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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Opinion: Clean Money for Even-Year Terms

I've been reading a few articles about the possible change in city elections with great interest:

Santa Barbara Newsroom
Santa Barbara Daily Sound
The Santa Barbara Independent
The Santa Barbara Independent (2)

In this scenario, the City would conduct its own election only once to bring about even year election cycles which would save the City $300,000. Nothing to sneeze at and I have to wonder if this effort is also fueled by the recent city election for the unnecessary Measure P. Why, city officials must have asked, are we spending 100s of thousands on a measure which tells the Police Department to do what they pretty much already do?

The total cost for this November's election is estimated at $600,000 because the County Clerk says new requirements will make them more expensive. With an outside consultant, council thinks they can hold an election for half that cost. As a one-time deal for three incumbents who will likely little opposition, I think it can be done although I think it would be worthwhile to reconsider a mail-only election. Santa Barbara voters will not get confused and it may even increase participation.

A consistently even-year election will create higher voter participation in the long run, save city funds and bring the City in line with every other council election in the County. It will add a "free" year to their terms but perhaps they can give something back. If voters saw a concerted effort to support a "Clean Money" ordinance which changed the way city elections are financed, they might be more amenable to the extra year in their terms.

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34 Comments:

Blogger bolson said...

There's a few of us getting together to work on clean money campaigns for SB City elections.

5/06/2007 12:29 AM  
Anonymous chad said...

It's not only the extra year that bothers me, but the lack of information about exactly who will run and oversee the election in an unbiased and completely professional manner. As we saw on the national level in the last two President elections, the ballots and results can easily be manipulated. I have no confidence that untrained city "election workers" will be able to pull off a fair, legitimate election. And going back to Poli Sci 101, the public's belief in the legitimacy of election results is one of the fundamental cornerstones of democracy. It all feels just a little too cozy for me.

5/06/2007 10:17 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

I think it would be a wise move to consolidate city elections along the state/federal timelines. I also like mail-only, as a large portion of the South Coast already participates in absentee balloting. I see it as a win/win for the budgetary concerns and that people might actually pay more attention to the candidates and their platforms, when it is at the same time as the "big ones" (elections). dd

5/06/2007 12:13 PM  
Anonymous City resident said...

People in the county elections office are shaking their heads at the cavalier arrogance of the city in its insistence that it can do more for less....especially when one reflects on the fact that one of the big questions on the ballot will be the city council's quest to bequeath one more year upon each of them. I can't wait to see the challenges to what will undoubtedly be a chaotic election/polling debacle.

5/06/2007 1:41 PM  
Anonymous boB said...

As a sometime poll worker who felt mired in the bureaucracy and procedures of county supervised elections, I can fully sympathize with the city wanting to do it "quicker, cleaner, cheaper, and better". But......

........"city resident" has his finger on the place. This is not something that will necessarily turn out to be "quicker, cleaner, cheaper, and better". In fact it may get mired in all sorts of legal problems and unforeseen pitfalls and huge cost overruns particularly if litigation arises.

Consultants don't always/(or you fill in the blank) predict correctly.

I like the idea about shifting the year of the city election to coincide with other races, but it needs to be done carefully and in due consideration to the perceived and real conflicts of interest that go along with "extending terms". The voters need to decide this in a ballot measure that is held under "normal voting procedures".

Of course if you want to expand the present focus of the SBNP to a different topic, it seems to me that this proposal will certainly do that.

I'm boB

5/06/2007 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 incumbents who have unlikely competition? - don't think so.

Groups already gathering (and some may surpise you) to throw this claque out. City can't afford extra year of mismangagment. Winds of change are blowing - don't blow it with misinformation SDG.

5/07/2007 7:17 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

7:17 AM -- Winds of Change? Do share who is running and has a valid shot at winning...I don't see it at this point but am willing to hear you out!

5/07/2007 10:13 AM  
Anonymous My computer network does not block Wikipedia said...

Claque?

Claque (French for "clapping") is, in its origin, a term which refers to an organized body of professional applauders in French theatres. Members of a claque are called claqueurs.

If the "groups" already are gathering, then where are they hiding?

Hard to take seriously such anonymous bluster.

BTW, Santa Barbara City voters have voted NO on The Guzz 3 times already. Claque that!

5/07/2007 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of alternatives lookin' good:

Terry Tyler
Dianne Channing
Loretta Redd
Bill Mahan
Cherie Rae
Lanny Ebenstein
Lynda Fairly

5/07/2007 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terry Tyler
Dianne Channing
Loretta Redd
Bill Mahan
Cherie Rae
Lanny Ebenstein
Lynda Fairly


These neocons and nimbys don't stand a chance!

