Tea and antipathy



Just as Upfront expected, the Land Park/Curtis Park streetlight assessment district election turned out to be a blockbuster. (See “ Too close to call,” SN&R Upfront, December 20, 2007.)

Things heated up when opponents charged that at least 200 homeowners who would have to pay $250 or more a year for new streetlights never got ballots. Measure foes sent 220 teabags to Sacramento City Council offices, and some even showed up to the January 3 council meeting wearing teabags on their lapels.

That didn’t impress Councilwoman Lauren Hammond, who supported the assessment in her neighborhoods. As it got close to time for the city clerk to count the ballots, Hammond addressed audience members who had spent an hour of so complaining about the cost of the assessment, and the fact that so many homeowners seemed to have been disenfranchised.

“All the little protesters want to go and drop off their ballots. Why don’t they go and do that now,” Hammond urged.

Now, Upfront was sort of agnostic about the assessment, since Upfront wouldn’t get the bill. However, Upfront actually does know people who get their tax and garbage bills in the area, every time, but for some reason didn’t get ballots. Sure, teabags are goofy political props, but the whole taxation without representation thing still rings people’s bells.

And it turned out the “little” tea-baggers had the numbers; residents turned the streetlight assessment down 708 to 255.

Hammond later clarified her council comments in a make up e-mail to the no side. “Congratulations on your victory! I apologize for my characterization of the opponents. I meant to describe the group as a vocal minority. Apparently I was wrong about that, too.” And in her sincerest, most politic, “Hey no-hard-feelings” e-mail tone, Hammond continued that she now realizes “the economy has changed so much that paying an extra $37 a month for safety is just too much. The people have spoken.”