Analysis: Will Measure G Pass?

Going into the election for the parcel tax, polling indicated that a $200 parcel tax would be right on the cusp – it got to about 65 percent support, adding in leaners, which would leave it just short.

When we talked to Alan Fernandes a few weeks ago, he noted, given the tight timeline and the race that started polling right at if not a tick below the threshold, the key to the entire race will be the ability to do effective GOTV (Get Out The Vote).

“If we do this better than we’ve ever done any campaign, which I feel like we have a shot at doing, effective GOTV can move an election five to seven points if you’re very precise and targeted,” Mr. Fernandes said.

He explained that polling reflects people’s reaction at the time to questions and issues.

“What polling doesn’t reflect is GOTV and the ability of us to really target our support,” he said.

For him, it matters if they do a good job of identifying their voters and getting them to the polls.

“If we do that well, then I think we’re going to get that extra bump above what the polling reflects,” he said.  “The kind of GOTV that I’m hopeful that we run here is akin to what you would see in a more professionally run campaign that Davis traditionally doesn’t have.”

In the absence of additional polling in local races, I look at other signals.  The closest a parcel tax for the schools has come to losing since we have covered these was the 2011 Measure A.

That measure was racked with controversy over a letter sent out by the superintendent explaining to seniors how they can apply for a senior tax exemption.

Mr. Dunning wrote a series of very critical articles: “Now, if you’re raising an eyebrow about the appropriateness of a public official spending public money to influence the outcome of an election, you are not alone.”

Even with more opposition than usual and a series of controversies, the parcel tax measure passed – by a scant 67.1 percent of the vote.  It would not have taken much more opposition to drop the measure below the two-thirds threshold.

Thus in order to evaluate the possibility that this measure will be defeated we need to look at three factors: is there controversy, is there organized opposition, and what do the letters to the editor look like?

So far, despite the fact that this measure is definitely pushing the envelope – in terms of adding $200 to the parcel tax on top of the $620 already on the books and the fact that it is going expressly for the purpose of raising teacher salaries – we are not seeing controversy in the community, there has been nothing negative to date from Bob Dunning that we have noted, and the opposition is kind of the usual suspects.

The ballot arguments against the measure have Thomas Randall, who has opposed every parcel tax, John Hoover, the President of the Yolo County Taxpayers Association, Katie Kelly, self-described as a farmer and parent, and Mary McDonald, a school psychologist.

The website they link to has ballot arguments against Measure H – the 2016 ballot measure – and articles about Jose Granda, then running for school board, but nowhere to be seen on this issue.

In short, there does not seem to be much in the way of organized opposition.

What about the all-important letters to the editor?  Over the last few elections, we have successfully been able to predict outcomes based simply on letters to the editor.

Earlier this week, we noted the op-ed by Gregg Cook opposing Measure G.

There are six letters to the Davis Enterprise currently on their site, all of them in favor of Measure G.

We have a letter from a first-year teacher at Da Vinci: “As a first-year Davis teacher, I am strongly invested in the district I work for and the community I teach in. To me, a great school district means that the people I work for are willing to support me and provide towards my wellbeing. However, in Davis teachers are paid significantly less than the nearby Sacramento school districts.”

A litter from Ray Frank: “A town’s quality of life directly correlates with how well its children are supported. As a senior citizen who has lived here for more than 20 years, I enthusiastically endorse Measure G.”

A letter from another senior: “It’s simple: Our young people need and deserve the best education we can possibly give them. I will be delighted to spend a little extra tax money for proper compensation for the best teachers and staff we can possibly provide.  Please, fellow seniors, join me in voting yes on Measure G.”

A letter from Roxanne Deutsch at Birch Lane Elementary: “Measure G will cost homeowners $198/year. The $3 million in revenue that this will generate has already been negotiated. The funds can only be used for staff compensation — teachers, nurses, speech therapists, psychologists, librarians, counselors and paras etc. The top four DJUSD administrators cannot receive any money. Exemptions are available for seniors and teachers, if they choose to apply for the waiver.

