The Coastal Post - October, 1999

County Officials' Misappropriation Of State Funds

I am a proponent of bicycle use on paved roads as an alternative to motor vehicle use, and a former bicycle commuter between San Rafael and San Francisco and San Rafael and Novato.

A development of the utmost urgency has come to my attention. It involves State financing of transit routes (Transportation Development Act of 1971 - bicycle commuting routes) and the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. The purpose of the Coalition (a group whose members have divergent goals) is to spend State transportation dollars to enhance the mountain biking industry. Misappropriation of funds may include the cooperation of elected or hired employees at the County level.

In April of !998, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) was formed. During its charter meeting, the Marin County Bikeways Map was discussed, reportedly with an Open Space District Representative present.

On May 19, 1998, a $5,000 grant was requested and approved by Supervisor Kinsey for the development of information for a bikeways map to be produced by the MCBC. At that meeting, the Bicycle Trails Council (BTC) member of BTCM, Jim Jacobsen (mountain bike activist), thanked the Board and said he would publish the map.

Two days later, May 21, 1998, MCBC's apparent representative, Michael Jones, signed the contract with the County to gather data for the Bikeways Map. The contract specifically prohibited subcontracting data collection (paid or not) without written permission from the County, or publishing of map collection data. On June 20/21, in apparent breach of the County's contract, the first draft map was presented for public review at the San Rafael High School Bike Swap Meet.

County Supervisors Kress and Kinsey have just enjoyed an all-expense paid tour of Holland, sponsored by members of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, for whom the Supervisors voted approval of $5,000 in State Transportation Development Act funding for largely a mountain bike map produced by mountain bikers. According to the Marin County Bikeways Committee, The Holland trip was financed by Patrick Seidler, Wilderness Trail Bikes, Mill Valley (offices also in Holland), member of the MCBC, the County Transportation Steering Committee (along with John Kress), proponent of the Transit Tax, and major contributor to the bikeways map data collection paid for by the County. Evidently, members of the entourage were either County officials or MCBC members.

Although the County claims to have no control over production of the County Bikeways map, Supervisor Hal Brown, and others at the County level, have reviewed the draft map(s) at least once, without required public review and due process. Also, its production is contemporaneous with disbursement of the $5,000 to the MCBC's representative contractor.

Marin County Counsel Patrick Faulkner has been contacted to investigate these circumstances and to file a preliminary injunction against the MCBC to prevent further printing and distribution of this map until the investigation has been completed.

Terri Alvillar

[email protected]

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