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Selective Outrage: Local Governments Are Out of Control
December 16, 2018

Why is the San Jose Mercury News* outraged about the Oakland City Council? Of course, old reliable Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association must chime in -- "Blatantly illegal." That's how their members know that Jon Coupal et cie are earning their keep.

Is it really about the rules for elections being set before an election? Gimme a break!

With the exception of Dan Walters, the press, the so-called taxpayer organizations (both state and local), and the holier-than-thou minor political parties (you too Libertarians, Greens, et al) continually turn a blind eye to the ubiquitous corruption at every level of local government.

It's only individuals, like you, that have the ability and the courage to stand up to our dishonest, local, organized, criminal officials. Learn more at #HonestBallots. Act fast! The clock is ticking!

Just like the proverbial scorpion, it's in their nature. They all want a piece of the big government pie. So as not to be turned away at the trough, they must not rock the boat.

NOTE: I provide the underlying, proprietary data that I have collected to honest journalists upon request.

AB-195 changed the law for ALL ("city, county, city and county, including a charter city or charter county, or district, including a school district") local ballot measures on January 1, 2018. It's encoded as Elections Code 13119.

I've gone over the history of this change elsewhere, but let's just say the change was made to stop local government agencies from fleecing taxpayers by intentional deception and conscious omission of critical disclosure provisions. You see, unlike state-wide propositions, where the ballot statement (the 75 words that appear on the ballot voters see) is reviewed and written by supposedly disinterested government officials, no one but the proponents (overwhelmingly local governments and their self-interested lawyers) write local ballot statements. With rampant, widespread deception, the legislature and the governor finally decided to weigh in.

Subsection (a) requires all local measures to be in the form "Shall the measure (stating the nature thereof) be adopted?" Those quotation marks are in the statute. The legislature prescribed exactly the way every local measure should look.

How does your county stack up? The tables below tell the disgusting story. Note that the totals exclude advisory and recall questions, which are neither measures nor referendums to which AB-195 applies.

Conformance with AB-195 subsection (a)
November 6, 2018
Alphabetical
(55 counties)
County Yes No % Measures
Alameda 6 22 21.43% 28
Alpine 0 1 0.00% 1
Amador 0 1 0.00% 1
Butte 0 9 0.00% 9
Calaveras 3 2 60.00% 5
Contra Costa 0 13 0.00% 13
Del Norte 0 2 0.00% 2
El Dorado 6 8 42.86% 14
Fresno 1 13 7.14% 14
Glenn 0 3 0.00% 3
Humboldt 0 8 0.00% 8
Imperial 0 10 0.00% 10
Kern 3 10 23.08% 13
Kings 0 2 0.00% 2
Lake 0 5 0.00% 5
Lassen 0 1 0.00% 1
Los Angeles 1 47 2.08% 48
Madera 0 2 0.00% 2
Marin 8 9 47.06% 17
Mariposa 0 1 0.00% 1
Mendocino 1 3 25.00% 4
Merced 2 5 28.57% 7
Modoc 0 3 0.00% 3
Mono 0 1 0.00% 1
Monterey 1 11 8.33% 12
Napa 0 7 0.00% 7
Nevada 0 2 0.00% 2
Orange 3 18 14.29% 21
Placer 2 4 33.33% 6
Plumas 0 1 0.00% 1
Riverside 4 20 16.67% 24
Sacramento 4 5 44.44% 9
San Benito 0 4 0.00% 4
San Bernardino 1 9 10.00% 10
San Diego 4 37 9.76% 41
San Francisco 0 5 0.00% 5
San Joaquin 1 8 11.11% 9
San Luis Obispo 1 11 8.33% 12
San Mateo 3 23 11.54% 26
Santa Barbara 0 12 0.00% 12
Santa Clara 3 28 9.68% 31
Santa Cruz 0 12 0.00% 12
Shasta 0 3 0.00% 3
Siskiyou 0 9 0.00% 9
Solano 2 4 33.33% 6
Sonoma 2 15 11.76% 17
Stanislaus 5 6 45.45% 11
Sutter 0 1 0.00% 1
Tehama 1 2 33.33% 3
Tulare 0 8 0.00% 8
Tuolumne 1 1 50.00% 2
Ventura 2 15 11.76% 17
Yolo 0 1 0.00% 1
Yuba 0 1 0.00% 1
Total: 71 464 13.27% 535
All Taxes: 49 339 12.63% 388
School Taxes: 1 126 0.79% 127
Percentage Conforming
County Yes No % Measures
Calaveras 3 2 60.00% 5
Tuolumne 1 1 50.00% 2
Marin 8 9 47.06% 17
Stanislaus 5 6 45.45% 11
Sacramento 4 5 44.44% 9
El Dorado 6 8 42.86% 14
Placer 2 4 33.33% 6
Solano 2 4 33.33% 6
Tehama 1 2 33.33% 3
Merced 2 5 28.57% 7
Mendocino 1 3 25.00% 4
Kern 3 10 23.08% 13
Alameda 6 22 21.43% 28
Riverside 4 20 16.67% 24
Orange 3 18 14.29% 21
Sonoma 2 15 11.76% 17
Ventura 2 15 11.76% 17
San Mateo 3 23 11.54% 26
San Joaquin 1 8 11.11% 9
San Bernardino 1 9 10.00% 10
San Diego 4 37 9.76% 41
Santa Clara 3 28 9.68% 31
Monterey 1 11 8.33% 12
San Luis Obispo 1 11 8.33% 12
Fresno 1 13 7.14% 14
Los Angeles 1 47 2.08% 48
Contra Costa 0 13 0.00% 13
Santa Barbara 0 12 0.00% 12
Santa Cruz 0 12 0.00% 12
Imperial 0 10 0.00% 10
Butte 0 9 0.00% 9
Siskiyou 0 9 0.00% 9
Humboldt 0 8 0.00% 8
Tulare 0 8 0.00% 8
Napa 0 7 0.00% 7
Lake 0 5 0.00% 5
San Francisco 0 5 0.00% 5
San Benito 0 4 0.00% 4
Glenn 0 3 0.00% 3
Modoc 0 3 0.00% 3
Shasta 0 3 0.00% 3
Del Norte 0 2 0.00% 2
Kings 0 2 0.00% 2
Madera 0 2 0.00% 2
Nevada 0 2 0.00% 2
Alpine 0 1 0.00% 1
Amador 0 1 0.00% 1
Lassen 0 1 0.00% 1
Mariposa 0 1 0.00% 1
Mono 0 1 0.00% 1
Plumas 0 1 0.00% 1
Sutter 0 1 0.00% 1
Yolo 0 1 0.00% 1
Yuba 0 1 0.00% 1
Total: 71 464 13.27% 535
All Taxes: 49 339 12.63% 388
School Taxes: 1 126 0.79% 127