“Please vote yes for Measure G to ensure we can continue Davis’ outstanding educational legacy for future generations of children in our beloved community.”

A letter from a fifth grader: “My name is Payton, and I’m a fifth-grader at Pioneer Elementary. I really support what Measure G is trying to accomplish so we can give my peers and me a great education. Teachers are the foundation of education, and we don’t want to lose them.”

And another letter from a teacher at Birch Lane: “I have been a teacher in this town for 12 of my 15 years in education, and I love it. This is my dream job. The parents are invested and supportive, the students come to class fed, rested, and ready to learn, the administration is responsive, and the teachers are the best in the business. I wanted to work here because I knew that to be the best, I had to learn from the best. There are no ‘bare minimum’ teachers at my site.”

How meaningful are these letters?  You might argue several are from teachers, one is from a student, maybe not representative of the community.

But that’s more important than you think – one of the reasons letters matter is it shows which side is motivated and which side is mobilized.

There has not been a huge range of difference in the outcomes of the many parcel taxes since 2007.  We have seen at the low end 67.1 percent of support and at the high end nearly 75 percent.

That remarkable stability plays in favor of this parcel tax passing, because it shows that consistently between two-thirds and three-quarters of voters support the schools with parcel taxes.

But, as you know, the parcel tax doesn’t have a huge margin for error either, because of the two-thirds requirement.  The one that came close was racked with controversy – controversy that we are not seeing this time around nor are we seeing as of yet any indication that there is opposition mobilizing.

There are still six weeks to go, but right now, I would lean toward it passing.  Of course, things can and do change rapidly.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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  1. Bill Marshall

    It may be “instructive” to compare/contrast Measure G with Measure E, also on the March ballot, the latter being for the Los Rios Community College District.

    Measure G is a “parcel tax”… Measure E is “ad valorem tax”.  Measure G will go to employee compensation… Measure E is for facilities/equipment.  Measure G is ‘fixed’ initially, but has provisions for ‘inflation’, and is open-ended (continues unless repealed by a subsequent vote)… Measure E rates will depend on the financing costs of bonds, if and when they are issued (average currently estimated @ $15/$100k assessed value, highest estimate is $23/$100k AV), and is estimated to sunset in ~20-25 years).

    Measure G has exemptions for Seniors, SSI/SDI, DJUSD employee folk, should they choose to take it… Measure E provides only for the reduction of AV based on HO status… none other.

    Ballot arguments against Measure G exist… ballot arguments against Measure E do not.

    Am making no argument for/against either, in this post.  Just info, for those who choose to use it.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Yes… missed that compare/contrast point… consider it added… “instructional”… my bad for missing pointing it out, yet inherent in the difference in law, between school/education bond measures (ad valorem) and parcel taxes.  Which I did point out.

        I appreciate you reminding folk of the difference.

        My post was intended was to be informative, not for ‘advocacy’/opposition… I will assume your response was likewise motivated.

  2. Tia Will

    You might argue several are from teachers, one is from a student, maybe not representative of the community.”

    Whether we acknowledge it or think about it on a daily basis as I do, our entire community is dependent on our educational system. Davis is largely driven by the presence and success of UCD. Directly or indirectly we are all affected by the success of the learners in our community whether at the level of K-12, undergrad or graduate students, the ability to obtain a good education or support a good education for others is nowhere more apparent than right here is Davis.

    1. Hiram Jackson

      I acknowledge that others may be inclined to argue this point, but having lived in Davis for more than 30 years, I think I see evidence that a positive educational experience for past cohorts of DJUSD student graduates positively influences who lives here decades later.

      1. Bill Marshall

        I’d go one step further, Hiram… I’d say that “past cohorts of DJUSD student graduates [who had positive educational experiences] positively influenced/influences, the communities they eventually choose to live in, Davis or elsewhere, decades later.”

        Meant as a friendly amendment… based partly of my experiences in SMJUSD (Bay Area), and knowing how many my ‘cohort members’ [those having, also, positive educational experiences], including those who came before, and those who came after, have positively contributed to Davis or other communities where they ended up in.

