Measure O passes

Congratulations On Measure O Passing! Now Let’s See You Do Something With It.

Yes on Measure O

Measure O proponents used yard signs like this to turn out the vote.

We congratulate the voters and the City Council on Measure O passing.

Many people voted against this measure.  That opposition was never about the extra tax money that could benefit our City. Instead, it was about the lack of trust in how this government would spend the money.

Citizens’ Oversight Committee Promised

Our opposition forced the proponents to promise that a citizens’ committee would oversee how the city spends this money.

Will city government keep that promise? Will the candidates keep their promise? Or, will the money flow toward the special interests that spent so much to get you to approve this new tax?

We’ll Monitor Measure O Closely For You

18,581 vote against Measure O

18,581 citizens voted against Measure O. Nonetheless, it passes.

Proponents promised clear accountability for how city officials spend the money.

We promise we will try to insure the city spends the money as it promised. The 18,581 people that voted against the measure deserve to know that much.




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Ventura Wants More Taxes

Ventura City Council Asks For More Taxes. Why You Should Say No.

—Jean Baptist Colbert


On May 23, 2016, the Ventura City Council joined a parade of governments hoping to persuade voters to raise the sales tax, and last week, in a 6 to 1 decision, the Council voted to place a measure on the November 2016 ballot to raise the Ventura sales tax by 1/2 %. Councilman James Monahan voted against the measure.

As adopted the increase would:(1) produce an additional $10.8 million per year; (2) sunset in 25 years; (2) be subject to an citizens oversight committee; (3) be subject to an annual audit, and (4) be used to ” maintain essential services”.  Over the 25 year period citizens would pay another $270,000,000 above what they are already paying.

Greedy pig with more taxes

Ventura jumps at the chance for more taxes.

In asking the Council to adopt the measure the City Manager, Mark Watkins commented that “we have recovered from the recession.  For the First time we have reserves which exceed those that we had prior to the recession”.  Notwithstanding the recovery he asked the Council to approve a ballot measure to ask voters to increase our sales tax by 1/2 cent.

Supervisor Bennett addressed the council, purportedly as a citizen and not as a member of the Board of Supervisors or the Ventura County Transportation Board.  He opposed this sales tax measure for the November election and asked the council not to put the matter on the ballot for another 2 years because it would be in competition with his County 1/2 cent transportation sales tax and the Ventura School District tax that will again be on the November ballot.  His concern is that the voters would be confused.


In return for more taxes, Ventura offers a citizens’ oversight committee.

The City Manager and Mayor Nasarenko, in their effort to seek approval by the voters, are quick to point out that this new tax money will be subject to a citizen’s oversight committee.  The question for voters is whether this oversight committee idea is a substantive proposal or an illusory and hollow effort to inveigle as yes vote from 51% of our voters.

During the May 23rd meeting citizens Mr. Ron Baker and Ms. Allison Carlson expressed the sentiment many others feel about such a proposal.  Mr. Bakers said “Instead of promises and assurances on how this (tax) money is spent, I want to see evidence”.

Ms. Carlson voiced that such a tax should only be a last resort then came right to the question most people are asking.   She wanted to know just how the citizen’s oversight committee would be appointed and how it would work:

“who are these people, who are they going to be, who approves them and puts them on the committee. If it is the City Council I would suggest that they have a conflict of interest.  I want to know it will not be a rubber stamp committee, and want to make sure there are watchdogs on the committee and I want to know that the committee oversight happens before the money is spent.  It is not fair for the City to spend the money first and then say this is how we spent the money.”

At the end of the hearing the Councilman Morehouse asked the same the City Manager how the committee would be appointed and how it would work.  His response was that THE COUNCIL should appoint the people to the citizens committee, THE COUNCIL should decide how the money was to be spent and THE COUNCIL should not place any limitations on how THE COUNCIL proposes to spend the new tax money.

After a pregnant pause the council members said nothing then proceeded to vote in favor of the City Manager preparing a 1/2% sales tax measure for the November ballot.


