Tag Archives: No on Measure J

Casey Aplanalp: Measure J “aims to sanctify years of theft”

3 Nov

From CTA member Casey Aplanalp:

Measure J is a devious attempt to legitimize the taxation on our cell phones that is currently not authorized. The City has been pilfering these monies for over a decade, last year taking in $900,000 alone. This is illegal, but if Measure J passes it will be as if we voted for these additional taxes years ago. It aims to sanctify years of theft, and to continue doing so.
Not only does Measure J allow for cell phone taxes, it goes to include any and all technical modes of communication now and in the future, broadening the tax base. Furthermore, it would give the power to increase taxes to the City Finance director, bypassing voter approval. This is taxation without representation, and circumvents the democratic process. 
Supporters of Measure J call it a tax rate decrease while also claiming, incredibly, it to be revenue neutral. Supporters also claim it merely updates the verbiage, another lie. Of course, supporters claim the money goes to public safety, but there is nothing specifically written in the measure to support that claim. It is spent at the whim of current bureaucrats. 
Finally, Measure J was drawn up in the hopes of preventing a massive class action lawsuit against the City for the millions of dollars it has taken in over the years. Those behind Measure J have been dishonest with the public, but that is to be expected because they’ve been caught stealing from the public. Measure J deserves defeat. Vote NO on J.

 

THANKS CASEY!     And remember everybody, only you can prevent a massive takeover of our city, county, and state by the snout-nosed trough dwellers.  Don’t forget to VOTE! 

Homegrown in the North State – a citizen takes his stand against more taxes.

2 Nov

Thanks to Rick Clements for posting this sign at the corner of Eaton and Cohasset. I wanted to get my picture with it but haven’t had a chance to get out there.

We’ll have to hit the ground running

26 Oct

I’ve reserved the meeting room at the Chico library for our First Sunday meeting, November 4,  9am. I hope that’s good for everybody, let me know, I can change the time.

That of course, is only days before the election, a little too late for any strategizing on Measure J.  What I’d really like to talk about is what we’ll do after the election. I got a couple of ideas I been kicking back and forth with the fence post.

Of course, I believe our first true concern is a sales tax increase. I would bet my last five dollars that whether or not Prop 30 or Measure J pass, Tom Lando will bring forward his sales tax increase measure. He will either say, Prop 30 lost and we need the money, or Prop 30 won but we can’t trust Brown to share the proceeds from 30.  He’ll say, whether it wins or loses, that Measure J was already being spent, which is true. The city has been collecting the phone tax illegally, mainly through stooges AT&T, for years, and stands to lose millions in ill-gotten gain. Sheesh – they may even be afraid we’ll sue them for those illegal takings, like the folks of the  city of Chula Vista!

http://www.caseygerry.com/news/class-certified-chula-vista-tax-lawsuit

I honestly believe Tom Lando fully intends to ask for a special election in Spring 2013 to put a sales tax increase measure before the voters, and we need to start thinking about a serious “organized” campaign against it.

Secondly, I heard a good idea from the city of Hemet, which recently unloaded their ex-city manager on us – Brian Nakamura. Sure, they made it look like they were being ripped off, but I say, they hoodwinked us into taking the guy. Ever read “Ransom of Red Chief”?

Yeah, those Hemetians are pretty damned smart.  Two years ago, they passed some very interesting legislation in their little town, read here –

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/hemet/hemet-headlines-index/20101026-hemet-campaign-spending-increases.ece

Here are the ballotpedia pages for Measures W and X – both passed with OVER 80 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. Measure W limits terms for city elected officials, and Measure X cuts them off from city-paid  health benefits.

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Hemet_Term_Limits,_Measure_W_(November_2010)

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Hemet_Prohibition_on_Contributing_to_Cost_of_Healthcare,_Measure_X_(November_2010)

You will note, the Hemet Taxpayers’ Association put some money into these issues. We must decide, do we want to start raising and spending money?

I hope to see the usual suspects on November 4, at the library, 9am, along with some fresh newbies, willing to put their shoulder to the wheel to turn our city around.

