(April 3, 2002) -- We think what wanna-be Mayor Ray Grabinski tells voters about his record on Prop J is a serious matter.
Prop J was the petition initiated measure to cut LB's utility tax in half in five years. Nearly 70% of voters citywide approved Prop J. LB fiscal reformer and now Mayoral candidate Norm Ryan led the campaign for Prop J.
What Mr. Grabinski did, and what he now says he did, on this issue matters. And in our opinion, his campaign claims on this issue have been disrespectful to voters and corrosive to the democratic process.
And based on a news story we're posting today, we think they're becoming ludicrous. The more they say, they worse he looks.
A few weeks ago, many LB voters got a Grabinski campaign piece that included a fake newspaper headline, right, immediately behind a legit PT piece.
That was bad enough, but then we opened our official sample ballot. In his official candidate statement, Mr. Grabinski says, "Ray supported Prop J, which cut utility tax."
We think this sample ballot claim is especially disrespectful to LB voters on a measure on which nearly 70% spoke very clearly. .
In September, 1999, Councilman Grabinski joined a failed Council move that might have stopped Mr. Ryan's signature gathering campaign by offering a "compromise." Instead of the petition initiated measure, which sought to give taxpayers five years of one percent utility tax rate cuts, the compromise offered half percent utility tax rate cuts for four years, delaying one percent cuts to years five through seven.
In the spirit of compromise, and to avoid a burdensome signature gathering process, Mr. Ryan was amenable to this, but when it failed (lacking a fifth Council vote), Ryan continued his signature gathering and by April 2000 had qualified his original measure for the ballot. That meant a public vote on it in November, 2000 was inescapable.
That's when Mr. Grabinski moved a second time. In June, 2000, Councilman Grabinski staged a LB version of "Weekend at Bernies." He took the corpse of the dead Sept. '99 offer and agendized it as a supposed compromise. Like the movie, that was worthy of laughter, not respect.
Since Mr. Ryan's measure was already on the ballot, what was the point of agendizing slower tax relief? LBReport.com has reported and posted a transcript showing what Mr. Grabinski said at the June 20, 2000 Council meeting. We think it speaks volumes.
Just read it (link below) and see if Councilman Grabinski sounds supportive of -- or fearful of -- the coming vote on Mr. Ryan's utility tax cut measure. Don't miss the part where Grabinski verbally kisses the butts of every incumbent Councilmember in order.
We think this groveling spectacle, and his self-deprecating back slapping for the Council's efforts, shows exactly what is wrong with Mr. Grabinski's incumbency. His words strike us as an incumbent who thinks he deserves credit for talking at length but not delivering.
Just compare his record with Mr. Ryan who took action and overcame City Hall obstacles to actually accomplish something and deliver results for taxpayers.
Not once during the June 20, 2000 Council meeting did Councilman Grabinski say he supported Ryan's coming November, 2000 ballot measure (Prop J). Although events had already passed him by, Councilman Grabinski continued talking about half percent cuts for the first four years and delaying the last 3% of the cuts (the majority) into years 5-7, while the public already had the right to vote on a ballot measure (Prop J) and get the full 5% cut in 5 years.
But don't take our word for it. Read the transcript for yourself. Click Grabinski, June 20, 2000 Council meeting re utility tax cut.
We think supporting the failed Sept. '99 Council compromise was not the same thing as supporting Prop J. The compromise would have stopped the signature gathering for the petition measure that became Prop J. (The measure was officially labelled Prop J in August, 2000 and wasn't called Prop J in Sept. '99.)
We think Councilman Grabinski's June, 2000 "Weekend at Bernies" maneuver, in which he publicly sought slower taxpayer relief than voters could already give themselves in November with Prop J, should also be sufficient to collapse any credible argument that he supported Prop J.
But now, Mr. Grabinski's campaign consultant has given us yet another basis for Mr. Grabinski's "support." In a story we separately posted today, he told us Mr. Grabinski told him that sometime before the election, he [Grabinski] had told his friends and others to vote for Prop J and Grabinski also told him he voted for Prop J at the ballot box.
Some may believe this (roughly 10% of the public reportedly believes Elvis is alive) and others may laugh it off. But it's not funny.
We think the totality of what Mr. Grabinski has done on this is very bad, corrosive to the democratic process and disrespectful to voters.
We think it's disrespectful because Mr. Ryan knew Prop J was right in 1999 when he proposed it and in 2000 when he led it to victory. Mr. Grabinski joined in a Council effort that would have stopped signature gathering for it in Sept. 1999. When that failed, and after Mr. Ryan finished collecting signatures that gave the public the right to vote on it, in June, 2000 Mr. Grabinski then proposed slower tax relief than Prop J.
If there had been no Norm Ryan and only Ray Grabinski, there would be no Prop J. In our view, that's not support.
We think it's corrosive because if an incumbent officeholder is allowed to portray his record as including his own self-serving statements about what he says he told his friends and he says he did in a voting booth, there's little use in ever citing his public office record.
In our opinion, that will inevitably corrupt the public process. Those worst hurt will be reform-minded challengers outside City Hall who challenge those inside based on what they did and didn't do in public office.
All of us resent it when someone wants money for something they didn't do. We think it's worse if a politician tries to take something more precious -- your vote -- based on something he didn't do when he could have, and now says he did when it benefits him.
And one final note. Mr. Grabinski is the last Council incumbent remaining from 1991 who voted to raise LB's utility tax from 7% to 10%. Councilman Grabinski didn't demand City Hall limit its tax increase to only half a percent per year for four years. He voted to impose the entire, whopping 3% utility tax hike in one full fell swoop, even if that meant a hardship for many LB businesses and residents already suffering in a recession.
In his campaign literature, on the same page as a graphic of a fake newspaper headline, the Grabinski campaign tells prospective voters, "In ten years on the Council, Ray Grabinski has earned his stripes as a Taxpayer Advocate."