I have been working closely with political campaigns and candidates since 2003. Fifteen years now. Wow. I have never seen a more dangerous set of decisions put before the
voters regarding the ECA and its membership. I will include, after this Soapbox, a list of our ECA Endorsed candidates and issues, but this Soapbox is about much more than just endorsing.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber Advocacy Endorsed Candidate Forum. There was another event in Petaluma that I wanted to attend but could not be in two places at once. At the event last night, the crowd got to hear from many of the endorsed candidates (endorsed by the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber). We heard from State Assemblyman Jim Wood, SR City Council Candidates Tom Schwedhelm/John Sawyer/Dorothy Beattie, and SRJC Trustee Candidate Jeff Kunde. Peter Rumble did a fine job hosting the event. I bring this info to you to illustrate a point. We can all show up, we can generously write a check to support our candidates and issues, and we can vote for those candidates and issues. But something Jim Wood said, and Tom Schwedhelm elaborated on, really hit home:
WE HAVE TO INFLUENCE OTHERS
The stakes could not be higher. Let’s just talk about Prop 6. Supporters of Prop 6 are taking language from the ballot measure and twisting it into their own B.S. I constantly read on social media the following arguments in favor of those supporting Prop 6:
Now, I can continue, and I will, going on social media sites and responding to each and every one of these claims with real facts. But I need your help. As an ECA Member help me out on the social media sites. Share the No on 6 Posts, comment, or like the post. People, you must understand the significance of Prop 6 passing. If it passes, there will be $3.7 Billion removed from our project “oxygen supply” in the next 10 years in the Bay Area alone. When you take that much away from the big guys bidding that work, where do you think they will go to get work? That’s right-they will come right down into your smaller jobs that you have been making bank on while they have been busy on the big stuff. The entire market will compress and all the companies that rely on that $3.7 Billion will not only not grow, they will shrink. Go talk to your owners and see what your future salary track looks like if the market share shrinks, rather than just stays the same. This Prop 6 will affect every one of you in the ECA.
So, Jim Wood and Tom Schwedhelm last night talked about how dire the situation will be should Prop 6 fail and should good business candidates like John Sawyer for SR Council, Dorothy Beattie for SR Council, Jim Wood for State Asse
mbly, Mike Harris for Petaluma Mayor, etc., etc. not win. If Prop 6 alone is passed, the Counties and Cities in the North Bay Area will be impacted to such a degree we will see very little spent on roads and bridges because they will not be able to keep up with the backlog that 35 years of underfunding those needs have created. When you cannot maintain roads, and water degrades the subgrade, the maintenance costs go because it soon becomes a reconstruct, rather than a maintenance item. Voting for Prop 6 will ruin all the gains we have made in the last 5-7 years.
So here we are. The ECA has donated monies from our PAC. Individual companies have written big checks to oppose Prop 6. We need help from everyone! I can go out there and advocate to oppose Prop 6 but I need your help!
What is needed, is that our members need to go to the No on Prop 6 link below, and understand the Myths vs Facts, and start engaging in influencing people one at a time. We need every vote to count against this catastrophe called Prop 6. Go on social media, respond to those myths I listed above and share the posts (and believe you me you will see those comments over and over again). Talk to your workers, your suppliers and vendors and subcontractors. Talk to your neighbors & your family. Put up a sign, we have some in our office. Write another check to the No on 6 campaign so they can continue their ads on TV past next week. INFLUENCE PEOPLE.
The safety of our roads depends on you. Our local work force depends on you. Because of the generosity of our members giving back to the community, our community depends on you.
Please-DO MORE! Influence Someone Today!
That’s All Folks-
To get the list of currently scheduled local Bay Area Region projects that would be affected or taken away by the passage of Prop 6, go to this link:
The ECA endorses the following candidates and Ballot Measures. link Please Influence People to see the benefit of what we are endorsing!
Top Things You Can Do to Help Defeat Prop 6 Here are the most important things you can do today to help defeat Prop 6:
- ✓ Reach out to your employees: Download a templateletter you can easily edit and distribute to your employees through a company bulletin or direct letter. Click here for a Spanish translated copy. It is imperative that we educate our own employees and peers about the threat of Prop 6.
- ✓ Share the Facts: Share the No on Prop 6 Fact Sheet, Myth vs. Facts, and the list of projects at risk at the local levels. Make sure your employees, friends and family know what’s at risk.