Prior to voting in favor of the new tax Councilman Morehouse, observed that “a sales tax is regressive and it does intend to impact those who are poorer and we have a lot of elderly people who have fixed incomes”.  He is correct.

More taxes hurt struggling families

More taxes on Ventura’s Middle Class hurts struggling families.

Such taxes are imposed on everything that a family will buy to maintain their standard of living except food and prescriptions at the market.  The lower your income the higher the percentage of that income the family must pay in tax. According to statistics published by the Federal Reserve 47% of Americans cannot scrape enough money together to pay for an unexpected $400 emergency. Statistically than means 53,221 of our citizens do not have that amount of money.

This City Council advertises that this new tax will only cost the average family an additional $170 per year.  To make that statement they must assume that the average family will spend $34,000 per year on all purchases such as clothes, mobile phones, restaurants and widgets. , which if taxed at the 7.25% , will cost $2,465 a year.  If the tax is increased by 1/2 % the new tax would be 7.75%.  That will cost a family $2,635. per year.

Now consider the gauntlet of other increased taxes and cost: (1) water rate increase of 18.5% in July; (2) Medicare deduction increase of 0.9% (3) payroll tax increase from 37.4% to 52.2%; (4) income tax increase of 4.6% (5) Ventura County Transportation ales tax of 1/2%, and (6) $59 annual tax from the Ventura School District.

Footnote: In 2012 Proposition 30 was passed increasing the sales tax by 1/4% to 7.5% for 4 years. This increase is scheduled to terminate in November, 2016.  There is now an initiative in progress to extend all of part of that tax measure. Unless extended the State tax rate will revert to 7.25%.

The voters in Ventura need to pay special attention when it comes time to vote in November and remember that every dollar a family has to pay in taxes to the government is less they will have to support their family.


Does our city government “need” the additional money from the sales tax increase to provide the essential functions of government?

Consider how Ventura’s General Fund compares to the General Funds of other cities in the County and how much of those funds
are spent for each citizen.  Ventura has the second highest per capita amount to spend on its citizens. Only Ojai is higher.


General Fund Population Per Citizen
Ventura  $93,926,316.00  106,443  $861.49
Ojai *  $8,668,900.00  7,461  $1,161.89
Port Hueneme  $16,125,866.00  21,723  $742.34
Thousand Oaks  $76,933,217.00  126,683  $607.29
Oxnard  $118,110,062.00  197,899  $596.82
Camarillo  $34,000,000.00  65,201  $521.46
Simi Valley  $63,646,200.00  124,237  $512.30
Moorpark  $17,329,940.00  34,421  $503.47
Fillmore  $7,261,045.00  15,002  $484.01
Santa Paula  $14,086,725.00  29,321  $480.43


*  City of Ojai receives a “significant” amount of its revenue from the TOT taxes paid by the Ojai Valley Inn.

Other cities in the county have less money to spend, in general, and significantly less money to spend per person than Ventura. Those cities provide for police, fire, streets and operational costs with the money they have. The Ventura City Council claims it does not have enough.  Councilwoman Weir’s comment is telling:

“We are able with our growing revenue to pay some of our costs but the big projects, like our promenade, our sidewalks and our shoreline that are multi-million dollar projects, we just don’t have the money”

If approved and the sales tax projections prove to be generally accurate the City of Ventura, for the first time in its history would have general revenue income of $103,926,000.  Each of the seven Council members have a different set of priorities but here is a summary and result  of the “group think” called City of Ventura Community Investment Spending Plan for the next 25 years, not including water/wastewater costs.

45% to programs and services              $167,160,000.
30% to infrastructure maintenance           111,440,000
25% to capital and infrastructure               92,867,000
Other estimated revenue for capital         190,773,000
Total                                               $562,240,000


A Politician’s promise of how they will spend new tax money, given a 25 year history of their wasting millions in tax dollars on foolish projects and ventures, is just that – a hollow and meaningless promise.

Without a guarantee of the appointment of an independent citizen’s oversight committee on how this new tax money will be spent voters should not approve this tax measure in November.

