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By Tim Hunt

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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Voters cling to their checkbooks

Uploaded: Mar 5, 2020
Voters were holding their wallets tight when they went to the polls over the past month in the primary election. Early voters learned a hard lesson when the Democrat field dropped both Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar the day before the election, making votes already cast for them moot.
One of the big surprises statewide was the overwhelming rejection of the $15 billion school bonds that would have paid for rehabilitation of older schools as well as providing matching funds for new schools. It got whomped 56-44 percent in unofficial results after election day. There are still many ballots to be counted, but this is unlikely to change to the 50 percent-plus one majority necessary to pass the bond.
What’s unusual is that statewide voters typically have regarded bond measures almost as free money because there is no tax increase attached.
I am not sure how much the misleading anti-Proposition 13 ads had a role, but it was a total lie to say that passage of the bond could have tripled property taxes. It was a general obligation bond for the state budget with no effect on property taxes that are capped at 1 percent of assessed value (plus bonded indebtedness) and capped at 2 percent a year or less depending upon the cost-of-living index.
Locally, school bonds faired a bit better with the major exception of Pleasanton. Measure M, which would have renewed an expiring bond measure, failed to receive even a majority vote in the final election day account, losing 51.4 percent to 48.6.
In Dublin, a needed measure for the new high school fell just short of the 55 percent plurality required with unofficial, incomplete results showing 54 to 46 percent. The bond in Sunol was even closer and may change in the final count at 55.84 to 45.40 percent.
School bonds in Dublin traditionally have passed easily, often with 70 percent positive votes. Perhaps the major sell-off in the stock market last week shook people up, but, if the result stands, this creates another major hurdle for the school leadership seeking to finance school construction. The failure of the statewide measure, for the time being, eliminates state matching funds.
Sadly, Alameda County’s ½-cent increase in the sales tax to support childcare may have passed, although that’s subject to debate. The ballot said it took a simple majority, which is easily received at 61 percent yes, but there’s never been a county sales tax measure that only took a simple majority—it’s always been two-thirds. Expect litigation before this takes effect.
Holding wallets also applied in Contra Costa where a transportation measure to increase the sales tax by 1 cent failed 51-49, way short of the two-thirds necessary.
When it comes to Alameda County supervisorial races, long-time incumbents Nate Miley and Keith Carson cruised to easy victories while the four-way race to replace retiring six-term supervisor Scott Haggerty was tight and could change as mail-in and provisional ballots are counted. Dublin Mayor David Haubert led with 27 percent, about 200 votes ahead of Fremont Councilman Vinnie Bacon.
Running third was Dublin Councilwoman Melissa Hernandez, while Fremont state Sen. Bob Wieckowski was in fourth. The top two vote-getters will face-off in the Nov. 8 general election. Hernandez picked up most of the union endorsements as well as Supervisors Wilma Chan, Richard Vaile and Haggerty (who also backed Wieckowski) and other elected officials. Haubert was endorsed by the Tri-Valley majors.
You wonder how much those endorsements really mean to voters, although in South Carolina, Rep. James Clyburn certainly made a major difference for Joe Biden in the Democrat presidential primary.
One more note: The Livermore City Council received an overwhelming vote of confidence when the measure seeking to overturn its development agreement with a hotelier was rejected by a nearly 2-1 margin. There’s another measure on the November ballot that directly challenges the council’s plan—given this result it will take a huge shift in public opinion, perhaps aided by a stronger turnout with the presidential race, to overturn the plan.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   26 people like this
Posted by Jack Jack, a resident of Downtown,
on Mar 5, 2020 at 6:49 pm

When PUSD again proposes a gigantic bond, an example of a previous bond spent as promised would go a long way toward selling it to the apparently deep-pocketed homeowners who will be paying it off for 30 years. A complete list of projects, due dates, and their price would be a good place to start. If I went to Safeway and hand them $1000, I get $1000 of groceries. PUSD thinks the voters are stupid.


 +   17 people like this
Posted by tim, a resident of Castlewood Heights,
on Mar 6, 2020 at 9:24 am

anyone who votes to raise their own taxes is foolish


 +   20 people like this
Posted by sanity, a resident of Amador Estates,
on Mar 6, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Whatever happened to the Lottery money....remember that? It was supposed to fund schools. Where did those billions go?


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Sarah, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 6, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Yeah California!!!!

Dear Tim Hunt, lol....this is why the newspaper business is going out of business...telling only half truths.

Your article above is a shining example of that.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Dear Sarah, a resident of Laguna Oaks,
on Mar 6, 2020 at 6:10 pm

If you're going to make a chicken $hit claim like that, you'd better be specific.

Thanks for the summary, Tim. It's hard to dig out the results for our town from most posts. Much appreciated.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 6, 2020 at 8:39 pm

Nice article Tim.
Thanks.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by sjd, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:53 pm

Thanks for the reporting.

I think Wieckowski and Hernandez definitely split the moderate Dem vote, so now it's a left vs "right" runoff. Really wish we had instant runoff voting for this problem.

As a final aside, I don't know what this obsession with the lottery money is. Yeah, there's bad accounting there missing some millions, which is bad, but the lottery has only ever been 1% of the school budget. "Where did all the lottery money go?" is no substitution for 1) taxes and 2) good management. It'll buy you some books sometime, it was never going to pay for schools by itself.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Mar 9, 2020 at 3:57 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

Good article Tim.

Even property taxe increases for schools in Davis (a VERY LIBERAL town) went down, barely.

Some sanity in the electorate.

Dan


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Mar 9, 2020 at 3:57 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

Good article Tim.

Even property taxe increases for schools in Davis (a VERY LIBERAL town) went down, barely.

Some sanity in the electorate.

Dan


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