5/07/2007 1:18 PM  
Anonymous harping said...

Anon 12:51, if the people on your list are serious about running, when will they be announcing? I need to make sure this isn't just wishful thinking before I allow myself to get excited by the possibilities.

5/07/2007 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't think the political climate has already changed, just read the comments that follow the Independent's article about the homeless camp brawl. Those are the brave ones who are finally speaking out - there plenty more silently appalled at what this city so willingly gave away.

Is it too late to turn this self-inflicted mess around? Without a major change on the city council? Don't think so.

Just moving this homeless population around is not solving the problem - not when the welcome sign is still hung out.

It is time to stop welcoming this activity or pretending the city can solve it. it is time to ...just say no. Tried it. Didn't work. So sorry. Move on. Good by.

Repeat: what the city is doing is not working. It has made the problem worse.

Stop romanticizing homelessness. Stop letting everyone homeless get a free ride on the same label when homeless thugs prey on homeless vulnerable.

Which homeless need to be sent packing and which ones need to be brought into the already deep and existing social network, already costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

Why does Iraq come to mind - keep doing more even when failure stares you in the face. And then dump it on someone else's watch.

5/07/2007 3:23 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

Surely there are many examples to draw from around the state and country for ideas about how to bring an off-year election into alignment with other elections. It would really make the most sense to do it that way for many reasons.

But yeah, if it meant giving any Council an extra year, people in SB would raise a s-storm.

5/07/2007 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are any from Anon 12:51pm list actually persuing running this year?

Frankly, I think the floodgates are going to open during the NEXT election, with two open council seats (Falcone and Horton will be termed out) and an open Mayoral seat. THAT should be interesting.

5/07/2007 3:54 PM  
Blogger bolson said...

The even year shift is probably a good idea for the turnout and cost savings reasons. I would have rather shortened their current terms a year, possibly with a one time exemption for term limits allowing an extra term.

The election consultants look decent. They claim to have done hundreds of municiple elections around the country. The city could probably do the whole thing by itself, in a crazy panic mode from now till then, hiring staff who have to learn the whole state elections code from scratch and get it all ready, or we can get some benefit of experience and boilerplate materials from the consultant. They can hold our hand to get us through this one. Next time we'll be back in the even year schedule with the county running the election and all will be easy.

And as I kinda indicated, I think Clean Money elections are a good idea.

5/07/2007 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Tennissance, anyone? said...

Everybody knows the three challengers this year for Santa Barbara Council will be

Kenneth Loch
David Homeless
Bob Hansen

These three have been more vocal and active in City affairs than the parade of neocons listed above.

5/07/2007 10:52 PM  
Anonymous das williams said...

I would prefer that the County handle the election if they wouldn't charge twice ($600,000) what we have figured out the City can spend doing it on its own and far more than they have ever charged in the past. By being unwilling to back off that price tag one whit, they show us they either don't want to do the election or want to hold us hostage every election year on the price tag.

But I think Sara is right; this should be part of a package that includes fundamental Clean Moneyish reform. That has to include an element of public financing if you are to reduce the need for and power of large donations.

We should go to even year elections, not so much to save $$, but to increase participation. I'd take a three year term if that's what people wanted instead of a five year term, either one is a hard sell.

5/08/2007 12:12 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Some of these comments here have become a bit silly considering the original subject. I am following these proposed Charter Amendments closely and offer some observations and clarifications here.

Others commenting here would be far more informed upon reading the news articles in the links above with the original posting.

1. Do not see what the Nov. 2006 ballot on Measure Pot has to do with anything here. That single City measure probably cost the city about $10K as the incremental expense added to every other non-City issue on the Nov. 2006 ballot.

2. Even-year elections would save the City more than $300K each year, considering the figure in the staff reports is that a City-only election in odd years now is costing nearly $650K for the city to pay the County to run that election.

3. The City in charge of its own election is a bit of a concern, but the point is that would only need to happen once, for the Nov. 2007 election, if the Charter Amendments pass and thus shift City elections to even years. An outside consultant running the election to help the City also obviously would be subject to an extremely high level of review and scrutiny. This is not Broward County in 2000.

4. A postal-only (“mail-in”) election may make sense to conduct if the City kept running its own election every 2-year cycle. With the one time the City would run its own election in Nov. 2007, an election with the same feel as the traditional polling election would be a better way to avoid confusion. If the City shifts to even-year election cycle, then the traditional voting with absentees and polling places would apply as usual in an election consolidated with County, State, and Federal issues.

