San Francisco trial court ruling a temporary setback for Prop. 13

By Jon Coupal | Recently, a San Francisco judge upheld the validity of a local special tax that failed to secure a two-thirds vote of the city electorate as required both by Proposition 13 (1978) and Proposition 218 (1996), also known as the Right to Vote on Taxes Act. Both initiatives were sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The lawsuit was brought by HJTA and, after the ruling, it immediately filed an appeal.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

The harmful consequences of the court’s ruling cannot be overstated. Unless reversed on appeal, a gaping new loophole will have been created in the Constitutional protections for taxpayers that voters have repeatedly ratified over the decades. Moreover, the decision is a green light to tax-and-spend interests to extract even more dollars from the most heavily taxed citizens in the United States.

By way of background, in June of 2018, 50.87% of San Francisco voters voted affirmatively for Proposition C, a tax on commercial rents. There is no dispute that the tax, projected to raise $145 million annually, was intended for the specific purposes of providing child care, early education, and salary increases for preschool teachers in the City of San Francisco.

The less than fifty-one percent of the vote doesn’t cut it. Proposition 13, approved by California voters in 1978, requires a two-thirds vote of the electorate to pass a tax increase for any special purpose. This has been the law for 40 years. It has also been the consistent position of interests often hostile to taxpayer rights. The Legislative Analyst’s Office, California League of Cities, and numerous other local governments have agreed that all local special taxes require two-thirds voter consent.

The basis for the court’s strange ruling, unfortunately, had its genesis in an earlier California Supreme Court case in 2017.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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Fullerton Police Department says bodycam video to be released

The Fullerton Police Department issued a press release yesterday stating that it plans to release bodycam video showing the incident that ended with a 17-year-old girl being shot and killed by a Fullerton police officer on a freeway in Anaheim last Friday, July 5.

Hannah Williams of Anaheim was pronounced dead at a hospital after being shot on the eastbound 91 Freeway near Kramer Boulevard.

Read the press release here.

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Fullerton City Hall is closed today for another three-day weekend

City Hall Closure Dates and
Observed Holidays

2019
January –1*, 11, 25
February – 8, 18*, 22
March – 8, 22
April – 5, 19
May – 3, 17, 27*, 31
June – 14, 28
July – 4*, 12, 26
August – 9, 23
September – 2*, 6, 20
October – 4, 18
November – 1, 11*, 15, 28*, 29*
December – 13, 24*, 25*, 26^,27^, 31*

*Holiday observed
^Winter Closure

Fullerton City Hall
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Another legislative attack on transparency

By Jon Coupal and Jay Obernolte | Just two weeks ago, this column exposed the abject lack of transparency in the state budget process. But the way the Legislature enacts its spending plan is just one of many ways Sacramento politicians attack transparency.

In recent years, taxpayer advocacy groups have pushed for greater disclosures in local bond and tax measures. These efforts received bipartisan support as they were simply good government bills. Assembly Bill 809 and AB 195 were authored by Assemblyman Jay Obernolte in 2015 and 2016. Taken together, these bills require that the tax rate, duration and amount of revenue to be raised by a tax or bond measure must be revealed on the 75-word ballot label, as opposed to being buried deep in the pages of the sample ballot booklet. This places the most critical information about a tax proposal in a place where voters will actually see it.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

But tax-and-spend interests, mostly public-sector labor organizations, have never liked transparency and now, with their influence in the legislature greater than ever, seek to keep voters in the dark on local fiscal measures on the ballot. Senate Bill 268 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would undermine the previous bipartisan legislation to the detriment of voters. SB268 upends the HJTA-backed, common-sense legislation by stating that for local bond measures, as well as certain taxes, the critical information will be moved off the ballot label and into the sample ballot. For such measures, the ballot label would include a statement reading, “See voter guide for information.” That’s more annoying than helpful to voters.

Adding insult to injury, SB268 is being advanced through the infamous “gut-and-amend” process whereby bills are stripped of all content and new language is inserted in order to bypass public and media oversight.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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Will ice cream help voters forget Josh Newman’s vote for the gas tax?

By Joel Fox | In reading about state senate candidate Josh Newman’s new attention-getting gimmick to hand out ice cream to potential voters, it made me think of George Washington.

No, I’m not making a political comparison between the country’s first president and the ex-Orange County senator who is in a quest to reclaim his former state senate seat—but there is a similar approach in their vote-getting. 

Joel Fox

Newman, who won his first election to the senate by dressing as a grizzly bear and carrying a sign to support his candidacy, hopes to make a comeback by purchasing an ice cream truck and going around the district handing out free ice cream with pro-Newman information printed on the ice cream wrappers. 

The one-time senator was recalled from his office because of his vote on raising gas taxes. Republican Ling Ling Chang replaced him. Now he wants the seat back in the next election. 

