Not only does Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, want to add four new members to Measure C committee, he is also proposing adding environmental and meeting requirements.
The move is getting panned by the government agencies that administer Measure C, the half-cent Fresno County sales tax dedicated to road building, mass transit, sidewalk repairs, and other transportation needs.
Measure C expires in 2027. An effort to renew it for another 30 years failed with voters last November. Supporters say they will take it to the ballot again.
Assembly Bill 558 would add four non-elected members to the nine-member board — currently consisting of seven members that also hold elected posts and two public members. Arambula wants to add representatives of specific constituencies of labor, youth, education, and disadvantaged unincorporated areas of the county.
Groups Write Letters in Opposition
The Fresno Council of Governments, in an opposition letter, says the Measure C committee (officially called the Fresno County Transportation Authority board) does represent people in underserved communities.
“Fresno COG believes that adding an additional four unelected positions to the FCTA Board would decrease the responsibility, accountability, and influence of the duly elected officials who are accountable to the voters,” Fresno COG executive director Tony Boren wrote.
In Arambula’s bill amendments last week, Measure C projects would be subject to environmental law requirements known as CEQA, “and would require that the projects funded by the authority help mitigate any further pollution in disadvantaged communities or in disadvantaged unincorporated communities.”
The revised bill would also require more public participation.
Mike Leonardo, FCTA executive director, says the requirements are already in place. Mandating them would be “unnecessary” and increase costs.
Leonardo said FCTA held seven in-person workshops and reached thousands by survey for the 2022 proposed renewal. Only “a small but vocal opposition group that believes our collective outreach efforts were insufficient,” he wrote.
“Our local governance structure was affirmed by local voters, (and) should remain a local issue for the current Measure and any future measures,” Leonardo wrote.
The bill will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Local Government on Wednesday.
Arambula’s Previous Successes
This is the third local government agency that Arambula wants to reform. Two of his bills have already been signed into law — adding members to the San Joaquin River Conservancy Board and creating an independent commission for Fresno County redistricting in 2030.
However, last September, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed Arambula’s AB 2550. The bill would have required the California Air Resources Board to intervene if the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District failed to meet certain federal air standards.
Election Changes? Some Pass, Some Don’t
A state Senate committee heard four election-related bills from Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) last week. Only two survived the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee.
Senate Bill 248 passed without much discussion. It would require candidates for office to declare when filing employment, education, and military service, under penalty of perjury. Newman said New York congressman George Santos — caught after his election of embellishing his credentials — inspired the legislation. It passed the committee, 6-0.
Newman is a former army artillery officer.
A Newman bill that would require candidates to “physically write the statement (appearing in a candidate guide) without reference to outside materials” inside an elections office was shot down by his committee colleagues.
The goal of SB 409 would force candidates to write statements in their own words, without help from consultants. A pilot program to include a QR code in the guides linking to a video did survive, with a 6-0 vote.
The committee also killed another Newman bill, SB 251, which would prevent a local elected member from working for another if they share the same constituency. For example, a Fresno Unified school board member would not be able to work as staff for a Fresno city councilmember.
“In essence, your bill is going to take away a Senator or Assemblymember’s choice in who they can put on their staff,” committee chair Steven Glazer, D-Orinda said.
Glazer said he has other elected members on his staff. He says there are already mechanisms in place for recusal if there is a conflict of interest.
It only received two yes votes (including Newman’s) out of seven committee members.
A fourth bill, which would eliminate language on how a president is elected from the candidate guide, also passed, 6-1.