Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

SBCTA Against Measure A

Here's what the SB County Taxpayers Association sent out today -- this 'blatant effort to circumvent democracy' sounds like spin by the SBCTA.

Saving taxpayer money by consolidating elections sounds pretty democratic to me since more people will vote for council members on even years....what they didn't explain is why the police and fire associations (as well as the Chamber) would oppose Measure A other than to have more of an influence with PAC funds on local elections during off years when people don't vote as much, hmmmm.

Measure will reduce local focus on local issues and local elections

SANTA BARBARA, CA – The Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association (SBCTA) has announced their opposition to Measure A-2007, the local ballot measure that, if approved, would consolidate city elections with federal, state and county elections.

According to SBCTA treasurer and past Santa Barbara school board member, Lanny Ebenstein, "Measure A is an attempt by the current City Council to secure an additional year in office without a vote of the people.” For that reason and others, SBCTA urges voters to reject what Ebenstein referred to as a “blatant effort to circumvent democracy."

Measure A is also opposed by a wide variety of local groups including the Santa Barbara police and fire associations, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce as well as many individual Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

“SBCTA is generally supportive of consolidation efforts”, said association executive director Joe Armendariz. “However, in this case, we believe the savings are overstated while ignoring the inherent value of voters focusing their collective attention on local issues specific to the city of Santa Barbara.

Another concern raised by the Measure, according to Armendariz, is the issue of voter fatigue. "We know that on a long ballot, which is typically what you have on even-year elections, voters lose interest resulting in a drop off of votes being cast for local races. This turns the proponents’ argument of increased voter turnout on its head."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the police,fire and chamber are the only ones playing out their self interests. Sure. As opposed to the local Democratic Central Committee who would coast forever on a voter registation edge? Pleeeeeze! Who really has the interests of Santa Barbara at heart? Look at the endorsments. Which side has a wide variety of support. No on A. People that normally can't stand each other agree on this. It's a power grab by the "progressives" who figured out that "election reform" means no meaningful change to city elections besides extending their own terms. Clean elections, my ass. Sara, you cannot be a honest broker on this one. Sorry.

10/09/2007 11:58 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

'My ass' comment is a bit much my friend....I never said I was an honest broker on this but am not being dishnoest either. More voters = more democracy. Let the PACs fight it out on even years -- whether it is the Dems, Reps or Police Union -- the people can decide a bit better than anyone that says they represent them. What's wrong with that unless you count on lower turnouts?

10/10/2007 12:04 AM  
Anonymous Ron Paul Barry Goldwater said...

Wow, amazing that the police, fire, and tax associations are all against saving money by consolidating the elections.

Tax and spend tax and spend tax and spend... ON US! Those groups show their real agenda.

Kind of like the current tribe of national Republicans spending $1 trillion on Iraq and then somehow claiming they are the party of fiscal responsibility.

Or a bunch of judicial-restraint states-rights Supreme Court justices electing the president via judical activism and federal intervention in 2000.

I don't friggin' care about one year added to folks' terms of office. The long term benefits of saving money alone trump the one year's extra tenure of the clowns now in office.

We'll just replace them with slightly different clowns anyway.

Save the money. Yes on Measure A.

11:58pm, two wrongs don't make a right. Sara is an honest broker at letting all posts get through, and that is all we can really ask for.

10/10/2007 4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better candidates would improve turnout, too. At this point our democratically elected leaders putz around with crap like blue lines on the pavement while stabbings are up. Now that's leadership.

10/10/2007 5:58 AM  
Blogger johnsanroque said...

It would be helpful to look at Measure A on its merits, rather than how it affects the terms of current Council members. I'm not thrilled with the current Council, but the argument that Measure A has been cooked up to give them another free year is not why this is proposed.

Voter fatigue? No, I'm not fatigued, but I'm ready to vomit from the longer and longer election cycles that have candidates in front of us non-stop. Anything that can be done to reduce the number of elections is a good thing. People that argue that the voters will not pay attention to local issues are lying to promote their own political views. Am I going to not care about my local taxes or over-development in my neighborhood because I have to vote on other issues? People going to the polls are not morons. And they won't get worn out after completing 2/3 of the ballot. Actually, I think the amount of voter "energy" will increase in inverse proportion to the number of elections.

It's hard for me to understand why having fewer elections is a bad idea. The circus that now exists for local as well as state and national elections should be curtailed as much as possible. Saving money is just a bonus.

10/10/2007 6:15 AM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

Don't be a slave to special interest mailers! The Police, Fire, Chamber of Commerce and Taxpayers Association are concernred that their own rhetoric in endless radio, TV and mail advertisements and the resulting "fatigue" is all the voter can handle.

Not only are these groups always telling us how to vote but they are now telling us that more voters would dillute their "special interest" lobbying efforts. Why should it be easy for these lobbyists? All these groups and their combined "no" endorsement are a good indication to vote "YES."

BTW; as polictically discouraged as anyone any of the lobbyist groups are, I really don't think that the council are petty enough to endorse the measure for a measly additional year on the dais.

