Vanguard Analysis: Another Anti-Measure O Argument Goes Awry

Davis-Mailer-2014b-1In a co-authored op-ed, Jose Granda and Tom Randall bring us another argument against the schools parcel tax… oh wait, the city sales tax. Unfortunately, once again, they miss the critical issues facing the city and make fundamental errors in their analysis.

They write, “This measure seeks to raise the sales tax in Davis to 8.5 percent, making it the highest in Yolo County. It would be very bad for businesses in Davis. Local residents will shop in other cities to buy their goods where the sales tax rate is comparatively lower, and sales of appliances, goods and cars would diminish, thereby damaging the local economy.”

Other areas have relatively similar tax rates: Woodland is 8.25%, Sacramento is 8.5%, West Sacramento is 8.0%, Vacaville is 7.875% and Fairfield is 8.625%. What does the 0.5% between West Sacramento and Davis amount to? 50 cents for $100, $5 for $1000, $50 for $10,000. In other words, you pay more in gas and wear on your car to shop in other cities based on the actual price difference. And, by the way, if you buy a car, you pay Davis’ tax rate regardless of where you purchase it.

They continue: “The Davis City Council has mismanaged the $248 million it receives from taxpayers and has caused a $4.99 million structural deficit.”

The opponents of Measure O continue to conflate the all-funds budget with the general fund. All-funds is a huge budget which includes things like the enterprise fund that has no bearing on the operating of the city.

“Now, in an act of arrogance, the council wants you to pay for its mistakes by digging in your pocket as if Davis residents were an ATM where cash is readily available whenever they run the budget in the red.”

The city of Davis did mismanage the budget up until about 2000. However, the city has been dealing with a budget from 2008 until the present and only now is it asking for revenue hikes. In 2010 and 2012, it asked only for renewals on existing taxes. So it is false to imply that they are using citizens are an ATM “whenever” they run the budget in the red – the budget has been in the red for six years, the city has in that time slashed city staff and dealt with structural issues in the budget.

“Measure O is not about parks, roads, sidewalks, bike paths and street lights. None of those are in the text of the measure; please read it. Measure O is a 1 percent tax for ‘general government purposes.’ The council can spend it on anything, including employee salaries, pensions and benefits for retired employees.”

They are partially correct here, but do not apparently understand the issue. Of the $3.7 million in revenue, the city has projected $2.5 million to cover increased costs of employee compensation while ticketing about $1.2 million for roads and other infrastructure. There is some debate over how that money will be used, but at least two councilmembers have assured the Vanguard this week they will be making the addition $1.2 million in cuts and leaving the roads budget intact.

They continue, “Measure O is not temporary.” This is a misinterpretation as to what temporary means. Temporary in this context means that the measure sunsets and would have to go back to the voters for re-approval. The opposition argues, “It obligates you to pay an additional $3.6 million a year to the city of Davis for the next six years, but as these measures go, it will be forever.”

It could last forever, but that again will be a choice of the voters.

They continue, “When the City Council discussed the measure, it deliberately did not earmark it exclusively for roads and bike paths but mostly to fulfill its commitments for employee compensation, pensions and retiree benefits.”

That was part of the problem – they couldn’t earmark it for anything, as it is a general purpose tax. They have discussed a parcel tax for the fall that would address the bulk of the roads issues.

“They already get $248 million from you through property taxes and current sales taxes. Why can’t they fix the potholes in the streets with that amount of money? If they haven’t done so with $248 million, can you trust they will do so with another $3.6 million for ‘government purposes’?”

Because they fundamentally do not understand what that $248 is and what it can or cannot do. Only the $42 million in the general fund can go to things like streets. The city for years relied on state and federal funds for roads. That money, however, was inconsistent over the last decade and has dried up since the last trickle came in through the stimulus plan. Council deserves criticism for the failure to prioritize a general fund stream of revenue for roads, but make no mistake, that $248 million is a false number.