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! 

 

 

The new buzz phrase – “budget neutral…”

16 Oct

I am really disappointed in the Chico Enterprise Record lately. I don’t know why – it’s not like the ER has ever been a great newspaper, but at least, it has  been more of a real newspaper in the past.

I don’t know where they got the gal that wrote the story on Measure J, but she needs to take a math class.

According to Miss Ashley Gebb of the Enterprise Record, “The rate change, if applied to an average cellphone bill of $50 per month would change the tax from $2.50 a month to $2.25.”

There she says, “an average cellphone bill of $50 per month…” She’s saying the average Chico cell phone bill is only $50. When I asked her about this, she said it was “an issue of semantics.  I wrote “an average phone bill” not “the average phone bill.” No, Ashley, there’s no “semantics” involved here – according to the dictionary, “average” means “constituting the result obtained by adding together several quantities and then dividing this total by the number of quantities.”  

Furthermore, she took the exact words out of Ann Schwab’s argument in favor, changing the word “the” for “an”, like she said, as if that makes some kind of difference.

She  insinuates that everybody already pays this tax. She says some carriers haven’t collected the tax – she means, only AT&T has and that’s been illegal for 30 years! 

Sorry Ashley, you wrote a propaganda piece. You didn’t bother to contact anybody in opposition of this measure. All she had to do was google “no on measure j chico ca” and the first thing that pops up is this blog.  Our blog was on the news the other night – seems like the tv news reporter went a little farther in her efforts to get the real story. Gebb’s piece comes off in favor of Measure J. I’ve run it below, pretty sloppy, but you can read it for yourself – it’s a propaganda piece, not news. 

That’s because, Dave Little wants it to pass. He believes “most” people do not pay enough taxes. He’s just bitter because his house is upside down.

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/13-Stratford-Way-Chico-CA-95973/52456465_zpid/

The house he bought in 2007 is worth over $100,000 less than he paid for it. Of course, look at the tax history – he’s managed to get the assessor to cut his taxes by almost $1,000 over the last four years. Wow, I wish he’d shake down with that information – the “average” person would be afraid to go to the assessor – he can also assess your house for MORE! But I doubt he’d pull that kind of shit with the editor of the local “newspaper.” Gee, how nice for Dave! But still, his house is overtaxed, and he’s pissed about it. He wants a baseball stadium and all these bells and whistles for his public charter school kids, so he’s allowed Tom Lando to talk him into this Measure J bullshit – yes, you know Tom Lando is behind this, Ann Schwab is too stupid to come up with it herself. 

Little sent his brand new reporter out to do a little story about Measure J – why not a more seasoned reporter? Somebody who knows what’s going on in our local politics?  Because he doesn’t want a real story, he wants Measure J to pass. 

GEBB’S STORY FROM THE ER

Telephone users tax put before Chico voters

By ASHLEY GEBB – Staff Writer
Posted: 10/15/2012 12:35:27 AM PDT
CHICO — The jumble of taxes tacked on to phone bills may go unnoticed by
many, but one that provides revenue to the city of Chico may garner a little
more attention come Nov. 6.
Measure J is asking voters whether to amend wording to the city’s telephone
users tax to encompass modern technology, while decreasing the tax rate
from 5 percent to 4.5 percent. Revenue from the telephone users tax
supports the general fund.
Since implementation of a telephone users tax in 1970, the city’s existing
ordinance, like similar ordinances statewide, defines services subject to the
tax by referencing a federal telephone tax.
As phone technology has modernized, the outdated definition is being
challenged in many cities and some phone carriers have quit collecting the
tax.
To protect against losing revenues, many cities are updating their
telecommunications user taxes through voters. Nearly all the measures
have been approved, such as one in Oroville in 2010.
“It’s not a new tax, it’s just paying attention to the fact we have different technology than we had 30 years ago,” said
Councilman Jim Walker. “It’s not like we are trying to find a windfall for the city. The way our current tax law is written,
the city stands to lose $800,000 or $900,000 in revenue because we have antiquated verbiage.”
If Chico’s measure succeeds, the tax would apply to all users of telephone communication services, including
cellphones, voice over Internet, paging, text messaging and landline
services. The tax would not apply to Internet service,
pay phones and low-income residents.
The rate change, if applied to an average cellphone
bill of $50 per month would change the tax from
$2.50 a month to $2.25.
Council members Ann Schwab, and Andy
Holcombe and Mary Goloff also support the
measure, saying it is critical to prevent loss of tax
revenue that ultimately supports police and fire
services, road maintenance and park funds.
Rejecting it, they say, could keep Chico from
remaining solvent.
The city currently receives about $1.4 million in
telephone user tax revenue a year. It is estimated
$900,000 of that comes from wireless
telecommunications providers — revenue that could
be at risk if the ordinance is not updated.
In March 2011, Metro PCS stopped paying the tax,
causing a loss of nearly $80,000.
Measure opponents state the tax is one more opportunity for the “bloated Chico bureaucracy” to get more revenue
out of its residents.
“(City) taxes on water, electricity, natural gas and phone service are bleeding Chico’s citizens and businesses dry

