Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chronicle-Telegram--Check your facts!

For the second day straight, the Chronicle-Telegram has misquoted me and failed to get its facts straight regarding Monday night's vote on the proposed charter amendment to change the City Charter to 1) Reduce the time to place a new income tax on the ballot from 90 to 60 days; and 2) Change the provision that requires a new income tax to be placed only on the ballot for a regular election and so that Council is allowed to put a new income tax on a special election.

When interviewed by the reporter after Monday night's meeting, I informed him that I voted against the measure because we should be able to plan well enough that we can vote within 90 days, without having to rush things through in 60 days, and that I am against including such measures for special elections because a special election will cost the City between $30K and $50K. When he asked where I got the numbers for the cost of a special election, I noted the Mayor's comments regarding the cost for a special election should he be recalled.

Tuesday's paper incorrectly stated that one of the reasons Krischer or I voted against the proposed charter amendment was due to the cost on the Primary ballot. Completely inaccurate! Today's paper clarifies that there will be no additional cost for the Primary ballot, but falsely attributes to me a statement that it will cost additional money for the Primary ballot. The article was written by a different reporter who did not even bother to contact me to confirm my statements--she never checked her facts.

I cannot begin to guess as to the intention of the CT in making these blatantly false and inaccurate statements, but they certainly didn't check their facts. The first reporter either didn't understand what I told him or he didn't recall it correctly. The second reporter recklessly failed to do any independent follow-up or fact checking. It is clear that the CT's editorial staff does not agree with my position. However, they have a duty to accurately report the news and their failure to do so is inexcusable.

For the record, I am not in favor of modifying the City Charter. I believe that we continue to address symptoms in this City instead of addressing the real problems. The purpose of changing the Charter at this time is so that Council can ask the residents for an income tax increase at a special election, which will probably happen in August. It will cost the City $30-50K to conduct the special election. This City's budget has grown every year for the past nine years that Mayor Grace has been in office. Revenues have not. Population has not. The City has not done a good job keeping its expenditures in line with its needs and now is faced with a major shortfall that will once again impact police and fire forces. Now is the time for cuts throughout the City, including City Hall, so that when the economy recovers, we are spending within our means and will have the ability to protect ourselves from downturns in the economy.

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