So how did some (12%) local governments follow the law (subsection (a)), which had been on the books, substantially unchanged, since January 1, 2016 as a result of AB-809 , and the super majority (88%) didn't? That one's easy. They didn't like the law. Why? Because it put the voters on notice that there was an underlying measure (legal document) to which they were consenting or objecting. But the big problem, from a marketing perspective was that it didn't give proponents the opportunity to put the spin and talking points first.

The local governments also knew that the county registrars who would print the ballots with the non-conforming ballot statement would not object. You see, the registrars bring in revenue to support their corrupt operations by charging the proponents for their services. It's a deal even Faust would be proud of.

But hey, 49 tax measures conformed, right? This article is just looking at conformity with respect to subsection (a). Of the 49 that conformed, many did not conform to subsection (c). That's especially true of general taxes which required only a simple majority to pass. Money from a general tax goes into the general fund and can be spent on anything, like pensions. So when you see a list of "critical" or "essential" government services in a general tax measure, it's put there to create prejudice in favor of the measure. That is explicitly prohibited by subsection (c).

The Good and the Ugly

To demonstrate that conforming the ballot statement to the law can be done, the City of Fort Bragg (Mendocino, Measure H) placed a sales tax on the ballot using this ballot statement.

Shall the measure to enact a three-eights (3/8th) of a cent general purpose transactions and use tax to provide the City with an estimated $623,000 per year for a limited period of fifteen years be adopted?

It conforms to subsection (a). It provides the rate of the tax, its duration, and the expected annual yield as required by subsection (b). It also gives the true purpose in an impartial manner using no argumentative language or language designed to create prejudice in favor of the measure as required by subsection (c). Bravo!

Compare that to the City of Roseville (Placer, Measure B) that creates a PERMANENT sales tax by the oblique and deceptive language, "until ended by voters." Of course, the voters would need to mount a huge campaign to gather enough signatures to end it, no doubt fought every step of the way by the city. The city threw in all the hot buttons that it learned from the taxpayer-funded political survey. At the end of the list it threw in "unrestricted general revenue." That's the key to make it a general tax (majority vote to pass) versus a special tax (two-thirds vote to pass).

Shall the measure to ensure essential City services including neighborhood police patrols, fire protection, 9-1-1 emergency response; crime suppression/investigation; street and pothole repair; libraries, parks and recreation; job creation and economic improvement programs; and unrestricted general revenue purposes by establishing a 1/2¢ Transaction and Use ("sales") tax, providing an estimated $18.4M annually, until ended by voters, with independent citizens' oversight, regular audits, no money for the state, and all funds spent locally, be adopted?

Will the city government use the money for any of that list of "essential" services? Absolutely not! It's going to pay for the salary increases and soaring pension costs that the city government has hung like an albatross around the necks of its taxpayers. Money is fungible. Just cut the funding out of one part of the budget and use it for something unpopular or controversial in another part. Then pour money from the new revenue stream into the hole. Magic! That's how the scam works.

School Measures

As its name implies, this site is focused sharply on school measures by school and community college districts. Did you see the school totals broken out? For schools, the conforming measure percentage is a staggering fraction of one percent. What's up with that? No, it's not that the California public school system is the worst in the nation -- almost, but not quite. It's the desperation of the school bonds cartel on full public display. Those measures are all property taxes having either two-thirds or 55% passage thresholds. The school bonds cartel made two attempts in this year's legislative session to repeal AB-195 -- once with the full (and I mean F-U-L-L) cooperation of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and once in a sneaky budget trailer bill. (Unbeknownst to most of you, this site was behind the ultimate failure of both of those efforts.)

What about that one outlier? The Western Placer Unified School District rolled its own Measure H, without the help of the cartel lawyers.

Subsection (a) of AB-195, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. There's also subsection (c), which is even more devastating to the liars and cheaters who write these measures. For all tax measures, there is also subsection (b), which many districts try to avoid with artfully written legalese, in other words gibberish. Then for school and college districts there are Education Code disclosures that are uniformly violated. See What Must Be Printed on the Ballot? for a detailed discussion.

Corruption: Guilty as Charged

There you have it. Statistical proof that nearly every local government in California is corrupt to its core. When it comes to taking your money by force, they pull out all the stops. There is no depth to which they will not sink when their outrageous salaries, benefits, and pensions are in jeopardy.

* Perhaps the Mercury News (Santa Clara) should stick to its own back yard. The subject of its editorial actually conformed to AB-195 subsections (a), (b), and very likely (c). The corrupt registrar in Santa Clara county, however, printed and circulated non-conforming ballot statements for a whopping 30 out of 33 (a pitiful 9.09% conforming percentage) local measures for the November 6, 2018 election.

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