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Citizen Involvement Editorial

Here's How To Tell Gov. Newsom To Veto Election-Tilting Anti-Taxpayer Anti-Transparency SB 268


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(Sept. 19, 2019, 9:05 a.m.) -- LBREPORT.com urges LB residents to tell Governor Gavin Newsom to veto SB 268, an election-tilting, anti-taxpayer, anti-transparency measure which LBREPORT.com reported in detail here.

SB 268 would let local government bodies -- like the LB City Council -- tell voters to "See voter guide for tax rate information" instead of summarizing in a 75 word ballot title taxpayer impacting details of measures that seek to impose or increase taxes with more than one rate or approve debt-bonds that would increase property taxes. Of course this would make it less likely for voters to learn the costly details of future City Hall-written tax increase ballot measures and easier to pass them.

Months ago, Mayor Garcia (who has no City Charter authority to set City policy) quietly told SB 268's author, state Senator Scott Wiener (D, SF) that he (Garcia) favored enacting the bill and LB's policy-setting Councilmembers then observed a code of silence. The Council's "State Legislation Committee," chaired by Councilman Al Austin, didn't discuss SB 268 or any Sacramento bills as they advanced in 2019.

All of LB's Sac'to lawmakers voted to advance SB 268 to the Governor's desk: State Senator Tom Umberg (D, SE LB-west OC) and Lena Gonzalez (D, LB-SE L.A. County) and Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell.

[Scroll down for further.]






Veteran Sacramento journalist Dan Walters (formerly SacBee columnist who now writes for CalMatters explained the ugly background for SB 268 in "Bill Reduces Ballot Measure Transparency," writing in June in pertinent part:

...[SB 268] would allow local officials to remove the required information about tax consequences from the ballot summary that voters read before casting their votes and place it, instead, in the voter pamphlet or another separate statement, where it would get much less attention.

Moreover, the bill declares, "Failure to comply with this chapter shall not affect the validity of any bond issue following the sale and delivery of the bonds," which basically lets local officials entirely off the hook.

SB 268 is just what local officialdom wants -- a new law that purports to give voters vital information about tax and bond measures but ensures that the data will be buried in official paperwork and that failure to provide it won't be penalized.

A Wiener spokesman, however, said the senatorís motive is :to make it clear what they (voters) are voting on," asserting that the 75-word limit on ballot summaries isn't enough space to adequately explain tax consequences of ballot measures and thus voters might reject taxes and bonds they otherwise would support. "A 75-word limit confuses voters," he said.

That rationale parrots what local officials have been saying...

By emailing Governor Newsom, you will accomplish two important missions regardless of the outcome on the bill.

  • (1) Your email will communicate to the Governor that Mayor Garcia didn't speak for you on this. That matters when Garcia has signaled that seeks to become Lt. Gov. in 2026.

  • (2) Your email will show your Councilmember that you know his/her record on SB 268 and will hold him/her accountable if it becomes law and LB City Hall uses it to try to raise LB taxes. That matters when four Council incumbents are seeking re-election in March 2020.

LBREPORT.com provides suggested text to email Governor Newsom; of course you can compose your own.

Veto request re SB 268.

As a Long Beach CA resident, I urge Governor Newsom to veto SB 268, which I consider hostile to transparency and to taxpayers. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia did not speak for me in supporting this bill. Under our City Charter, Long Beach's Mayor has no vote or policy setting authority and our City's policy-setting City Council never discussed or took a position on SB 268.

[Include if this pertains to you: "Although I am a registered Democrat, I am very displeased by the voted actions of our Long Beach area state legislators on this bill which recently came to my attention."]

Please communicate to Governor Newsom my strong displeasure with SB 268 and urge him to veto this bill. Thank you.

s/ [Your Name]
Include your email address.

Email to: leg.unit@gov.ca.gov.

We invite you to either cc: or :bcc LBREPORT.com on what you send and let us know what response you receive (if any.). Governor Newsom could act on SB 268 anytime between today and Oct. 13. When he does, LBREPORT.com will report it.


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Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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