- ✓ Use your signature line: Copy and paste the campaign logo to your email signature and ask your employees to do the same. This is an easy way to help spread the message multiple times a day to people in your networks.
- ✓ Order Campaign Materials: Campaign material such as bumper stickers, hard hat stickers and more are available upon request. Contact Gustavo Flores, Grassroots Coordinator to request these items for your equipment. Construction trucks and equipment are seen my hundreds of thousands of people up and down the state every day!
- ✓ Utilize certain jobsites: If you have a high-profile project that is a private works project and would like to hang a banner from an office window or highly visible piece of equipment please contact Gustavo Flores.
- ✓ Donate to the campaign: Make a contribution to the campaign and ask your peers to do the same. We can’t afford to look back and wish we had done more. (contribution form and important reporting info attached.)
- ✓ Talk to your field crew! Use 5-10 minutes during an organized safety meeting to talk to your employees in the filed about the importance of opposing Prop 6. UCON can assist you!
- ✓ Visit NoProp6.com to officially join the campaign, receive campaign updates and help spread the message.
- ✓ Utilize Social Media: Follow the campaign on Twitter and “like” us on Facebook and share the info on your own pages: https://twitter.com/noprop6 and https://www.facebook.com/NoProp6/.
- ✓ Utilize Linkedin: Share articles on your Linkedin Page about the need to defeat Prop 6. You can share UCON articles or official campaign bulletins. Help educate voters in your network!
Housing Is Not Quite That Simple
As I have commented before, during the course of interviewing candidates for City Council races in all the Sonoma County cities in August, the #1 priority in virtually every candidate’s questionnaire, was concern over housing and the lack therein. We all know that we had a housing problem (more demand than supply) before we lost 5,300 plus houses in the October fires. We all know that “Yours Truly” has been a very vocal advocate for building housing for many years. What you might not have known is some aspects I am going to talk about in this editorial comment.
Businesses are losing workers due to a lack of housing. Some of you might not believe that, but it is true. Some major employers in the Northern Bay Area are extremely worried about their core work force needs being able to be met for several reasons:
- Educational institutions are not turning out “job ready” employees for these companies. The graduates are not ready to go to work and be employed.
- Businesses are finding they have to raise wages to attract workers to live in our area, and that leads to “across the board” increases in wages to keep parity. How do businesses intend to pay for that? Raise the price of the service or goods they produce to the consumer. We pay!
- Housing is so tight, many employees of companies that have other sites, are opting out of this area. They are telling their employer “I think Colorado is better for me and my family, so I will take the transfer to Colorado” and they are moving away.
- Even if businesses can handle the business they have now with their tight work force, they are questioning whether they can sustain any growth with a local (to our area) business. In some cases, they are choosing not to expand, and even not to repair or maintain some of their buildings and equipment locally because they may be downsizing or moving.
So how does all this relate to our ECA members? In some cases, perhaps some of those concerns (or all of them) are being felt by some of your own workers and your own businesses are wrestling with the real question of whether this area will support an expanded work force by your firm. Even if it does not directly affect you, many of your employees depend on businesses hiring from you, or buying product or services from you, and if those “purchasers” are having trouble, it will not take long for that “trouble” to head your way in the form of reduced opportunities for projects or sales. Not only that, but you may be seeing some of your workers travelling from farther and farther away to get to local jobs and that may mean they are less dependable due to getting delayed on the road, or if you are paying them for fuel and vehicle, added costs just for them to get to work.
We have seen the local government officials catchy refrains “Build, baby build” and “We need 30,000 housing units in five years”. But what you have not seen, to a large extent, is a private side concerted effort to create a plan and get buy in from the elected and staffers to implement the plan. I do not mean to say there has not been some “successes”:
- The Santa Rosa City Council just voted last week to lower fees on building housing units higher that 3 stories in the downtown area. They realize they have urban boundaries and open space issues and tiger salamander issues which all translates into a need to build up, and not out, and do so in their urban core areas. This was a monumental move on the part of the SR City Council. For the first time in my memory, they have actually dangled the carrot in front of developers to entice them to build units they want. In talking to some developer friends, this might just be the gentle push that is needed to build these higher density units.