5. A shift to even-year election cycles would have to add a year to the terms of every Councilmember and Mayor to catch up with the even years. If anyone has a better way to deal with that and is still fundamentally legal, do offer a better explanation. While cutting off a year of a Councilmember term may seem like a fun idea to some, that would be blatantly illegal because the initial contract for the candidates and voters then was that the vote was for a 4-year term.

6. AND THE MAIN POINT: It is about more voter participation to be engaged in City government. More voter participation makes a better City Council more directly accountable to the voters when more voters actually vote. City elections in even years will have far higher voter participation when the County, State, and Federal election issues and candidates are there on the same ballot. Far more City voters have been voting in the November elections of even years than in odd years. The specific numbers from past elections are being researched now.

7. As a bonus, the City saves more than $300K each year by not spending those funds on separate elections where the City has to pay the County for the full costs of a stand-alone (non consolidated) election. What could that money saved pay for instead? For an extra year to their terms in the shift to even-year election cycles, what will the Council give back to the City along the theme of election reform and improved voter participation?

5/08/2007 12:41 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Although I can't verify his post -- this certainly "sounds" like Das. Thanks for participating on "The Blog" :)

Your last statement makes sense to me -- you are welcome to a commentary on the subject here any time. So, by the way, is anyone against the proposed amendment -- bring it on!

5/08/2007 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the people who work here don't live here, and the people who live here vote the same I don't know what all the fuss is about. Let the City do what it wants. Unless some neocon gets of the ballot as suggested above I think many people will just sit this next election out. I will.

5/08/2007 5:47 AM  
Anonymous Count the terms of state office said...

Das Williams would not have any other reason to want his term on the city council to expire in 2009, would he?

While agreeing to cut back to a three-year term is gallant to catch up with elections in even years, would anything of political interest to Das also be coming up for the election in 2010?

5/08/2007 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If ther sitting council actually believed they had the confidence of their constituents, they would not hesitate to put themselves up for a shortened term in the interest of better city government.

But they do not and will not do this which concludes only one thing - they know they have lost the confidence of the electorate and refuse to give up their cushy do nothing jobs.

Bring on the Neo-cons! (Silly name) We need them or else this city will be lost completely. And their supporters will play a role in both upcoming elections - they nearly one a seat last time.

Don't begin to pretend this is not a growing force that got disenfranchised with the loss of Dan Secord.

Dan Secord for Mayor!!!!!! he would sweeep the election and bring in a lot of coat-tailers as well. And it can't be put off for a single moment. It is that grave of a city crisis.

5/08/2007 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Picture the Neo-Con's campaign brochure: pictures of rampant graffiti around town, drunken homeless slackers polutting the Milpas roundabout area, panhandlers harassing seniors on State Street, streets full of discarded sofas, cars parked on front lawns, unregulated over-occupancy tenaments, Lower State Street project abandonment, homungous Chapala highrises and plot map of more approved high-rise project to come, permanent RV camps around town, Upper State traffic jams, budget figures for enabling non-profits whose sole purpose is to profit from city funds, etc., etc, etc.

The brochure asks the simple question: Do you want more of the same or do you want to vote for change?

5/08/2007 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Residents vote - commuters and vagrants do not. It is time these two groups stopped dominating the city council agenda.

Remember the promises you made to the neighborhoods when you got elected and understand why you so quickly turned your back on them.

5/08/2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taking city employee union money and then voting on city employee contracts is a fatal conflict of interest.

Taking developer money and then voting on developer projects is a fatal conflict of interest.

Should the above donations (cumulative beyond de minimus amount) require disclosure and/or recusal?

What does campaign contribution dollars buy in a campaign? Mailings, handouts, TV ads, radio ads, print ads?

Far better to grant access to some form of media exposure (well duh, how about the free internet?) than give public money to candidates so they can continue to buy media exposure from the commercial sector.

Get real here - what does campaign money actually buy -- and then fix the problem from that end. DO NOT hand a blank check to council candidates. That would be really, really dumb.

5/08/2007 2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only public financing should be for publicizing a free city sponsored candidate's website where voters can obtain information provided by candidates, instead of waiting for candidates to push information at them.

5/08/2007 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope the highly-welcomed "NeoCons" (stupid name) add a picture of CalTrans cleaning up the homeless camps along 101 that neighbors complained about for years, but were systematically ignored by the homeless-loving city council. CalTrans got rid of them in an instant.

