The Ballots Are Arriving!
March 16, 2016
It is official. At least one city in the Coachella Valley will have the opportunity to express themselves respecting the CV Link. This is a vote that the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) has denied to residents and city councils alike. Our election is entirely by Mail. Ballots must be postmarked no later than April 12, 2016, or they may be hand-delivered to the Rancho Mirage City Clerk no later than 8PM on April 12, 2016.
If you have questions about whether you are registered or wish to register online please use one of the links provided here:
Your Unanimous City Council Recommends
YES on MEASURE 1
NO on MEASURES 2, 3, and 4.
After dozens of fruitless hours trying to convince CVAG / CV Link to use Ramon Road as the route through our city, we moved on. To CVAG it's Bob Hope and Highway 111, or nothing - which would make us the only city to have their route imposed on them.
In a recently recorded statement, the CVAG Executive Director made it clear they will wait for a more compliant city council; one that will have greater loyalty to CVAG than to the City of Rancho Mirage. To counter CVAG's long term plan, the city council prepared Measure 1. The remaining three "advisory" Measures are offered to give our residents an opportunity to register their thoughts about the controversial $100 million CV Link.
A few days ago a group of politicians from other cities injected themselves into our election. These Outside Politicians sent our residents an 8½" X 11" political mailer loaded with false material hyping the CV Link. This group includes Palm Desert Mayor Pro Tem Jan Harnik, La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans, Indio Councilman Mike Wilson, Palm Springs Councilwoman Ginny Foat, and Supervisor John Benoit. Even as this is written, these outsiders are emailing our residents telling them how to vote. They definitely fear that Rancho Mirage voters will see through their induced CV Link fog.
Closely Examine Ballot Arguments for Deception
Your ballot materials contain Pro and Con arguments for your consideration in forming opinions. Much of the argument promoting the CV Link is, to put it mildly, deceptive and some inexcusably false - as will be demonstrated below.
Measure 1. It is falsely claimed by those Outside Politicians that "Measure 1 is not about CV Link." In truth, Measure 1 is exclusively about CV Link and the route it takes through our city. These Outside Politicians oppose residents deciding the route within our city, which is the heart of Measure 1. They want that authority in the hands of three future council members, who might have greater loyalty to CVAG than to our residents.
Those politicos, to twist an old metaphor, make it clear "that it is their way and it is Highway 111 that they want." They ignore that approval of Highway 111 and Bob Hope Dr. - a route that would seriously impede our Fire Station, our Library, and our traffic signal synchronization, guarantees us increased traffic congestion. The council's veto of their route leaves them looking toward a more amenable council down the road. Their Plan 2 is to elect to our city council three new members who would overturn Ordinance 1099 which protects our central city from this disrupting enterprise. Because it was passed by the city council, it could be overturned by a vote of the city council. Thus, the importance of Measure 1, if it passes, is that it places the CV Link issue in the voting hands of our residents rather than 3 new councilors.
We came to this impasse as a last resort. We offered them Ramon Road, but those outside politicians with their loose-with-the-truth mailers flatly reject this route. If they have their way, we would be the ONLY city not selecting or approving its own route.
Measure 2. On Measure 2 the political intruders through their bicycle committee ballot group identify organizations that support CV Link. These organizations have no responsibility for either the cost of construction or the cost of operations and maintenance. Wouldn't they still support CV Link if it ran down Ramon Rd?
In the 4th paragraph the opposition falsely suggests, "future O/M costs ... do not include the city paying anything." That suggestion is absolutely false. The only operations and maintenance plan CVAG's Executive Director has advanced and recommended (on April. 6, 2015), at page 6, calls for Rancho Mirage to pay between $111,322 and $251,871 as of the ninth year of operation, toward O&M costs. That is the fact.
Another falsehood is the statement (paragraph 5) the Valley will "lose out" on "this outside [$75M] grant money" that they claim has been assembled. First, $62 Million of the $75M is money already earmarked for the Coachella Valley and MUST remain here, if not spent on CV Link.
