Thursday, October 23, 2014     Volume: 29, Issue: 13
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New Times / Letters to the Editor

Measure G for a healthy SLO

John B. Ashbaugh - SLO City Council -

Reading the diatribe by Keith Gurnee, et al opposing Measure G (“Measure G is just more broken promises,” Oct. 16), I’m reminded of what Abraham Lincoln said about the pro-slavery arguments of Stephen Douglas in 1858: As thin as a soup made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death.

They claim that Measure G is a “new” tax, rather than merely a renewal of Measure Y, the original 1⁄2-cent sales tax that expires in March. Who cares? That’s a distinction without a difference. What’s important is that passing Measure G will maintain important city services and investments.

They’re screaming “bait-and-switch”—where’s their evidence? Read the independent audits of Measure Y spending at slocity.org. Each item in Measure Y has received significant funding: street paving, traffic congestion relief, public safety, flood protection, senior citizen services/facilities, neighborhood code enforcement, and open space preservation.

They argue that the city doesn’t need Measure Y revenues to stay healthy—even stating that our General Fund revenues “never dipped below those of 2006, not counting revenues from Y.” The fact is that all General Fund revenues fell by 10 percent from 2008 to 2010. I should know: I was on the council when we cut the budget during those difficult years.

The ghost of Lincoln’s starved pigeon is stalking us in the form of the “No on G” campaign.

Don’t swallow their thin soup. Vote “yes” on Measure G.


It won't be perfect, but I'm voting yes on G

John Fowler - San Luis Obispo -

I’ve had many calls and emails from the Yes for Measure G camp asking me to weigh in and stop allowing the No folks to use my March 2014 letter to council to give support to their efforts (without contacting me and asking for my current thoughts).

I have given this some very serious consideration as I care deeply about the quality of life and financial health of our great city. I know weighing in will not make a lot of folks happy that are friends of mine, but I have never let my personal loss keep me from doing what I think is the right thing. You might say that philosophy is what got me into this mess in the first place, generating my now infamous letter to the council, as I know my original letter made no friends in City Hall and elsewhere.

That said, I went back and re-read my letter to the council and, to be honest, what I wrote is still true today: City staff (you can say at the direction of the council or at least approval by the council) did not accomplish the goals of Measure Y as put forth to the voters, and that, quite frankly, is why Measure G opponents are able to mount such an argument. You can say it was the unexpected interruption of the Great Recession or whatever you choose, but the fact remains we have very little tangible evidence to show for the past measure, not to mention little planning for the loss of this revenue stream until most recently, even though revenues have been growing strong these years coming out of the recession.

I did soften my position against a new measure on the ballot, based on the recommendations put forth by the Chamber, which appear will be adopted by the council for Measure G. With these changes and new promises, I did feel it should go to the voters.

So where do I stand today? Well, I believe that, due to poor long-term planning, not continuing this revenue stream will have some financial consequences (maybe not the sky is falling, as some would suggest, but consequences for sure ) even with the revenue growth we’ve seen. For this reason, I will be personally voting to approve this measure, as I love the quality of life we enjoy, and if more of the Measure G funds go to CIP as once again promised, that would be great.

That said, I completely understand the general public’s hesitancy to trust that we can do better the second time around—however, being pragmatic, government is not known for its efficiencies, forward planning, or addressing hard questions unless forced to (don’t even get me started on pension reform), so it’s not perfect. No, my vote for Measure G is more of a hope we have learned something and a belief the staff who work down at City Hall are good people doing their best, within a less-than-perfect political environment. This, and an optimistic belief we will see some spending changes and more oversight going forward. Will it be perfect? Likely no—but then, what in life is?


Don't be fooled again

Pete Evans - San Luis Obispo -

The city of San Luis Obispo would like you to think it has been prudent in how it spends Measure Y tax funds. I think they spend our money without regard to how hard we work for it.

Take a look at how the council authorized spending Y money on “downtown improvements” at its June 15, 2010, meeting. By the way, “downtown improvements” were not one of the ways the city promised us they’d spend Y funds when we voted for the tax, and in polls of city residents “downtown improvements” don’t even rank as something the people want the city to spend money on. No matter, the City Council does what it wants for its downtown buddies, and they authorized tens of thousands of dollars on newspaper dispensers, painting street light poles, and new garbage cans.

Does that sound like financially responsible spending? Yet this is typical of how Y funds have been spent.

Measure G is just more of the same: broken promises, inadequate financial responsibility. Don’t be fooled again.

Vote no on G.


Shame on the Measure G committee

Leslie Halls - San Luis Obispo -

Yesterday I received yet another full-color oversized card requesting my vote for sales tax Measure G. On it, Dave Romero commented that our infrastructure was falling way behind until Measure Y passed in 2006.

Wasn’t Dave Romero the Public Works director for more than 35 years? Didn’t he serve on the City Council and then as mayor from 1994 until after Measure Y was passed?

What was he doing all those years as Public Works director if not doing public works? What was he doing on the council if not pushing for infrastructure maintenance and progress? Weren’t “Dave” and “pave” inextricably linked? As I recall, he was proud of that. The corporation yard was even named after him—a public servant who, if we believe Measure G proponents, did nothing by his own admission for more than 50 years!

Shame on you, Measure G proponents. Whoever among you wrote that quote for him has discredited and made a fool of a now-elderly man who served our city well. You owe him a public apology for misrepresenting his life’s work on our behalf. You people are liars and idiots. I will never vote for Measure G.