10/10/2007 7:00 AM  
Anonymous wineguy said...

I am surprised that the Taxpayers Ass'n is willing to waste the people's money on expensive off-year elections.

10/10/2007 7:50 AM  
Anonymous mike jordan said...

"....I never said I was an honest broker on this but am not being dishnoest either."

Forgive me, but the third choice would be what fuzzy kind of phrase? Time for you to take ownership of some teenagers. Or at least pretend you are conversing with them.

....what they didn't explain is why the police and fire associations (as well as the Chamber) would oppose Measure A other than to have more of an influence with PAC funds on local elections during off years when people don't vote as much, hmmmm.

How about so big party state and national politics, finances and agendas wouldn't have more of an infuence on local issues and elections than the local groups do?
Given the choice, I'd take neither, but I would presume those opposing Measure A are not willing to elevate and connect local issues to big party, big money favoritism. I'm sure my education could improve in this area, but sounds good so far.

What's a shame is that all this back and forth wasted rhetoric / energy isn't just directed at increasing the local turnout in the existing setup.

And I wouldn't want to be unneccesarily tossed in the boat with the CPA, although I'll end up with the same opinion on this subject. All this talk and theorizing about the gain of an extra year in term length is laughable. Anyone with a year to gain was elected clearly without challenge, some more than once, and those up for reelection appear to be well on their way to another term. Equating the gain of a year with an attack on democracy in this environment is a sound bite directed at those paying little attention. (let's see... Marty has been elected to serve what? 16 years, and she will get one more, she's desparate for one more? I think not.)

10/10/2007 8:26 AM  
Anonymous said...

If this has turned into dueling endorsements, here listed below are just the organizations that have so far endorsed Measure A.

The Taxpayers Association is repeating all the same spin that already has been refuted. They also are, one could conclude, a bit "inconsistent" about endorsing against a city action that would yield a net savings to Santa Barbara city taxpayers of $245 thousand each election cycle.

Organizations that so far have endorse Measure A:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Santa Barbara Chapter

Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County

Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County

Fund for Santa Barbara

Green Party of Santa Barbara

League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara

Progressive Democrats of Santa Barbara

PUEBLO (People United for Economic justice Building Leadership through Organizing)

Santa Barbara County Action Network

Tri-Counties Central Labor Council

Women's International League For Peace & Freedom, Santa Barbara Chapter

10/10/2007 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Voter Fatigued at all the Games to Keep Voter Participation Down said...

As they say, nearly twice as many voters bother to vote when all the elections are consolidated.

Everything else is just nonsense and barnyard epithets as an excuse to keep voter turnout low!

That is why the Republicans and Libertarians are against measure A.

10/10/2007 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The League of Women Voters' endorsement carries the most weight with me. Where's the self interest there?

10/10/2007 9:10 AM  
Anonymous city watcher said...

If CTPA Armendariz is so strong against Santa Barbara City's Measure A, weighing in that SB City should remain the only County city to vote in odd years, then why does not he, a Carpinteria City council man, work for the same thing in Carpinteria?

Seems to me that more voters results in greater representation of the wishes of the city residents.

10/10/2007 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timing Is Everything: Off-Cycle Elections Discourage Voter Turnout In Local Contests

Public Policy Institute of California

"Timing is the single most important factor in determining voter turnout in municipal elections, according to a study released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). The new analysis finds vast differences in turnout among California cities - ranging from 10 percent to 89 percent of registered voters - and attributes half of that difference to whether or not local contests take place concurrently with statewide elections."

10/10/2007 9:29 AM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Quantity does not equate to quality.

Would you throw your kid's birthday party on the same lawn as Oprah's Obama bash? Sure, you'd have more people there....but would anyone pay attention to your kid? No.

Selling Measure A as an increase in voter participation is intellectually dishonest. And in the process you'd be pricing all our local candidates out of the market. Media ads cost more when there are more races going on.

Of course, the Pro-A folks know all this...wink, wink.

10/10/2007 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see, I think the same 10 people are on all of those organizations listed by Yes on A. There is no variety of opinion. And why is it that anyone opposed to this Measure is somehow doing it for some nefarious reason? God save us from the self-righteous whether they come from the left or the right. Vote No on A, it's a power grab.

10/10/2007 11:51 AM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

The Police, Fire, Chamber of Commerce and Taxpayers Association are concernred that their own rhetoric in endless radio, TV and mail advertisements and the resulting "fatigue" is all the voter can handle.

Not only are these groups always telling us how to vote but they are now telling us that more voters would dillute their "special interest" lobbying
efforts. So why should it be easy for these lobbyists?

All these groups and their combined "no" endorsement are a good indication to me that I should vote "YES" because they are afraid of a high voter turnout or are concerned for a certained type of undesireable voter.

BTW; I am as polictically discouraged as the above mentioned lobbyist groups are but I really don't think that the council members are petty enough to endorse the measure for a measly additional year on the dais.

10/10/2007 12:36 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I think Lanny wandered around lost in the foothills for too long. This is about saving taxpayer money. Period.