- Also, in the City of Santa Rosa, they drafted Measure N which will assess property owners around $30/$100,000 in assessed value to fund “Affordable Housing”. The ECA Endorses this idea and urges you to vote Yes on Measure N in Santa Rosa. These monies would go to subsidize housing for the workers our companies all need to retain or attract.
- In Windsor, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, and Santa Rosa, we have all seen a greater effort on the part of the Permitting departments to streamline the process, so homeowners or developers can move forward more quickly towards building their new house, addition, or new business.
- In several Cities, we have seen the City defer impact fees until such time as occupancy takes place. That only makes since-nothing is being impacted until the family moves in and starts using the drain system, water system, parks or schools. We need more of that!
What Can The ECA Do To Help?
Urge our member and families to Vote Yes on Local Measure N
Urge our member and families to Vote Yes on State Prop 5 (transfer property tax base to replacement property)
Urge our member and families to Vote No on State Prop 10 (rent control expansion for local governments)
Although our companies are the “in the ground” type rather than the sticks and glass above grade type contractors, we can still join forces with our allies and help out. I will soon be talking to our Workforce Development Committee and ask them to get more involved in supporting a group that will be asking developers what is needed for them to move forward on projects, collaborate with Cities and Counties on where those developers can find quick and approvable projects to move forward on, and our group will also help other Associations work with the City and County staffs to hold them accountable on how they are doing. If the City of Santa Rosa says they will turn plans into entitlement within 20 days, we will support checking on them and making sure they are doing so. If there are legit reasons for delays to those promised time lines, we will support working with businesses and other Associations to remove the impediments to the jurisdiction pushing those projects forward.
Building more housing is related to us in so many ways. Our own futures depend on having an adequate and affordable supply of housing in our local areas. Despite it not being simple, it can be done. The ECA is going to be working with some very smart and capable people and associations to push excuses away and get us to build more housing.
That’s All Folks!
Stormwater Erosion Season is Upon Us
On 10-19-18, the ECA and the North Coast Builders Exchange will be hosting a 2 hour workshop on Best Management Practices and SWPP compliance issues in Santa Rosa at 1040 Apollo Way (The NCBE Training Room). It will be featuring our own Mary Larsen from StormWater Specialists, Inc. and the City of Santa Rosa will provide us with Bob Oller who is in charge of all SWPP compliance for the City of Santa Rosa. The workshop will focus on smaller sites and will provide visual photos of what a “good site” is vs one that needs some attention. If you know any builders building houses, they will be the ones that can benefit the most from this workshop although all of our firms will get something useful out of the 2 hours as well.
The cost is $25 for members of the ECA and NCBE and $50 for non-members. Please call Mary at 707-546-5500 to reserve your spot!
Our Pal Robert Fedrick had a major stroke on September 12, 2018. He is getting out of the hospital this week and is talking and walking. I am sure you all join me in wishing Robert a speedy and complete recovery!
Mike Ghilotti of Ghilotti Bros fame, and Nancy Bennett who is our local rep for the League of California Cities, were on KSRO 1350 this morning (10-1-18) explaining why folks should Vote No on Prop 6. If you missed it, here is a link so you can listen to the 10 minute interview
PROP 6-THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
First-let me tell you that nobody hates government wasting our money, unnecessary and continual taxes for special interest benefits more than myself. I am “Loud and Proud” about opposing entitlements and bigger government that spends OUR MONEY lining the pockets of those that, either through circumstance or choice, do not pull their fair share in this tax and spend era.
When it comes to roads, bridges, and expanding or fixing those items, we have to accept that the government subsidizes those expenditures. That is reality. It is also reality that government has underfunded the maintenance of repairing and expanding our roads and bridges for many decades. Yep-it is true the State of California collects a lot of tax monies from fuel excise tax, weights and measures, and other fees even without the June 2017 passing of Senate Bill 1. It is also true that we have “dug ourselves” a financial hole by not spending enough over the last 40 years or so. Now, the roads and bridges need a big effort and a big expenditure to “make up for past budget cuts”.
Some of you, myself included, would like nothing more than to send a message to our State Legislators that this is a problem created by their predecessors and they should not look to the public to bail them out. Idealistically, the message would prompt the government into action, and they would cut entitlements, allocate more discretionary spending to roads and bridges, and eliminate waste and inefficiencies in CALTRANS and other government funded agencies to take care of the problem without making the public pay more.