“Measure O is brought to you by the same council that brought you the tripling of the water rates, prompting citizens to revolt and bring you Measure P to reverse them,” they write, failing to note that the voters approved Measure I by a 54-46 margin.

They continue, “Now, school board members (as individuals) are supporting Measure O. This is the same board that has earned the public’s distrust, that brought you the Nancy Peterson ordeal and that proposed four parcel tax ballot measures in 18 months.”

They add, “One of the board members, Sheila Allen, wants to transfer her tax-and-spend pattern from the school board to the City Council. Vote no on Measure O and vote no on Allen by voting for other candidates.”

And, of course, they have to bring up the half-cent issue again.

They write, “Please read the ballot. Measure O asks for a ‘one-cent’ addition to the sales tax rate. What is one penny, you wonder? This ballot language is false and misleading. If it passes, it will charge you ‘one percent’ of anything you buy, not ‘one cent.’ It is deliberately written like that to mislead the voters and make it easier to pass.”

They conclude, “Vote no on Measure O and send a clear message to these politicians. Their spending habits are out of control. Bring the City Council to its senses by voting no on Measure O, voting yes on Measure P and electing John Munn and Daniel Parrella to the City Council. They’re the only candidates with the taxpayers’ best interests in mind.”

Daniel Parrella. for what it is worth. told the Vanguard that, as he mentioned in the candidate’s forums, he is in favor of Measure O.   He also opposes Measure P.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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55 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    “They have discussed a parcel tax for the fall that would address the bulk of the roads issues.”

    I would be much more likely to believe in the sincerity of Mr. Granda and Mr. Randall in opposing measure O because they believe that it will not be used to fix the roads if they were to come out now, loudly and vocally in favor of the planned parcel tax since it can be specified specifically for this purpose. To the best of my knowledge, they have not yet done so. This leads me to believe that this is not for them a matter of what the tax may or may not be used for, but rather just the latest manifestation of their belief that no tax is warranted…..ever. What
    Mr. Granda and Mr. Randall seem not to appreciate is that we elect our city leaders, we decide on projects through votes, we have an obligation as citizens ( not ATMS) to pay for the amenities that we want. Mr. Granda and Mr. Randall seem to believe that “they” meaning the evil city council members have some nefarious intent in “reaching into the pockets of the people” for “their” own gain. I would propose that what the city council has proposed is paying for the items that the members of this community have clearly indicated that we wish to finance.
    The fact that Mr. Granda and Mr. Randall do not approve of these purchases does not change that fact that as citizens, we have the responsibility to pay for services chosen and received.

    1. Barack Palin

      “I would propose that what the city council has proposed is paying for the items that the members of this community have clearly indicated that we wish to finance.”

      I don’t know too many members of the community who wish to finance the runaway compensation packages of
      @ $175,000/year firefighter pay. Maybe the public is finally going to say no and send a strong message to the council that future budgets need to be reined in and not just using us citizens a an ATM card.

          1. David Greenwald

            I agree that it is not enough. But it’s far more than a drop in the bucket. Unfortunately, the sell out on the 2009 MOUs limited what the council could do in 2012.

    2. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > This leads me to believe that this is not for them a matter of
      > what the tax may or may not be used for, but rather just the
      > latest manifestation of their belief that no tax is warranted…..ever.

      I don’t want to speak for them, but most people I know just don’t want to pay more taxes when they feel like they are getting ripped off by insiders and we have firefighters getting paid over $175K a year for working 10 days a month when we could get over a thousand (qualified) applicants that would be happy to work for $50K a year less (and could get 100 applications for most other city jobs if we paid less with less benefits). The city blows millions on “affordable” housing that at the end of the day pays no taxes and is a funnel for the politically connected to get even more money while the same insiders plan to buy out PG&E with taxpayer money so they can funnel even more cash to their friends/donors….