Current City Council "Bleeding Hearts" only offered invitations for more to come. Brings new meaning to the election slogan -- throw the bums out.

Voters will have a clear choice thsi fall - Re-Elect the Bleeding Hearts or replace them with the Neo-Cons. Too bad the bleeding hearts came up with that stupid moniker "Neo-Cons" - shows their contempt for alternative viewpoints.

Goleta voters got the same message. The rest is history. Listen up, Santa Barbara.

5/09/2007 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole reason we don't have neocons in office is because we are a compassionate and progressive city, and this is the reason we need to keep conservatives out of office.

I'd like to run them out of the City, but that might be too wishful. It makes a great goal though!

5/09/2007 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voters drive the extent of your "compassion" and current council policies show little compassion towards voters concerns.

Wentworth neighbors complained for years to the city about the homeless camp mess according to the newsarticle. Are you saying the city's only response was to ask them to be more compassionate towards those creating the mess?

Something is very wrong here - your definition of compassionate sounds far more like enabling and that is not compassionate.

Step back a bit and see what your polcies have in fact done to this city - there is nothing compassionate about letting it degrade into another Santa Monica.

Voters will be asked - do you want more of the same, and that includes the council's peculiar brand of compassion that opened the floodgates to the non-resident ,non-taxpaying slackers who have highjacked the city agenda and dollars.

Please start distinguishing those who already fall into the city's very generous social safety net to the tune of $24 million dollars of projected social services (which ain't working) and those who abuse this misguided generosity and game the system and publically bully the council and get away with it.

Voters know the difference - they know who they have a duty of compassion to protect. But unlike the current council, they also know who to tell to hit the road until they can come back as productive members of this society like all the other voters here.

So be careful how much of your contemptuous attitude leaks out next election. You need to know the difference between those who can be helped and stop pandering to those who do not want your help.

5/09/2007 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These people got elected because we got tired of YOUR I've got mine, rich, elitist, NIMBY attitude.

The City Council is doing something like providing places for people to park their homes, building sustainable dense housing, protecting fish, and fighting Global Warming.

You call running folks out of town compassionate? Doesn't sound like a plan to elect officials to protect your 20th Century property rights. This is a new era, join us and set yourself free!

5/09/2007 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Giving anyone who comes here free city services is not enlightened policy by a long shot. How did this city get so far off course? How long will we keep electing people who think this is what we wanted them to do. We never did.

We elected people to protect our neighborhoods. Not ones to give them all away to any pack of neer do wells who also want to claim Santa Barbara as theirs with no concerns for those folks who actually do own a piece of it.

It is not as black and white as you keep claiming -there are plenty of social services this town generously provides. It is all about learning when to also say no.

Practice saying this ..no ..no...no because no one elected you to give it all away. No one.

No ...no.... no. You have to learn to say this. Plus most of your social programs have failed and only serve to employ those whose job it is not to keep the tax dollars coming their way - there has been no progress on any front of your enlightened social action - only droves more with their hands out offering nothing in return.

Nope, this is not social enlightenment. It is addled-headed enabling. Your policies have solved nothing.

And before you get on your elitist high-horse, these complaints are coming from those who actually did save, skrimp and sacrifice to belong honestly in this community -- with no hand out for an unending stream of freebies.

It is your rich elitist who simply want to dump this problem in someone elses backyard that drives your "compassionate" programs. Try dumping them in their backyard and see how much support you will continue to get.

No one wants anymore of this Santa Barbara give-away. No one.

Your contempt for your electorate is leaking through.

5/09/2007 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on Anon 2:18!!!

I heard Iya Falcone mention using Eminent Domain if need be to build Bus Lanes and Pockets on upper State.

It's about time we have a Council with the guts to make much needed change.

5/09/2007 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 6:41 pm - I don't think you get it. The purpose of taxes is to redistribute wealth. That is what we are doing. Everyone benefits!

5/10/2007 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks 9:38 am - I remember to tell that to the next panhandler who hassles me on State Street - I'll tell him he already has benefited from my taxes. And that a hearty thank you is his best and only response.

BTW: there is nothing "compassionate" about seeing panhandlers intimidating seniors on State Street- walking uncomfortably close to them, intimidating them by their aggressive albeit silent "Freedom of Speech" behavior.

What is "compassionate" is when I tell these slackers to bug off and leave these vulnerable senior citizens alone. I wonder how long that will be safe for me to continue doing?

5/10/2007 2:21 PM  

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