That aint gonna happen.
No matter how you vote on Prop 6, it is a sure bet that even if 100% of the voters sided with the passing of Prop 6, the State Legislators will not reform entitlements because of the “message” the voters delivered. Why not? Because they would never get reelected. The plain simple facts are these-entitlements are here and if you take them away, you will be committing political suicide.
Reality sucks huh?
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly:
The Good: Senate Bill 1 (SB1) was passed by elected in June of 2017. Some of the Good that it does is that it added a fee for alternative fuel vehicles when they register their vehicle. I consider that Good because I always thought that those that drive electric cars are using our bridges and our highways and not paying anything for maintenance of same. I thought that was unfair. SB1 corrected that unfairness. The other thing SB1 did was immediately start collecting fuel tax revenues that had not been increased since 1994. Those additional revenues, around $5 billion a year, are being spent on highways, bridges, and roads all over the State to improve wait times and smoothness of the roads and soundness of our bridges. Duh. It was needed, it is a great thing for all citizens and certainly an even better thing for those of us who derive some, or much of our income from transportation infrastructure construction.
The Bad: It is a bad idea to say that because of SB1 passing, you are paying more in taxes. Here is why this is bad logic- Joe Q Public”, who drove a Buick Skylark in 1994 that got 12 miles per gallon, now drives a more fuel-efficient car that gets 19 miles per gallon in 2017. If “Joe Q Public” drove 12,000 miles a year in 1994, he would have purchased 1,000 gallons of gas. If “Joe Q Public” still drives 12,000 miles per year in 2017, he is only buying 632 gallons of gas. Since the fuel excise tax per gallon stayed the same before SB1 was passed, “Joe Q Public” was actually paying less in gas taxes in 2017 then he paid in taxes in 1994. In how many other examples do you know that you, or “Joe Q Public” was paying less taxes in 2017 than you, or “Joe Q Public” was paying in 1994? That’s right-zip! Enough with that argument that you have to vote for Prop 6, so you will not pay additional taxes. So those folks that are standing by the argument that “we already pay enough, we shouldn’t pay any more taxes” are not looking at the situation through clear eyes. Even with SB1 passing and there being an increase in fuel taxes, THEY AREN’T PAYING MORE IN FUEL TAXES THAN THEY PAID IN 1994!
THE UGLY: I WANT MY FUEL COSTS TO GO DOWN. IF I REPEAL SB1, THE COST OF FUEL WILL GO DOWN.
Think again Buttercup. If you believe that oil companies will voluntarily drop the price of fuel if 14 cents a gallon in taxes go away, I want to make a little wager with you. I say fuel prices will not go down if Prop 6 passes. I say they will continue to rise. And here is the UGLY part-what will we citizens get from the big “lesson” we delivered? That’s right, bend over and assume the position if you are expecting cheaper fuel prices after you vote to repeal SB 1. Oil companies have consumeers used to paying what we are paying, and they are not going to thank you for the extra 14 cents a gallong profit you will give them if you vote yes on Prop 6. Your big lesson will deliver reality to you in the form of crappier roads, less jobs, more costly repairs on your cars and trucks, and less ability for local government to fill potholes. UGLY LESSON.
Here is some other UGLY truth. Since SB1 was passed, additional fuel tax revenue has been collected. Now, since AB69 was passed, all those revenues are in a “lockbox” and cannot be diverted towards general fund expenditures. They have to be spent on transportation infrastructure and maintenance. For once, we taxpayers are protected. For those that actually do drive on the roads in California, you may have noticed some road improvements going on. Both local governments and the State are utilizing those additional revenues generated by SB1 to improve our roads and bridges. We all benefit from that. So, the lesson will be that we will no longer benefit from those additional dollars fixing our roads. No-they are not going to backfill the $5 Billion from reforming their entitlements and spending habits in Sacramento. Great lesson we taught ourselves. A moral victory, but an UGLY reality will remain.
