Measure I Tax on Your Home – Outright Swindle

Registered Oakland voters just received a mail-in ballot for a new City parcel tax. The essential fact about Measure I is this: by paying $80 a year under Measure I, residents will get absolutely no additional services.

They would not get more police. Nor would the decline in police staffing go any more slowly. The same is true about park cleanup, libraries, street repairs and everything else that mayor Quan talks about. These services would not be saved, nor would they shrink more slowly.

Measure I is the latest example of Jean Quan's bait and switch swindles. The basic idea is simple. Pass another tax, promising that the money will pay for this or that service. Assign the new revenue to the service – but cut existing appropriations for the same service. Presto! Quan has freed up money for what she really wants.

It happened with Measure Y in 2004. Then-councilmember Quan insisted we would get at least 802 police total if we passed the taxes in Measure Y. Voters gave her the money, and police staffing immediately fell, continuing to decline for years. Today Oakland has about 650 officers.

On the property tax bills now arriving in mailboxes, there are two charges for "VIOL PREV TAX," which is Measure Y/BB. Last year Quan and colleagues laid off 80 police, and the City could not legally collect the Measure Y tax. City officials pushed through Measure BB, removing the police staffing requirement from Measure Y. Now the City thinks it has the right to back-bill homeowners for the period when neither Measure Y nor Measure BB was in effect. How can anyone believe that officials who shuffle the deck like this would provide any real services under Measure I?

The same swindle happened with Measure Q, another tax that Quan promised would maintain library hours and services. Instead, hours have been cut.

Voters might think that with new parcel tax money, at least services would shrink more slowly. Nope. The mayor and city council still toss millions of dollars out the window.

  • They give loans to the Ferrari-driving owner of the Merritt Bakery, loans that the city auditor flatly states will never be repaid.

  • Councilmember and now mayor Quan always assigns top priority to Chabot Observatory up in the hills. While police do not have reliable radios, Chabot adds buildings and equipment for tourists. How often does your child get a free visit to Chabot? It is mostly for tourists and for students from Berkeley and Contra Costa County.

  • Mayor Quan thinks the City should hand out millions of dollars to the owner of a major league baseball team so he can have a new stadium. The City has purchased land for surrounding infrastructure and assigned thousands of staff hours in an unlikely attempt to make it happen.

Basic services come last at City Hall. Measure I dollars will be sunk into more of these scattered, unwise, and corruption-laden projects. No, not directly; the trick is done by putting the new tax revenue into old uses, then diverting the freed-up money to Quan's pork.

The budget mess

The City budget has a structural shortfall. As soon as Quan became mayor at the beginning of 2011, her biggest task was to propose a solution that matched revenues and spending. She didn't even try. Instead, the City passed a so-called balanced budget by "selling" Kaiser Center to the City's own redevelopment agency at an inflated price. The mayor's accounting trick put off the budget problem for a year, while the agency lost millions of dollars, now holding a property that it cannot lease or sell for anything near the purchase price.

After pulling such flagrant budgetary flimflam, Quan has the nerve to ask voters for another parcel tax. Last Spring she boasted at a city council meeting that Measure I will be the fifteenth tax she has proposed and campaigned for since she entered elected "public service."

Your rejection of the Measure I swindle is a way to tell City Hall that we will not be fooled again.

No on H and J, too

Measure H takes away your right to elect the city attorney. She would become an appointee of the city council, serving at its whim. The previous city attorney frustrated stupid council ideas, like trying to make Oakland of all cities a leader in industrial marijuana despite federal law. He enraged mayor Quan because he helped police chief Batts write gang injunctions; Quan thinks she can turn thugs around with hugs and kisses. She wants a city attorney who will let the City stumble into one disaster after another.

Measure J is a murky proposal to kick the City's pension financing decades down the road. No matter how carefully you read the measure and the arguments for it, you get only a vague idea of what would happen. If the proponents of the measure can't make it clear, vote against it.

Regressive tax

Although Quan poses as a liberal, she wants to enact a regressive parcel tax. A small stucco house in deep east Oakland would pay exactly the same as a multi-million dollar mansion in the hills. The $80 a year might not sound like much to some people, but it matters, especially in these tough times. Nor it is merely $80 every year by itself; the levy would be appended to the long list of Quan's taxes that every homeowner finds on her property tax bill.

Renters are not exempt. Measure I says, "Nothing in this ordinance is intended to preclude owners from recovering the tax from the occupant." Landlords can pass the tax on to tenants.

– Oct. 11, 2011

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