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Archive for February 15th, 2008

On The Other Hand, I’m Not In Favor Of Measure C

Posted by drewbendon on February 15, 2008

I do favor changing the date of Piedmont elections – but we should have them in November, so I’m voting no on Measure C.

Piedmont voted a while go to change its independent election date to the current March date. The reason was to coincide with the date then used for primaries. Then, of course, they changed the primary date again to be in February, on Super Tuesday. Measure C proposes to follow the primaries to February, but who knows when they’ll change that again. What we do know is that when there is a Presidential contest, voter turnout in November can be nearly double that of the preceding primary, now in February. I don’t know what the final tally was, but they were predicting a record for voter turnout for this February’s primary. But even if 9 million voters cast votes (a new record by a long shot), that figure will only be 3/4 of a typical November election in a Presidential contest year.

One of the reasons I’ve heard advanced as to why Measure C proposes to move the election date to February, rather than June or November is that if we have a parcel tax measure on the February/March ballot and it fails, we have enough time to revise the measure in time for the November ballot (on which it presumably then passes) and the City has no concern that it won’t be able to operate. Other arguments offer that there are so many items on the November ballot that Piedmont issues will not be the priority of voters or that an excess of state bond measures or voter initiatives will dissuade voters from voting in favor of Piedmont bond measures or tax proposals. I can appreciate the pragmatism of these arguments, but I don’t find that they sufficiently justify fixing Piedmont’s elections to the primaries. And, frankly, I find them a bit insulting.

The goal of every election should be the highest possible voter participation. But we in California vote so often that Californians have “voter fatigue.” If we want to maximize the number of voters who vote on Piedmont issues, we should have our elections when voter turnout is highest, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

I know some of you out there – Barry – are in the election biz and I’d like to hear what you have to say.

Drew

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We’ll Need The Parcel Tax This Time – My Vote Is In Favor Of Measure D

Posted by drewbendon on February 15, 2008

Every four years we are asked to vote on approving a parcel tax measure.  The parcel tax provides the City with revenue that might be used to fund essential services.  Last time we were told of the dire consequences that would result if we didn’t approve the tax and as I recall we didn’t vote the original proposal in in March, but voted a modified one in in November.  This time, though, I believe that we won’t be able to sustain services at a level we all want without a parcel tax.

In recent years, home sales have provided a significant source of revenue to City coffers in the form of real estate transfer taxes.  Last year the City Council was able not to levy the parcel tax primarily on the strength of past transfer tax revenues.  This year, however, Piedmont received, for the first time, no transfer tax revenue for sales in January (a point made by Ryan Gilbert at the Candidates Forum and apparently questioned in the Post).  And, so far, only 3 houses have closed escrow in February.  This is an inauspicious beginning and is not likely to change quickly as the Chronicle reported today that Bay Area Home sales have fallen to a 20 year low.

Voting to approve a parcel tax does not automatically mean that the tax will be levied and we can always question the City’s expenditures in the budget process.  But if we don’t vote in favor of authorizing a parcel tax we won’t have the flexibility we need.  The current level of taxation is the same as the parcel tax we approved last time adjusted for inflation (City Attorney’s Analysis of Measure D).

Drew

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