12 Telephone users tax put before Chico voters – Chico Enterprise Record
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“City government must tighten its belt by cutting back on nonessential programs and services.”
As for arguments the measure’s failure will cause cuts to critical city services, “isn’t that what they always say?”
Sorensen said. “It’s up to us what we cut.”
“Another problem is it’s regressive, so it hits lower-income folks harder than it does higher income because it’s a
bigger portion of their allegedly disposable income,” he added.
It also remains to be seen whether the city would lose any revenue, said Sorensen, who predicts there could be a
gain.
Councilman Scott Gruendl disagrees.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” he said. “Part of the argument in opposition to the tax measure is it’s
more taxation on the people, when in reality, the existing tax ordinance is out of date … Something that never gets
said is the fact we will be taxing cellphones — we already tax cellphones now.”
Gruendl has also heard criticism the city lowered the rate to deceptively encourage voters to support the measure.
Yes, the city wanted to incentivize people, he said, but it lowered the rate to not boost city revenue when more people
begin to be taxed.
“We wanted to be as budget neutral as possible,” he said.
Connect with Ashley Gebb at 896-7768, agebb@chicoer.com, or on Twitter @AshleyGebb

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.

Ann Schwab offers to give us a half-cent decrease in exchange for a four-and-a-half cent INCREASE!

2 Sep

City council races are supposed to be “non-partisan” – tell that to Ann Schwab. But watch it, Bob Mulhullond might move in to impale you with those over-sized scissors he used at the Grand Opening of Democratic Headquarters on Mangrove Avenue.

You’ll recognize the building, I’m sure, by the “Yes on TAXES!” signs posted out front. The Democrats have got a wish list of tax increases, starting with Jerry Brown’s statewide sales tax increase, and the Chico Democrats are on the bandwagon.

I haven’t noticed any “Yes on Measure J” signs out front of the building yet. Measure J – that’s Ann Schwab’s cell phone tax. I call it that because she promoted it and wrote the “For” argument on the ballot pamphlet, so I assume it’s her little bastard. And what an ugly baby it is!   A  4.5 percent tax to your cell phones, as well as your pager, and forms of “electronic communication” that haven’t even been introduced to the public yet. As a matter of fact, as soon as the phone companies start charging you for your Skype fix, Schwab will tax that  too.

Here’s the text of measure J, as it will appear on the November ballot:

Shall an ordinance be adopted to amend the City’s Telephone User’s Tax in order to: 1) reduce the tax rate from 5% to 4.5%   2) modernize the definition of telephone communication services subject to the tax to include new technologies such as wireless and voice over internet services  3)apply the tax to all telephone communications services regardless of the type of technology used; and 4) reflect changes to federal and state law?

I have to take this thing apart and look at it – where is that smell coming from?

