Tag Archives: No cell phone tax

A real “grass roots” endeavor

20 Oct

I remember way back when Casey Aplanalp contacted me via my “Ad Hoc” blog in the Enterprise Record, asking me if I would like to form some kind of group to oppose Tom Lando’s proposed sales tax increase.  We talked it over and came up with the name “Chico Taxpayers Association,” and an “organization” was born.  I started this blog on word press, and yakked it up, and before you know it, we had a group of the “usual suspects” – people who had very little in common except their compulsive curiosity about government spending and intuitive suspicion toward tax increases. We’ve carried on with regular First Sunday meetings, same place, various times, trying to get the public to pay attention what we consider to be EVERYBODY’S BUSINESS.  

We found no support in this community for a sales tax increase, in fact, we heard from many people who were angry about it.  I think we added to the pressure that forced Lando to take a “break” from his tax-raising activities, obviously hoping that public sentiment will change significantly by next year, when I believe he intends to ask council for a special election. 

But we couldn’t let up at that point, because Ann Schwab had already introduced her cell phone tax, eventually Measure J, and it seemed like a “no-brainer” to re-tool our little weed-whacker to oppose this obvious G-snatch. 

We have no registered PAC, no officers, we collect no money, and we have no manifesto. We have a word press site, and a regular standing date at the library. 

According to wikipedia,  “A grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a political movement) is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures.”

Well, I’d say, we’re about as “grassroots” as it gets. 

And then there’s the opposition – led by our mayor, Ann Schwab. I’d say, a woman who’s been sitting on council since 2004, mayor since 2008, is pretty clearly a “power structure.” Of course, city council is supposed to be a non-partisan body, but try telling that to Bob Mulhullond, the guy who kept his own wife in a “non-partisan” office for 30 years! There’s nothing “spontaneous” about these people  – you can always expect an ugly letter from Steve Troester regarding whoever the conservative front runner is. This morning he unleashed his pen on Toby Schindelbeck – how telling! And you can expect the same last-minute hit-mailer from Michael Worley, even though he got fined by the FPPC for the mailer he sent out in the last election because he put a fake name in the return address – tried to rip off Mothers Against Drunk Drivers – how low will “Miguel” sink this time? It’s anybody’s guess. 

Somebody has already trashed one of the signs I gave a neighbor, along with a Bob Evans sign. Somebody!  Welcome to Chico Elections! 

Oh well, I will say, it has no effect on my enthusiasm. Today I spent an hour at the library, sitting in the lobby with some signs and my sample ballot. The library was busy as usual, I’d say, two or three people came in that door every ten minutes. I had a couple of good conversations – the usual reaction – people are surprised to find out about the tax. It’s not like anybody’s advertising it. You don’t see any “Yes on J” signs around town, do you? The sample ballot was only delivered Tuesday, I wonder, has anybody read it? This morning my husband and I drove out around town, covering the east-south corridor from mid-town out toward Doe Mill and then over to Chapmantown. Most of the people we spoke to had not heard of Measure J, had not had a chance to look over their sample ballot. I worry that people will not have a  chance to look at the text of this measure until they are standing in the voting booth, so I’m out there, and I’m saying something. 

I’m telling people, read your sample ballot, you’re likely to find all kinds of outrageous stuff! 

 

 

Get those letters in to the ER – but remember, you only get one “election related” letter before November 6.

19 Sep

I think David Little makes a big mistake every year when he tries to limit people to one “election related letter” after Labor Day.  Instead of creating a discourse over a period of months, he gets a last minute bullshit storm. 

Right now, nobody is writing, because they want to get that last word in. That’s what happens. In the last few weeks, after about October 5, it will be standing room only. 

In future I wish Little would start encouraging discussion as soon as the candidates and the measures start popping up in the spring. The state ballot measures were posted way back in March or April. And the local ballot measures, like the cell phone tax, have been in the works since last spring too. But you don’t read anything in the ER or the News & Review until the last few weeks. That last minute scramble is never the best atmosphere for considering a ballot measure. 

But, if you have a mind to write a letter to the ER, it’s wide open. 

NO on Measure J – No Cell Phone Tax!

17 Sep

It’s always good to listen to people who disagree with you.  If you know what they are thinking, you can oftentimes get them to listen to your point of view, and maybe change their minds.

Sometimes it’s a simple matter of correcting misinformation. For example, the promoters of the new cell phone tax, City of Chico Measure J, are telling people the measure will  lower their taxes. Of course this is not true, but if we don’t step out there and make that clear, people may believe it. We need to make sure people know – the tax is being expanded to forms of electronic communication, like cell phones and pagers, that were not legally taxed before.

Something our opponents are telling us here is  they know people feel overtaxed. They are trying to trick people into voting for this tax increase, they’re telling them it will lower their taxes.  We need to tell people the truth – their cell phone bill will go up!

We also need to remind them, the tax can be further expanded – this measure allows the Finance Director to add any new forms of electronic communication that may be introduced to the consumer, at any time in the future, without voter approval. And, by the way, the tax rate can be raised by vote of council, again, without voter approval.

Finally, we need to ” de-bunk the bunk”, to borrow from an old blog-mate (who, by the way, currently receives over $149,000 per year  in pension). Measure J proponents are using the same old tactic – they are holding “public safety” up like a baby and threatening to throw the baby out the window if they don’t get this tax increase. According to Ann Schwab’s argument in favor,  failure to pass this tax increase “will result in reduced police and fire services, road maintenance and park funds. “ She’s  threatening to throw all my babies out the window, I just can’t believe that woman, Good Gravy,  she’s a  mean one.

Of course we need a competent and adequate staff, public safety and otherwise. But there is nothing in the text of this measure that guarantees we’ll get that. The revenues from Measure J will go into the General Fund, from which they can be spent at the discretion of council, on anything from Spirit Flags to the unmet pension obligations left to us by the CalPERS disaster.

It is a simple thing to tear down this measure, because it’s a bad idea. It is a matter of speaking up and telling people what’s happening. Write those letters – I hope you will find the above points helpful, but I’m sure you have plenty to say for yourselves.