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New Times / News

The following article was posted on July 23rd, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 52 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 52

Grover Beach hires a firm for street repair bond education

BY CLIFF MATHIESON

The Grover Beach City Council took the next steps on a $48 million street repair bond measure at its July 21 meeting. Since the dollar amount has been finalized and the wording of the measure is all but set in stone, the council is now turning its attention to getting the word out about the bond.

After weighing two options for about 15 minutes on July 21, the council unanimously picked the Lew Edwards Group (LEG) to educate the community about the bond. LEG was chosen partially because of its prior experience with Grover and partially because the price of its services is between $23,750 and $24,950—significantly less than competing firm TBWB’s $32,000.

Though the expected price of LEG’s services is a little less than $25,000, Grover is taking $30,000 out of reserves for the project “in order to give staff a little flexibility,” City Manager Bob Perrault said.

LEG’s main plan of attack is to mail out two waves of fliers detailing facts about the bond to potential voters.

In an email to the Grover city manager’s office, LEG boasted a 95 percent success rate. Cities that use the firm to educate their citizens almost always get their measures passed, according to LEG.

At the July 21 meeting, Mayor Debbie Peterson and other council members repeatedly stressed how education about the bond will be vital to getting the measure passed.

Since the city isn’t allowed to use its resources to advocate for ballot measures, education is Grover’s best plan for publicizing the street bond, Peterson said. The line between educating and advocating, though, is blurry; the two words were essentially interchangeable in the conversation at the July 21 meeting.

“Is there a reason we’re calling it a public education program and not a public outreach?” Council Member Jeff Lee asked.

“I suppose it’s a little bit of both,” Perrault answered.

“Outreach could be advocacy,” cautioned City Attorney Martin Koczanowicz.

The council could run into some legal troubles if they label what LEG is doing as outreach. As long as it’s referred to as education, though, it’s legally aboveboard.

There was a larger-than-average citizen turnout at the July 21 meeting. Many of the attendees voiced their support for the bond education plan because they believe education is the best way to sway Grover residents who may oppose the measure.

“I support [the bond measure] because I think it’s what we have to do,” said Grover Beach resident Susan Gates. “However, I’m not convinced that it will be approved unless the city does a great job of educating the voters.”