The Marin Post organization does not endorse candidates or tell the public how to vote in elections, the way other news publications do. We believe those decisions are the prerogative of our readers. Our job is to provide insight, information, and a platform for the community to express their views.
Our recent “Marin Ballot Measure Opinion Poll” was an example of this.
When we published our results, it was with the disclaimer that our sampling size was statistically small. However, the results of our polling have proved to be prescient, predicting the outcome of 4 out of the 5 questions before the voters.
The Marin Post poll results indicated that all 5 Measures would fail to win approval. This ended up being true for 4 out of those 5. The only local ballot measure that appears headed for a win is Measure C, a tax for Marin Wildfire Prevention.
On the one non-tax measure on the ballot, the San Geronimo Valley Golf Course Measure D, our poll showed a close race but with sentiment tilting toward a negative result, which turned out to be the case. Measure D lost.
School tax measures and taxpayer exhaustion
As suggested by the Marin Post poll, both school tax measures—Measure A for the Novato Unified School District and Measure B for the Tamalpais Union School District—failed to reach the required 2/3 majority for passage.
In recent months, contributors to the Marin Post have been posting articles about a phenomenon called “taxpayer exhaustion.” This was explained in an article in CalMatters, by Dan Walters, which discussed the fact that school tax measures in Marin County have been failing to pass.
This was based on a study entitled The Canary in the Gold Mine, published by the PACE, an independent, non-partisan research center led by faculty directors at Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of California Davis, the University of California Los Angeles, and the University of California Berkeley.
In sum, the point of the study’s finding is that when the wealthiest suburban communities no longer support the seemingly endless annual ritual of raising taxes for schools, it matters and is a significant indicator of taxpayer sentiment. That sentiment is saying that the public no longer believes that government agencies are spending their hard-earned money efficiently or wisely, nor are they even convinced that the requests for funds will end up being spent on what they agencies tell them it’s for.
This has been proven to be correct with regard to unfunded pension liabilities, to such a point that people are now joking that “every tax increase is a pension tax.”
The SMART train fear campaign didn’t work
The Marin Post poll showed overwhelming opposition the SMART tax extension measure, principally because of recent news stories about the agency’s financial mismanagement, total lack of transparency, questionable accounting, hopelessly inaccurate growth projections, and other legitimate concerns.
The promoters of Measure I for the extension of the SMART train sales tax pulled out all the stops in the weeks leading up to the election and blanketed the media with false claims about “saving the SMART train” and it being a“green” alternative. None of their claims were grounded in facts.
Voting “no” on Measure I did not mean voting against the train, just against the tax extension. And there is nothing “green” about an oil-burning, diesel-powered train -- an electric or hybrid car on highway 101 is many times “greener.” The promoters also made bold claims about the train having removed a “million cars” from traveling on Highway 101, during its existence, without mentioning that this adds up to about one day’s 101 traffic on a busy weekday.
Although the actual vote on Measure I was closer than the Marin Post poll suggested, the outcome was the same. The voters did not buy into the scare tactics. This suggests that SMART needs to clean up its act. This also suggests that its political supporters need to pay attention to this outcome and stop ignoring legitimate public opinions.
The public is becoming more educated about where their taxes go and growing tired of “the sky is falling” ballot measure marketing. It’s time for public agencies to learn to live within their means just like everyone else, who is paying their salaries, have to do.
For future reference, here is a list of all the public officials who endorsed and defended Measure I, in spite of very significant public concern about the SMART tax extension and the ongoing mismanagement of the SMART agency. We urge readers to ask these individuals why they did so.
Jared Huffman, US Congress
Mike Thompson, US Congress
Bill Dodd, CA State Senate
Mike McGuire, CA State Senate
Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, CA State Assembly
Jim Wood, CA State Assembly
Michael Allen, CA State Assembly (Ret.)
Judy Arnold, Marin County Board of Supervisors
Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools
Damon Connolly, Marin County Board of Supervisors
Diane Dillon, Napa County Board of Supervisors
Robert T. Doyle, Marin County Sheriff
James Gore, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
Susan Gorin, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
Steve Herrington, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools
Lynda Hopkins, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
David Rabbitt, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
Kate Sears, Marin County Board of Supervisors
Shirlee Zane, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
Steve Kinsey, former Marin County Board of Supervisors
Cynthia Murray, former Marin County Board of Supervisors
Denise Athas, Mayor, City of Novato
Melanie Bagby, Councilmember, City of Cloverdale
Teresa Barrett, Mayor, City of Petaluma
Scot Candell, Councilmember, City of Larkspur
John A Dell’Osso, Councilmember, City of Cotati
Dominic Foppoli, Mayor, Town of Windsor
Debora Fudge, Councilmember, Town of Windsor
Patricia Garbarino, SMART Board Member
Diane Gasson, Trustee, Novato Unified School District
Leah Gold, Mayor, City of Healdsburg
David Hagele, Councilmember, City of Healdsburg
Amy Harrington, Councilmember, City of Sonoma
Logan Harvey, Mayor, City of Sonoma
Herman G. Hernandez, Trustee, Sonoma County Office of Education
Dan Hillmer, Councilmember, City of Larkspur
Esther Lemus, Vice Mayor, Town of Windsor
Eric Lucan, Councilmember, City of Novato
Jake Mackenzie, Vice Mayor, City of Rohnert Park
Shaun McCaffery, Councilmember, City of Healdsburg
Claire McAuliffe, Councilmember, City of Belvedere
Evelyn Mitchell, Vice Mayor, City of Healdsburg
Stephanie Moulton-Peters, Councilmember, City of Mill Valley
Joe Naujokas, Councilmember, City of Healdsburg
Kellie Noe, Trustee, West Sonoma County Union High School District
Tim O’Connor, Commissioner, City of Novato Finance Oversight Committee
Barbara Pahre, SMART Board Member & President, Golden Gate Bridge District
Amy Peele, Councilmember, City of Novato
Gary Phillips, Mayor, City of San Rafael
Chris Rogers, Councilmember, City of Santa Rosa
Wendy Skillman, Mayor, City of Cotati
Pam Stafford, Councilmember, City of Rohnert Park
Susan Wernick, Councilmember, City of Novato
Gus Wolter, Mayor, City of Cloverdale
Al Boro, former Mayor, City of San Rafael
Larry Chu, former Mayor, City of Larkspur
Chris Coursey, former Mayor, City of Santa Rosa
Juli Kauffman, former Trustee, Kentfield School District Board of Trustees
Madeline Kellner, former Mayor, City of Novato
Dennis Rosatti, former Trustee, Harmony Union School Board
Marsha Vas Dupre, Ph.D., former Santa Rosa City Council and SRJC Trustee