Good news over Yuba County Measure K suit?

28 Aug

Here’s some good news (I hope) from Connie about the lawsuit over Yuba County’s deceptive Measure K.  Plaintiffs charge that Yuba County officials campaigned to spend the money on public safety, which should have made it a “special tax,” requiring 2/3’s voter approval. But they put it on the ballot as a general measure, which barely  got simple majority approval. 

I’m no lawyer, but it sounds like the judge is somewhat in agreement with the plaintiffs. I’ll keep you posted.

We are sharing a post from Yuba Vision’s facebook site about the Measure K hearing yesterday. It gives a little more detail about the hearing.

Again, we are thankful that the Howard Jarvis Tax Association and Attorney Brian Hildreth have challenged Measure K.

Yuba Vision

“ARE ALL ESSENTIAL SERVICES ESSENTIAL?”

At yesterday’s court hearing about invalidating Measure K, Judge Steven Berrier opened with two “tentative thoughts”:

– Measure K is a special tax
– Materials (campaign) support public safety

And, with these two statements, most of the hearing saw the attorney representing Yuba County defending Measure K.

As a refresher, Measure K was on last November’s ballot. It was for a 1% sales tax increase in the unincorporated areas of Yuba County. It was placed on the ballot requiring a simple majority vote measure (50% + 1) for passage. The County campaigned it as a “special tax” revenue stream that would be used primarily for public safety, i.e., Sheriff, fire, DA, jail, etc. A special tax actually requires a 2/3 majority vote for passage. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed suit against the County saying that Measure K was a special tax and it should have been on the ballot as such. They are seeking to invalidate it. The County has since back-peddled now saying Measure K was always meant for general fund purposes, meaning that it can be used for anything, from CalPERS payments to painting park benches.

It was a lively debate with very pointed questions made by Judge Berrier. There was one topic, the actual phrase from the measure, “and essential services,” that received the most attention. If you recall, this phrase was tacked on at the end of the Measure’s description, right after a listing of several public safety services. Judge Barrier challenged the County’s thinking about the phrase and asked a very revealing question, “Why didn’t the County use, “and general fund use,” at the end (of the Measure’s description)?” The County’s attorney had a hard time answering this question and argued that “essential services” is what infers the broader applications of Measure K. The Howard Jarvis attorney argued this phrase is what reigns it in focusing only on public safety services. The County attorney relied on dictionary definitions and felt the court should not focus on the phrase in isolation. Judge Barrier continued to ask more questions about the phrase, as well as the intentions of the pro-Measure K campaign materials.

The Judge’s primary question about the campaign to the County was, “The ‘campaign’ was exclusively about public safety…Should that be ignored?” The County’s attorney had a short response, “Yes.” Many in the audience softly shook their heads in disbelief.

The County’s attorney also employed a controversial circular argument saying that those who voted “no” on Measure K knew that it was a tax for general use, so therefore, Measure K was believed to be a general tax by everyone.

By the end of the hearing, it felt that Judge Barrier was leaning in favor of invalidating Measure K, but his written ruling will be his final decision. There was also strong indication by the Judge that the entire case will end up in appeal, no matter his ruling….More time and money, folks. Meanwhile, Measure K sales taxes continue to be collected and put into a holding account until this entire legal mess is resolved.

Keep Yuba County Honest and Transparent

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