Dennis Carroll: Committed Candidate, Credulous Councilman
We like Dennis Carroll. That said, we do not like what Councilman Carroll did concerning City Hall's 10% utility users tax.
In case you missed it, LBReport.com has documented what took place and posted it on this web site for all to see. Trust us, it's excruciating.
- Candidate Carroll campaigns for a 5% utility tax rate cut, including a "Dear Neighbor" letter reciting his "commitment" to this. (We've posted it in our permanent Reference section at Carroll Commitment Letter.) Mr. Carroll also uses documents obtained under the Public Records Act to sandpaper incumbent Del Roosevelt and City Hall, charging wasteful spending. 4th district residents elect Carroll.
- Less than three weeks after moving into Mr. Roosevelt's old City Hall office, Councilman Carroll co-sponsors (co-sponsors!) a proposed ballot measure to defeat Norm Ryan's 5% utility tax rate cut (1% per year for five years) with a 3% utility tax rate cut (1/4% for four years, 1% in the fifth year).
- At the Council meeting where his 3% proposal is scheduled to be discussed, Mr. Carroll leads the cheerleading for a 2.5% (not a 3%) utility tax rate cut. He narrates turgid budget graphics of the type usually presented by the City Manager or some subordinate.
Councilman Carroll doesn't bother to explain what became of his 3% measure but opines that after five years, the Council may reduce the tax further. (In truth, many current Councilmembers probably won't be on the Council in five years thanks to the term limits law Mr. Carroll wrote; even if they were, his words now will have no legal effect then.)
- A week later, Councilman Carroll votes yes on a proposal to label City Hall's 2.5% utility tax rate cut as a "25%" reduction on voters' ballots and put City Hall's measure ahead of Ryan's 5% measure (which will be labelled a "50%" reduction.)
The tactic of inflating numbers by showing a percentage reduction instead of the actual tax rate paid by consumers was advocated a week earlier by Councilwoman Jenny Oropeza, who opposes any utility tax cut. Mr. Carroll and other Councilmembers can't reasonably claim to have been surprised by the proposed ballot verbiage since they received it in writing in their agenda packs more than four days before the Council meeting.
- After voting just minutes before to approve the ballot verbiage and position, Councilman Carroll attempted to revisit the issue after Mr. Ryan publicly protested. Councilman Carroll found himself flummoxed by Roberts Rules of Order which forbid reconsideration without a Council majority vote.
Mr. Carroll does not appear to have explicitly endorsed Mr. Ryan's 5% utility tax rate reduction measure (1% per year for five years.) (If you have proof that he did, please contact us at "email@example.com"). Thus, he cannot fairly be accused of breaking an explicit campaign promise.
However, we believe this is no defense for Mr. Carroll. If he had misgivings about Mr. Ryan's measure, we believe he had a duty to disclose them when he was seeking votes. A lawyer in court must disclose all applicable law to the judge, even court rulings unhelpful to him; we think a candidate seeking public office -- particularly as a reformer -- must disclose all of what they believe on major issues, not just what gets them votes.
Mr. Carroll gave voters a written "commitment" to support a 5% reduction. No, he didn't say he supported Mr. Ryan's 5% measure and yes, one could reach 5% in a number of ways. Mr. Carroll's opponent, Del Roosevelt, proposed 5% over 7 years; if Mr. Carroll thought Mr. Roosevelt's plan was better than Mr. Ryan's, voters had a right to know.
Instead, Mr. Carroll used an endorsement letter from Mr. Ryan, presumably thinking it would get him votes. No, it didn't say Mr. Carroll endorsed Mr. Ryan's measure, but it didn't discourage voters from drawing that conclusion either. We've posted it on our Reference page at Ryan Endorsement Letter .
City Hall's actions on the utility tax were predictable. Mr. Carroll's credulity was not. We think his actions disserved taxpayers and disrespected voters. For too long, too many LB Councilmembers have rubberstamped bad ideas advanced by officialdom and its favored interests. Mr. Carroll was supposed to change that...wasn't he?