Board authorizes investigation into SANDAG's Measure A figures

Posted at 3:07 PM, Feb 24, 2017
SAN DIEGO - Don't let the name put you to sleep.
The San Diego Regional Association of Governments (SANDAG) brings together representatives from area city councils, supervisors, transportation agencies and others gather at one table to work together to solve issues effecting every city and jurisdiction.
But check out the fuzzy math SANDAG used to sell Measure A. This is why there was a lot of discussion Friday at SANDAG about where the organization got their facts to support asking for a tax hike.
The SANDAG board of directors approved an independent investigation into how the public was presented with faulty revenue projections before voting on the ballot proposition. SANDAG Chairman Ron Roberts said the investigation will delve into who knew what and when.
"It's been implied that there may have been a conspiracy to hide all of this from all of us on this board," Roberts said. "I want to clear the air of that. If there was, I want to know about it -- I want to find out who was in on it."
Directors agreed that SANDAG's credibility was damaged by revelation staff knew before the November election that figures used to sell Measure A were wrong, but did not inform board members.
SANDAG members supported Measure A last year, claiming it would result in $18 billion of revenue for transportation and environmental projects over the next 40 years. However, documents obtained by the Voice of San Diego showed the staff discovered an error overstating the likely revenue figures.
While Measure A received a majority of voter approval, it failed to receive two-third approval required for a planned sales tax increase.
Roberts gave staff two weeks to recommend an outside entity to conduct the investigation. A final decision on who to retain will be made by the directors, who are made up of elected officials from around the county.
The board also approved Friday a seven-part work plan proposed by the staff of SANDAG. The work plan includes:
-- reviewing economic model data to ensure accuracy and integrity of result;
-- identifying key SANDAG reports that used the data and evaluating the significance of impacts from potential forecasting errors on policy recommendations;
-- convening a panel of experts in economics, demographics and land use to validate a new forecasting model; and
-- developing data transparency standards to ensure that others can see how models were developed, how data was processed and what assumptions were made along the way.
Other points included developing and formalizing processes for staff to use, and improving interactions between technical and other SANDAG employees.