More UGLY truth. Our roads and bridges are failing. The State of California has long underfunded those repairs. Yep-the State is guilty as charged. They already know that. That is why SB1 was passed. Does anybody really think that 40 years of underfunding transportation infrastructure will be corrected by repealing SB1? If you do, put the crack pipe down and listen up-those elected are not going to magically wave a wand and find another $5 billion to spend on transportation. If they could have, they would have years ago. Our roads and bridges have been in “crisis” mode for years. If it is so simple to “teach them a lesson” why did you not scream bloody murder when the State took money away from weights and measures fees to backfill their General Fund during the recession? At least now, SB1 funds are in a lockbox thanks to AB69 the voters passed In June of 2018. That was the real “lesson” we taught the State. We voters will not tolerate you taking tax revenues earmarked for infrastructure and applying it elsewhere. We taught the lesson already!
Again-I hate taxes. But I love sure bets and Clint Eastwood Spaghetti westerns. So, I will make an offer to anybody who wants to vote yes on Prop 6. My bet is this-I bet you a tank of gas that fuel companies will not lower their prices, nor keep them the same if taxes go down 14 cents per gallon. The price of fuel will go up that same (or more) 14 cents per gallon and you and I will not save anything. We will pay the same, and we will not get the benefit of seeing our industry get an additional $5 billion a year in work. Now that is a sure bet and I will appreciate the free tank of gas from any takers.
Vote No On 6. Hold your nose if you have to, but do not believe the backers of this Proposition who will not be in Sacramento when the budgets will have to deal with the repeal of SB1. SB1 is one of those “good taxes” where we see more benefit than pain. Keep it in place and let’s continue to fix our roads and bridges. Vote No On 6.
That’s All Folks!
On October 1, at 7:46 am, Mr. Mike Ghilotti will be on KSRO radio explaining why voters should vote No on 6. Tune in folks! Thanks Mike for getting involved!
Thoughts and Prayers go out to Bubba (Robert Fedrick), a very good friend, who suffered a stroke on 9-12-18. I am sure you all join me in wishing him strength in getting through this and for a speedy recovery.
It is going to rain soon. Make sure your SWPP practices are up to date and if you are working on fire rebuilding, make sure your clients are covered. Here are some reminders from the City of Santa Rosa on BMP’s for erosion control. Brochure erosion control<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0013U4rLmHRj3eS3z2q25lRoiSSNjpeZma0IAf5KW6Pt9roj9glIhZdX_-3AmEEC7gzYB0GMz5kmxF9zbK0HbKS7eanH2riIcXkVhPgg3cNvnRzVai1c0Jxsq24BmBT1ZpCcuUE1tO5AEYDT91OaVYL50qwQt2bW435sL4W-vpKuRDzxpaKTBZbfscThg7PD3UgYOvH0NKToOHByqThCoNJIMm-vrHIavXjdt7l-mt7H2-qOrZh34pk1OQIQm47uQ8D&c=AW2VyhUpLoNFb_99f7K7CRYza9NhoVLifLWRymuWD95oVfU22J2dfQ==&ch=RSbNs239GnVLpy2JCuF1d3YvsA87GtYhdOGAKecRF3blP0WbrMQyqw==>. Construction Brochure<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0013U4rLmHRj3eS3z2q25lRoiSSNjpeZma0IAf5KW6Pt9roj9glIhZdX_-3AmEEC7gz1_EYmppJPdSWnpE8aYfbI0yPt_S77ukp7j5_tFkHaOdTLi6eCv1cZhSPzjoFumlJzRW5KhKMjXzG3NwB7evx1r14hrGTY8NO5fFRGooCrNvwQ1fHNC4bdCdyeaHnJWmXn774AfoY8z9MJeazRXXqHYZ8hV1AVmyiWW53S81c3wcVYFxMawZYP2KgMyFEM5Dm&c=AW2VyhUpLoNFb_99f7K7CRYza9NhoVLifLWRymuWD95oVfU22J2dfQ==&ch=RSbNs239GnVLpy2JCuF1d3YvsA87GtYhdOGAKecRF3blP0WbrMQyqw==>. Also, keep watching as we will be hosting (along with the North Coast Builders Exchange) a Stormwater erosion control workshop very soon. We are setting it up for the 2nd week of October as you are reading this!
ECA Newsletter 9-5-18
I wanted to use this Soapbox to give you some information on the ECA Political Action dollars and how we get those dollars, and how we spend those dollars. Along the way, we also endorse certain candidates and I wanted to let you all know how that process is completed.
