GUEST COMMENTARY: Transparency Is the Gateway to Inclusivity – and Diversity

What message will the CTC send Thursday?

By Alan Hirsch

Letter to California Transportation Commission CTC@catc.ca.gov
Chair Carl Guardino and Members,
Cc Chair William Walker and members, CTC Equity Committee)

Re: Disagreeing Better on Transportation Projects

Mr. Guardino:

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say:You are entitled to your own opinions. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

The California Public Records Act (and the Brown Act) were designed so we work from the same facts, that there is sharing of information—so in dialogue agencies don’t strategically withhold information to put elected officials as well as the public at an unfair disadvantage in reviewing projects.

Transparency is the gateway to Inclusivity & Diversity .

However, I want to bring to your attention a situation where Caltrans seems to be strategically withholding information from the public on a $1/2 billion project.

In June 2023 the CTC staff report recommended NOT to fund Yolo80 toll lanes out of TCEP funds, rating it medium priority. In that staff report CTC staff rated Yolo80 31st out of 48 projects.  Caltrans rated Yolo80 last in priority (24th) out of 24 of their projects. (extract from June 2023 staff report attached)

This of course raises question why is I-80 is now rated a high priority for advance funding by the CTC and Caltrans on 5/16.  Would not you and other commissions like to know?

If fact, 11 months ago I tried to find out.

I made a public records request of information from Caltrans 6/15/23 (attached) on why it was rated last of 24—even before that June 28, 2023, CTC meeting.  I requested the rubric that was used.  And I later ask the CTC staff for detail why it was rerated for funding at March now May 2024 meetings.

I have received no response from either.

I have gotten acknowledgement and notice of delays in writing, and even gotten calls suggesting I drop part of my request so I can get something. I just said, “Send me what you can now.”  I have also contacted my assemblyperson’s Cecilla Aguilar-Curry’s office for help.  All to no avail.

It seems to me to be there is active resistance to disclosing public information.

I have also been told by lower-level agency staff that they feel their addressing my public record act is “on top of my regular job.” Is this the “message” they got from their bosses about public records?

Everyone having the same facts is basic part of “disagree better” on the Yolo80 project.

It is too late for me and to get the information for this meeting and make an informed comment.

So, the ball is in your and the CTC court on Thursday on pursuing this information.

I do hope you see this as an opportunity not a problem. CTC action on Yolo80 could send a message to the thousands of staff and managers in over hundred state transportation agencies about “disagreeing better” by being transparent and inclusive with the public.  That the CTC expect players in the transportation arena to follow at least the legal minimum of California Law on public records If they want to apply for CTC funding.

As new CTC Chair, I am hopeful you and the entire CTC will make it clear the “what rules of the road”  the CTC will enforce going forward on transparency  at all levels of transportation governance in California.

Yours for a better California,

Alan Hirsch
Yolo Mobility.


Below are my public records request of 11 months and 2 months ago that have not received a response.


From: CALTRANS <caltrans@mycusthelp.net>
Date: April 8, 2024 at 14:13:02 PDT
To: aaahirsch8@gmail.com
Subject: [Records Center] Public Records Request :: R023957-061523
— Please respond above this line —

RE: Public Records Request of June 15, 2023, Reference # R023957-061523

Dear Alan Hirsch,

On June 15, 2023, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) received your request for records under the Public Records Act (PRA) wherein you requested the following:

1) Submission to the CTC for processed at June 28th 2023 meeting of project application of Yolo80 Managed Lanes Project for funding by TCEP program- Likely drafted by District 3 but may be in possession of Caltrans HQ.
2) All letters or email of support of Yolo 80 Managed Lanes project submitted to CTC, if not included in 1.
3) Caltrans HQ ‘s final project scoping/priority setting/ranking for all 24(?) Caltrans TCEP projects submitted to CTC for June 28 meeting
4) Description of Caltrans ranking/scoping priority setting process for TCEP funding
5) ) With any details note why the Yolo80 managed lanes project was prioritized/scoped the way it was by Caltrans HQ.
6) Any email or communication to District 3 explaining the prioritization /ranking of the Yolo80 Managed Lanes project

Caltrans is in the process of gathering and reviewing the requested records.  Your request will take extra time to fulfill because of  the need for consultation, to be conducted with all practicable speed, with an agency having substantial interest in the determination of the request or among two or more components of the agency having substantial subject matter interest therein.

Consequently, Caltrans is exercising its authority under Government Code section 7922.535, to extend the time to reply to a Public Records Act request.  You will receive a further, more complete response no later than May 06, 2024.

Thank you for your patience in awaiting this information.

Sincerely,

John O’Connell

Caltrans Public Information Officer

(530) 701-9459


Begin forwarded message:

From: CALTRANS <caltrans@mycusthelp.net>
Date: April 19, 2024 at 11:01:07 PDT
To: aaahirsch8@gmail.com
Subject: [Records Center] Public Records Request :: R030062-031224
— Please respond above this line —

RE: Public Records Request of March 12, 2024, Reference # R030062-031224

Dear Alan Hirsch,

On March 12, 2024, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) received your request for records under the Public Records Act (PRA) wherein you requested the following:

All text and written communication between or within state agencies consisting of 1) CTC, 2) Caltrans District 3, 3) Caltrans HQ 4) CARB 5) STA regarding funding of Yolo 80 before the CTC of Yolo80 project.’

All communication between these 5 named agencies and Yolo Transportation District board member and staff.

Caltrans is in the process of gathering and reviewing the requested records.  Your request will take extra time to fulfill because of the need to: search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records that are demanded in a single request.

Consequently, Caltrans is exercising its authority under Government Code section 7922.535, to extend the time to reply to a Public Records Act request.  You will receive a further, more complete response no later than May 24, 2024.

Thank you for your patience in awaiting this information.

John O’Connell

Caltrans Public Information Officer District 3


About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for