10/10/2007 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sure. As opposed to the local Democratic Central Committee who would coast forever on a voter registation edge? Pleeeeeze!"

Anon 11:58 - thanks for making it clear that this isn't really about clean elections it's about your political interests trumping mine.

Low voter turnout means minority rule over majority interests.

And while I've noticed that Joe Armendariz likes to tell county residents to shut up because he knows what's good for them, I don't actually know why he has any standing on this issue. Even if he is the Executive Director of the SBCTA.

I'm a County Taxpayer too. I guess he must be a better taxpayer than me.

In case you've forgotten (as he may have) Joe was elected to serve on the Carpinteria City Council (at taxpayer expense)in 2004.

I wonder how that's coming along?

10/10/2007 1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW every leftist communist marxist socialist group endorses Measure A.

That says a lot.

10/10/2007 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmmm Glen Mowrer makes a good argument against Measure A that can't easily be "spun" into Republicanism............what about that?

10/10/2007 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, this has certainly aroused emotions! This might be more palatable if the proponents and benefactors (sitting council members) would have excluded themselves from extended terms, stepped down and subjected themselves to re-election/defeat. This is nothing more than a self-serving act of desperate powerbrokers.

10/10/2007 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Suspicion of Circumvention said...

How would democracy be "circumvented" (as the Taxpayers Association claims) if the election system is adjusted to encourage higher voter turnout?

Counting all the votes, and getting every citizen to vote, is the most basic test of democracy. That group apparently does not want that.

Seems like Measure A would do both, as it encourages more voters to vote during the even year elections, and it would make the County Registrar of Voters to be back in charge of running the Santa Barbara city election.

10/10/2007 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Lanny Ebenstein said...

While, of course, I'm partial (since I'm treasurer of the SBCTA), I do think the proponents are barking up the wrong tree. The financial argument is not strong. While I and the SBCTA generally favor efficiency, even the proponents in their ballot argument estimate $1 million in savings over 10 years. That's $100k a year. In a $200 million+ city budget, that is not the determinative issue. Moreover, there will be some state and perhaps local special elections that continue to be called in odd-numbered years, so some of these savings would not be realized. Furthermore, as Glenn Mowrer pointed out in a thoughtful op-ed in the News-Press yesterday, to consolidate to even-numbered years would prevent the possibility of mail elections, which may (repeat, may) be the most cost-effective way to go that would also result in the highest voter turn-out.

With respect to turn-out in even-numbered years compared to odd-numbered years, there is some drop-off in voting for down-ballot offices and issues. Moreover, arguments of the proponents in the ballot argument--"Measure A will give a year off to Santa Barbara voters"; "Imagine a year without the repetitive ads and junk mail of an election"--are frankly undemocratic.

I think the post to the effect that there is a wide array of opponents--mainstream Democrats like Jim Kahan and John McKinney signed the opposition ballot argument, groups like the police and fire associations, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association--is important. The proponents have not reached out other than to a relatively small group of current Council backers.

The electoral reform that would really make a difference in Santa Barbara is district elections, which I have favored and supported for almost 20 years now, in contradistinction to some of the Measure A proponents, who have long opposed district elections and continue to oppose them. Measure A is phony electoral reform. I hope its proponents will join in working for district elections in Santa Barbara if it is defeated.

Lanny Ebenstein

10/10/2007 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glen Mower is a pretty liberal guy and as a longtime effective and passionate Public Defender it is pretty hard to spin his opposition as not carring about the "little people"...maybe Measure A is looking at some tough times ahead?

10/10/2007 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Lanny Ebenstein again a city resident? On his political donation forms, he lists his address as Glendessary Lane. Has he moved back into that downtown apartment?

Certainly, he or anyone can weigh in on city issues but pushing so hard on city matters such as Measure A (if he doesn't pay city taxes) and for District Elections (joining hands with Das in this position) if he doesn't vote in the city should at least be made known.

This anon., fwiw, is undecided about Measure A, leaning towards supporting it, and strongly against district elections.

10/10/2007 9:58 PM  
Anonymous ron paul barry goldwater said...

Lanny, got to save money when you can. If every activity in the City Budget could find a way to save $100K a year, that would be real money.

And if there is a way to save $100K a year on elections and that course is not taken, every other department will argue that money like $100K/year is beneath a level of careful review. And then the budget will balloon even more.

There is also the reasonableness test: for most folks $100K in one year is a huge, huge, big deal. Most folks don't make that much money each year from all their sources of income. For the City to be cavalier about $100K/year looks sloppy and wasteful.

Save the money, pass Measure A.

10/10/2007 10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

glen is not just a "liberal" he's a green. the green party endorsed measure A. the green party doesn't gain anything from higher voter turnout...but they support higher voter turnout even if it doesn't give them any political advantage... maybe it's not a "partisan power grab" after all.

10/10/2007 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Police and Fire endorsement carries the most weight with me. They are they ones out in the community 24/7 dealing with the problems. They are not the people who live in Montecito or the Riviera speaking from their soapbox, sharing their own political ideology.

10/17/2007 10:03 AM  

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