When we mail out our dues invoices, you may have noticed there is a $50 or more contribution that is elective for each member to fund our PAC account. In addition, certain member firms will donate larger amounts because there may be specific issues their firm is concerned about supporting or defeating and I will reach out and ask for more money at times. Our PAC Account is generally funded to the tune of $15,000 to $25,000 at any given date. I try to keep it above $20,000 in election years.
Sometimes, the PAC will donate to fund an “Independent Expenditure Campaign” to support or defeat a candidate or a bill that we believe is important. IEC’s are completely separate from a candidate’s campaign. Typically, the IEC Committee is set up to support a candidate and that candidate is never told anything about it until the flyers hit voters’ mailboxes and the candidate is asked a question about it. IEC support is not given lightly. IEC’s are very effective if done properly. Years ago, Pam Torliatt ran against David Rabbitt for Sonoma County Supervisor and with 2-3 weeks to go, Torliatt was leading. The ECA participated in an IEC that essentially took Torliatt’s public comment on Sanctuary Cities and overlaid her words with a visual message that showed a newspaper article about an illegal immigrant killing someone in San Francisco. Torliatt’s words were in favor of sanctuary cities and the flyer showed her words with the news article and asked the voters if they really wanted to see this crime happen again-the insinuation was clear-if they voted for Torliatt, they might see their County become a sanctuary county. It worked, and Rabbitt became our Supervisor in Sonoma County.
OK-enough of the “lesson”. On to this year.
On August 22, 23, 24 Yours Truly and Art Diecke sat through 2 1/3 days of candidate interviews for the cities of Sonoma, Sebastopol, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Windsor, Healdsburg, and Cloverdale. Many thanks to Art!
The purpose of interviewing the candidates is to have useful and open exchanges of information with the candidates in a room with several associations represented-Sonoma County Alliance, The North Coast Builders Exchange, NORBAR, and the ECA. The candidates fill out a questionnaire and the interviewers read their responses before they meet the candidate. From the questionnaire we can get a pretty accurate read on most candidates and how they will vote on issues of importance to each organization. While NORBAR may be more concerned than the ECA might be with how a candidate feels about rent control, the ECA can learn a lot about the candidate as to their comments on a far-ranging group of questions. The questionnaire can be provided to you if you would to see it. Just ask!
Each candidate has a 30-minute scheduled meeting with the collective group. No one group dominates the interview and it really works well to trade off questions with the other groups. From the ECA’s perspective, I want to get a feel for how the candidate feels about Project Labor Agreements, funding for infrastructure work, how to get more housing units built and pension reform. I find those three issues quite clearly define candidates leanings that will accurately “predict” their willingness to use the ECA as a resource, to engage in debate on some issues when they come up, and how they might lean on development related issues.
All I ever ask of a candidate is the following:
- Will they work hard?
- Will they keep an open mind?
- Are they inherently fair or do they cater to a special segment of the community?
I believe through the questionnaire and the 30-minute interview process, we can really get a feel for items 1,2,3 above. Many times, a candidate simply does not know about issues. I would relate better to a candidate who admits that and states a willingness to learn more about the issue before they take a position on said issue. That willingness to learn rather than be arrogant, goes to the heart of items 1,2,3 above.
Soon, the Government Affairs Committee, Art Diecke, Brett Wilmes, Eric Koenigshoffer, Tim Smith, Glenn Smith, Brian Bottari, and Tawny Tesconi will review and discuss Art and my notes and recommendations on who to endorse, who to donate money to, the Committee will vote on and have consensus agreement that we then take to the Board of Directors on September 17 for a final discussion and vote. Only then do the dollars go out and the endorsements go public.
Hope you find this informative and descriptive as to where your PAC contributions go!
That’s All Folks!
ECA Newsletter 8-22-18
Mr. Politically Incorrect
For anybody who has regularly visited the ECA office recently, the transformation of a business park has been dramatic over the past few months. Since this is a “soapbox” and I write opinions, I feel inclined to do so about this situation.
We are not alone. Drive down to Jack London Square in Oakland and you pass under an elevated freeway that has become the “roof” for hundreds, if not thousands, of people camping in various ways. Some sleep with no tent, some sleep in cars, some sleep in RV’s that do not look like they have been “roadworthy” since the early Cheech and Chong movies. Los Angeles has homeless that live on median strips, offramps and onramps. Go to Sacramento and the aggressiveness of the homeless asking for a handout will make even the staunchest amongst us question our safety at stop lights as homeless guys bang on your window and roof and DEMAND a handout.