      1. Tia Will

        SouthofDavis

        I am sure you are aware that none of the currently sitting members of the council accepted money from the firefighters to finance their campaigns. Since you read and post here frequently I am also sure that you are aware that this council made a number of cutbacks in city expenditures and implemented the collaborative integration of the UCD and Davis fire departments. This is also the council that brought us Steve Pinkerton and Rob White. It would seem that you are advocating punishing the citizens of Davis in terms of depriving us of desired services ( which will be the inevitable outcome) in order to somehow punish past councils for their poor decision making.

        Council members come and go. You are not “teaching them a lesson” by decreasing the amount of money that the city has to deal with needed expenditures. You are harming those of us who understand that if we desire roads which are passable, and protective services, and parks, and greenbelts and yes, water, that these items all cost money and that it is our responsibility to pay for these public services with public funds.

        1. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > SouthofDavis I am sure you are aware that none of the currently
          > sitting members of the council accepted money from the firefighters
          > to finance their campaigns.

          I am aware of this, but I am also aware of “why” this happened (some sitting members “decided” not to take the money).

          > I am also sure that you are aware that this council made a number
          > of cutbacks in city expenditures and implemented the collaborative
          > integration of the UCD and Davis fire departments.

          Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the UCD firefighters make substantially less than the Davis firefighters.

          > It would seem that you are advocating punishing the citizens
          > of Davis in terms of depriving us of desired services ( which
          > will be the inevitable outcome) in order to somehow punish
          > past councils for their poor decision making.

          Let’s say your ex husband signed a contract with a cleaning service for your home before you split up that charged $10K a month. Would you force your kids to go to work so you could pay them, or try and reduce the cost? When the contract ended would you get a cheaper service that was just as good for less or tell your kids “don’t punish your Dad for his poor decision making and give me more money so I can pay Lisa $10K a month to clean our home twice a week?”

          1. David Greenwald

            And while a compelling argument, part of the problem is that the cleaning service contract would contain legal protections that vest it and make it impossible to reduce retroactively.

  2. David Greenwald

    TTHey appear to oppose things first and come up wiith explanations second. They do not understand the difference between all funds and general fund budgets.

    1. DT Businessman

      Swanson also used the all funds amount in response to a candidates forum question. It should come as no surprise then that the Measure O opponents use it as well.

      -Michael Bisch

  3. SODA

    “They are partially correct here, but do not apparently understand the issue. Of the $3.7 million in revenue, the city has projected $2.5 million to cover increased costs of employee compensation while ticketing about $1.2 million for roads and other infrastructure. There is some debate over how that money will be used, but at least two councilmembers have assured the Vanguard this week they will be making the addition $1.2 million in cuts and leaving the roads budget intact.”

    a little confused David: are you saying in the last sentence that $1.2M (from sales tax revenue after employee compensation deducted) PLUS $1.2M (from salaries cut regardless of Measure O passing) will yield $2.4M that can/?will be used for roads?
    If so, ok but I have been led to believe by the Yes on O folks that passing O will not impact jobs such as Bob Bowen’s. Please clarify or is it more complicated than it seems or does the needle keep changing?

  4. David Greenwald

    No. There is $1.2 in the sales tax reserved for roads. The city needs to cut $1.2 million from the budget even if O passes. They are promising not to take that $1.2 million from roads.

    1. SODA

      your quote of two councilmen then does give us 2.4M after the sales tax revenue needed for employee compensation is subtracted, right? But they are not saying that the extra 1.2M from cutting the budget will go to roads; they are noncommital on how to use the 1.2M savings….

      1. David Greenwald

        No. I’m not doing a good job here. We are getting $3.7 million. $2.5 million go to compensation increases, $1.2 million remain for roads.

        Even if Measure O passed, we have another $1.2 million to cut. That’s not money available, those are additional cuts.

