by Timothy Rutt
They must be pretty desperate out there. Something happened to us that we thought we’d share:
Sunday afternoon, we got a call from a polling firm. The nice woman on the phone said she was calling from Nevada, and wanted to ask us some questions about current issues, and we said sure. It turned out to be more interesting than we expected.
After confirming our identity and that we were a property owner, she began asking her questions, all which which revolved around the Clean Water, Clean Beaches parcel tax idea that is up for a hearing with the County Board of Supervisors. We sat through the poll and answered the questions honestly (transparency: we’re absolutely against the tax), and it was rather disturbing.
We asked: who’s behind this survey? Who’s paying for it? The pollster did not know.
Here’s one thing that disturbed us: if you’ve received the designed-to-be-thrown-away notice, you’ll note that it has the exact dollar amount your particular property will be assessed if this measure is passed. The proposed fee is $54 per 5,000 square foot lot -- we have a larger lot, so our assessment is greater. The nice lady who was polling used our exact assessment amount when asking questions. What this says to us that somebody official participated in this poll -- like a government body with access to property records who could come up with our exact assessment.
How much of a follower are you?
We were probably three-quarters of the way through it when we decided to sit down and start taking notes. She gave some unattributed quotes in support of the measure, and asked if this would make us more likely or less likely to vote for it. Then she gave some unattributed quotes opposing the measure, including the following:
“Property owners, schools and businesses already pay flood control taxes and now they are being asked to fork over more money at a time when families are struggling, schools are hurting and businesses are fleeing the state.”
We recognized this as coming from a Dec. 5 press release opposing the measure from Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
Toward the end of the call, she gave a list of people and organizations: if they supported the measure, would we be more likely to? The list as we transcribed it, with comments:
- LA County Flood Control District
- Julia Louis Dreyfus, actress and Heal the Bay board member
- LA County League of Conservation Voters
- Thousands of police officers and sheriff deputies of LA county
- The LA Area Chamber of Commerce
- Thousands of nurses in Los Angeles county
- Your mayor
- Los Angeles County Public Works Department,
- UCLA School of Public Health Professor and former Public Health Officer of the California Department of Health Services Dr. Richard Jackson.
- US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
- The Construction Industry Coalition of Water Quality
- LA WaterKeeper
- Biologists who specialize in water quality and environmental research from USC and UCLA
- Your county supervisor
- Thousands of registered nurses in LA county [as opposed to thousands of nurses, period]
- Amigos de los Rios
- LA County Sheriff Lee Baca
- LA TImes
- Sierra Club
- Coalition of aquarium scientists from the Aquarium of the Pacific, Santa Monica PIer Aquarium, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Scripps Institute.
- The LA County Department of Public Health
- Hundreds of beach lifeguards in LA County
Because if Julia Louis Dreyfus is behind it, by George, so are we!
The pollster also asked if we were more or less likely to support the measure if the school district opposed it. You see, if the measure passes, school districts would be required to pay the fee on their property -- thus taking the money out of the classroom and our children’s education, and putting it in the hands of water bureaucrats. Since the school districts are just swimming in money right now (cough), this sounds like a good thing ... to somebody. Not to us.
Our major problem with this proposal is twofold: one, we are already a high tax state where business and young people are already fleeing for greener pastures, and we can’t see any justification for any new tax right now. Two, there are no specific projects attached to this parcel tax -- just vague ideas. But what it WILL create is a big pot of money that will go to support the salaries and pensions of an entirely new water bureaucracy that will rain money and favors on consultants and local politicians as necessary. We all want clean water and beaches -- we want a robot and a jetpack, too, while we're at it -- but it would be nice to know exactly how they plan on turning this new, endless tax into clean water. As property owners, we’re still paying for, among other things, PUSD’s Measure Y and TT funds that were stolen, lost, or mismanaged and will never be seen again. Hard to get enthusiastic when another government body says “Trust us.”
But if somebody’s paying a polling firm to take the civic temperature on this measure, there must be a lot at stake. Who's paying for this? And where is the money for the poll coming from?