Our city Finance Director has calculated that 82% of that $75M must be used in the Coachella Valley and would not be lost to the valley if the CV Link were cancelled. Because of friends in high places, the county agency with oversight authority (RCTC) has shamelessly been complicit with CV Link's requests for the lion's share of these public monies designated for the valley. Also, of that $62M, a total of $20M of it is pure Measure A funds they plan on using, thereby preventing these funds reaching our battered roads and highways.
Measure 3. Suggest you read the Measure 3 arguments, noting our use of the word "assume." Then read the opposition argument. It is incoherent gibberish that makes no point at all. The truth is CVAG's Executive Director prepared a Staff Report in which he "recommended" only one O&M payment formula and plan. It has Rancho Mirage paying an amount which increases annually, and by the 9th year our payment increases to between $111,322 and $251,871, with CVAG deciding the precise amount. The number was not "cherry picked" as they falsely claim because the document sets out the numbers for eight separate cities. For example, it has Palm Desert paying (as of the 9th year) between $213,456 and $482,951; and Indian Wells paying between $140,195 and $317,187.
By April 2015, the CV Link had been in progress for almost 4-years. Mr. Kirk believed the time had come to inform the cities of his O&M calculations and formula. The cities had never before been told what their annual O&M costs would be. The Executive Director's Transportation Committee Staff Report is dated April 6, 2015. Mr. Kirk "recommended" approval and laid out the entire formula and numbers. Under customary practices the Executive Committee would approve it on April 27, 2015.(Because four days earlier Rancho Mirage voted 5-0 to reject the formula the matter was pulled from the Transportation Committee agenda by mutual consent.) The original document included a signature page for each city representative to sign. Now they claim it is an out of date projection? It is less than one year old. If anything, costs have risen.
Finally, the suggestion that outside business interests would pay for the annual $1.6M in O&M expenses is absurd. They do not identify one company stupid enough to consider committing to such large sums, annually, for the projected 75-year life of the project. Without any change in the base amount, but including a factor of 2% for inflationary increases over CV Links projected 75-years of existence (as CVAG says it does), the mythical company would be assuming a financial commitment of $276,153,217. ( Still unanswered, how would the cities be impacted if and when that company files for bankruptcy and walks away from the obligation one, five or twenty years later?) What sensible government leaders would put their cities in such jeopardy?
Measure 4. In 2002 the voters of Riverside County passed what is known as Measure A. The public voted to increase our sales tax by ½ cent. In the Coachella Valley portion of Measure A, it says the money "will be used for State highways and regional road improvements." The Preamble to the Measure A Ordinance says, "Without additional funds, the system will bog down and pavement will crumble into permanent disrepair..."
In April 2012 the CVAG Executive Committee voted to spend $20 million of Measure A funds for the CV Link when construction begins. Whether that was legal remains an open question. But for CVAG's vote that money would otherwise go to one of the Coachella Valley's 250 debilitated road, bridge and intersection projects which have long been identified, prioritized and waiting for financial help. A brand new bike path should not be allowed to trump the needs of our failing roads, bridges and intersections.
They are planning to invade Measure A funds in a variety of ways. Anyone who cares about having this roadway repairs fund drained so "they" can build a super bike path should be angry about this deception and fraud on the voters who passed Measure A in 2002. Our roadways cannot be sacrificed for a project the vast majority of valley residents resent being imposed on them without a vote of the people.
Initially, I did support the CV Link idea. I held the same view until March 30, 2015, when we were told the costs and route conditions attached to the CV Link. I concluded the project was out of control and headed by vastly inexperienced personnel. This is why I changed my position. As John Peterson once said, "Only fools and dead me don't change their minds. Fools won't and dead men can't." Your city needs your support.
YES on MEASURE 1
NO on MEASURES 2, 3, and 4.
Mayor, City of Rancho Mirage