Tag Archives: HJTA challenges Yuba County Measure K

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


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

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association taking Yuba County to court over fraudulent tax revenue Measure K

27 Dec

In November the voters of Yuba County barely passed Measure K, a 1 cent/.01 sales tax increase. The measure read as follows:

To maintain and protect essential services such as 9-1-1 emergency medical/fire response; improving wildland fire containment; maintaining 24-hours sheriff’s patrol; attracting/ retaining jobs, businesses, and qualified sheriff deputies; and other essential services, shall the measure to establish a 1 cent sales tax for 10 years in unincorporated Yuba County, providing an estimated $4,300,000 annually requiring accountability, citizens’ oversight/ audits, and all revenue controlled locally, be adopted?”

California law currently requires a 2/3’s vote to pass a “special tax” for revenues that will be set aside for a specific purpose. But Yuba County ran Measure K as a general measure, only requiring 51% of the vote, even while telling the voters that the money would dedicated to public safety. You’ll note, they don’t mention services such as street maintenance or library funding, but specifically mention “emergency medical/fire response, wildland fire containment, and sheriff’s patrol…” 

There is a weird section about “retaining jobs, businesses…” – I’ll say, this measure was at the very least poorly written in a direct attempt to confuse the voters. But I think the specific mention of safety services should mean it requires 2/3’s voter passage. Of course I’m not a lawyer.

Luckily the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has plenty of lawyers on staff, and a couple of vigilant Yuba County businessmen were quick to ask for help. HJTA retained a Sacramento law firm to file an action against the County of Yuba to stop the implementation of the tax. 

From Lou Binninger, at the Territorial Dispatch in Yuba County:


On Friday December 21, 2018, the Sacramento law firm of Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk filed an action in Yuba County Superior Court to invalidate Measure K – the Public Safety/Essential Services Protection Ordinance that appeared on the November 6 ballot. Measure K received 54.1% of the vote. The suit contends that the measure needed a two-thirds voter approval to become law.

The suit’s plaintiffs are Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), a nonprofit public benefit corporation comprised of over 200,000 taxpayers, Charlie Mathews, a local rice farmer and businessman, and John Mistler, former Yuba County Supervisor and owner of the Territorial Dispatch weekly newspaper. Defendants are the County of Yuba, its Supervisors, and the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

54.1% – no wonder the Yuba County Board of Supervisors  decided to cheat! They knew they could not get the required two/thirds. 

Binninger also raises the question of using public funds to run a tax measure campaign.

“The suit does not address the county’s biased media campaign or the use of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to sway voters. Measure K opponents argued that both were illegal. The California Fair Political Practices Commission has jurisdiction over where monies are derived and how they are used for a campaign.”

The city of Chico is currently using hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to mount a revenue measure campaign, not only in $taff time, but in consultants. The Chico Area Recreation District has already hired various consultants, spending over $100,000 that I know of, to put their own revenue measure on the ballot. The school district has run at least four bond campaigns using taxpayer money. 

We need to hold city of Chico and CARD staff up to the law. We need to be ready to make our own complaints to the FPPC and court. And we need to be ready to take it beyond Butte County, because the county of Butte is not likely to take such complaints seriously – they’re in the same boat with Chico!