The obvious response, and for me, a repeated refrain, has been that “I am sympathetic to those that are homeless by circumstance, but if someone is homeless by choice, no sympathy!”
Now that the homeless encampment has arrived right at our front door on Apollo Way, I have a somewhat different attitude. These people do not want to be in shelters because shelters have rules. And the rules these folks do not want to abide by, is that they cannot do drugs or drink if they are housed in shelters. Oh, you will hear lots of other stories-I just read one in the Press Democrat about a woman that has a sleep disorder and she does not want to disturb other sleepers in the shelter so that is why she does not go to the shelter. What? Come on. I am calling her bluff. She is concerned about other sleepers in a shelter, yet she has no problem being concerned about folks working in a business park having to deal with garbage, feces and needles all over the place? What horsecrap!
So, what is the answer? The answer is that these folks have some smart people supporting them and those smart people know how to play the system. Ask these “campers” what they want, and they will invariably tell you they just want a safe place to camp where nobody bothers them. I say that is only true if we taxpayers foot the bill to also furnish these folks with infrastructure that enables them to wash themselves, flush toilets, and have regular garbage pickup (and by the way, the garbage pickup must include going around picking up all their crap they are too lazy to put into a trash can themselves!). As you can probably tell, I am not as sympathetic to these folks as I once was. When I drive down the street in front of our ECA office now and stare at a mess, I get yelled at “what are you looking at? This is our home!” When did a public street become somebody’s home?
So here we have a huge problem. Here is John’s Politically Incorrect Solutions:
- Give them an opportunity to clean up, sober up, and find some work that makes them a productive member of the community. For that, they get a place to stay-nothing fancy, 200sf apartment, and they get to stay there as long as they do their work, they get to come and go as they please, and they have to adhere to being clean from drugs and abide by the rules of the property. If they can’t do that, they get booted out. This will entail a massive infusion of mental health and physical health workers to assist these folks in getting cleaned up. Where does that money come from? From the companies that are making the opiates these folks are hooked on. Pass a tax on oxy and other abused drugs. It cannot be that hard to figure out if one pharmacy in a town of 5,000 people is selling 50,000 pills a week, that the pills are not being dispensed properly. Book ’em Dano!
- If they choose the street or try the housing and get booted out, God help them. Now you have another housing system built, but it is behind fences and their ability to come and go is not by their choice. It is called a jail compound.
- Make it illegal to panhandle. Make it a crime to give them money and make it a crime to stand on a corner and ask for money. And enforce it. They get caught, they do a week in the #2 jail listed above. When they get out, they are offered a choice of doing #1 above, and if they can, they get a chance. If they cannot, they go right back onto the streets.
- Enforce no camping in public parks, on public streets, and enforce trespassing laws if they try to make camp on private property.
Is that politically incorrect enough for you? Well I am known as Mr. Politically Incorrect for a reason—
That’s All Folks!
Compromise or Die?
Our ECA Founders and subsequent Boards were wise to not get involved in “Labor Issues”. Sometimes, labor issues pit two sides against each other when both sides would win if they could focus on the “big prize”.
Today the Santa Rosa City Council will hear arguments from well-meaning Leaders in our Community on the pros and cons of specific language inclusions in a proposed housing bond measure that will go before the voters in November.
At stake is a $124 million housing bond measure funded by property tax assessments of $29/100,000 value on land and homeowners. The generated funds would be used to construct “affordable” housing, which some also refer to as “subsidized” housing and sometimes “workforce” housing.
As we have come to realize with our self-taxation for road improvements, the “reward” for having a housing bond measure that is self-funded by local taxpayers is that it opens up the “spigot” for matching funds to come from the much larger State housing bond measure that is polling very well. The State housing bond measure is estimated to be a $2 billion “pot” that will be distributed back to local municipalities that have their own local housing bond measures in place. So, we would have to “pay to get paid”.
The positives of a housing bond seem obvious at a time when we were in a housing crisis before losing 5,000 homes to the fires of October, 2017. The negatives, if special interest groups would not try to impose language into the Measure that serves their interests, would also be quite clear-that property owners would have to pay $29/100,000 of assessed value to fund a much-needed pot of money to be used to build affordable housing.