        1. Barack Palin

          “$2.5 million go to compensation increases”

          And here I thought our council cut costs. Sounds like the Federal Gov’t, we were going to to increase the budget $100 billion, but we only raised it $90 billion so in essence we have a new budget with a $10 billion cut. LOL

          1. David Greenwald

            They did otherwise the deficit would be nearly $10 million rather than $5 million

  5. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > In 2010 and 2012, it asked only for renewals on existing taxes.

    It is important to note that Measure E “asked for more money” (not just “renewals on existing taxes”) and would have allowed the Davis Joint Unified School District to levy an additional parcel tax of $242.00/year if Prop 30 didn’t pass statewide.

  6. Frankly

    One of the most difficult and unpopular things a business leader has to do from time to time is to cut positions and pay levels to balance the budget. That is the type of responsibility that justifies the position of leadership… you get the benefits of leadership along with the responsibilities of leadership.

    And if you don’t perform in carrying out those responsibilities, you are not deserving of the leadership role.

    The personnel expense cuts made be the current council were mostly the easy ones. Cuts through attrition… basically a decision to not fill the open positions… are the very easy steps in the overall responsibility for cutting to a point of sustainability. The difficult work remains. It is the work to figure out how to do more with less. How to trim the organization to retain those that can get the job done with fewer coworkers and happy to have a job paying less compensation… as long as that compensation matches the labor market.

    This work sucks. It really does. But it is a responsibility we have to expect from our elected and hired city leadership.

    Of course it would be much better for the leaders if there were more dollars available to prevent this hard work from being required. It would be a natural motivation to pursue greater revenue rather that to cut personnel and compensation. That is why you will never find a sitting city council member that every opposes a tax increase. It is natural that a city council would seek that easier remedy to a difficult problem.

    So it is us, the voters, that have to deliver the message… the bad news for our council and city management… that we expect them to comply with the responsibility of their positions. They are well rewarded for their positions of leadership. We expect them to perform in consideration of these rewards.

    1. South of Davis

      Frankly wrote:

      > So it is us, the voters, that have to deliver the message…
      > the bad news for our council and city management…

      Every government I know of has grown faster than inflation over my lifetime and I don’t see this changing any time soon. If the sales tax does not pass the voters will be punished and the city will cut everything people care about (without cutting pay and/or benefits) and the voters after feeling the pain of the punishment will vote for more taxes next time to avoid the pain…

      1. Frankly

        SOD – that is a sad cycle you are explaining. The voters will be punished and then vote to tax themselves more… but then isn’t that a form of punishment too?

        Let’s use a hypothetical argument of a total aggregate tax rate of 100%. Do you think voters would go for that?

        Of course not.

        The point here is that there is a limit to what voters are willing to accept.

        Federal income taxes have increases.

        State income taxes have increased.

        Sales taxes have increased.

        Property taxes have increased.

        Payroll taxes have increased.

        Corporate taxes have increased.

        Taxes and fees on products and services has increased.

        A middle-class family in California has a total aggregate marginal tax rate of near 50% when including .

        Families have less discretionary income at the end of the month and at the end of the year. They spend less on themselves, and give more to government which then gives more to the public sector unions that help get them elected.

        At what point does this stop? Because, like in my hypothetical question of 100% taxation, it is clear that voters will reach a breaking point at some point.

        Now Davis is filled with a bunch of people feeding off the government trough. It is possible that they will vote to tax themselves more because they are more direct recipients of the distribution of that tax money. But then they are also getting taxed more at the state and federal level. Their healthcare costs have skyrocketed from Obamacare. Their kids are suffering from a lousy job market… they are still living at home or requiring the parents to supplement their income just so they can survive.

        There are a lot of reasons to consider that voters have already hit this breaking point and will start saying NO to additional tax increases.

        But we will see in just a few weeks.

