Hey, I pay taxes!
But the idea of “taxpayer” groups is to claim control over how public money gets spent, and that’s not a bad hobby, although the demands of most such groups usually amount to returning the money right back to the taxpayers, and not those on the lower end of the economic spectrum.
The Sacramento County Taxpayers League (SCTL), a thorn in the side of local leaders for more than 40 years, is riding high these days after successfully forcing the utility taxes in both the city and county of Sacramento to go before voters this November. And everybody knows how much taxpayers like taxes.
Nevermind that both the Sacramento City Council and Sacramento County Board of Supervisors have been struggling to close huge budget deficits with cuts to municipal services, the league is sounding confident if not boastful about its chances of reducing the utility taxes.
Yet coping with difficult and expensive realities of modern life isn’t the strong suit of these groups. Just witness the essay against the state’s effort to curb greenhouse gases, which SCTL Executive Director Joe Sullivan sent out last month.
Citing his scientific expertise as “a 1951 graduate of the Colorado School of Mines,” he lays out detailed if discredited arguments that global warming is a fallacy perpetuated by environmentalists, clinging to a position that even most conservative and business groups abandoned years ago.
And this comes from the head of a group that claims more expertise and credibility than the city and county officials who warn of decimated local services if the utility taxes get axed.
Also blast-faxing their two cents worth about local ballot measures is the Sacramento City Taxpayers’ Right League, encouraging voters to kill Measure S, which seeks to boost Mayor Heather Fargo’s pay and duties.
The league claims the measure will really drain about a million bucks a year from city coffers (source: a vague “it is estimated”) and offers this strangely deceptive trivia: “Since 1960: The Council and Mayor’s budgets grew 8003 percent ($21,460 to $1,739,000) while the city’s population only grew 112 percent (191,669 to 407,018).”
During that same time, the number of press releases that angry advocates send to newspapers has increased by 167,763 percent. Or something like that.
Capitol rites: It’s hard to get too animated by city and county political affairs in this town during the month of August, when the state Legislature is in frantic end-of-session mode. This is, after all, basically a company town, and business is booming at the state.
Consumer interest legislation has been moving with uncommon ease, greased by public anger at corporations. Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg’s controversial regionalism bill was shot down, but he says it’ll be back next year in an even more sweeping form. Partisan budget battles linger. But the big drama lately is a labor fight.
As Bites writes, the United Farm Workers are about halfway through their 10-day march to the Capital, where they’ll try to pressure Governor Gray Davis to sign legislation that would allow independent arbitrators to impose contracts when there is an impasse between growers and the union.
Most political wags tell Bites that Davis isn’t going to sign the measure, which is a shame considering that the refusal of many California farmers to negotiate in good faith has prevented the labor movement started by Cesar Chavez from translating organizing into major improvements in farm workers’ standard of living.
It’s a serious smudge on the Chavez dream, and one likely to have the marchers pretty fired up when they arrive at Cesar Chavez Park on Saturday. And you’d better believe that Davis won’t be visiting downtown for coffee on Sunday morning, when the march walks its final leg from Chavez Park to the Capitol just before noon.
Si se puede? We’ll see.