Fool taxpayers once, shame on you. Fool them twice….
It appears that Paul Rodrigues or someone that works at the City of Eureka (see his previous comments on this blog) wrote the Times-Standard editorial opinion this past Sunday (In Eureka, a critical choice). Either that or the Times-Standard has completely failed to do any in depth research on Measure O and is willing to put the publications journalistic integrity on the line by regurgitating the falsities and misdirection from the City. The fact is, without dedicating the Measure O revenues to Public Safety, the council can spend them on whatever they want. As of now, there’s no proposal from the City to dedicate the funds.
According to the TS, if voters don’t vote for an extension of Measure O, the city will fall apart. The Police will barely be able to respond to calls for service, the Problem Oriented Policing (POP) team will be disbanded, the streets won’t be swept and “you won’t want to live there (if the tax expires)”. In their argument they quote the same figures that Finance Director Paul Rodrigues attempted to pass off on the TE. The figures in the editorial still don’t make sense, (unless you just accept them without question) and the TS didn’t seem to ask why there hasn’t been transparency in this process. Until the Examiner questioned the lack of disclosure last month, there was none.
Even more troubling, are the quotes from Chief Andy Mills. The article says, “With this tax, EPD has been able to restore nine sworn positions that had been slated to be cut on Dec. 31, 2010”. The editorial goes on to quote the Chief as saying that without the tax, there would be no (POP) team and the Traffic unit would take a hit. The police department is currently 11 officers down, according to Chief Mills (the department is also woefully understaffed in dispatchers). In 2010, the police budget was 3.3 million dollars less than in 2014, they had more filled positions and they were facing a budget shortfall. But in 2010, we weren’t hearing about cuts to POP or the Traffic
Really Chief? You’re threatening to disband POP and maybe not respond to calls unless people vote for Measure O? Shame on you! Even when faced with not having a Measure O in 2010, former Police Chief Garr Nielsen kept both the POP team and the Traffic unit intact! Apparently he was able to find ways to keep the citizens priorities his top concern even when tightening the belt. On top of that, the cost savings from the department in 2010 was going to be through hiring freezes, not cuts. EPD’s currently understaffed in sworn officers, and dispatchers, which means that money is being saved and put back in the general fund. But Chief Mills wants you to believe that without more money the Police wont be able to function.
To quote the 2010 adopted budget from the police department; “At the time of the budget preparation, we anticipated the retirement of two Lieutenants, the freesing (sic) of two Police Officers and one Police Services Officer (non-sworn).” That’s right, the “cuts” were actually the freezing of four sworn positions, which weren’t or wouldn’t be filled. That’s four sworn positions, not “nine sworn position” as quoted by the TS. According to the City Manager’s report on the saving in the Public Safety budget; “Maintain various vacant positions in the Eureka Police Department – saves $560,000″. And, back when the budget was tighter and Measure O wasn’t a for sure revenue source, the budget overview read; “Problem Oriented Policing This program, long desired by council members, staff and citizens, is funded for $732,264 in the proposed FY2010-11 budget.” See the City’s reported budget for more information:
Here we are again, four years later. The city, and apparently the Times-Standard, are using fear tactics to try and get voters to keep Measure O on the books. They haven’t kept their promises of transparency, but they want you to “trust” that they will be good stewards of this windfall tax revenue for the future. They are threatening to cut services and programs in Public Safety, even though they could keep those programs by being more fiscally responsible. Every dollar spent from Measure O, that isn’t dedicated to Public Safety allows the Brady Bunch, Tyson, and the Arkley’s to subsidize their pet projects without having real scrutiny on the budget (ie; a sewage line to Cutten). If the City had to be truly fiscally responsible with dedicated funds from Measure O being put into Public Safety, the Examiner might support this extension. But unless it’s a dedicated tax, don’t let them fool you again Eureka. ‘O’ yes in 2010….’O’ no without dedicated funds to Public Safety in 2014!