        1. South of Davis

          Frankly wrote:

          > A middle-class family in California has a total aggregate
          > marginal tax rate of near 50%

          Most middle class people pay OVER 50% to the “state” (all governments and related agencies) when you include ALL the taxes, fees and tolls people pay day after day (including little things like fees to park downtown, fees to camp, have a fire and fish when you take the kids camping and gas taxes, bridge tolls, registration and smog check fees, paint and tire recycling fees and the “junk” fees on every bill from cell phone to cable to land lines)…

          > They spend less on themselves, and give more to government
          > which then gives more to the public sector unions that help
          > get them elected.

          Don’t forget that they also give more and more to the very rich (both Republican and Democrat) so they can “help them get elected” and the very poor (and people who say they are very poor) so they “vote to get them elected”.

          The “middle class” is shrinking (and the middle class that pays attention is really shrinking) so don’t be surprised if taxes keep going up as a higher and higher percentage of voters are getting cash from the government (from welfare to college grants to tenured professors) keep voting to get more and more money from the shrinking private sector (that need to work harder and longer).

          P.S. I’m betting that WAY more than half of Davis residents are getting money from the government from Social Security, to Food Stamps/SNAP/EBT that is popular with UCD Grad students, to EIC and the army of people that work for the city of Davis, Yolo County UCD and/or the State and many State agencies in the greater Sacramento area.

          1. Frankly

            This all rings true to me.

            Here is the part that most voters don’t understand.

            They think that there the wealthy are too privileged and can afford to be taxed more so that government can redistribute more to them and others that have less.

            Tax increases do not result in 100% inelasticity of production… and that is the trick of those that demand tax increases. For example, if you raise a marginal tax rate by 2%, it does not translate into a 2% drop in production because of the 2% drop in potential reward for work. The majority of people are stuck in the rat-race. They have a mortgage. They have to pay for energy, food and health care. They have expense obligations. They make a wage. The government can tax them more, and they have no choice but to keep working… unless they are at the lower-ends of income, they will just keep working… but having less discretionary money at the end of the month/year to spend on themselves. But that happens incrementally and they get used to it. The learn to live with less because the government keeps incrementally taking more.

            So we don’t get a 1-to-1 ratio of tax increase to lost production.

            But at some level of taxation production falls to offset the gains. This is the Laffer Curve.

            And it is not the wage-earner that is directly responsible for this. It is capital…

            When the return on investment for business development is reduced from tax increases, then less capital will be invested in business development.

            If you are an investor or business owner thinking of expanding or opening a new business, any tax increase (personal or otherwise) is going to add disincentive for doing so. Why put capital at risk and why work so hard when so much more of it will be taken away by the government to be handed over to other more favored people?

            The bottom line is that our increasing tax bill is dragging down economic growth. And lower economic growth is reducing opportunity for people to move forward in their economic life.

            American is spiraling downward in average and aggregate economic health. Tax increases are both a cause and a sign. If we allow government to increase taxes, we are in fact contributing to that spiral downward.

        2. Michelle Millet

          They spend less on themselves, and give more to government which then gives more to the public sector unions that help get them elected.

          Frankly are you opposed to all special interest groups that help get candidates elected or just the unions?

          1. Frankly

            Michelle – Public sector unions are a conflict of interest for our democratic political process and for our public budgets. There is nothing equivalent… a direct return of cash for their spending to influence politics.

            If your neighbor is a member of a public sector union, he has an unfair advantage in the political process to influence government to send more of the public budget to his pocket. As an individual that is not a member of a public sector union, you are much more limited in your ability to do the same for yourself… or to prevent your neighbor from doing it.

            It is common for the left to defend public sector unions and point to corporate lobbying as the converse justification. However, with some exception, business does not get direct cash for their influence investment. And in the cases where they do, I do not support it either. Business, like other organizations influencing pubic policy, must then go and complete with other business to win their reward. But public sector unions only need to get their man or woman elected and the money flows.

            Go back and read comments from left-leaning politicians like FDR on unions. They were against public sector unions even though they supported unionization. The reasons they opposed public sector unions are the fiscal problems we are experiencing today.