VREG Committee:

R. Alviani,     K. Corse,   T. Cook, R. Berry,
J. Tingstrom, R. McCord, S. Doll, C. Kistner, W. Frank

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High Priced Consultants Selling Snake Oil

City Council Hires Consultants To “Sell” Voters On A Tax Hike

Spending Problem

“We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.” — Ronald Reagan

The Scenario

The Ventura City Council is determined to raise taxes again by putting a measure on the ballot in November to increase sales taxes by 0.5%-1%. Two previous attempts failed. As is customary, they are not completely forthcoming or transparent when they are trying to extract more money from the citizenry. On January 30, 2016, the City Council held a special meeting at the Ventura Police Department whose true purpose was to discuss raising the sales tax. The Council spent $118,000 to hire consultants to sell the voters on a tax increase. What they learned should have disappointed the Council.

This City Council is pushing hard for a sales tax incease.

Council hired consultants to direct them on how to sell the voters on a tax increase

 [Only 36% say Yes]

At the January 30th meeting, one paid consultant provided his interpretation of the results of a general poll on citizen’s views asked of 630 citizens. The opinions were favorable in such areas as police, fire, beaches, water, paving streets, serving veterans, and protecting the environment.

When it came to answering two questions specifically focused on the need for a sales tax increase, however, the results were remarkably different.

Question:  Does the City need additional funds for City Services?

Great need = 22%

Some need = 38%

Little/no need = 30%

Question:   If on an initial ballot you were asked to increase sales taxes by one-percent or one-half percent how would you vote?

One-percent                                                one-half percent

Definitely yes = 36%                         Definitely yes = 33%

Probably yes – 12%                           Probably yes = 22%

No/probable no = 39%                     No/probable no = 31%

Interpreting the results, fewer than one in four citizens sees a great need for additional funds and only 36% would vote definitely yes for a 1% sales tax increase.

If 630 citizens surveyed believe the City is doing a favorable job with the funds they have and only 22% believe there’s a great need for additional funds, one might conclude the citizens are content with the current situation.  But, the City Council—strongly encouraged by the consultants—continued to push the sales tax increase forward.

The inference is that voters are not smart and need to be led around

expensive consultants

Ventura spends $118,000 on consultants to “sell” voters on sales tax increase

The pollster then advised the Council that they needed to do more to “educate” the people on why they should vote for a sales tax increase to receive approval.  Without education it was a close call.  His words were – “on the one-percent measure you might have a shot.” One council member commented that the “citizens just don’t understand.”

Next, the paid political consultant outlined that of the 109,000 Ventura residents only 24,000 vote and, of that number, 61% are over the age of 50. It was his view that an intense program was needed to “educate” voters because “they need to know what the city council is going to use the money for.”

In fact, that’s the crux of the issue. If the additional sales tax revenue goes into the General Fund, nobody will know for sure how the City Council will use the money.


[The Ventura Essential Services Tax Measure]

At the conclusion of the presentation, Mayor Nasarenko announced, “I have made a sales tax measure a core goal for my year as the Mayor.  I have been joined by the Deputy Mayor [Neal Andrews].”

The discussion then moved to a staff report that listed “all of the needs.”  The list of needs total $1.368 billion. That is billion with a “B.” Excluding costs for Water and Wastewater totaling $661,120,000, which the citizens will pay through a 34% increase in water bills the City Council approved in 2015, which leaves $707,734,532 in needs for the General Fund.

Here are some examples of what’s on the City of Ventura government’s shopping list. It is obvious the city council wants to overwhelm the voters with the sizable need for more taxes.

Community Enhancement $199,360,000
Technology $7,420,000
Streets $298,999,747
Public Art $557,462
Parks $112,192,823
Facilities $42,087,500
Fire $3,400,000
Police $4,853,000

This wish list illustrates the consultants’ concern about Ventura citizens, “they need to know what the city council is going to use the money for.”   But, here’s the rub.

As a General Fund Tax Measure, it is impossible to promise or earmark the new tax revenue to any specific project. To earmark funds requires a two-thirds majority vote (67%) on the ballot. To vote in a General Fund Tax Measure requires a simple majority (>50%).

