According to today's San Francisco Examiner, an investigation by the paper revealed that BART spent "well over half a million dollars of taxpayer money on glossy mailings, in-house consultants and political polling to maximize voter support for the successful $980 million bond to upgrade the transit system" even though the agency was "legally prohibited from campaigning for Measure AA." (see http://www.sfexaminer.com/article/index.cfm/i/110804n_bart )
The article states that BART directors and staff insist that the 712,078 brochures they mailed were an "educational service" not meant to sway voters, but that "they were mailed only to voters in areas of Contra Costa and Alameda counties, where political opposition to the measure was strong."
Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies is quoted as saying BART broke no laws because the polling was conducted and the fliers mailed before the measure was officially placed on the ballot. "It's really unfair to use public funds to try to influence the voters, but agencies do it all the time," he said.
However it also sounds like BART is attempting to hide from public scrutiny the details of how it was decided to send the mailings to voters in certain areas: "The decision... was made by a group of BART directors and consultants in private discussions for which there are no minutes. No written record of the work order exists... and none of the directors remember making the decision." I'm no expert, but this sounds like a possible violation of open meeting laws.
What do you guys think the possibilities for a lawsuit are here? I feel like even if our chances of winning might be small, it could be worth filing suit for several reasons:
(1) The publicity for the LP
(2) The additional exposure of what BART did
(3) The possibility of getting them to make some kind of settlement offer to avoid unfavorable publicity
(4) The possibility of getting more dirt on them via the legal deposition process
Anyone know an attorney willing to look into it?
Yours in liberty,
<<< Starchild >>>