        The job of SMJUSD was/is not to groom kids to be San Mateo/Burlingame/Millbrae/San Bruno, etc., citizens to positively influence those communities… it was to prepare them to positively influence WHATEVER communities they ended up in.

        Again, meant as a friendly amendment… and, despite the ‘party line’ by some, DJUSD is not unique in providing “positive educational experiences”, and not all DJUSD students have such experiences… sorry to burst some folk’s bubbles… we may be ‘special’, but not ‘that special’…

        1. Hiram Jackson

          Bill Marshall: “…the communities they eventually choose to live in, Davis or elsewhere…”

          I agree with your point and had it in mind in my original comment, even if I didn’t adequately articulate it.  I came to Davis in  part because I heard positive comments from a (then) young adult who grew up here and had a good experience.  That person settled down elsewhere.

          I think I can point to other similar kinds of word-of-mouth endorsements that produced similar results.

        2. Bill Marshall

          Hiram.. as to your 2:24 post… same applies to me… I’ll leave it to others to ‘judge’ me.. I tend to only ‘judge’ liars and bullies… you strongly appear to be neither…

  3. Bill Marshall

    Funny thing about this article… unless one is ‘handicapping’, or taking wagers, only one ‘poll’ matters… it will take place on March 3.

    The article’s purpose is ephemeral… unless one is trying to push for a ‘herd mentality’, that folk should vote on the basis of where the herd seems to be ‘trending’… to be on the ‘winning side’…

    I have little doubt the measure will pass… but I wonder about trying to sway voters by ‘following the herd’… I’m still unsure how I’ll vote… this article is completely ineffective, one way or the other, to me at least.

    I do encourage folk to inform themselves, think/cogitate, and vote… even easier this time, due to “same day registration”… if you are eligible, and don’t vote, I will be very intolerant of any complaining as to the outcome.

    1. Bill Marshall

      In one way, at least, that is always true… voting matters… counts… if only on the margins… here, on Measure G, pretty sure it will pass, and the only question is “by how much”…

      If the Measure G folk work on “getting out the vote”, plus the voter registration/information about voting (irrespective of a particular measure) by the Elections office, targeted to UCD students (on and off campus)[see today’s Emptyprize], likely Measure G will pass… but on philosophical principles, will not bet, but for those who do, odds favor passage… that’s where the ‘smart money’ will be.

      The key is getting folk knowledgeable, and getting them to vote… if the measure (G) fails, it will fail because of lack of outreach… said as someone who will definitely vote, will serve as a poll worker, but haven’t yet decided which way… I know I’ll be voting in favor of Measure E (the seldom discussed bond measure for LRCCD).

      For reasons I’ve already posted about, and feel no need to repeat… I feel no need to convince others on either measure.  The assessments are de minimus to us, and the purposes are worthy, in our opinion(s).

      And the effect of the VG discussions will be super de minimus as to results!


  4. Bill Marshall

    BTW, why is there no discussion on Measure E?  Guess that’s good, as I believe it should pass, and easily… only needs a 55% vote [affirmed by another poster]… yet it has the potential of exceeding the Measure G assessments… but, we (family) support it… still, the assessments are de minimus…

    1. Hiram Jackson

      “BTW, why is there no discussion on Measure E?”

      Because Measure E is an extension of a previously existing school (community college) facilities tax.

      Without increasing future tax rates, shall the measure to repair classrooms, facilities and labs at American River, Cosumnes River, El Dorado, Folsom Lake and Sacramento City campuses for job training, nursing/ healthcare, engineering/ science and fire/ police programs, by Los Rios Community College District to authorize $650 million of bonds be adopted with legal rates, raising an average $52 million per year until repaid, an average tax levy less than $0.02 per $100 assessed valuation, annual audits and taxpayer oversight? source

      By contrast Measure G is a new tax.  Extensions of already existing taxes usually don’t generate as much discussion as proposals for a new tax.

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