Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pros and cons of Measure A

The letter ‘A’ can certainly have diverse meanings. In the world of academics, an ‘A’ represents outstanding achievement; while in the world of brassieres, an ‘A’ indicates a less voluminous capacity.
Likewise, Measure A, appearing this November on ballots in the city of Santa Barbara, has two very different interpretations. For those in favor, this little shift to even-year elections saves taxpayer money, city staff time, and our democracy itself! For those in the other camp, Measure A had been described as a ‘power grab,’ a diversion tactic, and an affront to democracy.

How could one little 30 word amendment stir up such opposing hackles? In Charter speak, it goes like this: “Shall the City Charter be amended by amending Charter Section 1300 and adding a new charter section 1300.1 to provide for regular City elections in November even-numbered years instead of odd-numbered years?(sic).”
The proponents argue that elections in even-years (2008) brings greater voter turnout, because that’s when all candidates for County, Federal and State office as well as Judges and State propositions appear on the ballot. However, these same proponents have selected a non-even year (this November) on which to make the change, which seems a bit ironic.
Should Measure A pass in this election, current council members would sit for an additional year as your representatives. Is this self-serving and strategic, or simply necessary for enactment of even-year elections? I suppose they could be noble, and give up a year of elected office.
For the electorate who admire the efforts of the current Council, the Measure would allow a continuation of the changes and improvements made to our City. For those who are eager to have the Council makeup ‘revised,’ it represents an additional year of less than stellar decision-making and leadership.
Yet another suggestion, which may remove some of the suspicion, would be to delay Measure A’s starting date, so that it would not affect our current elected body, but rather let voters determine to whom they would entrust a five-year, rather than four-year term.
The supporters of Measure A project a taxpayer savings of over a million dollars after only ten years of election shifts, especially since this is the first year our Council voted to fund and manage the City election, rather than pay the County to do so. First, the City decides that using the County elections office is too expensive, but with Measure A, the city cost is now too great, so we’d be better off letting the County take over again in 2008.
I’m a bit confused, but then one blogger suggested an even more frugal solution: dissolve the Council, let the City Administrator run the place (he does anyway), and save a whole lotta taxpayer money. After all, some of the Measure A creators are the same folks who pushed for City Council pay raises in order to “attract more qualified and diverse candidates.”
The next pitch by the Measure A proponents is to reduce the “repetitive ads and junk mail of an election.” Their website suggests we “give a year off to Santa Barbara voters, making elections more convenient and efficient because voting only happens every two years.”
Wow, a year off without having to be bothered with focusing on the city where we live and the issues most important to residents and families. We could instead have the City Council candidates lost in the microscopic print of every misleading ‘slate’ mailer clogging your mailbox or doorstep. They could compete for radio and airtime during the same period that the President, Governor, Congress and Assembly buys up votes, and may be lucky to get their ten second message out on Sunday at 4 am.
The inference that voters don’t wish to be bothered with their very own community representation troubles me, because “all politics is local.” Low turnout has less to do with the inconvenience of voting, and more to do with the issues that candidates decide are important to their campaign managers, rather than those important to us.
If candidates had to appear in open forum answering questions mostly from the public, many of the self-promotional perennial folks would drop out, and voters might actually pay attention. I’m also projecting an upturn in voting with the promotion of absentee ballots, and the new interest in politics displayed by the ‘computer generation.’
After wasting hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and ruining our global reputation supposedly to enable a country ruled by a dictator to be free to vote, I believe thirty-five grand and a little junk mail isn’t too great a burden for Santa Barbara voters. If we don’t show up at the ballot box, the end result of whether ‘A’ stands for Accomplished, or this Measure falls ‘flat,’ will be decided for us. See you in November.

E-mail Loretta Redd at

1 comment:

Yes on Measure A said...

Hard to tell what Redd really is writing here. For the actual facts, see the many references here: