to our way of lives that is being foisted up an unsuspecting public through two unelected, unaccountable regional government entities. Needless to say, they are doing so through these entities precisely because these kinds of coercive, job-killing, liberty-sapping policies could not be initially enacted at the local level precisely because local residents would say “no”—emphatically so.

And, in this remarkable 9 minute audio, the last minute from 7:41 to 8:43 on the tape is priceless, as the veil drops and the MTC commissioners and ABAG board members display their dripping disdain towards and animus against the average, ordinary citizens who have articulately and thoughtfully raised concern after concern over the substance of this plan, and the process by which it is being promulgated—in the face of stony silence from the commissioners, board members, and staffers themselves. People whose only legitimate function and role is to act as public servants, and acting in the public interest—and they are sadly not doing so, in any way here.

What is stunning and inescapably obvious is that for these unelected, unaccountable regional entities, public outreach and input are SOLELY to secure public quiescence to their radical, untested plan—and to these regional bodies forever replacing our local cities and counties as the decision makers about how we shall live in our own communities. They want assent, and gratitude for their anointed control over our lives, and for their restructuring and restricting every aspect of our existence—and are angered by any dissent or questioning of what they are doing, or of the lawfulness of their authority to do so. Rather than soliciting real input or wanting to hear what the citizens who are paying their salaries want, anyone who questions or who objects, is anathema to them.

Chilling indeed, and a mere foreshadowing of our future if our freedoms and form of governance are ceded to these unelected, unaccountable regional entities who answer to shadowy powerful interests, but who are neither responsive to the public they purport to serve, nor are they interested in acting in the interests of that public.

Again, for your convenience, here’re links to the agenda and audio of the meeting this morning, and directly below that, also for your convenience, is an unofficial transcript of the meeting:

Meeting agenda: http://apps.mtc.ca.gov/events/agendaView.akt?p=1955
Audio file of the meeting: http://mtcmedia.s3.amazonaws.com/audio/pc_2012-11-09.mp3

MTC Chairman James P. Spering: I’m not sure about the ABAG members but the MTC commissioners, we’re receiving a hundred dollars for this meeting, and we get a maximum of five hundred dollars a month—and so I just want to make sure that the public’s aware of that, and so there’s full sunshine here at MTC

[First agenda item, checking for quorum]

[Next item, consent calendar]

Next item is the Bay Plan area schedule update and Ken, are you going to introduce this and then turn it over to Carolyn?

Ken Kirkey, Staff Liaison: Yes I will. This should be a pretty brief item. This is the first time committee members that you’ve seen Plan Bay Area up on the screen. You’ll be seeing it a lot more in the coming months—alternative scenarios, the preferred scenario. We had a lot of local input. We had a lot of interaction with stakeholders in terms of developing those scenarios, and we’re at a point now where we need to extend things just a bit in terms of the schedule so I’ll turn it over to Carolyn Clevenger who will give you the details.

Unknown voice: Okay, Carolyn?

Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning: Good morning MTC and ABAG committee members. I’m Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning, here to present an update on their overall schedule and work that’s been going on since your last meeting.

As you may recall you approved the initial schedule in 2010 which called for final approvals of the Plan Bay Area in April of next year. The revised schedule for you today pushes that final date out two months to June of next year.

As you know this is the first time we’ve developed an integrated transportation and land use plan, and given the complexities of this effort, there were multiple instances throughout the process where staff was directed to allow more time for discussions with local jurisdictions, communities, and stakeholders regarding elements of the land use and scenario development. We also worked extensively with stakeholders in developing two of the five alternatives that we’re evaluating, and the multiple rounds of scenario analysis, extensive public outreach, and our best alternatives analysis have all added time to this project.

Over the past few months, staff have been coding the recommended project you approved in July, and the alternatives from the EIR having land uses and transportation as well as policy inputs. The modeling work is taking longer than expected due to the complexities of the modeling technologies as well as the more detailed and varied inputs that we’re evaluating as part of the alternatives analysis. However, we do believe that the more robust modeling work will provide us with better analysis information in the long run compared to what we’ve had in past plans.

And, we’ve also, as of yesterday, launched the new Plan Bay Area website at onebayarea.org. It’s more user-friendly, interactive, and comprehensive. We’re currently in the soft launch phase. So, if you’d like, please take a look. We know that there are some errors that we’ll be working out as the site comes live, but we’ve got some more information on there about regional programs like the climate initiatives program and ABAG’s energy management program. So please take a look and let us know if you have any input on the website.

Our revised Plan Bay Area schedule is outlined in Table One of your packet as well as up on the screen behind you here today. We’re working towards a March concurrent release of the draft EIR along with the draft Plan Bay Area which will then kick off the public comment period. We’ll be doing public workshops and public hearings throughout the region.

Staff will be returning to you in a future meeting to provide more detail of the public outreach plan for the draft Plan Bay Area and the draft EIR. The environmental analysis together with the input from the policy discussions you’ll be having as a group, as well as our public hearings and public workshops will help inform Commission’s final approval—Committee and Commission’s final approval of the EIR and Plan in June of next year.

So, with that, I’ll take any questions.

Question: Can you walk through how we’re going to handle the comments on the EIR? Are they going to be posted? How will we have access?

Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning: As part of the EIR we do make available publicly and to all of you every comment as well as every response to each comment. So, the comment period will be starting as soon as we release the draft EIR in March. Before you approve the final EIR and plan you will have the full set of comments and responses in front of you.

Question: Now, will they be posted on our website?

Carolyn Clevenger, MTC staff: Yes.

Question: So the public or someone can go see what the comments are and the responses?

Carolyn Clevenger, MTC staff : Correct. We post that as part of the documentation of the final EIR.

MTC Chairman Spering: Questions, other questions?

Question: Thank you very much for that presentation. Appreciate all the hard work to move this forward, and recognizing that one of our goals is to continue with a broad public discussion of this [huh???], so, in terms of the public hearings and the workshops on the draft plan and the EIR, do you envision those being both here as well as out in the counties?

Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning: Yes, our plan is to do the public hearings as well as workshops throughout the region. And staff, I believe, will be back in December—is our plan right now with the updated full outreach plan with details of public hearings and workshops. For the EIR we’ll also have public hearings that are very specific to the EIR. But for the overall plan we’re doing a more robust public outreach.

Question: And then can you remind me of sort of the technology piece that provides for residents to be able to weigh in even though they can’t attend a meeting? Are we going to be including some of those tools in conjunction with the sort of public outreach process?

Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning: We will have—people can put email comments to us, and do comments through the website, and we’ll make sure to include some discussion about other ways for the public to be involved other than meetings that are—when we brief you on the public outreach—

Question: I wonder if it might be helpful to kind of publicize that as especially we’re doing the outreach to set up the local county meetings so that they can be focused kind of knowing its almost like an electronic neighborhood discussion as opposed to an email coming into the whole Bay Area—I just thought that might be another way to include and encourage input. Okay, thank you very much. Again, I really want to thank staff for your work over the last few years, especially reaching out to the public [huh???]. I know it’s a huge amount of work—an awful lot of evenings, a lot of ground work, and it’s really been helpful and a great thing to be able to give people the opportunity to participate in their local community [you have got to be kidding me!!!]. So thank you, all of you that have been on the front lines doing this.

MTC Chairman Spering: Have we—this reminded me of something. Are we revising how we hold those [laughs] public meetings? You know, we had a lot of them that were very disruptive. So, I mean, has there been some discussion about –

MTC or ABAG staffer [Steve Heminger, MTC Executive Director?]: Mr. Chairman, we will, and if you’re willing, we’d rather defer this discussion until December.

MTC Chairman Spering: That’s fine, Steve. Okay, I’d just want to make sure we’re thinking –

MTC or ABAG staffer [Steve Heminger, MTC Executive Director?]: It’s very much on our mind—

MTC Chairman Spering: Okay

MTC or ABAG staffer [Steve Heminger, MTC Executive Director?]: and I’m sure it’s on yours too. It was a very painful experience for all of us [laughs]. [OMG, you’ve got to be kidding me. Are you folks for real?]

MTC Chairman Spering: Yeah, okay. I just think that we need to take a little different approach, and I’m glad you’re thinking about it [laughs]. I’m sure all of us have felt enough pain in that process. [wow. This is just surreal]

Is there any other—yes, I’m sorry, Scott?

Scott Haggerty, Alameda County Supervisor and MTC commissioner and ABAG executive committee member: Yep, I’m sorry, I don’t know if I missed this or not, but are we planning on holding these meetings at night [when ordinary citizens are able to attend]? I think it would be more disruptive [than having it during the day when our captive environmental activist groups who are paid to attend can come and act as shills, while most citizens are have child care or work responsibilities, and are unable to attend].

MTC or ABAG staffer [Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning?]: We’ll have details of the public outreach plan—

Scott Haggerty, Alameda County Supervisor and MTC commissioner and ABAG executive committee member – Yeah, I really think—I know it’s probably not what we all prefer, but I think it might be a better idea if we do have these meetings at night [sic, meant to say “during the day”], but we can hold off that discussion, too.

MTC Chairman Spering: Okay. Is there any other comment? Okay, seeing none—Ken [Kirkey, MTC staffer], did you have anything else to add? Carolyn, thank you very much for that update, and, is there any public comments? Seeing none, and I have no speaker cards. Okay, with that our next meeting will be December 14th, and with that, this meeting’s adjourned.
Audio file of the meeting

They are planning on discussing their public “outreach” plan for input on the EIR and to sell the plan to an unsuspecting public at their meeting December 14, which will likely be held in the morning to effectively prevent the public from showing up and participating. And, as Heminger said at Friday’s meeting, MTC and ABAG staff will be prepared with a plan to make sure no citizens offer their opinions at these “public” hearings.

The idea that these regional bureaucrats are conspiring to shut the public out of the comment and participating process needs to be exposed. The citizens of the Bay Area should be made aware of this outrage.

December 12, 2012 Meeting Agenda

Audio file of the meeting


  1. concernedtaxpayer1948 says

    you realize the the MTC/ABAG board members are themselves local elected officials, right? if yes, then who is the shadowy cabal to which you refer?

    • says

      They were elected as councilmembers, not as appointed overseers of nine county Bay Area regional planning. People like Amy Worth are using their positions not for the benefit of their constitiencies but for their own egos, power, and agenda. As soon as these people get elected they get picked off by the development and planning crowd with conferences, sit-downs and get told what’s what by a compliant city staff steeped in planning by enlightened bureacrats. Then they get the funding blackmail…do this or else we will impoverish your community by denying funds.

  2. says

    Thanks for publishing your blog. We are fighting ABAG housing allocations all across Marin with a coalition of community groups. We want to link with activist groups across the Bay Area to become stronger opposition. In my community, Marinwood-Lucas Valley, the ABAG housing quotasthreatens to increase our population by 25% virtually overnight. No developer should be allowed to do this without significant community oversight. These low income housing developers receive 50 year tax abatements, government grants, CEQA exemptions and taxpayer subsidies. The new residents will require us to build schools, firestations, hire more teachers, police and firefighters, improve water and sewer infrastructure all of which must be paid for by the local taxpayers. We are broke now at every level of government.

    Please visit my blog. http://www.savemarinwood.org and http://www.citizenmarin.org (under construction)