News & Analysis
Dennis Carroll Launches TV Ad Blitz For City Hall Prop I (2.5% Utility Tax Rate Reduction); Calls Council's Counter-Measure to Ryan's Prop J (5% U-Tax Rate Cut) "A Good Start"
As Candidate, Carroll Used Ryan's Endorsement
(November 5) -- Dennis Carroll, who used an endorsement letter from Norm Ryan (author of the 5% utility tax rate cut now known as Prop J) when seeking votes in his Council election bid, has launched a TV ad blitz for LB Prop I, City Hall's 2.5% counter-measure that -- if it passes with more "yes" votes -- would defeat Mr. Ryan's 5% measure, Prop J.
The ads mainly feature Mr. Carroll orating into the camera and stating in part:
"The City Council supporters of the 50% tax cut wanted to compromise last spring and the City Council wouldn't. This fall, the City Council wanted to compromise and the 50% supporters wouldn't."
The ad includes a chart showing LB's declining reported crimes, labelled "Utility Tax Helped Reduce Violent Crime Over 60%."
Over a concluding graphic, Mr. Carroll states, "25% is a good first step and a responsible compromise. Vote yes on 25%." The graphic repeats this verbiage and indicates the ad are paid for by "Dennis Carroll, Chairman, Committee for 25% Tax Relief."
The ads air on LB Charter cable during local cutaway commercial segments on "CNN" and other cable networks.
By the fall of 2000, Mr. Ryan's measure had qualified for the ballot with legally filed petition signatures and could not be removed.
LB City Hall had initially advised Mr. Ryan he needed over 20,000 petition signatures although state law required fewer than 5,000. This error had the effect of denying the public the right to vote on Mr. Ryan's measure before November.
Only when it was impossible to remove Mr. Ryan's petition intiated measure from the ballot did a Council majority vote for a "compromise," a measure that, if passed by more "yes" votes, would defeat Mr. Ryan's measure.
Part of the Council's "compromise" was to have its measure appear on the ballot first, ahead of Mr. Ryan's petition initiated measure which qualified first. As part of the same vote, the Council voted to label City Hall's proposed 2.5% utility tax rate cut as a "25%" reduction" (of the 10% utility tax), a verbal device that makes the cuts seem larger, a tactic publicly suggested by an admitted opponent of any utility tax cut, Councilwoman Jenny Oropeza.
The chart shown in the ad, claiming the utility tax helped reduce violent crime 60%, is also arguable. The utility tax feeds the general fund which covers items ranging from police, fire and libraries to City Hall raises, consultants, perks and subsidies.
This is corroborated by the fact that even with LB's 10% utility tax, one of the highest in the state, LB City Hall provides taxpayers with barely 2.0 sworn police officers per thousand residents, while L.A. budgets over 2.5 per thousand and Signal Hill delivers roughly 3.0.
We think it's fair to say the utility tax helps fund police and other LB City Hall general fund spending, all of it.
Last month, after it became known that taxpayer resources had been used in connection with an "informational" brochure stuffed in LB utility bills, touting the supposed benefits of LB's utility tax, Mr. Ryan sued. A Superior Court judge granted Mr. Ryan a Temporary Restraining Order, forbidding LB City Hall from taking further actions of this nature and ordering that any further "informational" actions be genuinely even-handed.
Salient related points of Mr. Carroll's record
During his April, 2000 campaign against Council incumbent Del Roosevelt, then-candidate Dennis Carroll disseminated a "Dear Neighbor Letter" which in part recited:
...4. Cut the Utility Users Tax to 5%. Our current rate only sustains continued wasteful spending..."
Mr. Carroll's letter did not mention or endorse Mr. Ryan's 5% measure, but also did not indicate any disagreement with it. LBReport.com has posted a copy of this letter in our Reference section.
In the June, 2000 runoff, candidate Carroll used an Endorsement Letter from Mr. Ryan, written in Ryan's capacity as Chairman of Citizens United to Cut the Utility Tax. The letter did not say Mr. Carroll endorsed Mr. Ryan's measure but did urge a vote for Mr. Carroll.
LBReport.com has been unable to find any instance of Mr. Carroll explicitly endorsing Mr. Ryan's plan. Mr. Carroll went on to win the election.
Less than three weeks after taking office, Mr. Carroll co-sponsored a Council attempt to defeat Mr. Ryan's 5% utility tax rate cut measure. Carroll joined Vice Mayor Dan Baker and 3d district Councilman Frank Colonna to agendize a Council proposal to put a competing measure on the ballot that would lower LB's utility tax rate by 3%: half a percent per year for four years, one percent in the fifth year.
The Carroll-Colonna-Baker 3% plan became a 2.5% plan without public explanation at the August 1, 2000 Council meeting.
LBReport.com has posted a detailed account of this meeting at August 1 Council Meeting.
During the meeting, Councilman Carroll opined that after a 2.5% rate reduction had been implemented (which under the Council's plan would take five years), he believed the Council might reduce it another 2.5%.
A week later, the Council put its own measure on the ballot ahead of Mr. Ryan's measure, which qualified for the ballot first. It also voted to label its 2.5% utility tax rate reduction as a "25%" reduction in the utility tax, and Ryan's measure as a "50%" reduction. LBReport.comhas posted a detailed account of this meeting at August 8 Council meeting
LBReport.com has previously editorialized on Councilman Carroll's conduct at Editorials: "Dennis Carroll: Committed Campaigner, Credulous Councilmember"
LBReport.com has also posted a detailed history, dating back to 1990-1991, of salient Council actions concerning LB's utility tax at LB utility tax history.
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