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So you thought we dumped the king in ’76?

1 Jul

Already July!  Fourth of July travelers are on the highway – I wonder if they noticed, the gas tax went up today. 

Something nobody seemed to get about SB 1 – the gas tax increase instituted by the state legislature in January 2018 – is that it allows the legislature to raise it at will, no input from the voters. 

Honey, that’s called TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. 

It could get worse – in May, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 was ordered for a third reading, not yet scheduled.  ACA1 lowers the voter threshold for [the following italicized portions have been added to the original text] “Bonded indebtedness incurred by a city, county, or city and county city and county, or special district for the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of public infrastructure or infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing for persons at risk of chronic homelessness, including persons with mental illness, or the acquisition or lease of real property for public infrastructure or infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing for persons at risk of chronic homelessness, including persons with mental illness, ”  from 2/3’s to 55 percent voter approval.  

Why? Because it was hard to get 2/3’s approval from the taxpayers. So they are changing the rule. What kind of crap is that? Should the legislature be able to just change the constitution without a vote of the people?

Furthermore, do you really think it’s okay for 55 people to tell the other 45 that they must pay a tax for programs they don’t want to support? I think that’s mob rule, and it’s divisive. A community should agree on stuff, not be subject to the loudest bullies in the group. 

Here’s the text of ACA 1

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200ACA1

The bar at the top of the page includes the history of the bill, current status (waiting for a third reading), and who voted how. So far it’s been through the Assembly Local Government Committee, and the Assembly Appropriations Committee. I don’t know where it goes next, but I’m watching this page. 

So, this week, when you are trying to enjoy various events, try to remember why we celebrate this holiday. Do some homework, learn something about the process by which they steal your money and ruin your community. 

I’ll tell you what my family did to start the week off right – we watched “Vice”, the 2018 movie about Dick Cheney. Sure, it’s silly and fantastic in places, but it tells, factually, how our government works, and why we have to be on top of our politicians. 

And then we watched the Nixon movie, “Dick,”  which is the best telling of the Watergate story I have ever seen.  I was 12 years old when the Watergate story broke in the newspapers, I remember that was the first time my parents didn’t know all the answers. People were stunned, because they knew nothing about how much power the president really had.  They thought we dumped the king back in ’76, but they were wrong.

Happy Independence Day Everybody!

 

 

Dan Walters: illegal use of taxpayer money continues to be a problem “because local prosecutors and the state attorney general’s office ignore complaints about its illegality”

6 Jan

I’m not alone in my complaints about misuse of taxpayer funds to run tax increase campaigns – here’s what Dan Walters has to say about it:

https://calmatters.org/articles/commentary/finally-a-crackdown-on-misuse-of-taxpayer-money/

Here’s something the city of Chico and CARD have both done.

“Local governments hire “consultants” to poll voters on what tax and bond measures they would find acceptable, to draft those proposals accordingly and, finally, to run so-called “information” campaigns to persuade voters to approve them.

It’s so blatant that firms seeking lucrative contracts openly boast of their successful campaigns, eliminating any doubt that they are truly political operatives.”

I’ve sat at meetings listening to these consultants, all they talk about is how to get the public to pass revenue measures. I’ve seen their websites, bragging that they can pass tax measures.  Sit in on a meeting sometime – and then look around the room and add up the staff salaries. That’s spending of taxpayer money to promote a tax measure, it’s right in front of our faces, like that big elephant that just took a giant dump on your carpet. 

Furthermore, Walters says, “The practice has ballooned because local prosecutors and the state attorney general’s office ignore complaints about its illegality. Indeed, local district attorneys often benefit from the higher taxes.”

Didn’t I just say that in my last post – theButte County DA and all his hangers on benefit from every tax measure that comes around the pike – it just perpetuates the salaries and pensions. He’s not going to answer a complaint from a citizen – we are forced to take our gripes to state agencies. 

I told you about the complaint that Yuba County citizens took to the FPPC with the help of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. They charge that a recent tax measure passed in Yuba County, Measure K, was passed illegally with only 54 percent, when it was written as a special tax requiring 2/3’s voter approval.  Another Yuba County citizen, Territorial Dispatch contributor Lou Binninger, has taken up the issue of the use of taxpayer funds to promote the measure. 

Unfortunately the FPPC (all on public salaries and benefits) has sent back Binninger’s complaint, saying he needs “evidence.” 

We all need to use our eyes and ears people, because nobody is going to come riding in to save us.

 

Get your pension debt off my back Governor Brown! Yes on Prop 6!

2 Oct

Having seen commercials made by opponents of Prop 6 – the gas tax increase repeal – I was getting sick of the big money scare campaign. They are point blank threatening that if we repeal SB 1 we will die on the roads!  They won’t fix our roads, but will go on pilfering the taxes we pay for their salaries and benefits, and of course their gaping pension deficit. I can’t remember the figure I saw for the State’s pension deficit, but here we have a city of about 90,000 people with a deficit of over $180 million. Chico Recreation District, with less than 35 full-time employees, has racked up over $2 million.  So you can just imagine what the state is carrying, like a big tumor.

