The residents of Antioch have a decision to make on November 5th of how they want to attack crime in their city. They can support a ½ cent sales tax measure to hire 22-additional police officers or they can reject it and wait longer for a crimes solution. Having said that, with the election drawing closer the rhetoric has stepped up against the tax.
If Measure C passes, a one-half percent sales tax that would go to the city’s general fund. That would raise the total sales tax in Antioch from 8.5 percent to 9 percent matching Pittsburg and Concord. The apparent elephant in the room is some residents do not like the sales tax revenue going into the general fund and would prefer a dedicated fund specifically for police.
No doubt it’s a valid concern as residents want 100% guarantees, but it’s a really simple explanation of why the council opted for this option with a revenue enhancement—it’s the easiest way to pass a tax, they are not out to “trick” anyone.
The reason for not choosing a “special tax” which is what opponent’s state should have occurred as a form of “guarantee”. Unfortunately a special tax would never pass in this atmosphere as is that it requires a 66.6% voter approval. The council chose the option which requires a 50%+1 vote which means the funds first go into the general fund.
It’s my belief; most people in the council’s shoes would opt for the 50+1% vote.
Since the Council moved forward with their decision we now are hearing statements running amuck all over social media and websites which include, but not limited to the following:
- We cannot trust this mayor and city council to do the right thing.
- Politicians are not trusted to do the right thing with the money.
- Do you really trust the same old city council members to change their ways?
- No guarantee it will be spent on Police Officers only. This additional TAX will go into the General Fund and can be spent on other things besides police officers
- The real reason they went with a 50%+ 1 is because the council wants and needs money for anything else but police
For the record, these are all valid concerns and they should not be dismissed from the discussion. But the problem with them is they really do not have much substance when one really sits down and thinks about them.
For example, “We cannot trust the mayor and the city council to do the right thing.” Okay, why not? What has this council which includes a new mayor and two new councilmembers done to break the public’s trust?
Same goes for the statement, “politicians are not trusted to do the right thing with the money”. Again, I ask why not? After all, the citizens of Antioch voted in this councilmembers (note: Tiscareno was appointed), so there has to be some form of trust.
I believe these types of argument stated above are really have nothing to do with the tax going into the general fund, but rather a distrust of Government. Most people realize the police department needs help, its government standing in the way.
Unfortunately, the anti-government sentiment is straw man argument with no substance attached to Measure C because no action has yet been taken with the funds because the tax revenue has not been voted on, generated or spent.
The truth is, neither supporters nor opponents can say for certain whether or not the funds will be spent only for the police department. Any argument for or against regarding the money being spend is invalid.
Instead, all the public should be basing their vote on is whether or not they want an improved police department, additional officers on the street, and a safer Antioch which is what the City Council has promised.
Given the amount of pressure for the public, I find it very unlikely that the council defer funds to another cause. You also have an outspoken police chief who would alert anyone and everyone who would listen of what was transpiring.
So again, it get back to the City of Antioch residents deciding if they want to work on fixing crime and taking back their city. Or residents can vote “no” based off straw man arguments? It’s a pretty easy decision when you consider what would happen should the council break their promise.
The council should at the very least be given the chance to keep its promise to the public and should they break the public’s trust with the generated revenue, It goes a little something like this.
The moment the oversight committee announces the council is spending money against its promise and, immediate recalls can and should begin—we will even help promote recalls which is how strongly we feel should the council pull the rug out from underneath everyone.
To offer further future protections for Measure C spending in the next three election cycles, candidates should be given pledges to sign vowing to ensure Measure C is spent as promised—should they refuse, that’s a candidate not worthy of being elected. Should they sway from their promise upon being elected, recall them as well!
The point is, trust is in the eye of the beholder and trust has to begin somewhere—it might as well be with Measure C. Instead of worrying about rhetoric and fighting the solution, realize this is the solution. A “no” vote outcome further delays fixing crime and puts Antioch further behind ever catching up.
For the record, do I personally have concerns about the funds being placed in the general fund? Absolutely!!! But my response as to why I support the tax is because the alternative of doing nothing is worse. It means no additional boots on the street while response times remain unacceptable.
For those with reservations, simply support it, but ensure your council is on a short leash.
By Michael Burkholder