A parcel tax is a very bad way to raise money for any purpose. It is a fixed sum of money that must be paid without any regard to the financial circumstances of the payer or the value created by spending the money. No organization will spend money efficiently or wisely, if has a revenue source that cannot be cut off. Private business tends to be productive precisely their customers can refuse to hand over their money. Public agencies tend to be wasteful and bloated because taxpayers cannot.
The students at City College will have no incentive to moderate their demands for more services because someone else is being forced to pay the bills. Demand will have no limits because those individuals who consume the educational services will have no reason to weigh costs and benefits. The students reap the benefits and the taxpayers bear the costs. Nor will the providers of education have any reason to limit their demands for higher compensation and more generous fringes. In the real world there are always opposing interests.
When this parcel tax was first proposed, it was for a limited number of years. Now the receivers want to extend it and increase it. There is no reason to think this this will be the last increase or extension. Wants and needs are unlimited. No matter how much money City College raises, there will always be unmet needs and wants and demands to raise still more money.
Most of the people voting on this tax are not parcel owners. They are effectively voting to be generous with other people’s money.
The 282 words above were not printed in the Voters Handbook that came out about a week ago. We would like you to know the story behind it not appearing in the Handbook. It’s an ugly story of government bureaucracy hopelessly stacked in favor of higher and more taxes—and determined to silence any opposition.
Below you will find a short write-up on all 25 local ballot measures. Our litmus test for judging the ballot measures is whether they increase the scope of government intrusion in our lives. If they do, we oppose them. If they require more tax money or increase government debt, that definitely grows the beast, and we oppose them.
Most of the ballot measures this year, as always, move in the wrong direction toward more government micromanagement of our lives, so you will see a lot of NO recommendations. However a few measures actually loosen up rules and regulations—albeit sometimes for the wrong reasons—and curb government power lust, even in a small way, so we are happy to recommend a few YES votes.
One disturbing trend we see in this year’s ballot measures is the forging of diverse special interest groups to feed at the public trough (see props J and S). Another bad trend is the push to increase the bureaucracy at City Hall (see props H and M), despite over 30,000 government workers in San Francisco (and growing at an alarming rate). We have also noted a special clause tucked away at the end of some ballot measures that allows the Board of Supervisors to amend the measure after passage by the voters if it furthers the purpose of the measure. In other words, give them an inch and they’ll take a foot—and it definitely won’t be in the direction of more individual freedom.
Lastly there are so many ballot measures this year because clearly San Francisco government is dysfunctional, and the politicians think the only way to fix the problems they caused is to pass more laws and give them more money. We hope our readers will not throw in the towel and despair that it has to be this way. It didn’t grow like the blob overnight and can be scaled back, but it really does take eternal vigilance. Doing your due diligence on how you vote on the ballot measures is one way to combat the growth of government and tyranny. Read on!
Joe Dehn, Chair
Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County
Here it comes again, as it does every election -- people warning you not to "waste your vote" by casting your ballot for the Libertarian candidate. They tell you that your vote won't make a difference, or try to scare you into voting for "the lesser of two evils" and tell you that if you don't do as they say you will "really be voting for" the other candidate (who is, in their opinion, a worse evil).
This advice is completely backwards. As more and more people are realizing, both Trump and Clinton are horrible choices for President. Some of the reasons they are horrible are the same, some are unique to each candidate, but they both add up to BAD. Even if your vote could somehow help one of them, we will all lose if either of them is elected. On top of that, your vote here in California can't possibly make a difference in which one of them ends up in the White House. The Democrat always wins the popular vote in California, and will get all of the California's electoral votes as a result -- unless the election is a landslide in the other direction nationally, in which case the election will be decided before the polls even close here.
Let’s review some background events. In 2006, City College was told by the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to develop effective planning, implement better evaluation of student outcomes, improve its financial stability, plan for facilities maintenance, and update its outdated technology. In 2012, the ACCJC’s evaluation of City College found insufficient resolution of the laundry list of problems, and threatened removal of accreditation if problems were not resolved by 2014.
By 2016 it is clear the college’s decision is to kill the messenger rather than heed the message. Fury unleashed, CCSF obtained “stabilization funds” from the California state legislators, encouraged a law suit filed by the City Attorney preventing the ACCJC from taking any action to remove the college’s accreditation, filed a complaint against the ACCJC with the federal Department of Education, mobilized students and staff “protesters,” convinced voters in 2012 to pass a $79 per parcel tax which would expire in 2021 to “save City College,” and banded with the other California community colleges to find a way to replace the ACCJC with some other accrediting body.
Meanwhile strange developments continue. The San Francisco Chronicle in December of 2015 reported that “City College of San Francisco has spent thousands of dollars on fancy restaurants and international and cross-country travel for two top administrators — often with no record of what the expenses were for.” The 2015 – 2016 budget was approved showing a 1.6% decrease in expenditures from 2010 – 2011, although enrollment has decreased by 25% since 2012. In March 2016, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to make San Francisco City College “free” to students living or working at least part time in the City.
So, here is what we have: A resolution to make City College free contingent on the passage in November of a real estate transfer tax proposal, a proposal to increase and extend the CCSF parcel tax, financial stability not much better than in 2006, college staff and students not much inclined to heed the ACCJC, and another ACCJC accreditation review coming up in February 2017. It would be interesting to place some bets.
Here is a snapshot of how dramatically enrollment has decreased at City College of San Francisco:
Voters should be able to elect representatives who can be trusted with basic and efficient management of a city. However, what we see in our local government is relentless bickering, one-upmanship, catering to special interests in constant pursuit of campaign funding, addiction to taxing and spending, grabbing of “set asides” from every sector, formation of committees to oversee committees, and City management by three-feet long ballots.
Voter initiatives are a kind of right to petition voters (not government) for the redress of grievances; they are citizens’ protection against the possibility of an unresponsive or irresponsible government. Legislative proposals need to be on the ballot for representatives to receive voter permission to increase taxation or change some basic structure of local government. What do we see in the November 2016 ballot instead? We see City government being unable to decide something as basic as who should take care of street trees! We see inefficiency and discontent revealed in the trend toward an increasing number of oversight and “advocate” committees. We see law upon law being proposed to fix laws that did not work in the past; such as 8 proposals to fund “affordable” housing, after decades of restrictive zoning and billions in tax breaks showered on technology companies.
There is only one solution that might work in anchoring a government adrift in indecision: Vote NO on just about everything.
(Graphics courtesy of zRants)