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Stand and be counted 

Every 10 years the feds do a nationwide roll call.

click to enlarge shredder_1050x624.jpg

"Shredder, are you here?"

"Present, sir!"

That way the government knows how many people are here, where they live, and their race ("The human race?"). They use these numbers to decide how many seats to apportion in the House of Representatives, to aid in redistricting to ensure everyone's voting power is equivalent (Cough! Electoral College? Ack!), to fairly distribute government funding, to aid in decision-making, and for emergency response in case of natural disaster (How many rolls of paper towels will Trump need to throw at Puerto Ricans this hurricane season?).

It's important to get an accurate count, but not everyone wants one, especially Teflon Don tRump, who thinks the fewer people of color and noncitizens counted the better. Remember his attempt to add a citizenship question? He's also been trying to wrap up the census early because, let's face it, folks on the margins are the least likely to have filled in the forms, so to get them counted requires door-to-door canvassing, which Yammering Don doesn't want.

Why does it matter? According to research from George Washington University, for each person missed in the 2010 census, that person's state lost $1,091 in federal funding for Medicaid and child welfare programs. So, isn't it curious that the U.S. Census Bureau closed its Central Coast regional office in Ventura?

A federal judge had to put the kibosh on ending the census early, ruling that census activities must resume through Oct. 31, and yet—poof!—we no longer have a functioning census office here. Will those farmworkers, rural residents, the poor without internet connection, people of color, or others on the margins get counted? How much will California lose in federal funding over the next decade because of this little maneuver?

If you're out there and haven't counted yourself in the 2020 census, you can still respond online or by phone. Don't get counted out!

Speaking of apportioning funding, let's talk about Measure Y, Measure G, and now Measure G-20. It's about SLO city sales tax that the city gets to control (and spend, spend, spend, baby!). Currently we get about a penny back from the 7.25 cents the state collects in sales tax. Most people won't even bend over to pick up a penny, but they add up.

In 2006, Y added a half cent sales tax that had a "sunset clause," but does the sun ever set on the city's need for more revenue? No way, Jose, so along came Measure G in 2014 to continue the sales tax, and now citizens are being asked to vote on Measure G-20, a 1.5 cent sales tax, to provide revenue to do some boring but necessary stuff like "fire/community safety," "emergency/disaster preparedness," and maintain "streets and other general services"; some altruistic stuff like "youth/senior services" and "address homelessness"; and some environmental stuff like "keep public areas clean/safe" and "protect creeks from pollution."

Sounds fine, but I've also heard supporters claim we'll finally dredge Laguna Lake and buy more open space, but come on! San Luis Obispo has—what?—$150 million to $165 million in unfunded pension liability, and our economy is flailing, and we're headed for recession. Are we going to get sexy stuff like a dredged lake and more open space? I doubt it, but without Measure G-20, the city will be screwed!

Right about now I can feel some heads exploding as anti-tax warriors start screaming about how we're already overtaxed. We pay 47.3 cents per gallon in gasoline tax! Wah! There's state income tax, federal income tax, property tax, estate tax, etcetera. Well, get over it! Who do you think you are? Donald "$750 a year in income tax" Trump? No, you have to play by the rules!

We may not get nice things, but the city desperately needs G-20 revenue to keep things humming and meet its pension liabilities. Are city employees overpaid? Maybe. Do you wish you were getting $90K a year in retirement money? Hell, yes you do! But that was the deal city employees made, and you don't renege on the deal.

Speaking of the economy and deals, when is SLO County going to make one for commercial renters who've been decimated by the pandemic? Santa Barbara County just passed an ordinance putting a moratorium on commercial evictions, basically filling the gaps left by the statewide moratorium created by Assembly Bill 3088 that protects residents from eviction. Come on, SLO County Board of Supervisors! Let's not lose more businesses unnecessarily.

And sorry, but is SLO County Sheriff Ian "Racism? Nah!" Parkinson a total rube?

After sheriff's deputies shot and killed known white supremist gang member Christopher Michael Straub of Templeton, who ambushed the deputies, Parkinson dismissed the problem of a white supremacist gang operating in the county: "Just because he's in a white supremacist gang doesn't mean that they're targeting necessarily minorities for their crimes."

Really? Are they a benevolent white power gang? Is this another "nothing to see here, move along" moment? What about the three people recently arrested for the murder and dismembering of their associate Joseph Martin Govey in Nipomo. Govey was apparently connected with the charmingly titled white power group Pubic Enemy Number One Death Squad.

Don't worry? Riiight. Δ

The Shredder is counted in. Send rants and raves to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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