Tag Archives: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Should the city of Chico be using taxpayer money to run their tax measure?

18 Nov

According to the California Constitution, state law prohibits local agencies to use public funds, public employees, or public resources to expressly advocate the approval or rejection of a ballot measure. While the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has said they have limited jurisdiction over this matter, county district attorneys can take on an agency that violates this law.

Unfortunately our district attorney has a very poor record of upholding the laws that protect the people. Fortunately for the taxpayers, there’s the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. HJTA uses funding provided by members like you and me to take on the agencies that buck the law. But they need taxpayers like us to be on alert to these illegal activities. When the city of Chico tried to get “judicial validation” of a Pension Obligation Bond instead of putting it on the ballot, concerned Chicoans contacted HJTA – we sent a Bat Signal! – and their attorneys went into action, filing a Cease and Desist Order with a threat to sue if Chico Staffers continued on that track. I kind of held my breath, expecting City of Chico to call HJTA’s bluff and proceed. So far they seem to have abandoned that action. I realize, Chico knows that action was illegal, and the chances are very good that they would spend a bunch of money to lose in court.

Locally, HJTA has taken on both Yuba County and the Hamilton Branch Fire Protection District (near Chester) over deceptive and illegally-funded tax measure campaigns. In Yuba County, 2018, voters were asked to approve Measure K, a 1% sales tax increase for “public safety/essential services.” The language of the measure listed exclusive special purposes, and followed all code requirements for a special tax. HJTA advised the county that it was a special tax requiring a two-thirds vote, but the county ignored the law and declared it a general tax. It barely passed with 54% of the vote. The trial court sided with HJTA, declaring Measure K invalid. Unfortunately the appeals court reversed that decision and Yuba County was allowed to go on collecting their illegal tax.

In 2020, Hamilton Fire Protection District proposed Measure A, a $175 increase in the local special tax. Run as a two-thirds measure, it failed. A year later, they brought the same proposal back to the ballot. It passed with 74% of the vote. But here’s where city of Chico residents need to pay attention – the district illegally used taxpayer money to run their campaign. Their Facebook page, as well as full-page glossy color photo brochures urging voters to “please Vote YES on Measure A“, declaring it “well worth the peace of mind!

That is patently illegal. HJTA filed suit against Hamilton Branch Fire District. And like the city of Chico, the tiny district realized they were had and asked for terms of settlement. Among other points, HJTA asked for “adoption of an official written policy that would prevent such abuse in the future”.

The city of Chico is running a tax measure, it would seem logical they have to use city funds. So far they’ve hired a consultant to run the campaign.

https://chico.ca.us/request-proposalsqualifications

RFP- Revenue Measure & Communications Consultant 
The City of Chico is seeking to obtain proposals from qualified firms to advise the City Council and City staff on developing appropriate ballot language for a proposed 1% general sales tax to appear on the 2022 November general election. Additionally, consultation will be necessary on how best to educate voters on the proposed 1% general sales tax measure and the development of materials and other outreach efforts to ensure citizens receive objective and accurate information related to the ballot measure.  The City will accept proposals until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 5, 2021. Please click on “Projects to Bid” on the right to view the RFP within Public Purchase. 

This seems illegal to me but I’m no lawyer. “how best to educate voters… efforts to ensure citizens receive objective and accurate information…” There’s the important point – just exactly how do they intend to “educate” the voters? CARD’s “educational” process was deceptive. Director Ann Willmann held “public information sessions,” during which one taxpayer caught her saying the district had no debt – despite their $128 million pension deficit. The board approved the use of taxpayer money to print glossy brochures extoling their virtues, leaving out important facts about the measure, including the bond they intended to secure with the revenues. So I’ll contact HJTA to put them on alert to the city’s tax measure, if they aren’t already aware.

And I’ll add, you can be a member of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for as little as $15. Your money goes to efforts like these. They have a small legal staff to go up against huge public agencies. They could use some back-up.