Whether it’s policy direction or ice cream that would sway voters, we shall soon see. However, the method of luring voters to a candidate’s side by handing out some goods is older than the country itself. Potholders with the candidate’s name stenciled on them are a longtime, familiar giveaway in this state. 

However, ice cream is a new wrinkle—the commodity of choice a couple of centuries back was liquor. 

A U.S. News article earlier in the decade described how George Washington put liquor to good use in his election to the House of Burgesses, as told by Washington biographer Dennis Pogue:

The father of the nation lost his first campaign in 1755 to the House of Burgesses largely because he didn’t put on an alcohol-laden circus at the polls. That year, Washington got 40 votes. The winner, who plied voters with beer, whiskey, rum punch, and wine, got 271 votes. A quick learner, Washington won three years later with the help of alcohol. “What do you know, he was successful and got 331 votes,” says Pogue. 

Alcohol at the polls is out in modern America. Ice cream is okay.

However, it will be the policy differences between the candidates that will determine the election. Newman is counting on a greater turnout than appeared during the recall election, and the increasing strength of Democrats in the state and the region.

But will the voters remember the reason Newman was recalled? The gas tax issue could once again be the key. While the election is months away, this column is being written on July 1—the day that the gas tax in California is being increased by the 6 cents a gallon to which Newman acquiesced. The issue of the gas tax could still play with the voters in this senate district, certainly more so than ice cream.

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Watch last night’s city council meeting

To watch the four-and-a-half hour video (4:29), click here.

Fullerton City Council Meeting
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Vacancy taxes: California’s latest crazy idea

By Jon Coupal | This column has frequently recounted how ideas coming from California’s progressive politicians are not just destructive, but also how most result in outcomes diametrically opposite of what the left actually thinks they will have. Examples of this phenomenon are legion.

Take high speed rail (please). It was sold as a “climate change” project because, in theory,  it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by getting cars off the road. But it turns out that the construction of the project — a massive endeavor requiring thousands of trucks, destruction of farmland and millions of tons of concrete — has been spewing massive amounts of CO2 into the air.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

Even the independent Legislative Analyst has concluded that the project will be a net GHG producer for the foreseeable future. If, as predicted, the project is never completed, think of the environmental harm that will have been inflicted — all in the name of saving the planet.

Another example of counterproductive policies is the “recording tax” enacted a couple of years ago. In 2017, the Legislature passed a new $75 tax on real estate documents filed with each county’s clerk recorder. The revenue generated by the tax — over $250 million annually — is supposed to be dedicated to low-income housing programs. But the biggest irony of the tax is that it ignores basic economics. A tax imposed on real estate transactions to pay for programs to make housing more affordable is like prescribing leeches as a treatment for anemia.

The latest example of a progressive policy that will do more harm than good involves the levying of “vacancy taxes.”

To read the entire column, please click here.

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Fullerton City Hall is closed today for another three-day weekend

City Hall Closure Dates and
Observed Holidays

2019
January –1*, 11, 25
February – 8, 18*, 22
March – 8, 22
April – 5, 19
May – 3, 17, 27*, 31
June – 14, 28
July – 4*, 12, 26
August – 9, 23
September – 2*, 6, 20
October – 4, 18
November – 1, 11*, 15, 28*, 29*
December – 13, 24*, 25*, 26^,27^, 31*

*Holiday observed
^Winter Closure

Fullerton City Hall
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California’s budget process has devolved into a bad joke

By Jon Coupal | Let’s face it. California’s budget process has devolved into a bad joke. The record amount of spending coupled with massive expenditures for wasteful, pork-barrel projects is bad enough. But the more insidious problem is the lack of budget transparency. This is not the way it is supposed to be.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

As usual, Sacramento politicians are patting themselves on the back for passing an “on time” budget. True, the main budget bill was passed on June 13, two days before the constitutional deadline. But citizens would be mistaken to believe that the passage of the budget bill completes the budget process.

Ever since 2010, it has become common to enact politically motivated legislation as so-called budget “trailer bills” as a means to avoid meaningful analysis and public hearings.

What happened in 2010 that caused the budget process to be corrupted was the passage of Proposition 25, entitled the “On-Time Budget Act of 2010.”

Voters were told three things about Prop. 25: Budgets would be passed on time; it would increase budget transparency; and that legislators would forfeit their pay if the budget was not passed on time. All three were lies. Moreover, because the primary goal of Prop. 25 was to reduce the vote threshold for passage of the budget bill from two-thirds to a simple majority, it deprives the minority party of any meaningful input.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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Watch last night’s city council meeting

To watch the four-and-a-half hour video (4:38), click here.

Fullerton City Council Meeting
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