Given the low interest in approving a sales tax increase cited in the survey (36%, at best), reaching a two-thirds majority will be a struggle. A simple majority seems more likely, if the sales tax increase is to pass at all.

Once in the General Fund, the City Council can spend the sales tax revenue as they choose.

No oversight committee, appointed by the city, has ever challenged spending after it has been spent

Mayor Nasarenko isn’t telling voters that no guarantee exists for the City to spend the additional tax revenue on any of the City needs once the tax receipts go into the General Fund. This Council may intend to use the funds for the projects outlined above, but Councilmembers change, city priorities change and needs change with time. In 2007-08 the signs of an economic downturn were clear yet the City government forged ahead, spending money on experts and projects as if they were immune from economic reality. Who’s to say the City won’t syphon off money intended for street repair to pay for another WAV building, for instance?

Consultants oversight committee

Consultants suggest a citizen’s oversight committee

So, the mayor is creating a smoke screen in his “let’s increase taxes” pitch by promising a Citizen’s Oversight Committee intended to give voters the false sense that “how funds are spent” will be closely monitored.

To monitor the funds that closely, however, a Citizen’s Oversight Committee would have to approve any project expenditure before the City makes it—effectively neutering the Council. It’s unlikely the City Council would approve that. And, even if they did, why would we need a City Council at all if this committee controlled the purse strings?

The truth is no post audit Citizen’s Oversight Committee will track city spending that closely, let alone have the power to reverse any spending after the fact. Once the Sales Tax Increase passes, the fact is nobody will look at it again and nobody will reverse any expenditure.

If you believe a sales tax increase will be spent unwisely, raise your voice. Write to the City Council to share your opinion. In addition, insist Council Members Heitmann, Morehouse and Weir—all up for re-election in the November 2016—thoroughly explain their position on the sales tax increase.  After all, they have a balanced budget, they increased water rates by 34% and they have revenues up $20 million to pre-2008 levels.

Click On The Councilmember’s Photo Below To Send An Email

Erik Nasarenko,

Neal Andrews,
Deputy Mayor

Cheryl Heitmann

Jim Monahan

Carl Morehouse

Mike Tracy

Christy Weir


R. Alviani,       K. Corse,     T. Cook,     R. Berry,
J. Tingstrom, R. McCord,  S. Doll,      C. Kistner,
W. Frank

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False state of the city for Ventura 2016

The Real Story Behind Ventura’s Proposed Sales Tax Increase

Spending Problem

“We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.”
—Ronald Reagan


Ventura City Council is looking for a permanent sales tax increase of 0.5%-1%.  It is a forever tax, despite any protestations to the contrary. Can this Council be trusted to spend the new money wisely to benefit the community, or will they waste it? Until this City Council answers this question voters should not pass the measure.


On January 30, 2016, the City Council held a special meeting at the Ventura Police Department. The announced purpose of the meeting, in the advanced notice required by the Brown Act was to conduct a working session to set the goals for the City Council for 2016.  Instead, the true purpose of the meeting was to discuss raising the sales tax.


Those attending heard Ventura Chief Financial Officer, Gil Garcia, outline the current financial posture of the City. Garcia stated that the income of the City had recovered back to the level that existed prior to the 2008 recession.  In 2007, revenue totaled $93,926,316, but that dropped $20 million to $73,684,565 as the bottom fell out of the economy.

Increasing City income by $20 million dollars in a 4-year period is a positive step forward.  This 27% overall increase is comprised of a 4% increase in real property taxes and increase of 9.5% in sales tax revenue.


At the conclusion of the presentation new Mayor Erik Nassarenko announced, ” I have made a sales tax measure a core goal for my year as the Mayor.  I have been joined by the Deputy Mayor [Neal Andrews]”.  Erik and the City Council are seeking a 0.5%-1% increase in the sales tax that would generate an additional $10.9 million dollars to $21.7 million respectively.

The mayor justifies the new tax increase because:

  • Ventura is 150 years old with a stunning “natural landscape that is costly to maintain”
  • “Ventura is an old city, our sewer systems, our water systems, our roads and sidewalks, and our buildings need costly attention”
  • “Like our historic pier, the City of Ventura has unique features that require maintenance, care and funding”
  • “Our fire stations must remain open to provide life saving paramedic response
  • We must protect our waterways from pollution”. (Source: The Breeze)


What was not discussed was the extent of the spending waste since 2007.

