Measure A - A sales tax to fund Marin parks, open spaces and farmland— is on the June 7 ballot. Two-thirds of voters are required to approve Measure A's renewal. But, as written, Measure A is worryingly vague. Voters don't have the information we need to renew Measure A.
You can learn more here: https://opposemarinmeasurea.org
Questions about Measure A Marin voters need to ask:
Why isn't MALT mentioned in the ballot measure or the election materials?
The Point Reyes Light reported that MALT has a $350,000 campaign budget to pass Measure A. It is the biggest donor to the campaign. The County, which cannot legally fund political campaigns, is depending on MALT to carry Measure A across the finish line. The public pays a price for this. Twenty percent—some $25 million—of Measure A funds will go to some of California's wealthiest ranchers through MALT and the Marin Resources Conservation District. Marin County has more urgent needs for these public funds--including funding for parks and open spaces that the public can use--not just looks at.
MALT, once esteemed, has been sullied in recent years by questionable financial dealings and perceptions of conflicts of interest. Since it was founded in 1980, MALT has spent $90 million for easements on private land. $45 million has gone to MALT's own Board members and their families. Of the 17 easements MALT purchased using Measure A funds, half went to MALT Board members and their families. MALT also overcharged the County $835,000 in Measure A funds for an easement it purchased from one of MALT's Board members.
The public is dubious of spending public money for private land. County-sponsored opinion surveys ranked farmland preservation last among ten categories for future Measure A funding. Given MALT's recent scandals, attaching MALT's name to Measure A, might not be a popular selling point.
Does the public have access to the agricultural lands Measure A pays for?
The public cannot set foot on these private lands.
Is MALT accountable to the public?
Unlike the County, which is required by law to operate transparently, MALT, a private nonprofit, is not accountable to the public, even though it controls millions in Measure A funds. MALT's Board decides who receives MALT easements. MALT even sued the County to keep the details of its transactions from being publicly disclosed.
MALT Board meetings are private. The public has not access to the minutes, and no input into how those who receive millions of Measure A dollars are selected.
What is the Marin Resource Conservation District and how will it spend Measure A?
The Marin Resource Conservation District makes grants for "improvements" on Marin ranches that ranchers have been unwilling or unable to pay for themselves. There is no means test involved. If Measure A is approved, all ranchers in Marin will be eligible for these funds.
It's unclear whether ranchers operating on leased land in Point Reyes National Seashore will be eligible for RCD grants.
The RCD's Board decides who receives RCD grants and for what purposes. It's unclear whether the results of the "improvements" Measure A pays for on these private ranches will be evaluated, or by whom.
Is the public getting its money's worth?
The Measure A ordinance cites four broad categories spending over the next decade, but provides no details. Parks and public lands, adaptation to climate change, protecting and restoring wildlife habitat, and making Marin more firesafe, are the public's priorities according to County surveys fielded last year. Of ten categories tested for future Measure A spending, farmland preservation ranked dead last.
Yet, the Marin Board of Supervisors has diverted millions in Measure A funds from parks, public lands and related programs to private agricultural businesses.
Is Measure A fair?
Measure A is a sales tax. Everyone in Marin pays the tax, regardless of income. Those less well off pay a larger share of their income to fund Measure A than wealthier people do. Many in our community struggle with the rising costs of housing, food and fuel. Lower income communities disproportionately suffered the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. These communities remain least served by Measure A.
Who is behind the Yes on Measure A Campaign?
MALT stands to benefit from at least $15 million in Measure A funds. It has $350,000 to spend on a Yes on Measure A campaign. Graton Rancheria--seeking allies for its lucrative casino expansion--contributed a $100,000. Marin ranchers and their allies want to keep Measure A dollars flowing to themselves. Politicians and the Marin Independent Journal support the status quo.
Who is behind the No on Measure A Campaign?
We are environmentalists, small business owners, human rights, public health, wildlife and fire-safety advocates. We want to keep Marin’s parks and public lands safe, healthy and open to everyone. Unlike Measure A’s proponents, we have no financial interest in the outcome of Measure A. Our goal is to revise Measure A to be more equitable, environmentally responsible and publicly accountable, and bring it back to the ballot in November.
How can you help?
Learn more at https://www.opposemarinmeasurea.org
Share the above website address widely with your Marin contacts. Ask them to do the same.
Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Vote No on Measure A.