The Measure Q Conundrum
As this election approaches, the Examiner staff wanted to make sure we were clear with our readers about
where we stand on Measure Q. This continuation of Measure O is a tough issue to grapple with. When Measure O was put to the voters in 2010, the City of Eureka was facing huge deficits and we were led to believe that public safety positions would be cut. Although the Examiner isn’t in favor of regressive taxes such as Measure O/Q, sometimes they may be necessary or expedient to ensure that services (like Police and Fire) continue to be maintained.
But Measure O monies weren’t allocated in the way that the tax was sold to the public. The mismanagement of the tax money and the deceit with which the City engaged in has shown us that this money was nothing more than a slush fund for the well connected in Eureka and Humboldt. Police hasn’t been fully staffed since the inception of Measure O, took a pay cut in 2014 and have given back millions of dollars over the life of the tax. Fire has given back huge amounts of money, based on the consolidation with Humboldt Fire and the pay cuts that they’ve had to endure. The Zoo has done well. City Hall administrators and management have gotten pay raises. Millions in settlements and judgements against the City have been paid either through higher insurance costs, or through direct payments.
When the Examiner started asking tough questions about the potential of Measure Q, staff at the city got
nervous. After several of our posts, which were responded to by the former Finance Director, the City finally put up their version of how Measure O had been spent (we’re not so sure their correct). The City justified not being transparent with the funds and having an independent citizens review of expenditures by referring to the fine print in the statute allowing for the Finance Advisory Committee to have that role (run by Dave Parris, former EPD, Coroner and relative of Dave Tyson by marriage). We kept up the pressure and the Finance Director resigned from his position (to go work with his buddy Dave Tyson).
We have tried to be clear that if Measure Q was managed in a clear, transparent way with money being prioritized for public safety that we would support the tax. However, as it stands now Measure Q will be handled exactly the same as Measure O. None of the City Council candidates has taken issue with how Measure O was handled, and it seems pretty clear that whomever is elected will continue with the past practice’s of this council.
The Examiner is not against taxes. We are not against taxes clearly earmarked for infrastructure, quality of life, schools, etc. However, we do not support a regressive tax being falsely sold to support public safety in a transparent way with accountability to the public. In reality Measure Q will only be partially used for public safety and the rest will be spent on pet projects. There won’t be an independent audit and the Jager nominated Finance Advisory Committee will rubber stamp whatever the City spends the funds on.
Therefore the Examiner does NOT endorse Measure Q.