Well, here, isn’t this funny – it says, first of all, “reduce the tax rate from 5% to 4.5%” – that doesn’t make sense. See, currently, there is no  tax on your cell phone, so how could Schwab be reducing it? The city charter only allows for the taxing of electricity, natural gas, water, and land lines, at 5%. The rate will stay the same on your PG&E bill and Cal Water bill – 5 percent – but she’s offering to lower it to 4.5% on old school telephones  in order to get us to agree to allow her to tax our cell phones too.  

She’s crafty, that gal, and what balls of brass she has! She’s offering a half-cent decrease on the dollar for your landline in order to get a four-and-a-half-cent INCREASE on the dollar on your cell phone. Read that again, and then page me.

I just googled this “fact” – about 30 percent of U.S. households have dumped their land lines, as of February 2012. You can take that or leave it, or google it for yourself. I would say, that’s understated – only one of my friends has a landline, that I know of. I’m guessing a few more that I have never discussed it with. But alot of my friends, and all of my tenants, are going wireless, and loving it. Little did they know, silly rabbits, that the bunny bopper was heading for town.

I’d guess a lot of the existing landlines are for businesses, and that probably won’t change any time soon. I wonder how much a half-cent decrease would amount to for the average business? How would it stand up to the extra 4.5 cents on the dollar they would pay for their cell phones, pagers, and “voice over internet protocol”?

So much for “reduce the tax rate…”

Next we see how the city attorney uses the word “modernize” to mean, “tax something that has never been taxed before.”  Here’s where this measure enables $taff to extend this tax, at their discretion, to “ to include new technologies such as wireless and voice over internet services “.  As Mark Sorensen puts it, “to include all and any new forms of electronic communication, now or in the future…” 

I don’t know if you’ve been following this:

https://chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/hennessy-is-using-city-funds-like-walnut-shells-to-hide-and-move-money/

but I’ve got a problem with allowing a person who won’t give us a straight accounting of what she’s doing with our money any further discretion to take MORE of our money.

So much for “modernization.”

The next part of the measure seems harmless enough until you read Schwab’s “Argument For,”  which I posted here:

https://chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/ann-schwabs-argument-in-favor-of-measure-j-to-protect-against-the-risk-of-losing-illegally-collected-tax-revenues/

The measure says, “apply the tax to all telephone communications services regardless of the type of technology used”.    But Schwab injects something more into it – “ ensure that all users of communication services are treated the same,” insinuating that some of us are getting away with something.  She’s trying to pit the land line users against the cell phone users. Hopefully, that tack will turn around to bite her on the ass – I’m guessing, the majority of landline users are also cell phone users, and I think I covered that pretty thoroughly already. Why would you allow yourself to be hookwinked that way by a woman who runs her fiscal house like a betting parlor? 

And that knocks “let’s be fair – let’s screw everybody!” out of the ballpark.

Finally, she reminds us that this measure is the result of a court decision stating that many California cities, including Chico, have been taking a tax off your cell phone illegally. Our city charter, like those of cities up and down the state,  had adopted the standard language of the “telecommunications tax” over 20  years ago, before cell phones were widely available to the general public. The original ordinance, which still sits on the books Downtown, only allows for the taxation of land lines. But the city has been collecting the cell phone tax off of willing providers, like AT&T,  all these years. At the maximum rate allowed by city charter – five percent. 

In the Southern California town of Chula Vista, city $taff undertook a similar scam, described by one attorney as “a failed attempt to retroactively authorize UUTs” . The voters not only overturned their Measure H, but are currently undertaking a class action suit to demand return of the money, taken illegally by their city staff. Unbelievably, as of this time last year, the city of Chula Vista was still collecting the illegal tax, even after the voters overturned their “modernization” measure and mounted a lawsuit. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in January of 2013. 

Please tell your friends and neighbors about this taking. How many of us can afford to shell out more money for city staff and their outrageous salaries? Why are we paying the “employee share” of their benefits? Why are we paying one staffer over $85,000 a year plus benefits to foist a bag ban on our local grocery stores? Can we really afford to have Lori Barker, at over $200,000 a year, writing an unenforceable smoking ban? 

Where are the jobs? 

Please join me and the Chico Taxpayer’s Association in rejecting Measure J.