        3. Tia Will

          “Now Davis is filled with a bunch of people feeding off the government trough. It is possible that they will vote to tax themselves more because they are more direct recipients of the distribution of that tax money”

          And there are some of us who are not “feeding off the public trough” ( aka doing the jobs that the community wants done) who do not agree with you that taxes are too high. There are those of us who are able to appreciate that the cost of almost everything, not just taxes has increased. There are those of us who are aware that we have enjoyed water at far less cost than we should have been paying for such a precious resource, and are now shocked that we might actually have to pay more for it. I do not feel that we are overtaxed in Davis. I think it is time for us to act like responsible adults, stop using cutsey phrases like referring the the city council uses us as an “ATM” and actually agree to pay for our obligations and benefits.

          1. South of Davis

            Tia wrote:

            > And there are some of us who are not
            > “feeding off the public trough”

            Public money POURS in to health care (about $0.25 out every $1.00) and pretty much everyone (with the exception of some concierge and cash only MDs) working in health care is “feeding at the public trough” to some extent.

            > who do not agree with you that taxes are too high.

            I would be interested to see if Tia will tell us how much in EXTRA taxes she sent to the city of Davis last year.

            Most of the people I meet that want “higher taxes” want other people to pay higher taxes (I say “most” because I know one person who pays extra taxes and I’m hoping that Tia might make it two) want “other” people to pay higher taxes. Like most people that shop on line I’ll go MONTHS on end where I don’t pay any sales tax in Davis (buying just food in town with paper products and gas at Costco and most other gas heading out of town mainly since it is cheaper (not to avoid the tax). I could care less about the 1/2 percent (not cent) sales tax increase since I won’t pay much and the small amount of money just does not matter to me, but it will hurt a lot of poor people (including grad students) I know that will go even deeper and deeper in debt.

          2. Frankly

            Tia – you are a wage earner. You make a high enough wage that you are in the top 1%. You apparently make more than you need and because of this you are fine paying more. Go for it. But don’t project your life on the rest of us.

            Do you know how many people make their living working for small business?

            Do you know how tax increases destroy the incentives for people to start and grow small business?

            Our governments continue to take a greater and greater percentage of the value of overall production… it destroys job creation.

            I really don’t think you get it. You seem to see the world as being filled with people that cannot do enough for themselves unless we have copious government programs to help them. I think that was your history, right? My history was to get no direct help… only a robust economy and accessible and affordable education that allowed me to pursue my own career path and success. Nobody helped me except myself and the American system. There is room for both and a need for both. But you keep demanding more of your career path at the expense of my career path. Your way is not the only way… in fact it is not the preferred way in my opinion. You were an exception taking the help and becoming a doctor. The majority just take the help and become chronic social charity cases.

            Robust education and robust economy… it solves more problems more efficiently than does constantly expanding safety nets.

    2. Michelle Millet

      Of course it would be much better for the leaders if there were more dollars available to prevent this hard work from being required.

      Yes, because clearly our council members hate hard work, which is why they basically volunteer for the kick back responsibilities that come with this leadership role.

  7. Grant Acosta

    While I don’t necessarily agree with their specific arguments against Measure O, I do support their effort to get the wording correct. While the Vanguard and others have scoffed at Granda, Dunning and others for insisting the language be accurate, nobody has yet to offer a reasonable explanation for why the city insisted on using “half-cent” when they really meant “half-percent.” I’ve heard the arguments that most Davis voters are smart enough to figure it out, but in an election, don’t you want to get the language precise? As we’ve seen, elections regarding taxes have been pretty close in recent years, so even if a few hundred people misunderstand “half-cent,” isn’t that unacceptable? I also don’t agree with the argument that “everyone does it that way.” Given that almost everyone I know uses “percent” when they mean “percent,” I can think of no other reason to change it to “cent” for an election other than hoping to trick a few uniformed voters.

    Explanations anyone?

