Marin's 2012 Issues

As we head further into 2012, I believe Marin County has several issues worth tracking. Here’s my short list.

• SMART: Petitions are circulating to repeal the Sonoma-to-Marin commuter rail line. If enough signatures are gathered, the issue could be on the November 2012 ballot. The fact is, more than $200 million has already been spent on SMART (rail cars, engineering, administration, etc.). This has to be paid, no matter what. Repealing SMART now means the quarter-cent sales tax hike, approved in 2008, would continue for another nine years — with nothing to show for it. “Construction began in early 2012,” says Farhad Mansourian, SMART’s general manager. Trains will be running between Santa Rosa and San Rafael by late 2015 or early 2016.” My POV: Do not sign the petition.    

• Board of Supervisors: In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown named Kate Sears to replace the late Charles McGlashan as Southern Marin’s county supervisor. Months later, recovering cancer victim Hal Brown resigned as Ross Valley’s supervisor, and the governor appointed Katie Rice. Recently, Sears and Rice declared they want to retain their jobs — thus both will be on November 2012 ballot, each with just more than a year’s experience on the board. At press time, only David Weinsoff, a Fairfax town councilperson, has stepped forward to challenge Rice. The job pays $124,000 a year, plus benefits. Filing opens February 13 and closes March 9. My POV: Come November, Sears and Rice might well have performed exceptionally — but here’s a chance to hear differing viewpoints as to how Marin should be governed.
• Marin Energy Authority (MEA): In 2010, MEA was formed to provide cleaner energy than that provided by PG&E. At first, there were doubters. Only the unincorporated county area and seven of Marin’s 11 cities wanted their residents to be able to choose MEA’s greener power. Then, in 2011, Ross, Novato, Larkspur and Corte Madera city councils signed on. So MEA — the state’s first community-based clean energy provider — is now increasing its staff to 11, purchasing power from a photovoltaic facility in Rocklin and planning to grow its customer base from 14,000 to more than 90,000. My POV: When given the chance to be greener — go for it!

• Marin General Hospital (MGH): Last year was MGH’s first without being a Sutter Health affiliate. Many doubted the hospital could make it. Yet now, under CEO Lee Domanico, MGH has signed management agreements with two Sonoma hospitals, gained accreditation with commendations for its Marin Cancer Institute and received more than $5 million in community donations. In 2013, MGH will ask voters to pass a $400 million bond issue in order to rebuild according to state seismic standards. My POV: MGH is creating a state-of-the-art, 21st-century hospital that will merit a favorable vote when it comes time to rebuild.

• San Quentin State Prison: Since 2006, not one execution has taken place at San Quentin. Furthermore, due in part to a ruling by Marin Superior Court Judge Faye D’Opal, there will be none in 2012. California’s three-drug execution procedure is the problem. The solution is SB 490, calling for California’s death penalty to be replaced by life without possibility of parole, which is likely to be on the November 2012 ballot. My POV: If SB 490 is on the November ballot (and I hope it is), vote “yes.” Capital punishment is California’s greatest scourge and an insufferable waste of taxpayer money.

Those are my points of view. What are yours? Email [email protected].