As the MTA board considers this month whether to place a half-cent sales tax measure on the Nov. 4 ballot, the Valley has a unique opportunity to secure some of that money to relieve congestion in our communities. But it’s going to take more than a just handful of us to show up! On July 24, the MTA (or Metro) board will make its decision on the tax measure and which projects throughout L.A. County will be funded. Valley leaders have a responsibility to make their voices heard and fight for our fair share of the funds. When the Metro board met last month to hear public testimony about the sales tax initiative and projects to fund, the Valley representation was extremely disappointing. The Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA) was there, but other important leaders were missing. In fact, there appeared to be more Valley residents sitting on the Metro board than Valley residents who showed up to testify. State and local lawmakers from other parts of the county were there in force, but none from the Valley. Chambers of commerce and neighborhood councils from other parts of L.A. were there, but none from the Valley. Hopefully the Valley’s leaders will not make the same mistake again. We have a lot to lose if we don’t make our voices heard. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make real strides in alleviating the traffic congestion that we all bemoan. The proposals on the table at Metro that could significantly benefit the Valley include: – Extending the Red Line to Bob Hope Airport’s MetroLink station. – Extending the Orange Line to the Chatsworth MetoLink station (with some grade separations). – Creation of a buslane or rail service between Van Nuys and West L.A. through the Sepulveda Pass. The Valley seems to repeat the same mistake over and over. Sometimes we get so distracted by our own complaining that we lose sight of the goal and consequently miss out on opportunities to actually do something about our infrastructure problems. Some will not support a sales tax increase measure if the Valley doesn’t get its fair share. Fair enough, so let’s do everything that we can in the meantime to get those funds. If we’ve exhausted our efforts and the sales tax measure stills ends up not including a fair allocation for the Valley, then we can oppose it. With the two-thirds majority vote needed to increase taxes, the Valley with 18 percent of the county’s population will determine the outcome. The time of excuses needs to end and action must take its place. This could be the last chance in our lifetimes to secure funds for long term transportation benefits. Let’s not miss yet another opportunity to do something positive for our transportation needs. Brendan Huffman is President & CEO of the Valley Industry & Commerce Assn. (VICA), a business advocacy organization serving employers throughout the San Fernando Valley.