    1. Michelle Millet

      I can think of no other reason to change it to “cent” for an election other than hoping to trick a few uniformed voters.

      This sales increase is not going to personally benefit our council members. Some may argue that it is going to make their “job” easier. But the fact is they don’t get paid a wage. They get a stipend that works out being a couple of dollars an hour if you do the math. This idea that trickery is at play is a distraction, and does not result in any substantial or relevant conversation about the tax measure and it’s implications.

      1. Grant Acosta

        I wasn’t concerned about the council members getting paid, and I’m very aware of the tax measure and it’s implications. What I’m talking about is the basic idea that most people would agree with: for something as important as a measure to be voted on, the language should be as simple and ACCURATE as possible so that voters know EXACTLY what they are voting for. This is NOT a trivial issue!

        I’m still waiting for good reason to use “cent” rather than “percent.” Anyone else???

        1. South of Davis

          Grant wrote:

          > I’m still waiting for good reason to use “cent” rather
          > than “percent.” Anyone else???

          As a guy that spent many years working in politics I can tell you that EVERY word for ballot language is poll tested and “cent” obviously polled higher than “percent”.

          P.S. Why do you think the “Government Department of Coyote Killers” sent to Davis a few years back are called the “Wildlife Services Department of Predator Control”?

          Answer: because “servicing” “wildlife” sounds better than “killing” “coyotes” (and lots of other non targeted animals including endangered species)…

  8. Tia Will

    Grant Acosta

    I can’t answer your question. Making the change seems like a reasonable thing to have done. If you are curious about why they did not make the change, a simple e mail to any council member would probably result in your getting the true answer. They are all quite responsive to e mail questions.

    Having said that, I think it is entirely unreasonable and duplicitous to pretend on the one hand that one has respect for the intelligence of the Davis voters, while then pretending that they will not understand the word usage in this case. This is not a substantive argument. It is just throwing more political mud at the wall and hoping that some of it will stick .

    1. Grant Acosta

      I’m confused at your accusation, Tia. I am not arguing both ways in terms of Davis voters. On the contrary, I am simply saying that even in a smart town like Davis, not 100 percent (or 100 cent, if you prefer) of voters will know that “cent” really means “percent.” All it takes is a small “centage” of these voters to sway an election.

      In the absence of a reasonable explanation, one can only assume that South of Davis is right: it is a subtle change intended to soften the sound of a tax increase,…which amounts to trickery. That bothers me, and it should bother any citizen, for or against the measure, who wants a true, fair democracy.

      Look, I’ve already studied both sides of the measure and made my decision. I’m not trying to argue the measure one way or the other. I’m just curious why so few people in this intelligent town are bothered by the imprecise language of the measure.

      1. David Greenwald

        For me it has to do with the exact language being on the books for the last decade. The language is in common usage in over 200 jurisdictions in California and was used for Prop 30.

        1. Grant Acosta

          I am aware of that, but that doesn’t make it right. So because other cities have done it for a long time, we should continue the misleading language? That makes absolutely no sense! Hey, slavery was common for quite awhile…

          Since when has Davis been afraid to take a stand for the better? How could it possibly be a bad thing to get the wording precise?

          1. David Greenwald

            You wrote: ” I’m just curious why so few people in this intelligent town are bothered by the imprecise language of the measure.”

            I answered above. I think people are familiar with how a sales tax works and realize it’s half-cent on the dollar not a flat rate of a half-cent. 100%? No. But my guess is that there is a higher percentage of people who do not know we have a half-cent tax currently on the books.

          2. Grant Acosta

            So David, for the record, would you be opposed to changing the wording to “percent” versus “cent” on future tax measures?

          3. David Greenwald

            No. But I don’t think we have to invalidate it over the word usage either.