Please write to Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and tell them we need their help with this illegal bond Staff is trying to shove down our throats

2 Jun

Well, the cat is out of the bag – the city of Chico is trying to foist an illegal bond on us without taking it to the ballot. Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has sued both the state of California and the SoCal town of Simi Valley and stopped them in their tracks, Simi Valley council voting unanimously to rescind their POB just last year.

Other towns have gone through with these bonds, because nobody stood in their way.

So yesterday I wrote a note to the HJTA office in Sacramento – that’s info@hjta.org I simply told them my city is taking a POB to court for approval, and asked them how I can stop that.

And I’m asking others to do same. Please write a quick email to HJTA and tell them you would like more information about stopping your city from issuing Pension Obligation Bonds. I’m afraid my little email won’t catch their attention. These people are busy with a lot of requests, we have to get on their radar if we want to get help with this illegal tax.

I also wrote an email to District 3 council member Kami Denlay, because she was the only council member to vote no when Staff brought this bond forward, telling me she thought it should go before the voters. I sent her links to the story about Simi Valley. I asked her what court Staff is taking the bond to. She responded,

I will double check the details for you this evening. When I previously asked about this I was told that legal counsel was taking it to court to check our legal ability to pursue the bond. I did not receive a lot of detail, so I will be happy to follow up and let you know what information I get.

Her response makes me suspicious – Staff is not telling council everything. They never told council about the Simi Valley case. Staff tends to treat council like children, manipulating them by omitting important facts and just plain lying. They have repeatedly denied this is a tax, denied that it will result in new debt, and refused to discuss other avenues for paying down the UAL.

I had almost given up on my own district rep, Kasey Reynolds, but I will also send this information along to her. Please send your rep an email, send them the link to the Simi Valley story. We need to nip this mess in the bud before it ends up costing any more money. They’ve already shelled out for consultants and put a $$$$ of Staff time into it. Let’s stop it before it goes any further. Here’s the Simi Valley story,

   HJTA and KABC launch “The Howard Jarvis Podcast” – “A Primer to Costly Propositions”

24 Sep

A reader sent me a news release from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and KABC AM790 have teamed up to
produce a weekly podcast featuring great conversation and insights on
issues that are important to California taxpayers.

“The Howard Jarvis Podcast” features HJTA President Jon Coupal and Vice
President of Communications Susan Shelley. Recent episodes have focused
on voter rolls and election integrity, and last-minute efforts by the
state legislature to raid the wallets of California residents. The
latest episode features “A Primer to Costly Propositions.”

CLICK HERE to listen now.

<https://hjta.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=a40c318dba8ce9a0fc951284f&id=249adaa114&e=eec6e81a5e>

The weekly shows can be played or downloaded on HJTA’s website,   www.hjta.org

<https://hjta.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=a40c318dba8ce9a0fc951284f&id=85b1b93702&e=eec6e81a5e>

and on KABC’s website at    https://www.kabc.com/the-howard-jarvis-podcast/

<https://hjta.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=a40c318dba8ce9a0fc951284f&id=b9b84ed83d&e=eec6e81a5e>.

“The Howard Jarvis Podcast” can also be found on Spotify and wherever podcasts are available.

Yes, this is a conservative organization, and the host is pretty direct in her comments – think you can handle another point of view? Sometimes it’s good to listen to somebody else, and see how their thoughts affect the way you think. Too often people are afraid that if they listen to someone with a  different take on a situation, they might be too weak in their own convictions to resist.

If you want to see more details, here’s a fairly objective site – Ballotpedia

https://ballotpedia.org/California_2020_ballot_propositions

Ballotpedia lists important stuff like the ballot measure text and arguments for and against, who supports/opposes a proposition, did it originate from a voter petition or legislative tinkering, and who’s putting how much money into it. 

When you do your own research, and you open your mind to others’ opinions, it oftentimes reinforces your views. Give it a whack.