But here is where it gets tricky. Labor unions are trying to get specific language included into the Measure that will enable more of the work generated to be done by signatory workers than if the specific language were not included. I have been involved in several of the meetings with labor leaders to see what they might include that would not create opposition to the housing bond. I tried to represent the ECA members that are both signatory and non-signatory in my comments at these meetings. The bottom line that I held to was that this housing bond is a tough sell to voters so any additional language or requirements that favor any group could doom the Measure. I understand labor wants to insert language that favors their rank and file. I also understand that labor believes they are asking for very little to be included in the Bond Measure language. The problem is idealistic. Those that believe inserting any language that advantages one group over another is a bad use of public money do not care if what labor is asking for is minor. The fact that they are asking for anything is a “line in the sand” for them.
Behind the scenes, there have been lots of discussions/negotiations/compromises in an attempt to craft a Bond Measure that will not create opposition. It just might not be possible. Today’s City Council meeting will be one of the livelier in recent years. The outcome of a Housing Bond Measure that could open the spigot from the State may lie in the balance of the discussion this afternoon.
I for one am glad we are not on the front lines on this one. If we opposed the housing bond, we could be criticized for not supporting a much-needed boost to housing starts. If we supported the Measure, we could be criticized for “selling out” to either pro-labor or anti-labor backers. My personal opinion has not changed-for the good of the many, some compromise by both sides seems to be the wise choice.
We shall see—
That’s All Folks!
- SB1 fuel taxes will cease to be collected. Anybody believe that the gas and oil companies will voluntarily roll back the price for a gallon gas or diesel in California? If you do believe that, I have some of last year’s Exacta tickets to sell you.
- Local cities like Santa Rosa, already under tremendous financial pressure due to costs associated with the October wildfires, will probably have to cease and desist any and all work pertaining to resurfacing roads and building traffic improvements that have been planned for years (Hearn Avenue Overpass, Fulton Road reconstruction, etc., etc.).
- The County of Sonoma would continue to spend General Fund monies this year and next year at the current level of spending but would probably cut way back on any future General Fund expenditures as they would need a Measure M extension to pay for road fixes. And if SB1 got repealed by voters, how likely do you think voters would be to pass a Measure M extension?
- Marin County would still build their Highway 101 widening project and HOV land construction in Southern Marin County, but the effectiveness of the HOV lane would be compromised by the inability to complete the Sonoma County section that was counting on SB1 funding (the stretch from Washington Street to Pepper Road which includes the Rainier Avenue underpass infrastructure work).
ECA Newsletter 6-11-18
Can We Give A Shout Out?
On June 12, 2018, Sonoma County Supervisors will hear proposals from their staff on what roads and bridges to fix in 2019. Staff is going to recommend that funding from the County General Fund remain unchanged as budgets are adopted this week. Spending at the same levels as last year and this year was no “certain thing” as the County suffered through a huge increase in costs from last winter’s storms and both increased costs and loss of revenue from the October wildfire damages.
It would be greatly appreciated if you took the time to say thanks to our five Sonoma County Supervisors who continue to do a great job in “staying the course” to fix our County roads despite plenty of reasons to back off from that commitment.
The Chairman James Gore and the other Supervisors Lynda Hopkins, Susan Gorin, David Rabbitt, and Shirlee Zane all deserve to be acknowledged for their unwavering support.
If you can, please call or email them today and thank them for funding road repair—here is the link to their phones and emails:
Please give them a “Shout Out”!
That’s All Folks—
June 5-Election Results Show Voters Agree-Fixing Our Roads Is A Priority!!
Voters approved (with about 80% voting YES) Assembly Bill 69 which safeguards ALL of the tax revenue generated from Senate Bill 1 (passed into being last June, 2017). Also, voters approved Regional Measure 3 (with 54% approving) which will gradually raise bridge fares on seven Bay Area bridges (not the Golden Gate Bridge) and will raise $4.54 billion over the next 10 years for use on transportation infrastructure improvements in the Bay Area. This was an AWESOME RESULT FOR ECA AND ITS MEMBERS!!
Thanks to all of you who voted and supported these two bills.
Miracle League Ground Breaking Ceremony June 18, @ 10 am Lucchesi Park, Petaluma.