Category: Quality of Life/Sand
Drafted on Dec 19th, 2008.
Here are my notes from the SANDAG meetings
Art Madrid called the Union-Tribune zealots today. It was kinda fun to watch.
The “quality of life” subcommittee was most curious about the "genesis" of the strong UT op-ed piece that came out yesterday. The UT wrote an editorial saying that SANDAG shouldn’t be using tax dollars to hire a PR firm to support the preparations for the quality of life tax. Gary Gallegos (SANDAG Executive Director) responded, "I think the $900k got their attention." He went on to say that only $195k is budgeted right now.
Mark Lewis (El Cajon) seemed annoyed at the editorial. Here is how I understood his annoyance. He said, "[SANDAG] has change orders all the time that are a million dollars. No one blinks an eye.”
Rebecca Jones (San Marcos) asked, "I didn't see the op-ed, was it bad?" At this point I expected one of the members to review the op-ed’s thesis. Instead, and I had to laugh, Lori Holt Pfeffer said, "They were naming names."
It was strongly noted that the UT didn't contact SANDAG to discuss the issue. There was a consensus that they should have a meeting with the UT editorial board. Staff also noted that they were working on a response "through the communications department of SANDAG."
December 18, 2008. Kevin Cummins.
Yesterday I spoke with the UT. Today they wrote:
Is the San Diego Association of Governments under the impression that it is not subject to the rules of the California Fair Political Practices Commission?...
Such obnoxious uses of public money to promote ballot measures have become common in California in recent years, thanks to a bizarre appellate court ruling that governments could spend as much as they wanted on “informational efforts” so long as their propaganda did not explicitly say “Vote for Measure X.” ...
These travesties prompted the state Fair Political Practices Commission to step in and clean up after the appeals court. Earlier this month, the political watchdog adopted policies with the force of law forbidding local governments from disseminating any information that is not “fair and objective.” ...
None of this seems to have registered with SANDAG. Its agenda for tomorrow's committee meeting describes hiring a campaign consultant to run an all-out push to persuade voters to raise taxes. This sort of thing is no longer allowed.
Says who? Says FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson...
That won't be nearly good enough. Here's what should happen instead: SANDAG's request for proposals from political consultants must be withdrawn immediately. The days of politicians using taxpayers' money to persuade those same taxpayers to raise their taxes are over...
See Also: SANDAG Reeducation Camp
Monday the ETA sent out a brief alert about this issue to the press and watchdog organizations.
Tuesday this was sent out from the SDCTA:
In case you missed the story in the www.voiceofsandiego.org, the California Fair Political Practices Commission voted 4-1 last week to clarify regulations on expenditures by governmental agencies for communications about a ballot measure.
You might recall that this past summer the San Diego County Taxpayers Association sent an open letter to the Board of Port Commissioners calling for the halt of expenditures for political advocacy. In the FPPC staff memo, the Port's advertisements denouncing a ballot measure was cited as an example of "agencies pushing the limits with public outreach programs clearly biased or slanted in their presentation of facts".
The language that was approved by the FPPC will require public agencies to disclose expenditures on communication about a ballot measure unless the communication provides a fair and impartial presentation of facts.
On a related note, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is currently requesting proposals for a $900,000 "public education/outreach program" consultant. America's economic downturn apparently has no impact on the mighty SANDAG.
According to the RFP, "the program will support the development of a local Quality of Life funding strategy that can be used to implement regional habitat conservation, shoreline preservation, water quality, and public transit improvements". Translation: The program will support a future (most likely 2010) ballot measure to increase taxes to pay for environmental programs and public transit. We'll be watching this public "education" effort like a hawk.
From a previous ETA post:
"Quality of Life" Tax Breakdown
See Also: Quality of Life Archives
The big question is, why does CalCoast get taxpayer dollars?
But while Aceti (CalCoast Director) and the San Diego Association of Governments continue to hunt down funds [ETA Note: SANDAG and CalCoast are not independent entities], many environmental groups question the wisdom of spending millions of dollars to put sand on the beach just to see it disappear in a matter of years, if not months.
Mark Massara, director of the California Coastal Program for the Sierra Club, considers large-scale sand-replenishment projects a big waste of time and taxpayer money, as effective as “spitting into the wind.”
“Beach nourishment can sometimes play a role in restoring and protecting coastal habitats, but it’s only one part of a much larger program,” says Massara. “In San Diego County, a very large percentage of sand comes from the erosion of bluffs. If they line the bluffs with seawalls, the natural result is going to be sandless beaches. So if you’re not removing seawalls, moving development back, protecting rivers and streams from dams and fortifications, then beach nourishment alone is expensive, temporary, and just flat-out won’t work.”
Serge Dedina is executive director of Wildcoast, a coastal environmental conservation group based in Imperial Beach. Dedina says that sand lobbyists like Aceti are concerned for the wrong reasons.
“Sand replenishment is public welfare for multimillionaire beachfront property owners,” Dedina says. “The majority of the benefit goes toward private-property protection. Beach replenishment or dredge-and-fill projects have little impact on preserving shorelines in the long term due to the damming up of rivers and the dramatic physical alteration of our coastline. San Diego County has a number of issues that need to be addressed immediately, and spending tens of millions of dollars on beach sand that benefits private-property owners is not one of them.”
Aceti says he doesn’t think twice about the homes; it’s the beach that he’s concerned with.
Aceti, and apparently CalCoast (if there is a difference), represent blufftop property owners. Aceti is the "Steve Aceti, government and community relations representative for the [Self Realization] fellowship." The fellowship owns the most valuable blufftop property in Encinitas; most people know the location as Swamis. Aceti also has time to be the Public Policy Advisor for Marlow & Associates, a lobbying firm. There are also public documents that show that CalCoast represents blufftop property owners who live on Neptune.
It is not credible for Aceti to state that he doesn't think about the private-property owners. The record shows that it has been his job to do just that and that is why I have repeatedly asked Aceti if he represents blufftop property owners. He has not answered the question. He hasn't answered questions about his relation to Marlow and Associates either.
The City of Encinitas funds CalCoast and it funds the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association, which turns around and pays dues to CalCoast. The interests of the taxpayer are different than the interests of the blufftop property owners.
CalCoast and Aceti have been the public face in campaigns for several recent tax measures, Prop C, Prop K, and the Quality of Life Tax. Are our local politicians funding CalCoast so that CalCoast does the dirty work of raising taxes?
Is CalCoast going to play the role of the grassroots cheerleader for the upcoming fight to raise our sales tax, again, in the upcoming Quality of Life tax measure?
See Also: Aceti Lies to North County Times
Sheffo Takes Anti-Tax Pledge [press release]
Challenges fellow candidates to do the same
ENCINITAS – Joe Sheffo, candidate for Encinitas City Council, today formally announced that, if elected, he will not support any new taxes, fees, or assessments. He challenges his fellow candidates for city council to do the same by taking the following pledge:
"I, (candidate’s name), pledge, both as a member of the Encinitas City Council and any regional governing bodies, that I will oppose any new tax, fee or assessment. I understand that this pledge is effective the day I am sworn in and continues until my term of office is complete."
“There’s not much we can do about the tax hikes being contemplated in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., but local leaders should stand up to the many city and county taxes, fees, and assessments that add to the tax burden,” said Sheffo. “I challenge all of my competitors – Republicans, Democrats, independents, and Green Party members alike – to take this pledge.”
See Also: TransNet III