OPINION by T.KEITH GURNEE
Deception knows no bounds in City Hall. Having already written about the shortcomings of San Luis Obispo’s Measure G-20 that voters are asked to approve within less than three weeks, consider what your city government has done to you.
Our mayor, council, and city attorney have placed Measure G-20 language in the voting block on the ballot that doesn’t even mention that it’ a sales tax increase requiring voter approval to be enacted. After all, voters often read just the voting block on the ballot when voting rather than taking the time to read the long-form ballot pamphlet cover to cover.
Here is the actual precise wording they put in that voting block on the ballot:
“City of San Luis Obispo Community Services/Investment.
“Shall an ordinance to provide funding to protect City of San Luis Obispo’s financial stability; maintain fire/community safety; health emergency/disaster preparedness; protect creeks from pollution; addressed homelessness; keep public areas clean/safe; retain local businesses; maintain youth/Senior services, streets, open space/natural areas, and other general services, by extending voter approved funding at a 1.5 cent rate, providing approximately $21,600,000 annually until ended by voters, requiring audits/all funds used locally, be adopted?”
There are real problems with this wording that begs these questions:
· Where does this language say that voters are being asked to approve a sales tax increase? The answer is nowhere!
· Where does it explain that the city is proposing to triple the 0.5 percent voter approved sales tax Measure of 2014? Nowhere!
· Where does it explain what the “1.5 cent rate” actually is? 1.5 cents on what? Nowhere!
· Where does it explain that approval of Measure G-20 would be a permanent 1.5 percent sales tax hike? Nowhere!
· Where does this language say where increased revenues will go if approved? While alluding to certain priorities, the measure’s revenues would go to the General Fund without requiring them to be used for the purposes it states!
· Why doesn’t it say how Measure G-20 could be “ended by voters” only by a citizen-driven ballot initiative measure costing hundreds of thousands of citizen’s hours and dollars to be approved? Nowhere!
This is without a doubt the most misleading language of a ballot measure I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some beauties. It is deceiving, disingenuous, and probably illegal. Is it the result of incompetence, not paying attention, or deliberate deception? Whether it’s either, we deserve to know the answer!
City Attorney Christine Dietrich responded in the Tribune to my earlier anti-Measure G-20 by saying “there is no prohibition on accurate ballot info” in the city’s official mailer and that “The line is advocacy versus information.”
Does she believes that her ballot information in that mailer is accurate information? It is nothing less than a carefully crafted piece of absolute advocacy and misinformation.
And then Dietrich says, “The city has no position of support or opposition to the information provided” when in fact some councilmembers signed the ballot arguments in favor of Measure G-20 in the Voter Information Guide. If that isn’t advocacy, what is?
Should voters approve such a deliberately vague and misleading ballot measure, it should be legally challenged for deceiving our voters. If ever there was an argument to vote no against Measure G-20, this is it.
San Luis Obispo, it’s time to press the political and economic reset button. Rather than devolving into the sad state of affairs that this mayor and council have brought to this town, we need to work towards recapturing our reputation as the happiest place in North America before this regime ruins a great community.
Join me in voting no on Measure G-20 and for those candidates who oppose it. And let them know why.
T. Keith Gurnee is a former SLO City Councilman.