The Times-Herald's front-page news of April 19 read: "Vallejo council OK's public input on new tax funds". Pray tell, what was I doing on Nov. 8 of last year when, using the specific language in the sample ballot, I voted "yes" on Measure B?
Revenues raised by the measure were targeted as follows:
* Enhance funding for 9-1-1 response.
* Police patrols and paramedic services.
* Youth and senior programs.
* Street and pothole repairs.
* Graffiti removal.
* Economic development.
* General city services.
* All revenue and expenditures subject to annual independent audits.
* All revenue legally required to stay in Vallejo.
That was the bait, and I bit. I thought I was engaging in "participatory budgeting" when I cast a vote to constrain expenditures to specific needs of the city.
Now, the switch.
The vote by four members of the April 18 meeting of the Vallejo City Council was a bold-faced effort to throw off the spending guidelines written into Measure B. Although one newly elected council member mused that staying within the constraints imposed by the ballot language was probably legally and rationally the right thing to do, nevertheless, this council member voted to modify the specific expenditure terms of Measure B by making the expenditures arbitrary and subject to a cadre of self-evident altruistic, prudent, virtuous and wise public servants, and those whose opinion they can influence. Can anyone say "vote buying"?
Then we were treated to a good-cop, bad-cop show where the bad cop made a motion to assign half of the annual anticipated revenue of $9.5 million to the participatory budget collective. The good cop then, by a motion, reduced the amount of these set aside funds (not mentioned in the voters' pamphlet) to $200,000. This $200,000 is sold as startup money for the consultants and staffing in order to process the purposed "participatory budgeting." One would hope this expenditure will be spent in Vallejo, according to the sample ballot item No. 9 in this letter.
Afterward, disagreeing with some rational arguments for standing by the directives in the sample ballot, we were treated to tortured explanations of why these revenues were able to be redirected by these council members.
The Gomes/Brown explanations, as they appeared in the Times-Herald, are as follows: "Predetermined uses" would make the tax a "special" tax. A special tax requires a two-thirds vote of the public, while a general tax only calls for simple majority -- i.e. 51 percent. I ask you, are not the nine items specified in the sample ballot "predetermined use"? And if so, then it was a "special tax" and didn't pass, or it was a "general tax" and was fraudulently advertised. I say have the vote declared null and void, and conduct a truth in advertising voting effort. However, by the present fog of politics, we get a political maneuver that lets others spend your generous tax dollars as they see fit. Hello, Vallejo Police Department, I want to report the theft of my vote ... yes, I have four suspects.