  • $2.5 million lost in funding the market condos and stores in the WAV projects.
  • $1 million spent in studying the narrowing of Victoria.
  • $5 million lost to the internal service funds because of general fund manipulation by the then City Manager Rick Cole.
  • Citizens are already paying for improvements to our water and sewer system through a 34% increase in water bills.


No one wants a sales tax increase. Outside experts hired by the City Council told them only 33-36% of the persons polled would vote in favor of a tax increase. [64%-67% of the respondents were against or ambivalent to the tax increase] Furthermore, they told the Council to achieve a majority the Council needs to wage an election person-to-person “education campaign” so that the people would understand why this money was needed.

State of the City

Propaganda Campaign To “Educate” Voters


President Reagan said, “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.” The answer isn’t always to tax our people more, but to spend their money more wisely. If you believe a sales tax increase will be spent unwisely, make your voice heard. Write to the City Council to share your opinion. In addition, insist all the candidates in the November 2016 election thoroughly explain his/her position on the sales tax increase. Have him/her justify why we need a sales tax at all.

Erik Nasarenko,

Neal Andrews,
Deputy Mayor

Cheryl Heitmann

Jim Monahan

Carl Morehouse

Mike Tracy

Christy Weir

There will be two more parts of this newsletter to follow in the next few weeks. 


R. Alviani,     K. Corse,     T. Cook,     R. Berry,
J. Tingstrom, R. McCord,  S. Doll,      C. Kistner,
W. Frank

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Ventura City Hall

When Spending $118,000 On A Poll Costs You More Money


On April 14, 2015, the City Council directed the City Manager to conduct a “community survey” to gauge interest in future revenue options (government speak for  raise taxes) to support community services for a fee of $38,000.  They did that and spent your money for a poll.

high-priced consultants dupe voters

Ventura paid $38,000 to high-priced consultants to “sell” a sales tax increase to voters.

On September 28, 2015, the City Council listened to the expert concerning his interpretation of the answers in the poll, and whether the voters, in his paid opinion would support a sales tax increase of 1/2% or 1% over the present rate of 7.25%.

Given the nature of the questions in the poll (noted below) it was no surprise that he opined that six in ten “perceive the City has at least some need for additional funds for city services. However, only 22% recognized a ‘great need’ and only one-third would definitely vote yes.

One-third however does not get the Council to the required majority in an election, so the expert said that “educational statements lead to a 7% overall gain in support for the one-cent measure and an 8% overall gain in support for a one-half cent measure”. In other words, the voters need to be told (persuaded) what they need.

The paid consultant, of course, was available to provide the needed education to attract more voters at a cost of $80,000.   The Council again voted to spend your money because you need “education”.

The tax increase has not as yet been put on the ballot but the measure will be called – CITY OF VENTURA ESSENTIAL SERVICES PROTECTION MEASURE – if the Council follows the expert’s advice.


As is the case with most poorly worded surveys which include ambiguous questions or questions that are too general in their nature, our city council paid for a very misleading assessment. This poll implies that new taxes will go toward any and all of the suggested purposes in the survey, with no details or guarantees.

Interestingly enough, the poll that the City of Ventura commissioned, is quoted in the Ventura Star paper, as asking if the citizens would be willing to support a tax increase, if it provided:

  • protection of local water supplies
  • keep all fire stations open
  • protect local beaches, rivers and coastal waters from pollution
  • maintain and improve fire, police and paramedic emergency response
  • maintain essential city services
  • improve services for seniors, the disabled and veterans

Past City Councils have relied upon poor surveys before and have lost on elections both times in the past.


Ventura now has a new Mayor who has only been in Ventura just over 5 years, coming from Los Angeles. With him comes a desire to tax the citizens of Ventura partly because taxes are lower than Los Angeles and because the Ventura City Council can find more ways to spend more money. However, this desire to gather more tax money is once again being sold to Venturans under the disguise of “keep funds local”.


Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, several of these items, such as water supply, rivers, beaches, seniors, disabled and veterans are already being paid for by county, state and federal agencies.

Our Mayor has started a dialog to have the citizens believe this tax will help our aging water system and our pier.

Blow smoke on taxes

The mayor and Ventura City Council blow smoke about Ventura’s need for more taxes after consultants deliver voter poll findings.

This is an effort to deceive the voters into believing that more taxes are needed for our water system. Ventura Water Department, independent of the city general fund, maintains our water system to the tune of a recent 34% increase in water rates over that last two years. After a 34% increase in water rates, Ventura has the funds for our aging water system.

With regard to the pier, there is over one million dollars in the “pier fund” to repair the pier. The community needs to understand that the pier is protected with an insurance policy that will have it repaired. The policy calls for a onetime occurrence insurance with a $100,000 deductible for each major occurrence. The $1.0 million in the fund, which is money that came from the community, not the city budget, is available to pay this $100,000 deductible each time it is needed. Therefore, no part of the sales tax dollars is needed for the pier.


The other argument most often used to increase Sales Tax rates is that Ventura is lower than other cities, implying that Ventura is falling behind. The only two cities in Ventura County with an 8% sales tax rate are Oxnard and Port Hueneme. Aren’t both of these cities struggling with budget deficits? Los Angeles is at 9.00% for their sales tax. We cannot compare our needs to Los Angeles.


So let’s first discuss the need for more funds. The truth is that over the last 2 years, the City of Ventura property taxes have increased by 4.0% ($18,479,513 to $19,235,000). Also over the same two years, the City of Ventura sales tax revenue has increased by 9.5% ($16,134,075 to $17, 674,715). Therefore, revenues for the City of Ventura have continued to rise and as our new Mayor has said “we are living within our means and we have a balanced budget”.


Now let’s point to the real reason more taxes are being suggested. In 2015/2016, even after the employees’ contributions have been made, the employers’ contributions for the SEIU and Public Safety employees have increased from $15,061,523 to $16,079,104 for a net increase of $1,017,581. And, it is going to get worse.

Therefore, it does not look like the amount that the employees are contributing is keeping up with the cost, investment and the demand by the current and future retirees. Therefore, the percentage of the total city budget is continually going towards increased retirement costs and not services. Employees need to contribute a higher percentage toward their own retirement.


Using our Mayor’s own words from his 2013 campaign:

Mayor Erik Nasarenko commissioned the voter poll on taxes.

1) When asked how you plan to pay for to improve streets, public safety, water resources, attracting new business, parks, schools and city services his answer was: “By growing the economy… the city must attract and retain businesses that will increase its sales tax base.”

2) When asked what the role of the city is to attract a better economic vitality and his answer was: “The city can bring economic vitality to Ventura by keeping it safe and clean, creating a business-friendly culture at city hall, making sensible, cost-effective loans to businesses, and by promoting trade and tourism both locally and globally”. There is nothing said here about increasing taxes upon the citizens further.

3) When asked whom he would represent, his answer was: “City residents.  Without whom, there would be no tax base—property, sales or otherwise—to provide the core services necessary to support the city”. You shouldn’t be promoting to increasing taxes upon your existing tax base when you have not first tried to introduce your plan for attracting and retaining business that will increase its sales tax base.

4) Where is the action that he promised such as: “As Councilmember, I would like to make Focus Area 1 a top priority, bringing to the Auto Center area a destination retail establishment, like a Bass Pro Shop, and possibly a hotel to support the Players Club casino.”

In our new Mayor’s own words, economic vitality through increasing the business base is the top priority. He led voters to believe that his position was to expand the tax base as a better alternative than increasing the tax rate. We should keep him to his word.


R. Alviani,     K. Corse,    T. Cook
J. Tingstrom, R. McCord, S. Doll

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Ventura asks for more money in Measure A

Shameless Politicians Propose Measure A For More Money

“No creature smarts so little as a fool. Destroy his fib, or sophistry – in vain! The creature’s at his dirty work again.”—Alexander Pope



The City Council keeps saying they do not understand why the citizens of this community have such distrust for city government.  They are not likely to understand if they are not listening.

