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October 26, 2010 > Letter to the editor: The Other Side of Measure U

Letter to the editor: The Other Side of Measure U

These comments are in response to the one-sided article called "What is Measure U", appearing October 12, 2010, written by Simon Wong, the Tri-City Voice government reporter:

Newark declared a fiscal emergency in order to force Measure U on the ballot, but it represents abuse of the law since fiscal inefficiency does not qualify as an emergency. The City Council resurrected the Utilities User Tax, Measure L, which was defeated in the 2009 election, and has placed it on the ballot as Measure U, despite public outcry.

Measure U flyers were designed to invoke fear and intimidation in order to obtain your "yes" vote. For example, the flyers focus on service cuts to public safety rather than offer obvious costs that need to be cut drastically such as outrageous base salaries, overtime and other compensation for such a small city. The Utility User Tax is not mentioned in those slick door-to-door flyers or in the paid advertisements placed in the League of Women Voters' pamphlet. This lack of disclosure is deceptive. Who is paying for the flyers and pamphlets, and the fancy "yes on U" signs that appear all over town?

The voter's ballot measure also indicates the threat of cuts to the luxurious Silliman Center. It is not until the end of the ballot description that the text finally states Measure U is a tax. The taxes collected on residents and businesses, such as phone, gas, electric and cable services are to be placed into the abyss of the General Fund, where the City Council can spend the money in whatever manner they select.

Important history as to why we are in this financial emergency and what many voters are saying: Over the years the city has spent its way into this financial mess with excessive salaries and benefits and fruitless plans for development and redevelopment, while the core business of the city took a backseat to the grandiose vision of elected officials. As an example, development of Areas 3 and 4 became a time-wasted vision of million dollar homes and a championship golf course located in the vulnerable marshlands on the outer edge of Newark. Who pays for the day-to-day city responsibilities that need to be performed when employees are distracted by work directed at development projects that are not supported by residents?

Accountability and liability of the city could become a very expensive reality because of development in locations such as Area 4, which is prone to earthquake liquefaction, flooding, sea level rise, and water and sewer problems. The 2009 California Climate Change Adaptation Strategy recommends against development in vulnerable areas like Area 4 where expensive protections such as levees and shoreline armoring would need to be built to protect any new development.

Protection may be needed as soon as 2050 due to continuous sea level rise. Taxpayers will foot the bill to literally "bail out" those developments, at a time when federal and state agencies are attempting to avoid the inheritance of any further debt for taxpayers due to short-sighted irresponsible planning resulting in man-made disasters. These types of decisions are fiscally irresponsible, and yet the City Council wants residents and businesses to continue to support this behavior through passage of Measure U.

We are irate about the wasteful past, the inability to manage existing financial resources and the lack of intelligent long-range vision in planning. Voters are already financially challenged and believe it is necessary for the city to live within its means, as we all must. Propping up City services with Measure U only leads to additional future obligations for pensions and health care for retirees.

We cannot keep paying to maintain the high salaries and benefits for City employees. Everyone must make sacrifices. We must implement some of the wise financial suggestions proposed by businesses and the public, before asking residents and local businesses to accept another tax burden that may drive even more businesses from Newark.

More facts and supporting data on Measure U can be read at the website: http://home.earthlink.net/~lewis2/vote.nonewarktax/ or email nonewarktax@yahoo.com.

Newark needs new leadership, not a new tax.
Vote No on Measure U

Wayne Miller
Newark

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