Serious Problems with Proposed Clean Water Tax and Election

There are some serious problems with the proposed Clean Water tax (they call it a fee, but any time government takes our money it’s a tax) and the election being run to get it passed.

First, the election ballots have the property owners name on them, so it’s not a secret ballot. Those compiling the results of the election get to know how someone voted. That goes against the American way of elections.

Second, foreigners can vote. Since it’s a Proposition 218 election, in which only property owners get to vote – which I don’t have a problem with, since they’re the ones who will be paying the additional “fee” included in their property tax bill. But, many properties in California are owned by foreigners and/or foreign companies. That means they get to vote. That’s not the American way of elections, either!

Third, the campaign being waged to pass the tax is being run by the county’s Clean Water Program, and the mailings to promote it are funded by our tax dollars! Tax-dollar funded campaigning to pass another tax? Really? The craziest part – although to be fair, Clean Water Program Manager Don Freitas stated it was a mistake by a staffer at the company that was hired to print and mail the campaign material – the first mailing hit the homes on the day of the vote by the county Board of Supervisors, when they decided whether or not to allow the vote to go forward. (The election was going to happen anyway, since there wasn’t enough protest votes to stop it).

Fourth, ballots will be counted by a certified public accounting firm, Carol Keane & Associates, based in Walnut Creek and not the County Elections Division of the County Clerk’s Office. So, how can there be any accountability or public oversight when the ballots are counted, like other elections?

Fifth, and the most important part, is the tax really necessary? While if it passes, it will generate about $8 million a year, that’ s only a third of the estimated $25 million a year that’s claimed to be needed to clean up the water ways in the county. While I agree there’s a need, since it’s such a high priority, why doesn’t the county budget for the entire $25 million in their budget of $1.2 billion?

With all the flaws in this election this proposed tax should be rejected and the Board of Supervisors should just reprioritize their spending for 2012-13 and include the $25 million cost for the clean water program in next year’s budget when they adopt it in June.  Your ballot must be received by 5:00 p.m. on April 6, 2012, which means you need to mail it a few days before.

In addition, it’s clear some new state legislation is needed to clean up the Proposition 218 election ballot process, eliminating the name on the ballot of the voter to keep it a secret ballot and eliminate the right of foreign property owners from voting in American elections.

Allen Payton, Publisher

P.S. Just got this additional problem from a reader –  “Another problem is that the list of property owners is not current and I have personal knowledge of a property foreclosed last January and the ballot was still sent to the foreclosed property owner.” So, now some renter or renter can vote that ballot and mail it in.

2 Comments to “Serious Problems with Proposed Clean Water Tax and Election”

  1. dowhatsright says:

    I agree that this issue was not handled well by County Supervisors.

    Water is a precious natural resource that everyone needs to understand that there is only so much of it. Demands for water due to population growth, wasting, contamination, excessive use the bigger issue.

    The stewardship of water use, conservation, reuse, safe drinking water, etc. needs the attention of all the water agencies and water stakeholders that buy it, make private claim to it, export it, recycle it.

    This “stewardship” effort needs to have primary attention by all elected and appointed government officials. Frankly, the complex issue of clean water, adequate water and smarter use of water is something that everyone needs to pay attention to and become much more educated about. There is no abundance of water supply as long as we continue human practices as usual.

    So when this “fee” or “tax”, if you will, came about, my first question was: Is this “fee” part of a lar

    Statewide, many agencies both governmental and private are recognizing that solutions to delivery of safe and sustainable drinking water and water for all living entities must be developed with all stakeholders being informed, becoming part of the solution and consider the more global needs of all living things.

    Our city and county elected officials and heads of agencies must be more transparent. The public must be more interested and knowledgeable. The discussion on what to do, what is being done, what are the conflicting issues and are there better solutions, must involve diligent and open discussion.

    It is a shame that an employee would have made such a mistake in putting out the literature before the county supervisors even brought the issue to the public! Where was the boss in this case, Mr. Freitas?

    The Delta Protection Commission had its meeting right here in Antioch at the Antioch Historical Society building March 22. There was not one representative from Antioch City Council! Where was alert of this meeting, especially since it was happening right here in Antioch, Mr. Alan Payton? Editors of the News Press? East Contra Costa Times?

    How many of us are aware of the East Contra Costa County Integrated Regional Water Management Group IRWM that has been meeting, discussing, listening and developing solutions to water issues within the East Contra Costa area? Key representatives from Contra Costa Water District, Cities of Pittsburg, Brentwood, Discovery Bay and Antioch, Delta Diablo Sanitation District, Contra Costa Flood Control, Diablo Water District, Ironhouse Sanitary District, East Contra Cost County Habitat Conservancy and East Contra Costa Irrigation District have been involved in thoughtful and cooperative planning to solve local, state and federal mandates collectively and inclusively. Such planning has to be more efficient than one district floating an expensive and shabbily planned push for “fees” to accomplish what?

    It is my hope that all elected and appointed leaders think and seek solutions through integrated, inclusive, thoughtful and transparent actions that help the public you are all serving understand the facts and policy behind all expectation of additional funding from tax payers. Get out of your own towers and confines and work together for the public’s interest.

  2. A Ray says:

    Sounds suspicious – perhaps illegal. If it “passes” (since it’s being counted by a private firm), they’ll probably collect a bunch of $$ – then it’ll be declared illegal. But they’ll make it so hard to get our $$ back, they’ll get to keep it, and it will be absorbed, i.e. not even go to what it was intended for. Another money grab.

    Clean water should be a RIGHT, provided for – not by property owners – but by the gov (we the people) making sure to tax and regulate businesses enough to keep things clean. This is another case of Big Gov (with their biz cronies) trying to squeeze individuals

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