Steve Frank Op-Ed–Anatomy of a Government Hearing: Simi Valley Shows Why Government Can’t be Trusted

salve arial, buy sans-serif;”>EditorialBy Stephen Frank

 

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The Mayor of Simi Valley, Bob Huber, had the right idea.  Allow the Neighborhood Council (NC) to hear the arguments in regard to a proposed $3 billion sales tax increase for “transportation”.  Then after all the reasons for and against, let them vote and advise the City Council.  Simi Valley has four NC’s.  The City Council agreed and the City Manager, Eric Leavitt, at the request of the Council convened a joint meeting on Thursday night.

What happened next and how the City Manager handled the meeting is why few have respect for government, no trust in it—and believe that government is always trying to put one over on them.  While the City Council wanted the matter fully discussed, the City Manager manipulated the meeting to be controlled by those in favor of the tax.  The good news is that with all his efforts to promote one side—those that opposed it, from the audience voted 8-0 against—not a single citizen showed up in support.  The Neighborhood Council members present voted 13 against, 7 in favor and one abstention.  Yet, the local Ventura County Star noted that only one Council had a quorum—which was not an issue.  The paper, played to the crony capitalists—which is why so few read the paper—reading government press releases suffice.

taxes

Anatomy of a Government Hearing: Simi Valley Shows Why Government Can’t be Trusted

Editorial by Stephen Frank, California Political News and Views,  6/20/16

The Simi Valley City Council voted to have the Neighborhoods Council hold a joint meeting to discuss a proposed $3 billion sales tax increase for transportation.  The City Manager called the meeting, set the ground rules and did the following:

  1. Only invited the proponents, a non-elected government agency called the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC).
  2. Claimed that since he “was not aware of any opponents”, they could not be invited. 24 hours before the meeting—which had a ten day notice, he did leave a voicemail on the phone of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association.
  3. Leavitt only allowed information in favor of the $3 billion tax to be distributed to the NC members prior to the meeting—and again at the meeting.
  4. Leavitt allowed the VCTC to makes a PowerPoint presentation, the opponents were not
  5. The NC members wrote the City Manager a series of questions—which “he” answered via a PowerPoint presentation. Later, under questioning, he admitted he did not write the answers, the VCTC wrote the answers—never giving the opponents an opportunity to give answers.
  6. When the community and the NC members asked questions only the City Manager was allowed to give the answers—the opponents were not allowed to point out the misleading information and the omissions. For instance he and the VCTC was proud that the City of Simi Valley would receive $4.9 million a year from this tax.  An audience member forced Leavitt to tell the audience how much the people of Simi Valley were to be taxed to get this $4.9 million—it is over $8 million.  But it gets worse.

The optics of what City Manager Leavitt did and how he controlled the information looks bad.  Any wonder folks do not trust or respect government officials—they see this and realize how government uses people.  But, at least they can claim they had a public hearing and that opponents, given limited time, were “heard”.  What do you think?

Leavitt then announced that due to the increased sales tax going to transportation—sales tax collections for libraries, roads, schools and other public safety would go down.  Then a member of the NC noted it would also mean less sales and fewer businesses in Simi Valley.  These items would have come out if the opponents were allowed a fair and balanced presentation—instead of having to speak out and demand answers.

What the City Manager forgot to mention is that the City runs a bus service, using 52 seat passenger busses that seldom have more than three passengers—mostly it is just the driver.  If they wanted to save money for road repair we could pass a small local tax, make government more efficient and sell off the unused busses (the school district, instead of having its own system—uses the city busses during the school year in the morning and afternoon). They have taken the burden of their responsibility and pushing it on the City.

Then you have the lie by omission.  The City Manager was challenged to show he is saving money.  Leavitt announced the new budget—which is a deficit budget—eliminates ten job positions.  What he omitted to note was that none of these positions were filled—so no one was fired.  Just another manipulation.

Before the vote was taken each NC member was allowed to make a statement—most of the seven that voted to put this measure on the ballot said they believed the people should have a right to vote on this—but THEY would vote against it in November.  The thirteen in opposition were clear, they did not trust government to spend the money as they said.

Funny, I asked about the “Plan” they were approving.  It was a plan, no guarantees—yet the VCTU said the plan would be in the ordinance.  Yeah, sure.  The High Speed Rail costs, ridership, route and adherence to California environmental law was in that bond measure—and when they won they admitted they lied about everything—and we are being forced to move forward with the fraud perpetrated on the California public.

This meeting showed that the people understand when they are being manipulated by government.  Even better, they understand that the nature of government is to manipulate the public.  On the November ballot there will be about $500 billion in bonds.  In county after country similar meetings are being held, one sided, abuse of the families and taxpayers.  I would hope the Simi Valley City Council investigates the meeting.  This should never happen again.

If your school district, city council or county is proposing a tax increase or a bond, demand to have a full hearing, with both sides being heard.  If they refuse you know why—they are trying to put one over on the public.

One last bit of concern.  So far, $250,000 has been spent on consultants and polls.  Another $200,000 was spent on sending out a 16 page brochure to Ventura County residents.  I asked for the names of the unions, construction companies, potential vendors, that donated the money—these are the real beneficiaries of the $3 billion.  Neither Leavitt nor the VCTC was willing to answer that question.  The point is understood—like the High Speed Rail, this tax is about special interests, crony capitalists and unions—at the expense of the families and jobs of Ventura County.

Source: California Political News and Views 

 

Previous articles:

City of Simi Valley Holds Political “Hearing” for $3 Billion Tax Increase—ONLY One Side to be Heard

City of Simi Valley Holds Political “Hearing” for $3 Billion Tax Increase—ONLY One Side to be Heard

June 14, 2016, By Stephen Frank- The City Manager of Simi Valley, Eric Leavitt, last week presented to the City Council a resolution, which if approved would put the Council on record as giving support to putting a $3 billion countywide transportation tax on the November ballot.  This is a normal process, indeed the County […]

New county transportation sales tax initiative approved for several city ballots so far

By George Miller- On Tuesday night, 6-14-16, the Oxnard Council approved placing a Ventura County-wide transportation tax on the ballot. It would take 2/3 of County voters in the November election to pass this 1/2% increment to the sales tax. This has failed twice before, but officials claim it now has 67% public support in a […]


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