Refunded only part of the money

Ventura refunded only part of the money collected in the 911 Tax.

No need to again examine the history and the woof of the pathetic effort of the City Council to tax 911 calls, but it does serve to examine the aftermath.

This idea, spawned by our City Manger, Rick Cole, followed on the heals of the defeat of his Measure P6.  Of course he has no public exposure and can duck any critics’ comments because he was not elected to office, and did not vote for the tax.   Councilmen Monahan, Summers and Brennan, currently up for re-election, however were elected to office, and they did vote for the 911 tax.

Citizens protested, but did so in vain. Lawsuits followed, and only then did the Council take steps to set this all aside to avoid being tagged with a huge bill for attorneys’ fees if they lost.  Make no mistake, they were going to lose. It would then be logical, and reasonable, to assume that the money collected under this concocted scheme would be refunded to the people who were FORCED to pay into the program, right?  Au contraire!

Money from 911 tax never returned

Citizens left hanging for refund of over $1.2 million from 911 tax.

Our fine City government collected $1,220,005 during FY 08-09, representing 54.2% of the hoped for annual revenue of $2,250,000.   Once the law was cancelled you were then offered a refund, if you could prove you paid, only if you had “opted out”, and only then if you attached the necessary documents, and jumped through the required administrative hoops to get your money. Why only if you “opted out”?  Because the City Manager surmised that if you did not “opt out”, you must have chosen to “opt in”, meaning that you wanted the city to have this money, and it was your intention for the city to keep the funds all along.

Only $17,096 was refunded. The City kept over a million dollars, used $800,000 to balance the 2008-09 budget and  kept $402,909 in the general fund for use this year.  Having bilked the citizens of this community,  and having failed to refund the money to those who paid,  it would seem that at least the Council would have the decency to do the right thing and use the money for its declared purpose – fund the 911 system!  That did not happen. Instead the money was stuffed down the proverbial rabbit hole. [okay! used for other expenses like?]

Editors Comment:

Are we hoping in vain that this Council may exhibit some shame, and do the right thing?



Masure A takes more money

Ventura politicians are shamelessly asking for more money with Measure A.

It has been clear, since Measure P-6 was defeated at the polls,  that this Council would attempt a new sales tax measure.  This new measure to raise the city sales tax by ½% was put on the ballot for November, 2009, on a vote of 6 to 1.  Councilman Neal Andrews opposed that measure.

In the process of approving Measure A the Council referred constantly to the fact that a “Blue Ribbon Committee”, appointed to consider this proposal, had recommended that a sales tax increase be put on the ballot for public approval, and that the tax be automatically cancelled after  4 years.    This was something to behold — that this Council would have our good citizens believe that the Council really needed a Blue Ribbon Committee’s approval in order to place a new tax measure on the November ballot.  Members of the Council appointed a majority of the blue committee because they were “friends of the Council” (FOC), so the result was always a foregone conclusion.  Former Mayors Jim Friedman and Sandy Smith were on that committee, and each was heard to smirk that they thought “the Council was just trying to seek political cover”.

Now the spinning and fact distortions begin anew.  As you are reading you will recall what happened when P6 was proposed.  The Council wanted a  1/4% special tax for police and fire.  That measure failed, as well as the lawsuit filed by “the City” ( Actually, it was filed by a political action committee headed by Assistant Police Chief Corney, to which each Council member contributed money) against citizens who opposed the tax.  They lost that too after paying their Santa Monica lawyers $30,000.

The Council and the City Manager vowed to come back at the citizenry with a new tax.  Thus Measure A was put on the ballot seeking double the amount of money sought by P6, but this time as a general tax, which only requires a 50%+1 voter approval.  Their hope is that since they received 61.95% of the vote on P6, ergo the voters will approve a ½% general tax increase.

