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Text tax dropped – what will they try next?

17 Dec

Wow, it was good to see people get their panties in a  rumple over the “text tax” – upset the lobster pot a little.

Meanwhile, according to Rueters, “protesters angry over gas taxes and the high cost of living have been blocking roads across France, impeding access to fuel depots, shopping malls and some airports.” People have been killed, I don’t know how many. An organizer complained on Deutsch Welle News that the government is leaving Parisiens like her with less money to spend, small businesses are failing as a result of both high gas prices and low sales. The French economy, she concluded, is tanking because of over taxation.  

Welcome to California. The California Public Utilities Commission, saying they want to use the money to support “low-income” programs, tried to tack another tax onto our cell service, wiggle it in among the stack of “fees” already listed in the fine print on the back of our bill. Thank goodness for the Federal Communications Commission, although, I don’t understand the ruling, I’ll take it. I don’t think they should be able to tax us by way of our utility bills, but I’m not running the circus.

And what a circus it is! Our taxes already provide transients with free cell phones, give me another straw for my camel’s back why don’t you? 

How soon we forget – I almost have. In 2012, the city of Chico tried to get the voters to approve a tax they’d been collecting illegally, a cell phone tax. Even after the tax had been declared illegal by way of a lawsuit in the 1990’s, cities all over California were still collecting it, the same man had to sue each city individually, including Chico, to make them stop collecting it. Instead of stopping collection, and refunding the money to users as is the law, current city councilor and former mayor Ann Schwab wrote a measure for the 2012 ballot to trick voters into making it legal. 

When friends and I approached voters at venues like the Chico Farmer’s Market, we were shocked to see how shocked people were about this tax – they’d never looked very closely at their bills. And you had to look very closely. So they couldn’t believe the city was actually taxing their cell phone usage, on a percentage of the total bill. They got mad pretty fast. The measure failed. The city had to give refunds. 

That scam and this recent ploy by the CPUC to tack another tax onto our phone bills reminds me – they know what’s legal and illegal, and they don’t care. They will try anything to get more revenues. Right now the city of Chico and CARD are using taxpayer money to hire consultants who conduct “surveys” and write leading ballot measures to try and trick the voters into raising their own taxes. Don’t fall for it. And write your letters to the editor now, tell them you’re not falling for it. Maybe we can save them (ourselves) the cost of another ballot measure.

 

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CARD still after their revenue measure – another consultant?

10 Dec

Today someone from the California Park and Recreation Society read several posts I’ve written here about Chico Area Recreation District’s attempt to pass a revenue measure. I followed them back to their site and they seem to be an legislative advocacy group, but I smell bond consultant.

http://www.cprs.org/p/cm/ld/fid=1

CARD has spent at least $100,000 in the last few years, on one consultant after another, trying get the public to support a revenue measure. The consultants all say the same thing.  Like the consultant that spoke at a recent city of Chico Finance Committee meeting regarding the sales tax/bond measure the city is pursuing – they need to find out what people want, and then promise it to them if they’ll only vote for the revenue measure. But the surveys are always leading – they suggest things like sports stadiums, grandiose aquatic centers.  The guy at the finance committee used an ice skating rink as an example. 

They all talk about demographics – statistical data relating to the population and particular groups within it.  Yes, they study the local voting rolls, neighborhood trends, who lives where and how they vote. And then they target those people in phone surveys. This was all explained by Bay Area consultant Ruth Bernstein at a CARD meeting I attended in 2016. 

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2016/12/20/card-plans-phone-survey-for-late-january-to-promote-new-funding-measure/

 “We know demographics.”  she said. She talked about picking and choosing who got called, using the voter roles. At one point a board member asked her if the survey would be conducted when the students were in town. She answered, “we’re not going to have a big  student turnout in 2018, so why include them in the survey?” So, she gets to decide who gets included in the survey. 

The whole thing is so deceptive – Bernstein also noted that people are generally distrustful of phone surveys, especially if they are done by out-of-towners. She complained that a lot of people use caller ID now, and won’t answer an area code they don’t recognize, so her company uses a mechanism that presents the caller-id with the local area code. 

Bernstein only surveyed 400 people, all handpicked – does that really represent our town? 

Another thing every consultant says is that it’s tough to pass these measures if there’s any opposition.   So part of their job is to snoop out the opposition. I think I felt a cold nose at my rear end today. 

 

 

 

 

Are CARD and city of Chico crossing the “fine line between legally disseminating information and illegally advocating for or against a ballot measure”?

22 Oct