Like every loser at every gaming table in the world, the City Council just can’t stop placing bets against the odds no matter how much they have lost, no matter how little they have left in the bank.
On Tuesday, the Council moved forward to put a parcel tax of $39 a year on each of the nearly 800,000 properties in the city no matter how little they are worth or how much. It’s the most regressive tax there is, food on the table for a family struggling to survive in hard times.but not even close to the price of a meal at the mayor’s favorite restaurants.
But gamblers like our city officials can’t stop, especially when they are playing with other people’s money, which is the only money they play with.
These are people who are firing library workers by the hundreds, slashing library funding by 30 percent or more, closing the beautiful new libraries we haven’t even paid for one day and now two days a week.
And yet they moved forward to draft a ballot measure for the parcel tax on the November ballot for the most cynical of reasons: A poll that shows it has a better chance of passing with a two-thirds majority in the statewide general election than in the March city election.
The reason, they admitted, is turnout is lower and more conservative in March than in November. A poll paid for by the unions and the Library Foundation told them so, if there was any doubt.
The other difference, which ought to have been fatal, is it costs the city more than $4 million to put the tax on the November state ballot, nothing to put it on the city ballot in March.
If the tax actually passed, the libraries wouldn’t get a cent either way until the end of 2011, nearly 18 months from now.
Still, they left the March election open as a possibility although Chief Librarian Martin Gomez told them he opposed that because it would be defeated for sure, the pollsters told him. He would rather wait until the November 2012 presidential election, putting off the revenue stream until nearly 2013. So much for urgency.
Gomez doesn’t even have a budget for the $30 million a year this tax would raise, beyond rehiring laid off workers at a cost of $10 million.
There isn’t even yet a provision to keep the Council from stealing the money, supplanting it, as they and the mayor did when they tripled the trash free to hire cops and then used most of the money to keep the city afloat. Jose Huizar asked for taxpayer protection, which has proven to be worthless in the past as is the vague “oversight committee” proposed for this tax.
Council members know they have lost all credibility by pushing the city to the brink of bankruptcy and failing to face the problems head-on. But they are junkies, addicted to other people’s money, and can’t help themselves.
They preferred to add to the financial burden by handsomely paying off 2,400 senior employees to retire early. They transferred more workers to the DWP, where they got raises up to 50 percent, than they have laid off two years into this crisis.
And now they want a segment of the public to pay for their failure with this tax.
It’s unthinkable but they are shameless. Only Dennis Zine opposed this while the supposed watchdog for the taxpayer, Greig Smith, stood silent except for a premature effort to cut off the discussion before all the facts were before them.
I’m betting when this tax comes back before them on July 14, the deadline for the November ballot, they will blink and back down because they don’t even have the courage of their lack of conviction.
Free public libraries are a vital and basic service of American society dating back to Benjamin Franklin but they chose knowingly and willfully to take away funding for one of the few quality services the city provides.
They made the wrong choice for the wrong reasons. If they decide to put this parcel tax on the ballot, they will have made another wrong choice for the wrong reasons.
And they will lose at the ballot box in November or March or whenever they put this or any other tax on the ballot until they fix what they have broken or are replaced by people who will.