The Marin Post

The Voice of the Community

TAKE OUR SURVEY
Click on Survey title
Coronavirus Opinion Survey

Blog Post

RRZEicons [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons

SMART Denies Access - Still Not Transparent

On December 16th I submitted a record request for five items - SMART finally responded on January 29th, long beyond the required 10 day window, with a poor response to just one of my five items.

The first thing I had asked for was:

(1) Expenditure on diesel fuel for any 12 month continuous period from between start of passenger rail operations and today. Ideally all that is required is a single document stating the amount of diesel fuel purchased citing the amount in dollars and quantity in gallons purchased.

I received back not the single document stating the amount of diesel fuel purchased, but a pile of 364 pages of invoices for diesel purchases. Unless SMART’s accounting department is hopeless, they surely must knows the total they’ve paid ffor diesel over “any 12 months continuous period”. Instead they elected to respond with obfuscation via a pile of bills that would take days to tally up.

Then I asked for:

(2) Data substantiating the miles per gallon of the SMART train with (i) a two car train (ii) a three car train.

SMART did not provide this data at all. They apparently do not have any records they can release of the fuel efficiency of their diesel train. They know this is a critical part of the conversation about how green the train is.

Third I asked for:

(3) Data substantiating the emissions of CO2 per vehicle mile of the SMART train with (i) a two car train (ii) a three car train.

They referred me to the “enclosed Green Commute Fact sheet” which wasn’t enclosed but their response did provide the URL to this document which they published in early January 2020, having owed providing this to the public back in November 2008 when they told voters to vote for the train because it fought climate change.

By now most readers will know this Green Commute Fact Sheet is riddled with errors such as referencing the non-existent American Community Survey 2019, assuming every rider would have driven (none would have taken the bus) and every trip - even those on weekends and holidays - were commute trips. They claimed that cars on average have 1.08 passengers based on these invalid assumptions - but even then failed to show their workings of how they arrived at this figure of 1.08 when the nationally accepted figure from the US Federal Highway Administration’s National Household Travel Survey is much higher at 1.67 average car occupants.

Fourth I asked for:

(4) Document(s) stating the budgeted amount for the campaign supporting the March 2020 ballot measure.

No response was provided. Neither was I informed that documents existed and the reason for each exemption. Only a summary of generic reasons for exemptions of unspecified documents was given which fails to adhere to the law.

Finally I asked for:

(5) All document(s) sent or received between August 1st 2019 and today relating to the planning of the campaign supporting the March 2020 ballot measure. This should include the results of surveys. Documents discussing or planning wording to be used for campaign materials. Documents discussing or planning expenditures on the campaign such as via advertising, flyer or otherwise.

Once again, no response was provided. Again it is remarkable, if not near impossible, that no emails, text messages, planning documents, survey questions or responses existed for such an important event requiring likely many months of active discussion and planning.

SMART clearly is not living up to its claims of becoming more transparent, even in the face of continued criticism and an imminent election.

Today, January 30th, I responded to SMART with the following:

I did finally receive on January 29th the USB drive with materials relating to (1) in the list of 5 requests originally submitted to SMART on December 16th, 2019. My request was for "a single document stating the amount of diesel fuel purchased citing the amount in dollars and quantity in gallons purchased". Instead, I was sent a 364 page PDF of 364 individual invoices that would take a painstaking amount of time to compile.

This information certainly exists in accounting information SMART has in its' possession. None of the reasons given by SMART would apply as valid reasons to exempt such accounting records. SMART must have a dollar amount and a unit number (gallons) for diesel purchased for a 12 month period.

Furthermore SMART failed to provide, as required by law, the specific documents and the specific reasons for each and every document exemption. I hereby request the list of specific documents and specific reason for exemption(s) for all the four remaining requests for which I did not receive responses:

(2) Data substantiating the miles per gallon of the SMART train with (i) a two car train (ii) a three car train.

(3) Data substantiating the emissions of CO2 per vehicle mile of the SMART train with (i) a two car train (ii) a three car train.

(4) Document(s) stating the budgeted amount for the campaign supporting the March 2020 ballot measure.

(5) All document(s) sent or received between August 1st 2019 and today relating to the planning of the campaign supporting the March 2020 ballot measure. This should include the results of surveys. Documents discussing or planning wording to be used for campaign materials. Documents discussing or planning expenditures on the campaign such as via advertising, flyer or otherwise.