SANDAG doesn’t represent the needs of San Diegans – and a San Diegan is fighting to keep it that way.
“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
– George W. Bush
It’s time for new leadership at SANDAG, starting with Lorie Zapf. Without the oversight we expect and demand from elected representatives like Zapf, senior staff has shown that it will mislead the public on a regular basis. SANDAG’s inability to tell the truth on major ballot initiatives is rage-inducing, but far from the organization’s only problem.
Beyond the deception, SANDAG is a fundamentally undemocratic organization. Set up so, as Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher put it, “representatives of 15 percent of the population get to veto anything that happens in an entire region”, Zapf, along with the SANDAG Board, continue to push outdated transportation ideas that don’t fit the goals of the county’s major population centers like San Diego and Chula VIsta.
AB805 will make a huge difference in how this agency is run. It will ensure proper oversight and accountability through an independent auditor and audit committee. It will also reconstitute the voting structure, ensuring more fair and judicious governance.
Naturally there’s push back and, with a board of directors that’s the embodiment of a Good Ol’ Boys Club, it’s not surprising. Small town mayors are hunkering down, making bizarre proclamations that fighting AB805 is akin to fighting communism as they discuss putting a “self-reform” bill on the ballot to try and get out of making these needed changes.
Zapf, who represents a district in dire need of better public transportation options to ease congestion and increase neighborhood quality of life, has not stood up for the needs and wants of her constituents at SANDAG. During a recent hearing, she defended the system in which one resident of Del Mar has as much power as 164 San Diegans, calling AB805 “fundamentally… undemocratic.” She went on to say the bill was “smoke and mirrors” and that state reform of a state created agency is “not the way this country operates. It’s unbelievable.” Zapf has consistently shown that blind party loyalty is the decisive factor in her decision making, at the expense of the city, and people, she represents.
If Zapf isn’t going to fight for San Diegans and her voters at SANDAG, then Mayor Faulconer has a decision to make. He needs to choose an alternate who will put San Diego first, not someone who will act to the detriment of their constituents.