Activist Dean Andal sends us a copy of the argument in favor of Measure A that will appear on the voter’s guide when Stockton voters decide in November whether to tax themselves.
Andal has inserted his counter-arguments. They appear in italics.
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF MEASURE A
Measure A is an important step on Stockton’s road to recovery. The biggest obstacles facing Stockton are bankruptcy and crime. Measure A will fund our bankruptcy exit plan
There is no “bankruptcy exit plan.” The proposed plan of adjustment has not even been submitted to the the Bankruptcy Court and then will be subjected to at least a year of litigation. Since the voters can’t even review the proposed plan to see if it is financially sound, why would they vote for this?
so we can attract employers that will invest in Stockton and create jobs.
Long before the City entered Bankruptcy because of foolish borrowing and employee compensation decisions, Stockton had difficulty attracting jobs. Certainly the highest utility tax in the Central Valley is one cause. This measure would add to that burden by saddling us with the highest sales tax rate in California. Measure A will harm job growth.
It will also fund our new “Marshall Plan on Crime,” which was developed by community leaders.
Nothing in Measure A requires this City Council or any in the future to spend the money on police officers. Because pension costs are out of control, Measure A revenue would have to be spent on those costs, not police officers.
Transparency and accountability are crucial elements of Measure A, including separate accounting and independent audits. A Citizens Oversight Committee will review all budgets and expenses to ensure money is used appropriately
The Citizens Oversight Committee will be appointed by the City Council. So the City Council gets to appoint their own oversight committee (and can un-appoint them if they are getting the wrong feedback).
and make certain progress is being made toward hiring 120 police officers, violence reduction, prevention, and neighborhood improvement programs.
Notice the weasel words “make certain progress is being made.” This does not translate into hiring 120 police officers. If they hire but one police officer, that would be progress. The rest will be wasted.
This three-quarter cent sales tax will end if the City’s revenues return to 2009 levels, adjusted for inflation, or after 10 years, unless the City Council holds 2 public hearings; develops evidence the tax is still necessary and used for the priorities established in this Measure;
In sum, the City Council could hold two public hearings, ignores what they hear from the public and continue the tax forever without the voters having any say.
and justifies to you and me that City employees are not receiving excessive pay and benefits.
There is nothing in Measure A that includes “you” in the decision making process. Once passed, the infamous Stockton City Council will spend the money on anything they want – likely including excessive pay and benefits.
Stockton is a reformed city with new leadership.
Stockton is in bankruptcy! Because the City refuses to embark on pension reform its proposed way out of bankruptcy does not work mathematically. The State Controller reported in his audit just last week that the current City administration lost $10.9 million just in the last year by not filing the proper State and Federal reimbursement forms (see, Controller Audit, pages18 (gas tax) and 31 (State/Federal Indirect costs).
In 3 years, the City has reduced its general fund budget by $51 million annually. Employee compensation is significantly reduced; free medical insurance for City retirees is eliminated, and outstanding lawsuits are resolved.
The city has many outstanding lawsuits, including a whopper – The City bankruptcy lawsuit, which has consumed over $12 milllion in legal fees so far without resolution.
We have reached agreements with most of our creditors and are in the process of restructuring our debt through bankruptcy.
One major creditor is not even listed yet – the PERS pension system representing $1.1 billion in unfunded liability. The bond holders of over $350 million in City debt have not reached agreement with the city. How does that translate into “most of our creditors.”
A YES vote means you want Stockton to exit bankruptcy, add more police officers, prevent crime, and restore our City for a sustainable future,
A Yes vote would mean that Stockton taxpayers would give the City Council $28 million a year that could be spent on anything. It is not enough money to “exit bankruptcy” and there is no approved exit plan. It will be spent on rising public pension costs, not police officers.
A NO vote means that you will endure severe reductions to services needed to sustain our City, including massive cuts to the Fire Department, libraries, recreation, youth programs, parks and streets maintenance and support for all City functions.
Since the City in Measure B promises to spend all of the Measure A money on law enforcement and debt, how could Measure A failing be responsible for any cuts in any other services listed above?
To be continued …