On November 2, a very important issue will be put to the vote here in California. Proposition 19 will make it legal for someone to cultivate and possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Up to now I've stayed completely neutral on the subject. I see potential medical benefits here, but I also see some grave problems, so I thought it best just to stay out of it.
But now something new has come to light that has caused me to make a public stand against Prop 19. Today I received 2 mail pieces from the Stay Sacramento folks. These things are so completely filled to the brim with half-truths and outright lies that if 19 passes, these folks might get even further out of touch with reality and have to be taken off the streets.
So far I've seen three of these pieces. All three claim to list one of the "dozens of reasons" to oppose cityhood. The two pieces I have at my home show numbers 7 and 13. But of the "dozens" of reasons they claim, where are the rest? Their web site, where real estate is practically free and they should be able to list tons of supporting evidence, doesn't even allude to the "dozens" claim. I'm dying to know what the others are! Come on folks, give me the evidence!
But for now I guess I'm stuck with the two reasons they decided to give me. So let's examine them, shall we?
#7 - A whole new layer of government will cost more.
Well, ok, this is true. A new layer of government WILL in fact cost more. While they're at it, why not say that if Iceland drops a nuclear bomb on Country Club Plaza, that will mean trouble for the new city? Both have the same chance of happening.
OK, all together now, one more time... there is NO NEW LAYER OF GOVERNMENT! This is replacing the county's broke, broken, failed system with a smaller, responsive and responsible organization that is designed for the express purpose of providing municipal services. It's a way to lower the costs of providing services by smart and innovative management. And it's happened across the board in the last three incorporations in Sacramento County.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the legal profession, let me introduce you to something lawyers use every day. It's called boilerplate text. It's the standard party-of-the-first-part stuff that ends up in every legal document, mostly as a cover-your-assets move to make sure the attorneys are never to blame for anything. The cityhood studies, both the environment impact report and the fiscal analysis, contain tons of this stuff. You can always spot it by comparison to other similar documents, looking for things that are common to them all. Here's an example:
"...the new city could experience shortfalls or inadequate fund balances during its initial years of operation."
Why is that statement in the fiscal analysis? Is it because the analysts felt the new city's financial situation might be unstable? If so it would be very interesting, since that text, or something very close to it, appears in every fiscal analysis tied to a pending incorporation over the past ten years. The statement is there so in case there is some unforeseen problem, like that Icelandic nuke, no one can go back to the analyst and claim they didn't account for that. It's a catch-all to protect the firm, and a straw man bugaboo that has no practical meaning, yet the mailer is touting it as if it was the most damning evidence possible. Know why?
It IS the most damning evidence they have! They have so little real material to work with that they are reduced to trying to extract some hidden meaning out of innocuous phrases such as this. Other than that, all they can do is complain that employees in the new city might be given a living wage and decent benefit package. Lord knows we can't have that! There's no money left after all the city and county bureaucrats gets their insurance and pensions!
Reason #13 - As business goes down, your taxes may go up.
OK, let's get it on the record one more time that our economy is in the dumpster. That we can all agree on. But will a bad economy result in new taxes? Maybe, back in the dark ages before Prop 13. Or in whatever dark and stinky place Stay Sac has their collective head buried. But the facts are clear that new taxes cannot be instituted without a 2/3 vote of the people. And it works the same way for cities as it does in the county. Nothing changes. Nada. And no matter how many times they claim it, it will not become true. Ever.
On the other hand, the county is trying hard to address their gazillion dollar deficit. Several of the proposed ideas to balance out the bottom line include putting a tax increase before the voters. Now Prop 13 still works the same way, but think this through. Who is more likely to vote yes on a tax increase? Arden Arcade residents, or people in Downtown, Midtown, or the Pocket? I'd say the quickest possible way to see your taxes go up is to vote no on D and stay right where we are.
This mailer claims that we are banking on $20 million in sales tax revenues for a landlocked "community" with no potential for growth. Before we blast this one, note the cutesy use of quotation marks around the word Community. This was a shrewd move. By calling to question whether the area really is a community, they continue to bring their divisiveness to the table, revealing what they have already admitted on a TV spot last week - what they really want (Sierra Oaks, Arden Park, Arden Oaks, et al) is to keep their little fiefdoms, continue to assert their political capital, and forget about the rest of you. This is about their power and money. Don't let them tell you otherwise.
Anyway, a quick word about the "landlocked" issue. We are a mostly developed community, and we don't have any significant growth potential for new development. In that respect we are the same as Citrus Heights, but very different from Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove. Both of those areas had tons of room to expand and grow. Both took advantage of that opportunity to begin development. Both took a bath when the economy turned sour a few years ago. But built-out Citrus Heights just continued to keep putting money into its reserve fund, including a deposit last year when things were pretty much in the toilet across the entire country. I've decided I'm not going to lose much sleep over being a landlocked community.
If the economy does continue to sink deeper into the tank, the outlook will not be rosy for anyone. But with the county's current economic woes, sung to the tune of "Brother, can you spare a hundred and twenty million?", can we actually be any worse than under their administration? After all, the most recent study was completed using current numbers, when we were already knee deep in this recession. And the ten year projections were done per the rules, assuming that the current economic state continues throughout. So if the economy continues to be miserable, the facts show we can make it. It might not be pleasant, but we can do it. Any any eventual upturn in the general outlook for the nation means that things can only get better for Arden Arcade.
So if Stay Sac is so confident that the two analyses done by professionals, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars each, one in good times, the other in the current miserable economy, are completely out of touch with reality, they must have some real high-level, unimpeachable experts to back up their case, right? Well, maybe not so much. While the community supporters behind Prop D cite sources such as the Howard Jarvis group and the Taxpayer's Advocate, Stay Sac relies on the expert testimony of Kristin Elser, "Arden Arcade parent activist". Wow, I'm sold. A parent activist. How could anyone ever speak against that?
I don't know Ms. Elser, or her history as a "parent activist", whatever that means. LinkedIn shows her as an insurance analyst for USAA, which is a respectable profession, and as far as I know, a decent company. And I don't want to speak a word against her or her activist work. But really - is this the highest level of the food chain Stay Sacramento can reach to find expert opinion? Granted, they've managed to discredit their own psychologist, real estate developer, political consultant, former sheriff, and a handful of others. Is there no one left in the stable with an opinion we can respect?
Or are we saving that for some sort of October surprise? Given the length and breadth of the lies we've been told in these two pieces, we know there are no ethical restraints on what they tell us. We also know that thanks to all the special interests they claim to be protecting you from, they are sufficiently well-funded to spring some sort of last minute hit piece.
If you get one or more of these in the mail, please read with a critical mind. What are they really saying? Who are they relying on to make their case? Are their fear-mongering claims really harmful, or just more empty rhetoric? Do your own research. Get real solid facts, and make up your own mind. We need intelligent voters, not drones. And if you have questions, get answers that make sense. Don't accept anything at face value, and don't be afraid to demand truth, not political mumbo-jumbo.
Here are a few good places to start. On Monday night at 6:30, there will be a cityhood panel discussion and forum with experts on many aspects of cityhood. It will be help at the community center in Howe Park, and Howe and Cottage. Representatives from Stay Sacramento have been invited to attend and speak, but as of now they have declined.
Tuesday night at the same time, there will be a forum at El Camino High School. Not much other info on this one, but it should be worth attending.
Next Sunday, the 24th, at 4pm, there will be a coffee meeting at Country Waffles on El Camino just east of Fulton. Candidates will discuss the need for police protection, how we can build a thriving business community, and the legal process for annexation. Questions will be welcome.