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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:

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.


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

Rules were made to be broken, beaten, stomped and thrown out – is this use of city property to campaign for a tax measure?

8 Oct

This is the worst year I ever remember for illegally placed campaign signs. There are rules – even for private front yards. For example, signs are supposed to be a certain distance from the public right-of-way, but most of the signs I see all over town are located at the property line or even in the public right-of-way.

Today I found the worst violation yet – “No on Prop 6” signs posted on two prominent city lots. Signs lined the sidewalk at the city property located at the corner of Mulberry and 20th, and then down Mulberry, at the little bum park there along Little Chico Creek, two more. 

This a city owned property at the corner of Mulberry and 20th Streets.

These are the only “No on 6” signs I’ve seen posted anywhere except the Knife River Construction yard over on Skyway. These are the same signs, yard size.  Anybody seen any of these yards signs actually posted in somebody’s yard?

Attack on bridge and road safety? I feel like the taxpayers are the ones under attack here, and they’re out for blood!

I feel it’s my duty as a citizen to remove illegally posted signs, so my husband and I pulled over and removed the five signs we found. It’s an imposition – they’re heavy mil plastic mounted on heavy wire frames, they’re going to take up a lot of space in my 32 gallon trash cart. But I’ll  be watching for others, and I’ll remove those too.

I won’t accuse the city of posting the signs, but I’ll say they’ve turned a pretty blind eye to what amounts to use of public property to campaign for a tax measure. 




7 Oct

It’s pretty shocking to how far the public sector will go to protect their own interests. Throwing public money behind a political campaign, paying temporary workers to distribute campaign literature, using misinformation, we’ve seen all that from opponents of Prop 6, the gas tax increase repeal. And then the Official Voter Information Guide came out from the Secretary of State – they’ve written the title of the measure and the description in such a way as to distort the truth about this measure.


Wow, I just hope the public attention span is more than seven words long. I’m guessing the state’s research showed it’s just about exactly that. The title goes on, REQUIRES CERTAIN FUEL TAXES AND VEHICLE FEES BE APPROVED BY THE ELECTORATE, but again, I’m not sure people who have to drive to work every day on shredded roads are going to read beyond the first seven words.

In the summary it mentions that 6 repeals “a 2017 transportation law’s taxes and fees designated for road repairs and public transportation…”. Then it goes on to emphasize how much money they will pull from  transportation projects if we pass this measure, insinuating that all that money would have gone for road repairs. You have to read the whole thing – they say the money “mainly would have paid for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs.” As well as insinuates a small portion would go toward non-road related projects, when over half the money in SB 1 is designated for rail, bus, and other forms of public transportation, as well as bike lanes and bridges.

A YES vote on this measure would “reduce funding for highway and road maintenance and repairs…” – the threat – and there it is again “as well as transit programs…” as if transit programs are an afterthought.

And it implies that long time funding is being cut, when it was only instituted in January of 2018. 

There is one positive note – but again, I worry that most people won’t read through the entire title or text. The summary and the “What Your Vote Means” section do make it clear that Prop 6 will include a stipulation that new or increased state fuel and vehicle taxes would require majority approval by the voters. That’s probably the most important part of this measure. Opponents have taunted us for being cheap asses, when we pay the highest gas prices and gas tax in the country. What opponents have tried to leave out of the conversation is that this measure was passed by the legislature, without so much as a conversation among the voters. 

I wish we could have got a better conversation going on this measure. Citizens are being torn between driving on shredded roads and paying fuel prices they can’t afford. The public sector is funding the campaign against us with our own money.  It’s a racket, aimed at getting more money out of us to pay their pensions. Don’t buy the rhetoric, YES on PROP 6. 

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 6 signs and stickers available at GOP HQ, 1540 Esplanade, Chico

8 Sep

Yes on 6 signs — and !stickers! — are available at the GOP headquarters at 1540 Esplanade. Get yours now and post them proudly. We want to let the governor know, we’re sick of paying more for nothing.


Look at your checkbook/credit card – how much has SB 1 (the gas tax increase) cost you since January? What have you got to show for it?

20 Aug

Watching the Yes on Prop 6 (roll back the gas tax increase) commercial, I was reminded some revenues from SB 1 (the gas tax increase) will not be used to fix our roads. I’d already read one analysis of SB 1 that reported roughly half the funding would be used for projects like bicycle lanes and public transportation projects. Looking for more information about how our state gas and vehicle taxes are divvied up, I found the Overview of the 2017 Transportation Funding Package.

About half our gas and car revenues – $400 million – go toward fixing state bridges and culverts – a report a few years ago listed an outrageous number of bridges all over the state that had been let go to the point of being unsafe, after years of neglect. While that seems appropriate, we have to wonder what else is going to pot while they’re concentrating on bridges and culverts.

But  it’s true, the other biggest chunk – about $300 million – goes into “self-help” counties and “active transportation.” “Self-help” is a weird way of saying, county owned public transportation lines. “Active transportation” makes a little more sense – any form of “self-propelled” transportation. So, they mean, bus and train lines, and bicycle lanes. 

I sat in on a meeting of various local agencies a few months back, a group of people plotting to get state and federal money for bus and train lines to nowhere, that weren’t even projected to have a 40 percent return in fares. This year we also saw grant funding being used for a questionable “experiment” pitting bike riders against people trying to park their cars Downtown. Do you really think it costs $350,000 to paint a white strip on the street? No, most of the money got allocated into paying salaries and pensions Downtown. 

The rest of the gas tax and vehicle fees pot is split up – $25 million for freeway patrols, $25 more for local planning  grants, $7 million for university research  and then $5 million in workforce development. You can use your imagination to figure out how they will spend those funds, I’m sure they will!

Okay here’s the sticker. I want you to rub this one in good.  At the bottom of the chart, there’s a box titled “Remaining Funds” – that would be, what’s left after they extract all that above from the roughly $1 billion they expect to generate annually in gas tax and car registration fees. I think that’s $300 million, read the report and do your own math.  That would be split 50/50 between “Highway maintenance/rehabilitation” and “Local streets and roads maintenance/ rehabilitation.”

Did you watch the commercial from Jerry Brown’s people? They insinuate they will use the tax increase to fix potholes and other road hazards, to prevent serious accidents. But less than half of the money will go in that direction. Less than a third. 

You can look for more information yourselves, the context of California SB 1 is available on line, you can read for yourselves – essentially, they’re strong-arming money out of us to force us to pay for bike lanes and public transportation that are not supported by the majority of the population.  We pay, but we still drive on roads that are voiding the warranty on our tires, and according to the NO on 6 people, causing horrific accidents. Their campaign is misleading. You have to ask yourself, look at your credit cards – how much has SB 1 cost you since January 2018, and what have you got in return?