I haven’t seen any Yes on 6 commercials on our local tv stations, but the Repeal California folks sent me the following:

Watch the video

Yeah, I know, it’s actors. But it sums up my feelings about this tax increase – it hits hardest in homes that can’t afford it. 

People think I’m rich because I own rentals – one of the oldest myths around. I just got the property tax bill for my family’s home in Chico, where we also have a rental. Because my family fixed up two crappers on that property, meaning, brought them back from condemnation, replacing roofing, siding, floors and other stuff that is not exactly a luxury, our tax bill was jacked up by about $3,000 a year. The county assessor waited two years for a new subdivision down the street to build out, and then he used those $500,000 plus houses as comps for my house instead of using the much more comparable houses right next door.

So we’re screwed. Every year my family scrambles to come up with $6,000 in taxes, for one property. A 70 year old farmhouse and a granny unit over the garage. $6,000/year. Every school bond feels like a knife in the back. And then there’s really stupid stuff like a mosquito district assessment – when was the last time you saw any notice of BCMVCD spraying in Chico? 

So the actors in that commercial are speaking for me. Every time I have to buy a can of gas to mow lawns I pay that fucking extra tax. My kids both work minimum wage jobs that require a car, so they are screwed to. Look at the young people around you, just trying to make it out there, and imagine that yoke on their back. 

Which, by the way, was hung on us by the legislature after Jerry The Moonbeam Brown told us he would not pass any more taxes without voter approval.

 

YES ON PROP 6: Californians pay the second highest gas tax in the US, while driving on the fifth worst roads

16 Aug

Here’s the first YES on Prop 6 tv ad. Prop 6 repeals SB 1, the recent legislative increase in our gas tax and car registration fees.

 

Some points I’d like to make:

The ad says the typical family will pay $779.28 more taxes per year under SB 1. That figure does not take into account the effect this increase has on everything that arrives on a truck – from groceries to tooth paste and shampoo to clothes, shoes and school supplies for your kids. Neither does it include the effect this increase will have on services like public utilities, medical, day care, you name it. 

Before SB 1 went into effect last January, California had the ninth highest gas tax in 50 states. Now, according to 24/7 Wall Street (  https://247wallst.com/special-report/2018/01/26/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-gas-taxes-6/   ), we have the second highest gas tax in the nation, at 53 cents a gallon.   24/7 Wall Street quotes  the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Report Card For America’s Infrastructure  –  “the percentage of roadway in sub-optimal condition is 28.5% – the fifth highest in the nation.” In other words, we pay the second highest gas  tax but have the fifth worst roads in the entire United States.   

Think people, read that again – the threats Jerry Brown and his fellow pensioners are making about roads going unrepaired mean nothing.   We’ve already suffered some of the worst roads in the nation while paying some of the highest taxes, how much worse can it get? 

Here’s where the money has gone, and will continue to go, like kipple into a black hole – California now has over $1 TRILLION in unfunded pension liabilities. They know we won’t pay them outright, so they try everything under the sun to trick us into raising taxes for funds that can be pilfered later through allocation. Promises haven’t worked, so now Brown is threatening. Look at the visuals – I’m hearing, “Pay or Die”. 

The ads Brown is running are paid for with public money, including conscripted union dues from agencies like California Highway Patrol. They’re breaking the law, using taxpayer money to run ads for a tax increase campaign, that’s desperate. 

Write letters, tell your friends, it’s YES ON PROP 6. 

 

 

 

Is City of Chico using taxpayer funds to promote gas tax?

28 Jul

Where have I been? Writing a letter to the editor about the gas tax repeal, Proposition 6.

Supporters of Prop 6, the gas and registration tax repeal,  charge the State of California with improper use of taxpayer  funds to fight the  measure. Signs costing as much as $1000 each are posted at road work sites, touting funding from the gas tax – SB  1.

Under California Government code, officials cannot spend taxpayer money  “..to support or oppose the approval or rejection of a ballot measure”. Yet, on the taxpayer funded city of Chico website, the Annual Road and Rehab report proclaims, “Rehabilitation of Cohasset Road is the City’s first major roadway maintenance project funded with State allocated Senate Bill 1 (SB1)…The community’s gas tax and franchise fee dollars are at work to fix Chico’s local streets and roads.”

The job will also take funds from the garbage tax.

Over $1.5 million for a scrape and patch of one road. How does the street in front of your house look?

The city of Chico is using tax dollars that should go into fixing our neighborhood streets to promote more taxes – using your money to stick you for more.  Are you happy paying more to register and gas your car while driving over potholes that void the warranty on your tires?

Are you happy that while your street goes unmaintained, city management continues to receive salaries in excess of $200,000/year, while paying less than 10 percent of their pension?

Vote yes on Prop 6, repeal SB 1, the gas tax.

The Reform California people and their lawyers have called out the state on improper and illegal use of funds, and that effort is a strain on their  funding. Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown, using his influence as a public official,  has raised over $15 million for ads against Prop 6. If you have a few bucks to spare you can help Reform California with a contribution.  I can’t give you the link because of WordPress rules, but you can find it at the Reform California website. 