So the rhetoric and distortion begins by the cabal controlling “the City”. To avoid the label of being a “special tax”, requiring a 2/3 vote, the Council decided to promise to spend any new sales taxes in certain ways, but without telling the voters at the same time that they were not obligated to do so [ one could almost see a sly grin and wink from the 6 Council members  as this statement was made]. Their promise of how they will spend this $10,000,000 in new sales tax money may prove to be their undoing.

If approved by the voters it will be interesting to see how Measure A survives a legal challenge, and it will be challenged under Proposition 218.  That state proposition requires a 2/3 voter approval for any tax devoted to

Police and Fire want more money

Police and Fire departments would receive 40% of the money collected from Measure A.

a special purpose as opposed to general tax, which is collected and placed in the general fund. The Council hopes to avoid this problem by saying the funds are “not required” to be used for any specific purpose, yet they announce that the funds will be used for a specific purpose as in inducement to get voters to approve the measure.

Interestingly one of the specific promises made by this Council, as an inducement to voters to approve the measure is that they will spend 40% of the new tax on police and fire — the exact sum they sought to raise in the failed P-6 measure.

Today it’s hard to know what the City is really doing, except that most of the individual Council members are campaigning hard to convince you that you should ignore the waste and spendthrift policies of the past and impose the new tax.  They do not want to address the underlying economic malady – overpaid public employee unions and the millions wasted in ill advised decisions like the plan to narrow Victoria, or the ill-fated 911 tax or increasing the fire department retirement programs by 50%.  Councilman Fulton, who is also campaigning hard for the incumbents advised one contender that he could not approve of their candidacy because they (the Council ) would lose “consensus”  – he really means control.  He also stated in a public meeting that we should forget the past and move on. So how, again, was the 911 tax money spent?

Editors’ comments: 

Only a fool does not learn from the mistakes of the past.


It is now official.  Remember that money that you sent in for property taxes, and which is supposed to be returned, in part, to our community? Well our fine state government has decided that to correct their mismanagement and budget deficiencies by taking the money that is supposed to be returned to the cities. Thus our City will not receive $2,760,358 that would be normally  returned. We have been  forced to loan to a state government that has achieved junk bond status in the market place.

The money is not gone, just delayed in delivery.  Of course the State promises to pay this back in 3 years.  How about interest?  The answer we get is that this will be set by someone and sometime in the future — you know the line — “trust us”.

It gets worse.  In addition to the loss to the general fund, the Redevelopment agency has lost $1.2 million, and that will never be repaid.  It is gone.  Makes you wonder if Ventura had spent some more Redevelopment agency funds in the last 2-3 years, whether there would have been any funds to raid?



This City Council again has to scramble to adjust their budget to allow for this loss.  The hyperbole and spin from City Hall, and the proponents of this tax is that we really need the new sales tax because they have adjusted the budget as much as they can, employees have taken a 5% pay reduction and our State Government has taken our money.  What is a poor City Council to do?  Long before the state did its most recent raid on City funds the die had been cast.  The ½% sales tax was already in the plan.  The City Council members are campaigning hard for the new tax as if the problem is all due to the State and they had some great insight – in short playing the fear game as a reason for the voters to approve the new tax.

Opponents point out that such a tax is regressive, that business has never prospered in such in an environment, that even though there is a 4-year sunset provision the Council proposes to use the new tax money to make long term commitments to police and fire (40% of the new tax money), and that when the 4-year period is up the Council will go back to the voters arguing that if we do not extend the tax there will be cuts in services — you know the old saw — crime, untimely emergency responses to medical emergencies, etc. The opponents also point to the spendthrift policies of this council over the last 6 years, for example $1,000,000 alone was spent to narrow Victoria Avenue.  That should be money in the bank, but instead is sitting in the pockets of City employees and Los Angeles consultants.  There are $13,000,000 of such expenditures, which should be in the bank, but is not  because of unrealistic planning and spending by a liberal out of touch Council.

Mayor Weir is campaigning for the new tax and has stated publicly “we will not spend any money we don’t have”.

Editors’ Comments: 

We hope each citizen will reflect on whether the past should matter in deciding how to vote.


B. Alviani        S. Doll          J.Tingstrom

K. Corse          B.McCord    T. Cook

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