By Linda Sutter, February 26, 2021
October 12, 2020, the Fire District located on Washington Blvd. attempted to tax 5,000 people with a $75 tax on their properties so they could pay 3 fire captains $160,000 per year to work two full days per week. This tax failed so Measure R and Measure S were created for the November ballot to raise our sales tax to 8.5% for law enforcement, roads, swimming pool, and fire district.
That tax passed using taxpayers funds, it appears, in violation of law. The City of Crescent City had a committee called Citizens to keep Crescent City Safe and Strong. It was wise that the city had a committee to support this but herein lies the problem. The Committee headed by Debra and Matthew Wakefield received $15,000 for Measure S which came from the Firefighters Association funds. Nothing wrong with that except one thing. The Fire District on Washington Blvd donates $20,000 annually to the firefighter association, for training and appreciation dinners for volunteers. Where do you think that $20,000 per year comes from?
Answer: The Taxpayer.
In essence, the Fire District laundered money to the Firefighter Association who turned around and used the public money obtained by public taxes to pay for Measure S campaign committee. This is after the Fire District spent $164,000 for consultants on a failed property tax measure created by the Fire District. Copies of ledger and receipts were obtained from the Fire District on Washington Blvd that demonstrate $20,000 was given to the Firefighters Association.
The campaign committee economic statement forms demonstrated receiving the $15,000 from Firefighters Association BUT, after adding up the actual donation only $9,000 of the $15,000 could be accounted for.
Measure S passed increasing sales tax to 8.5% within the city beginning in April 2021.
Measure R for the county was also passed to increase sales tax to 8.5% beginning in April 2021 as well. Measure R used taxpayers public funds to fund their mailers and campaign. $40,000 of public money was taken from the general fund for the purpose of mailers and robo calls supporting Measure R.
Several issues arise regarding this matter:
The first FPPC complaint submitted returned with insufficient evidence. There is another FPPC complaint that was submitted February 2, 2021 that demonstrates the mailers did not inform the public where the money came from for the mailers. Usually when a campaign committee is developed at the end of any radio commercial, mailer or otherwise there is “paid for by…” Del Norte County did not inform the public that they utilized $40,000 of public money for the mailers, consultants, and robocalls. In fact in an article distributed by Lost Coast Outpost, Del Norte County Administrator, Jay Sarina, openly denied using any public money at all. To further this complication more, three of the proponents of Measure R were Sheriff Apperson, District Attorney Micks, and Board of Supervisor, Gerry Hemmingsen.
The California Supreme Court made this statement; “The California Supreme Court in Stanson v. Mott, (1976) 17 Cal. 3d 206, 220 opined that [“[G]overnment may not ‘take sides’ in election contests or bestow an unfair advantage on one of several competing factions”].) This is more than likely the reason that when four supervisors and Jay Sarina were placed under a citizens arrest on November 10, 2020 during a Zoom meeting they were never arrested nor was the citizen informed that the arrest had not transpired. Because the communications funded by the County of Del Norte unambiguously urged a particular result on Measure R election, the communications are political advertisements subject to the FPPC Act. The County therefore, maintains an express reporting obligation under the Political Reform Act and FPPC Regulations to disclose the communications as either “contributions” or “independent expenditures” benefiting the Measure R effort. ( The Act and FPPC Regulations require detailed reporting and indirect costs of planning, producing and distributing the communications, including the salaries, and expenses of county employees and consultants related to the reproduction of advertisements; Cal. Code Regs., Section 18420.1.) Indirect costs of a communication including, but not limited to, payments for polling or research; payments for computer usage, software, or programming; and payments for salary, expenses, or fees of the agency’s employees, agents, vendors, and consultants.” The county did not set up a committee campaign for Measure R and this was stated by Alissia Northup Elections Clerk in an article written in Lost Coast Outpost.
It appears, the County violated law when they refused to acknowledge spending $40,000 of public money for their benefit. In essence, both measures passed but it should be duly noted that there is an appearance of deception, cover up, and violations of law from the fire district to the sheriff to the District Attorney as well as elected county leaders.