Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What's the Real Purpose of This Tax Hike?

It's very rare when I actually agree with The OC Register's editorial page, but today happens to be one of those rare occasions. Read this and weep:

As the Register reported, the city [of Santa Ana] hired a Sacramento-based polling firm in March in the hopes that residents would tell pollsters that they want higher taxes to pay to fix Santa Ana's poorly maintained, pothole-filled roads. To the officials' dismay, residents overwhelmingly opposed the idea of paying higher taxes for roadwork. But officials saw an opportunity in another question, in which residents said they would give "high priority" to higher taxes to deal with gang prevention.

So they commissioned another poll. And lo and behold, they got what they wanted! People were willing to pay more taxes to "pay for more police officers to fight crime". So now, we're getting the "gang-fighting tax" in Santa Ana. But is this really what city officials are telling us that it is?

Here's some more of today's Register editorial:

Had the city really believed that there is a desperate need for more police, then it would have commissioned a poll that focused on police needs. Instead, it commissioned the poll based on its presumption that roadwork was the prime need. Apparently, city officials will raise taxes for any and all purposes, which is easier than doing what 84 percent of respondents told the city-hired pollsters: that "spending tax money efficiently" is a high priority.

Now to be honest, I disagree with what The Register says later on about taxes being evil, blah, blah, blah. I just don't buy Howard Jarvis talking points. That's not the issue for me.

What concerns me here is that the city would mislead residents about the "need" for this tax. First, they said that it's about fixing our streets. And now, they're telling us that it's really to fight gang violence. So which one is it? Or is it really neither?

Is it really meant to pay for subsidies that we can't afford and that don't work for us? Is it really to pay for these bloated salaries for these ineffective city administrators? How are we supposed to accept paying more taxes to the city if we can't even trust the city to be honest with us?

Now don't get me wrong. I don't want to see any more gang violence. I don't want to see any more decrepit streets. I don't want to see any more dearth of open space in this town. I don't want to see any more libraries closed.

But if this tax were really about these things, then why can't the city just tell us that? And if this really weren't just a reward to a bunch of incompetent jerks who have failed us on all these issues, then why can't the city just tell us that? How are we supposed to entrust these people with more of our tax money when they can't even be honest about why they want more of it?

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