      2. Tia Will

        Grant Acosta

        Oh dear. I’m sorry that I wasn’t clear. My intent was not to accuse you. My comment was directed towards the antics of Mr. Granda and Mr. Randall who have established quite a reputation for seizing on any detail to argue against any tax. It is a tactic of their’s to comment on how the city is somehow trying to “trick” or “fool” the unsuspecting public and it is their duty to set things right.

  9. DT Businessman

    Grant, why didn’t those individuals bothered by the use of “cent” speak up BEFORE the CC put Measure O on the ballot, instead of AFTER? Wouldn’t that have been more helpful if their intent was merely to make the language as accurate as possible?

    -Michael Bisch

    1. Grant Acosta

      People did speak up. Dunning wrote about it and was ignored. Are you not bothered by the use of “cent” even though virtually no one uses that term as common usage today?

      1. DT Businessman

        No, I’m not bothered by the use of the “cent”. Anybody that knows me understands that I focus on substance, not trivia. And last time I checked, Dunning didn’t file a lawsuit against Measure O. Nor has Dunning initiated a political campaign against Measure O. What Dunning has done is poked fun at the drafters of Measure O for not being able to distinguish the difference between “cent” and “percent”. Granda and the others, had they wished to be constructive, could easily have raised the matter PRIOR to the CC taking action, but they chose not to. Grant, are you not bothered by that?

        -Michael Bisch

        1. Grant Acosta

          The city council can read. They know the language is misleading. I’m not trying to initiate a revolt against Measure O. In fact, I will be voting for it. Again, I’m just curious as to why more people aren’t bothered by using ambiguous language on something as important as an election issue.

          I thought more about why the wording bothers me last night. I’m a math teacher. If I were to give a question on a math test that read something like “A pair of shoes was purchased for $100 dollars, with a half-cent tax added” to a class of Davis High senior who are 18 years old (old enough to vote, mind you), I am certain I would get emails from parents protesting that “cent” isn’t the same as “percent.”

          1. Davis Progressive

            do you have any evidence it’s misleading? it’s such common usage, it’s hard to believe anyone really is fooled and if they are, maybe there’s nothing you can do about it. comparing taxpayers to a high school senior is not really a good analogy. there are lots of things i wouldn’t have trusted to my 18 year old daughter.

          2. Grant Acosta

            I disagree with you about the common usage of the term “cent” for “percent.” It may be common usage for elections, but it is certainly not common everyday-use language. Nobody I know says “tip the waitress 15 cent.”

            If the young voter analogy didn’t resonate with you, how about non-native English speakers? I certainly know many English learners who are not familiar with connotations that most native speakers would recognize.

            Let’s say you are right, that 90% of Davis voters actually know that “cent” means “percent.” If 30,000 people turn out to vote, then 3000 people could potentially vote for something other than what they thought they were voting for. That could potentially be significant in a close election.

            The point is this: If the rule for practicing medicine is “first do no harm,” then the rule for wording election measures ought to be “make it as clear as possible,” and I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t use “percent” since that is precisely what is meant.

          3. Davis Progressive

            well first of all, 30,000 people don’t generally vote in davis elections. maybe a presidential election, but not generally.

            second, ten percent is way too high. my guess is less than one percent. probably a far higher percentage don’t know there’s a current tax measure already on the books, that doesn’t mean we remove it.

          4. Barack Palin

            Grant is right, we don’t say we have a 1 cent California property tax, we say we have a 1 percent tax. There was no reason that the ballot language couldn’t have been worded properly.

  10. Grant Acosta

    By the way, I did an informal poll of 10 people and found that only 2 people thought “cent” meant the same as “percent” when worded similar to the way Measure O is worded. I encourage the skeptics to do the same. My belief is that despite the fact that most Vanguard readers are informed enough to realize the meaning, when you move outside the realm of voters who are highly educated and well informed of current issues, the centage of people who understand the true meaning drops significantly.

      1. Grant Acosta

        Part of knowing what the ordinance does involves knowing that a tax increase of “half cent” really means “half percent,” does it not?

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