MEASURE AA–DO I GET TO SAY I TOLD YOU SO?
Measure AA lost (failed to achieve a 2/3 supermajority) in Solano, Sonoma, Napa and Contra Costa counties, i.e. it lost in all the relatively rural, low-income northern counties (Marin is exception), and it lost in one NE county. It did achieve simple majorities in all counties. It won because the counties where it achieved a 2/3 supermajority (Marin, Alameda, SF, Santa Clara, San Mateo) tend to be more populous than the northern counties. Figures here.
Measure AA is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It was designed to suck money out of the North Bay (against the will of voters there) and the rural southern parts of Santa Clara County, and ship it to Silicon Valley. It worked pretty much as it was designed to. Regional government is a fine idea if county voters get to vote for it, but that never happened for the establishment of the SF Bay Restoration Authority, the little-known agency which put this measure on the ballot.
Half the proceeds with be distributed back to the nine counties weighted by their population, while the other half will be allocated by the governing board, which means the vast majority of the funding will go to the South Bay. Four of the seven members are from counties where AA won (three from the South Bay), one is the director of the East Bay Regional Park District, and only two are from counties where AA lost.
A $12 parcel tax doesn’t seem like much, but it sets a very bad precedent, and that was the point. There is a real need for a functional, representative regional government for the Bay Area. But we are not careful we’ll end up with a government that resembles our nation’s capital–dysfunctional, driven by lobbyists and pandering the wealthy and powerful.
MEASURES B and E–UH-OH
Here in Albany, Measures B and E both passed, although it seems they got by with a little help from their friends. This is just one step away from pay-to-play, and while it’s not illegal, it is certainly distasteful.
The three AUSD items I personally worked on–the Nov. 2004 bond, the Nov. 2005 parcel tax, and the Feb. 2008 pool bond–all won with yes vote counts between 4,000 and 6,000 (see table below). These efforts were more in the Albany tradition of organizing friends and neighbors to drop simple leaflets on porches, not on spending lots of money to mail glossy brochures.
I found the information in the table below on the Alameda Country voter registrar website. The voter turn-out for Measures B and E was very low, at about 40 percent of Albany’s 10,492 registered voters. Measure B got 3,014 yes votes, Measure E 2,916 yes votes. Thus each measure won with yes votes from slightly less than 30 percent of registered Albany voters.
While it’s very unusual in Albany’s voting history for any measure to pass with only about 3,000 votes, it also happened with AUSD parcel tax measures I and J in Nov. 2009. Voter turnout was similar in Nov. 2009 to this month’s election. Turnouts are typically lower when there is neither a presidential nor a congressional election at stake.
In 2009, the financial implications of Measures I and J were relatively small–Measure I was an annual $149, 5-year parcel tax that was renewed by Measure LL in 2014. Measure J consolidated existing parcel taxes and adjusted them all for inflation. There were exemptions for seniors and low income residents. In contrast, Measures B and E together will cost most Albany homeowners between $500 and $1,500 annually, except for those who bought their houses decades ago. No exemptions.
We don’t know much about the attitudes of the approximately 60 percent of Albany voters who didn’t vote at all this month. Were they aware of and happy with either outcome, or will they be shocked when they see their property tax bill? I guess we’ll find out.
Note: As of Friday afternoon, June 10, the county Registrar of Voters (ROV) has updated the counts for measures B and E, finding roughly 10 percent more votes, but leaving the percentages virtually unchanged. Measure B vote tallies are now 3,365 yes and 1,540 no. Measure E vote tallies are now 3,266 yes and 1,227 no.
Tuesday morning, June 14, I called the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. I was told that all vote-by-mail ballots had been counted, and that they were working on provisionals, but that those probably don’t affect Albany much. Vote-by-mail ballots have dramatically increased, which is why they have taken so long to count. New totals:
Measure B vote tallies are now 4,375 yes and 2,018 no. Measure E vote tallies are now 4,274 yes and 1,577 no. Updated count of registered voters (RV) is 10,984
For Measure E, 53.3 percent of RV voted, 38.9 percent of RV voted yes.
For Measure B, 58.2 percent of RV voted, 39.8 percent of RV voted yes.
|AUSD bond and parcel tax measures|
|Notes on recent measures:|
|I||New 5-year, $149 parcel tax, inflation adjustment, senior/low-inc exemptions|
|J||combined existing parcel taxes, $555, no sunset, inflation adjustment, senior/low-inc exemptions|
|LL||continuation of measure I for 6 years, $278, inflation adjustment, adds SSI, SSDI exemptions|
|B||rebuilds two K-6 schools, GO bonds, no exemptions, $120/$100K assessed value|
|E||rebuilds site for middle school, GO bonds, no exemptions, $60/$100K assessed value|
|Source:||acgov.org, 2016 vote counts are preliminary|