Apply for Open League Position on the Independent Watchdog Committee of the
Alameda County Transportation Commission
By Lenore Gunst
The six Leagues of Women Voters within Alameda County are seeking a member to serve on the Independent Watchdog Committee (IWC) of the County Transportation Commission (CTC). Independent oversight of government spending is designed so that voters have confidence that agencies will spend taxpayer dollars as intended in support of long term initiatives. The Oakland League commissioned a study on best practices regarding the establishment and operation of independent commissions. We distributed our recommendations to local elected officials.
The CTC plans, funds and delivers transportation programs and projects to expand access and improve mobility within the County. It allocates and distributes billions of dollars in funding from federal, state, regional and local sources, including from voter approved County Measures B and BB, and vehicle registration fees. The IWC makes sure Measures B/BB tax dollars are improving transportation in Alameda County, as promised to voters, and makes an annual report to the public.
One seat on the 17 member IWC is reserved for a League representative. That seat will shortly be vacant as Lenore Gunst, who has held that seat, will be leaving the end of this year. IWC members commit to 2-year terms and can serve indefinitely. The IWC is Chaired by Pat Piras (Sierra Club representative), who has served on the CTC and IWC with persistence and dedication since 2004.
Here are Lenore’s observations from her time serving on the IWC:
The CTC determines whether projects qualify for funding within the provisions of Measures B/BB. The IWC looks to see whether the cities and agencies receiving the funding are complying with the values, methods, measurements and accountabilities that the CTC uses to determine whether the funded projects add value and/or are effective.
In our 2022 IWC annual report, we challenged the effectiveness of the CTC’s performance measures. We received a 50-page memo from the CTC’s legal council advising we were "out of our lane" regarding performance measures.
Twice I have formally questioned the CTC's practice of extending deadlines on capital Transportation Expenditure Projects (TEP) previously approved and funded, some more than a decade ago, yet where no funding plan or environmental review has yet been completed. The CTC was non-responsive.
IWC members invest time, energy and perspective to understand the reports and information CTC provides. Yet recently CTC staff submitted a capital project status update to us late and without notice, thus denying us the opportunity meaningfully to review it in advance. Furthermore, the presentation missed key elements regarding whether projects are on time, within budget and scope.
This disagreement about our role and lack of timely staff response undermines the IWC’s ability to deliver an honest opinion to the taxpayers of Alameda County.
I am honored to have represented the League’s values on this important committee and am happy to discuss a course of action with my successor. The IWC, and the public, would be well served by someone who has experience and interest in finance or project management, Brown Act governance, and an interest in transportation. Such a representative should be prepared to hold people accountable with steely resolve, be willing to be a champion for the League and for taxpayers generally, and be tolerant of frustration.
Please contact Helen Hutchison at email@example.com if you think you may be interested in this position.