Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

By Samuel Strait – Reporter at Large – October 14, 2022

After seeing the recent sample ballot for the upcoming November
election, one has to wonder just who is responsible for the descriptions
found on the ballot for the various Propositions and Measures.  Is it an
unbiased third party, particularly when who ever writes the ballot
measures and propositions may have something to gain by the wording of
the description on the ballot?  In 2020 when the County placed Measure
“R” on the ballot there was no mention in the proposed ordinance of
statements made by County Officials and elected Representatives that no
wages or benefits would be covered by Measure “R” funding.  In fact the
wording was so broad in the ordinance published on the ballot that very
few restrictions inhibited the County’s government from spending money
on just about anything they wished.

Should the government officer responsible for writing the description of
Propositions and Ballot Measures recuse themselves from that task when
they have a vested interest or will receive a benefit from the ballot
Measure?  We all know that in many cases when various parts of County
business are voted on, Elected Representatives are not allowed to
participate in the discussion and vote on the particular piece of
government business where they have a vested interest.  Why is it not
the case in this particular instance when the government official
receives a benefit in the form of a pay increase that may be rescinded
if the Measure that resulted in that pay increase is repealed?

Case in point, in the current description of Measure “U” it reads as
follows:  “Shall the measure to eliminate the one percent sales tax
approved by the voters in 2020 (Measure R), which applies in the
unincorporated area of Del Norte County (outside the boundaries of
Crescent City), thereby reducing the funding available for general
county services such as street maintenance/repair, code enforcement, law
enforcement, and emergency response, and other services, be adopted?” 
Where is the admission that the county has expressly violated their
contract with the voters to not hire new employees which require pay and
benefits and have given the entire work force of the County generous
raises?  Where is the admission that the County would loose less that
one percent of its 2022-2023 operating budget? Where is the admission
that the County is otherwise in a very healthy financial position?

It was certainly bad enough when the voters were misled in the first
place by who ever wrote the first ordinance description in 2020, but
this most recent effort by the County’s election officials to put their
collective “thumb on the scale” with this recent effort to defeat
Measure “U” should be beyond the pale.  In addition only voters in the
unincorporated area of Del Norte County were allowed to vote to approve
Measure R.  In this recent effort to repeal the sales tax increase,
suddenly the voters of Crescent City are now allowed a vote on this
measure.  How did this happen?

Since the passage of Measure “R” by the slimmest of margins, and the
complete failure of the County to use the funds for any measurable
improvement of County services, there has been nothing but an explosion
of wage increases and new employees.  In the eighteen, now nearly
nineteen months, of collecting the additional sales tax revenue there
appears to be a decline in the County’s over all performance.  Meeting
after meeting by our Board of Supervisors contain nothing but the
introduction of new employees and further discussions of failing
services to the County’s residents.  Shifting general fund employees to
Measure “R” has created numerous opportunity’s to the Board to go on
extravagant shopping sprees which make things “easier” for the County’s
work force, but does not halt the sharp increase of the cost of
everything including County government.

In the past when the County’s representatives failed so miserably to
provide services commensurate with the level of taxation, the response
was swift and clear, often in the next election cycle. In this case the
pain produced by all levels of government in the form of high taxation,
inflation, and no acceptable recognition by the County government that
growing government has not produced any measurable improvement, it is
left to the voters to attempt to remedy such malfeasance at the soonest
opportunity at the ballot box.  It is; therefore, almost criminal that
the current proposal to reduce taxation in the County by tax payer
initiative, Measures “U” and “T” be met with the clear bias found in the
description of both proposals.   While it is too late to correct this
over reach by our local Election Officials, perhaps it is time for local
voters to consider an impeachment of those in that office in the near
future.

November the 8th has become an important time in Del Norte County to
send a message to local officials that now is not the time for them to
be checking things off the County’s wish list and start thinking about
those that they are meant to serve.  Vote YES when you receive you
ballot to lower the County’s sales tax.  That’s YES on Measures T and U.

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