Better yet, write your own letter to the editor. How much has the gas tax added to your cost of living – not just gas and registration for your car, but groceries, all your retail items, including the shipping charges for your online purchases. Look over your bills – your utilities have gone up too. The squeeze in on, and it’s all about the CalPERS deficit. 

Like Ralph Nader said, turn on to politics, before politics turn on you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Walters: state budget full of transportation “boondoggles” – here’s a local example

13 Jul

Here is yesterday’s column from Dan Walters, describing a state transportation agency that has millions in budget but provides NO benefits to taxpayers.

https://calmatters.org/articles/commentary/legislature-may-erase-embarrassing-boondoggle/

A few months ago I wrote a post about the rail agency he mentions, which is working with the local agency, BCAG (Butte County Association of governments) to land grant funding.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2018/01/23/bcag-proposes-spending-millions-for-bus-lines-that-are-predicted-to-have-a-40-percent-return-on-fares-how-about-fixing-our-streets/

This is an example of what really happens with SB1 funds. Repeal SB1, repeal the gas tax, repeal the misuse of our tax dollars.

YES ON PROP 6.

Gas tax repeal makes the ballot – now the real work begins!

2 May

I  got a note yesterday from the gas tax repeal campaign staff.

“Yesterday was outstanding as we turned in nearly 1 million signatures to force the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative on the November 2018 ballot! “

Of course, Governor Brown is not pleased – have you ever noticed, how Trump-like he gets at times with the potty mouth? Last year, annoyed by not one but two attempts at repeal, The Moonbeam made this comment.

“The freeloaders—I’ve had enough of them,” Brown announced in Orange County earlier this month. “Roads require money to fix.” Without an increase in the gas tax, he argued, Californians might have to drive on gravel.”

Oh my god – freeloader? Would he say that to my face?  I know the truth.

From reason.com, “Brown’s state already has the seventh highest gas taxes in the nation, and that money pays for much more than road repair. About $100 million of gas tax revenue—2 percent of the total—is diverted straight into the general fund every year, and another 7 percent goes to public transit.”

If you don’t believe in Agenda 21, ask yourself – why should people who drive cars pay for public transit? Millions of dollars a year goes into public transit in California – how about the BART train that just broke on it’s first day? – and public transit is still unusable for most Californians? Because most of the money goes into bureaucrats’ back pockets. 

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/BART-s-brand-new-cars-take-another-trip-to-the-12549936.php

Read that – when Chronicle Staff asked what kind of problems the trains were having, BART staff said, “You have our response…” Don’t you love that Caleeforneeya Sunshine!

Here’s what that woman gets paid to treat the public like garbage:

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/PositionDetail.aspx?employeeid=18046298

And here’s what you see when you use public transportation in California (this is from a UK new service but I found other related stories in US press sources):

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5665041/Shocking-footage-shows-junkies-taking-San-Francisco-BART-station.html

In Chico, like everywhere else, gas tax funds are diverted to pay salaries and pension premiums for people who never even get their hands dirty. Using the process of “cost allocation,” the gas tax is spread out and divvied up, used to pay a staffer just for putting a signature on a report – meet Mark Orme, City Mangler – that’s how he gets paid. He does nothing toward fixing your roads, he spends his days in meetings wearing fresh white shirts. But every time he signs a staff report, he gets money out of the gas tax and other road funds.  As our gas tax is “allocated” into his pension, we drive on gravel. 

This gas tax allows for much of the money to be given to cities to spend at their discretion. Right now, instead of fixing roads for us to drive our heavily taxed cars on, the city is going on a bike land bender. These projects – like the “experimental” bike lanes recently painted on Downtown streets – cost a fraction of the grant, the rest goes into Gustafson and Ottoboni and Orme’s back pockets. 

So, we will have to get busy working to get the initiative passed. Of course the repeal folks need and are asking for money – I don’t have much to give, I don’t think you do either. What can you do? Tell friends, and write letters to the editors of the local papers. 

 We need to keep this repeal effort in people’s minds all the way to November. Start writing letters about how this gas tax has and will effect you. I’ve noticed the prices at the grocery store have already gone up – list items you buy regularly and how much they’ve gone up. Talk about what you’ve had to cut back on to get to work – it’s getting hard to find things to cut back on, isn’t it? Talk about your most recent car registration – how much did they gouge you for? Talk about the streets around your house and the roads you take to work – have they gotten better, or worse, as state and local taxes have gotten higher and higher?

Write now, because about two months ahead of the election, David Little will announce he is limiting us to one political letter, and I mean, that’s it. Save your piece d’resistance for after he makes that announcement. Write regularly, try to sink one every month or so. Talk about a different aspect of how this tax has affected you personally. Talk to your friends, get some more ammo from them.

And come here to chatter it up, then put a link to the blog in your letters – that’s chicotaxpayers.com

And, if you can afford to chuck a few bucks at the repeal folks, I’m sure they will put it to better use than the gas tax. Here’s that link with my regards:

 

Can you to help with a contribution for the campaign TODAY to pass the Gas Tax Repeal? Here’s the secure link