Make Oakland Better Now!’s Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire was answered by 8 of the ten candidates. All of the completed questionnaires are available for viewing at our web site, here. Since some Oaklanders may want to compare candidate responses to each of the questions, we will be publishing the responses sorted by question here at Oaktalk over the coming days. Today, the responses to our questions about Oakland’s November ballot measures.
Question 1. Please state (a) how you intend to vote and (b) how you urge Oaklanders to vote on each of the following:
Measure V (increased medical cannabis tax and new non-medical cannabis tax). Measure W (telephone trunk line and access line taxes). Measure X ($360 parcel tax). Measure Y BB (suspends police staffing appropriation requirements for collection of 2004 Measure Y parcel tax).
Candell: V: Yes; W: No, X: No, BB: No. “Why is it that Oaklanders are the only ones the Oakland leadership ever think of taxing?”
Fields: V: “No. There is already a tax in place. Let the business flourish and not over tax to where they kill the organic growth that we have seen within the last five years.”
W: “No. People pay enough taxes. The answer is not more taxes its is dealing with the corruption that goes on in our City of Oakland Office suites that needs to be dealt with rite here rite now.”
X: “No. Again, we need to cut from the top, keep people working at the bottom, and this tax will not bring any more police it will just take care of debt service and retirement plans.”
BB: “The money is going to retirement and pensions and debt service. The City of Oakland, needs to be retooled that is the only option we have to straighten out the financial crisis. The second option is bankruptcy. I have spent my whole life turning things around. I see the beauty in everything, and there is beauty in saving Oakland and dealing with the finances, which can only be sorted out by weeding out the corruption downtown in City offices.”
V: “I’m not in favor of measure V. One of my main objectives is to increase employment in Oakland and more marijuana would be counter productive to that. Most employers drug test and city encouragement of marijuana use seems ill-conceived. I know this maybe an unpopular stand but I think this measure is short sighted especially since its promoted to be another tax revenue scheme.”
W: “Again I’m not for it (Measure W) or anymore taxes because more taxes that merely put off the inevitable while the underlying problems grow larger.”
X: “Again I’m not for (Measure X) for the same reason more taxes merely put off the inevitable and will lead to a larger problem later on. When the tax expires the city will be overwhelmed the cost that have escalated out of conjtrol. One more reason is this tax is regressive and to be fair it should be and ad valorem tax based on the value of real estate.”
BB: “I recommend passing measure Y BB to maintain the minimum service while we work to resolve the budgetary problems. I also do not consider measure Y a new tax just an ill-conceived tax presently in place.”
V: Support; W: Support; X: Oppose; BB: Support
I have the same answer for all four. These tax measures are a bad idea, product of a bad budget process. Despite that I will vote for all four of them. My view is that we have to decide if the hardship of the new taxes is worse than the hardship that the budget cuts will cause. If these measures do not pass, key city resources will become even more substandard during a time when the civil society is least able to help out.
Some feel that voting these taxes down will “draw the line” or force city hall to clean up its act. If that were true the budget mess in Sacramento and in many of our California cities and counties would have been solved years ago. Reform will be done by electing reform minded officials, not by sending some vague negative message voting ballot initiatives up or down.
V: Support; W: Oppose; X: Oppose; BB: Support
V: “Yes, although I would have preferred a lower rate for the dispensaries.”
W: “Yes, the city needs some revenues to get through the impact of the recession to preserve city services. This is much lower than the proposed parcel tax, spread more fairly over the population. It will not harm local businesses like the sales tax proposed by Perata and raises about the same amount.”
X: “I voted to put this on the ballot because the OPOA requested it. I did so to let the voters decide but do not believe it will pass. I believe the OPOA must start paying their share of their pension costs whether or not this passes.”
BB: “Yes, the geographic policing and prevention/intervention services paid for Measure Y are largely responsible for the 40 percent reduction in crime over the last 3 years. This will not raise what people were paying and will prevent most of the further projected layoffs of police.”
V: ” I am not convinced that the projections and promises made about tax revenues from the legal sale of marijuana are accurate. The current pricing reflects the illegality of the product. Legalization will lead to more product, and invariably lower prices. Taxes based on sales will reflect that lowered, market-competitive reality. There will be tax revenues–but we should be careful to avoid over-claiming what that they may be.”
W: “While these two types of taxes seem relatively innocuous, I find them to be another example of our city’s unbridled willingness to take revenue wherever they think it may be found—regardless of whether it makes sense in this economic environment or taxpayers actually derive any value from the city’s participation. This amounts to nearly $24 a year for every person with a cell phone or a separate landline. It also amounts to $156 a year for every business using a trunk line. If you have multiple trunk lines, you pay more. By themselves, these seem relatively modest, but stacked on top of other taxes for residents and business owners—they continue a burden that is unfair.”
X: “I am in opposition to the $360 parcel tax measure, and I believe voters will reject Measure X for two reasons. First, they see this measure as an attempt to force them to fix a problem our elected city officials allowed to happen. In this way, they also link it with the city’s failure to use Measure Y parcel tax money in ways the city had promised regarding community policing. Voters are understandably angry with this. In meetings with me, many have questioned why they should be expected to trust the city to use new parcel tax money for public safety, when the city failed to keep its promises for how it would use money raised from Measure Y? Second, there are many people in this city, including the elderly in West and East Oakland, for whom $360 dollars would be a significant amount of their monthly fixed income. They will reject the measure for that reason alone.”
BB: “I am against Measure Y BB . I believe it is disingenuous to ask the voters to eliminate the staffing requirement of Measure Y and trust the City Council to do the right thing this time, when they now are forced to face the consequences of failing to live up to the bargain they made with the voters who enacted Measure Y.