State Auditor to probe MTC’s proposed move to SF

The Legislature’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee today approved state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier’s request for an audit of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s proposal to move its headquarters from downtown Oakland to San Francisco at toll-payers’ expense.

“Bay Area motorists travel some of the busiest bridges in the nation. They pay tolls with the expectation that those moneys are used for transportation and congestion related purposes,” DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said in a news release. “I have serious concerns about using these revenues for real estate deals. When the Legislature created MTC, I do not believe it ever intended MTC to use toll moneys for these kinds of real property investments. This audit will provide some clarity on what the law allows toll moneys to be used for.”

The audit was approved by a unanimous bipartisan vote. The Bureau of State Audits, under the direction of State Auditor Elaine Howle, will conduct the audit.

The MTC unanimously voted last week to rescind its earlier vote approving the move, and decided to have a six-member committee comprised of former commission chairmen, the current chair and vice chair look into the questions and concerns raised by public officials and others opposed to the move. The committee will report back within 60 days.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    How about moving the MTC offices to Fruitvale? Rents are low.

  • steve weir

    MTC use to rent space at the Claremont. Then, they build a building (which houses MTC and ABAG) near the Civic Center Bart Station. It is called the Joseph Bort Center after an Alameda Supervisor who was active in ABAG and MTC.

    With all due respect, (I was a commissioner from 1982 to 1993, and Chaired the Commission), what’s wrong with the current housing arrangement?

    Yes, this is a great time to be in the market, but is appears that someone got the jump on MTC from a real estate standpoint.

  • rewgolfer

    No question MTC was empire building with this proposal to buy an office building with 180 million dollars of toll money. The guys running this outfit saw opportunity to upgrade to fancier offices in a more prime location. Thankfully Senator Desaulnier got wind of this, and it’s looking more like this idea is going down in flames. I can’t think of a worse time for some goverment agency – especially and obscure one like MTC (which doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot anyway) – announcing they are moving to a new Taj Mahal at taxpayer/toll payers expense. We have 12% unemployment, we’ve seen thousands of teachers laid off up and down state, colleges and university budgets are being decimated, and we have seen horrific cuts to the safety net, yet these empire builders over at MTC seemingly are oblivious to what is going on. All they can think about is the plush new offices they will have – with views of two bridges.

  • Publius

    Thank God for DeSaul….After realizing he could not get his grubby hands on the money he threw up a red flag. Hopefully this starts a new trend; Marky Mark DeSaul, the waste buster! Government beware, if your project does not include union kick backs DeSaul will thwart the deal.

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    Maybe MTC and the CCT could look for office space together?

  • Geeez Lisa, if MTC and CCT were to merge then we what would we get: all the news and transportation that could fit inside San Jose?

  • Michael E. Kerr

    To Publius: Stop your “crocodile tears” about undue union influence! If you were really concerned about kick backs and influence peddling you would be better directed to complain about the Supreme Court decision that corporations and the rich have the right to corrupt our politicians and elections with as much money as they want to give. Unions and most individuals can’t come even close in campaign contributions. The future is bleak for Government of, for and by the people! Of course then, the courts have declared that corporations have all the rights of people, but few of the responsibilities. When corporations go to jail (closed down) for their crimes, maybe I’ll jump on the bandwagon!

  • Publius

    RE #7

    Looks like I hit a nerve. I know that Marky Mark the “Waste Buster” is a sacred figure to the bay area left. Mark carries the torch for so many of you that believe that corporations are evil and that rich people do not deserve their money. I can see your argument about corporate corruption in politics. Rest assured my liberal friends, as a business owner in the State of California ,I can tell all of you not to worry about it. Mark the “waste Buster” and his democrat comrades are working hard to chase the undeserving rich and the toxic corporations out of this state. Your anti-business sentiments are well represented.

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    Edi, heheheh.

  • Rick K.

    I agree with Publius. Sen. DeSaulnier is a puppet of labor unions. He is not a true “waste buster” or “reformer”. Let’s not forget his irresponsible vote in Oct. 2002 on the Contra Costa BOS to reward his union cronies with the overly-generous “3% at 50” pension scheme that is on the verge of bankrupting the County. DeSaulnier has done absolutely nothing about that error. Note that he refuses to make meaningful reform of S.B. 400-1999, the equivalent state-level pension scheme that is bankrupting the State of California. The fat-posteriored Building and Construction Trades union bosses obviously concluded that the proposed move to S.F. did not include enough kickbacks, givebacks and whatever else they want to line their pockets. Project Labor Agreements and so-called “prevailing wages” (set by formulas that end up with labor costs significantly higher than actual construction worker pay) end up costing taxpayers dearly. Would someone please run against DeSaulnier in 2012 and send him back to being a bartender?

  • John W

    When is DeSaulnier termed out?

  • Elwood
  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    John W: DeSaulnier is eligible for one more four-year state senate term. He will have to run again in 2012. If elected to a second term, it will be his last.

  • Steve Weir

    Contra Costa will be represented by three members of the California Senate (unless the recently filed referendum reverses the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission’s lines). All are in odd designated districts, so all three (3rd, 7th, and 9th) Senate Districts will be on the ballot in 2012.

  • John W

    Steve Weir, that seems strange. Three out of the 40 total Senate districts touch Contra Costa. We have, what, less than 3 percent of the state’s population?