Measure A Wrap-up
Although I am thoroughly disappointed and frustrated that the voters took their anti-pension anger out on Measure A on Tuesday, I also have another emotion that dominates my thinking today-
I could not be prouder of our organization. I was hired 5 ½ years ago to bring the ECA to the table on local issues, and to have a voice that advocated for our industry. My marching orders were that they wanted local politicians to recognize the ECA and what we stood for upon sight. I was paid to make certain ECA member interests were represented and known to local electeds.
There was no other group that did more to promote and support the effort to get Measure A passed than the ECA. We were asked to participate at every step of the way on Measure A, and we responded. Our membership raised a ton of money, helped organize a “hot laps” at Sonoma Raceway, and we hosted several lunch meetings to discuss, educate, and support a way to get our roads fixed before they completely crumble.
Although we were not successful, we were THERE. You hired me so ECA would be a PLAYER, and the ECA was the major PLAYER. But here we are in the “backwash” of the resounding smack down by the voters on the proposed tax Measure A-Where do we go from here?
I have a few thoughts. First and foremost, I think you ECA members deserve a short version of lessons learned from Measure A:
When first approached, myself and about 20 other “leaders” were asked how to best fund the County Long Range Transportation Plan the County adopted.
Nearly unanimously, the “leaders” recommended to the County that they proceed with a specific tax measure that clearly and safely, put the tax revenues in a “lock box” for road repairs only-no bus passes, no nothing else.
Once the County decided to ignore we “leaders” and proceed with a “general tax”, utilizing a very creative “Measure A + Measure B” approach, I felt strongly that was the wrong approach. I appealed to our membership and raised money for a poll in September of 2014 that showed the County was wrong with their approach. The “A + B” approach was dropped. If you ever want to see this poll just ask. The County chose to go with a more simple general tax measure in October of 2014, and decided a special election was a better opportunity for the voters to understand and react favorably to the measure so it was decided to move forward in the Spring of 2015 with a general tax measure (despite the leader’s warnings that the public did not trust the County with a general tax measure). We were “along for the ride” at this point.Inclusion of “Public Safety” in the ballot language was, in retrospect, a huge mistake. Although inclusion of the words was innocent and had nothing to do with public pensions, it was a “lightning rod” for those folks pissed off about publicly guaranteed pensions. Again-the opinion was voiced that the inclusion of “public safety” was a wrong move and the County decided to include it anyway. The lack of early reach out to City Council members by our Supes hurt Measure A as well. We needed to have the Cities on board, and the Cities needed the Supes to talk to them. Despite continuous pressure put on me to the County Supes, they did not reach out to the Cities until March or April of 2015. By that point, the Cities felt the County was trying to shove the tax measure down their throats rather than collaborate and get support from City Councils. The private side is pissed they get asked to pay more, while they see no real concessions from police, fire, and other publicly funded and guaranteed pensions.
So here we are with no additional funding for road repair forthcoming. What is the County going to do? Alarmingly, I see where the County Supes are already clamoring for their “special interest” projects that all cost money. I fear that the increase in general fund revenue the County is getting will quickly be earmarked for the following “wish list” items for the Supes:
- Shirlee Zane wants “Affordable Housing subsidies for homeless and lower income folks,
- Susan Gorin wants to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour,
- James Gore continues to say he is supportive of road repair,
- David Rabbitt continues to say he is supportive of road repair, and
- Efren Carrillo wants to see the County subsidize preschool education programs.
- All seem to want to implement the task force measures recommended by the Andy Lopez tragedy and those measures cost money and need new hires.
Bottom line-we should be very concerned about the direction the Supes seem to be heading in. More programs which will cost more money while the roads problem still exists.
While we are not going to be promoting another sales tax measure anytime soon, we should take some action to insure the Supes do not forget the fact that there was no argument from the voters on June 2 that our roads need work. The voters simply said “you Supes have enough money to fix the roads, manage it better”. If you feel, as I do, that the Supes are about to create even more programs that cost money while not dealing properly with road repairs, then you should join me in a continuous letter writing campaign to our Supes. I urge you to write them once a month! Remind them our roads are turning to gravel and they should not be spending money on new programs unless and until they deal with the roads problem they have been lacking in dealing with for the last 20 years.
Please join me in advocating for local jobs and repair of our roads. Write often to your Supervisor:
1st District, Susan Gorin – Susan.Gorin@sonoma-county.org
2nd District, David Rabbitt – David.Rabbitt@snoma-county.org
3rd District, Shirlee Zane – Shirlee.Zane@sonoma-county.org
4th District, James Gore – James.Gore@sonoma-county.org
5th District, Efren Carrillo – Efren.Carrillo@sonoma-county.org
I take away from this disappointing voting result on Measure A tremendous gratitude for the firms and our ECA Board of Directors who supported Measure A and gave me the marching orders to make it happen. The Measure failed but it was not the fault of the ECA that we failed. We did a lot and we gained a ton of respect from everyone for stepping up.
That’s All Folks!