By: Rocky Slaughter
From: ANewsCafe.com – http://anewscafe.com/2016/10/02/a-safer-tomorrow-is-better-than-a-perfect-never/
Laura McHaney opposes Measures D&E and has authored an opinion piece that has appeared in the Record Searchlight and now on ANewsCafe.com. While her statements are factually correct, she leaves important information out that would help reasonable people conclude that voting YES on Measures D&E is the only way to see an immediate change in our future. The omission of details, in my opinion, is not only unfair, but dangerous and could set our community back years before we start to see real changes in the safety of our streets and neighborhoods.
Laura contends that Measures D&E should be a special tax, rather than a general tax so that the money raised would be legally required to be spent on public safety taxes. This sounds good and I think we would all agree that if we could pass a special tax for public safety funding, that is what we would do. However, Laura does not mention the political reality that the special tax must receive 66% of the vote in order to pass.
In my professional opinion, achieving 66% of the vote on any measure is the political equivalent of a pitcher throwing a perfect game – it happens, but the chances are incredibly slim. Our community tried to pass a special tax in 2014 and failed. We are all experiencing the negative realities associated with not having adequate police and fire protection in our city at this very moment. Do we really want to gamble on our future by expending years of effort to place something on the ballot that has a narrow chance of winning?
Given that, the city council made the prudent decision to create the tax in the same way that Anderson did in 2014. Anderson has seen a marked decrease in crime and the citizens have been pleased. They are two years ahead of us in Redding. Just like Measures D&E, there was no legal requirement for Anderson’s funds raised to be spent on public safety, but the city found ways to make it work. Anderson is enjoying a better quality of life right now, and they have not experienced any negative outcomes due to rogue spending decisions – decisions that Laura implies will happen without a legal requirement.
Also not mentioned in Laura’s opinion pieces are the ways the Redding City Council understood the risks associated with not having a legally binding tax and went above and beyond to ensure they earn the public’s trust.
First, the city will store all the revenue from Measure D in a separate bank account. The budget will then be audited by a licensed accounting firm on an annual basis and then turned over to a citizens advisory committee to review the city council’s spending decisions. This three step process ensures that there will be an enormous spotlight on the funds and how they are used. If the funds are used improperly, I guarantee the press will have a field day and recall efforts will be mounted. This type of transparency in our government’s spending is unprecedented. Again, after the years of effort, all the meetings of different departments and interests, town halls, consultants and discussions, do we really want to take a bet on something that has a narrow chance of winning?
Those who oppose D&E are forsaking the right-in-front-of-us fix for our dystopian present based on the remote possibility that we may have a dystopian future where officials make high profile choices against the will of the people at the expense of their own political careers. To me, this is silly.
If Measures D&E don’t pass, do you think the busy mother of three who is cleaning up shards from her broken passenger door window after a smash and grab is going to say “I am glad we held off fixing our problems to wait for a perfectly crafted measure that has little chance of passing”?
If Measures D&E don’t pass, do you think the downtown business owner who continues to struggle daily with petty theft and vandalism will gladly tell her customers “Our community voted to trust the status quo over our elected leaders years ago, but I hope things change soon”?
If Measures D&E don’t pass, what is an acceptable timeframe for when the perfect solution can be found and implemented? And who will the decision makers be? All our current leaders came up with this plan.
While the perfect solution is being worked out, how many more break-ins, river trail assaults, sprints from the Safeway parking lot to the front door, teens trying heroin for the first time, bad tourism outings, creepy massage businesses opening, individuals struggling with mental illness not receiving adequate treatment, vehicle thefts, littered shopping carts, desecrated parks, graffitied undersides of bridges, and national publications citing Redding’s public safety crisis can we take?
We are all for government accountability and not a single one of us wants to see any money misspent. But at what cost?
Measures D&E will set the right plan in motion for us to take local control of our public safety challenges. We want enhanced police and fire protection, increased jail space and mental health services, and a restored quality of life. It is time to realize that we cannot continue to overlook the better in pursuit of the best. Let’s not cut off our nose to spite our face. We want Safe Streets NOW. Please vote YES on Measures D&E.
Co-Chair of Revive Redding, Yes on D&E