Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pacifica City Council incumbents need to go!

[*Blogmaster's note: The following was written before Councilmember Lancelle decided not to run.]

Do I stay or go?  That is the question the three incumbents need to be asking themselves. Councilmembers Digre, Lancelle, and Vreeland have all pulled papers to run in the November election. 

Who will actually turn them in before the deadline is unknown at this moment. I have a simple question for each of them: "What makes you feel like you have anything to offer this community? How can you possibly think you can run on 'your record?' Most importantly, name one economically viable initiate you have brought to this town. ONE!

These questions will be asked, of that I guarantee you. You incumbents have run this town like a personal hobby. You think the way to create a sustainable economy is to tax the heck out of us. You have guided this town to the precipice of bankruptcy all the while playing favorites with your "chosen ones." In my opinion our leadership skills are non-existent.

Some may feel that I'm being overly harsh. Wake up! There's a reason why we have tax measures on the November ballot, on the June ballot next year, and again on the November ballot in 2011. We're promised that things will be different, that we'll encourage economic growth. Where have we heard that before? I'll tell you, during the run-up to the Fire Assessment Tax. They deceived us. Remember that? Immediately afterwards we lost control of our Fire Department to Daly City

If there exists anyone that can remember any brilliant economic plan presented during that five years they were taxing us I'd like to hear it. I remember the awe-inspiring phrase "Our Ecology is Our Economy". How'd that work out?

You three incumbents need to look within. Ask yourself, truthfully, "have I really done a good job and can I defend my record?" Be ready to defend yourself. Don't tell me it's the economy. Don't dare to. The economic stagnation of this town happened on your watch. Think hard about submitting your papers. It's going to be a tough campaign.  

Jim Wagner

From Pacifica Tribune letters-to-the-editor 8/4/2010.

Submitted by Kathy Meeh


Sharon said...

RE "We're promised that things will be different, that we'll encourage economic growth. Where have we heard that before? I'll tell you, during the run-up to the Fire Assessment Tax. They deceived us. Remember that? Immediately afterwards we lost control of our Fire Department to Daly City" I heard not a penny of our tax monies from that assessment went to our fire department. Can anyone verify that?

Anonymous said...

There was an audit and all of the money went to fire. It's the law.

The Watcher said...

Maybe one of the brain trust members of this blog will have the gumption to ask Sue Digre that if the term limit measure passes will she resign if re-elected. Try that one at the Dem meeting, Sat the 21st. By all that is right and fair, if either Digree or Vreeland is re-elected they ought to quit. Period!

Anonymous said...

I don't like the incumbent's record, but I won't vote for idiots to replace incompetence.

Anonymoose said...

If people want Digre out, they need to vote her out directly. Don't depend on a strained interpretation of term limits to do the job.

Rosestta said...

It would say a lot about the incumbents intergrity if posed that question early on.

Anonymoose said...


Kathy Meeh said...

Sharon, 90% of the Fire Tax went into the city general fund to pay ordinary city bills; 10% was put into a separate fund to buy a fire truck. Note: no new firetruck truck was purchased in the 5 year duration of that tax.

The Fire Tax was explained to the public as needed for fire station house maintenance/improvement. This was the city council explanation, and the explanation given from fireman sent to "sell" the tax and hand-out brochures at Safeway (Linda Mar).

Legally, did the Fire Tax language provisions say/disclose anything other than that the tax destination would be the city general fund? No. But, the people of Pacifica were promised the Fire Tax was specific for maintenance of a fire house, and not even fire personnel salaries would be paid from it. Then, surprise, in a cost cutting measure the entire city fire department was outsourced to north county jurisdiction, under management by Daly City.

I think this is a good example of how the existing city council has done business with the people of this city-- not once, but repeatedly. With the Fire Tax, what occurred was technically legal, but ethically and morally challenged and misdirected.

The tax was also "temporary" (5 years), allegedly until this city council "got their act together" to fix the structural economic/budget problems of this city. That never happen, was not and is not their plan (notwithstanding campaign and other promises).

Jeffrey W Simons said...

"There was an audit and all of the money went to fire. It's the law"

not really. not directly. The money went into the General Fund where it was then dispersed to the fire department. There was never a separate fund set up to direct that money specifically and exclusively to the fire department. Technically speaking, that money went to a lot of places.

It was a semantics argument, and I remember during one yearly audit Maureen Lennon and I got into a rather heated discussion about that. LOL.

However the questions to ask, Sharon . . . why did the city turn over control of the fire department to Daly City AFTER they secured the fire assessment, and why did the city council remove 3 firefighter jobs during cutbacks that were made BEFORE the economic recession but during the assessment?

And yes this city council promised the fire assessment would be a temporary band aid to close a budget gap until they could grow the General Fund . . . like Dr. Phil says, how did that work out for ya?

Jeffrey W Simons said...

Wow Kathy great minds think alike, and at the same time, eh?

By the way there were several competing studies that showed the transfer of the fire department to the JPA didn't save any money, or a very negligible amount. It sure as hell wasn't the $700,000 the city council claimed.

Sharon said...

Thanks Kathy and Jeff for the info, seems to me this is a good issue for discussion with regards to the upcoming tax pleas. Citizens of our town should be more aware about where their tax monies actully wind up. Who is minding the store?

Jeffrey W Simons said...


To give you a little background (and again, who is minding the store and how?) . . . when the consultant's report was issued in regards to the fire assessment, their conclusion was that although the money was not deemed to have been "misused", public perception was that the City Council had misled them in regards to the fire assessment and they would not vote for another one.

When I presented this information to City Council, Jim Vreeland got very agitated and directed City Manager Steve Rhodes to refute my comments (that was during Oral Communications). So when the agenda item come up in regards to forming the Financing City Services Task Force, I read the first sentence of the conclusion in regards to the fire assessment, and I stated this committee would be nothing more than a Financing City Services TAX Force that would find some work around of the fire assessment.

So sure enough, the consultant that was hired for this TAX FORCE (at a fee of $30,000) concluded the public would not support another fire assessment and the committee went for the 1 cent sales tax.

Again, I went before City Council and said a 1 cent sales tax with no term would never pass and I recommended a 1/2 cent sales tax with a 3 year expiration. They ignored me again and went for the 1 cent sales tax with a 7-year term. And that went down in flames.

So you have to wonder why you would vote for a City Council that continues to listen only to the people who tell them what they want to hear??

Steve Sinai said...

"But, the people of Pacifica were promised the Fire Tax was specific for maintenance of a fire house, and not even fire personnel salaries would be paid from it."

My understanding at the time was that firefighter salaries would be paid from it, and firefighter jobs would be preserved. I don't remember anything about the funds being restricted to maintenance of a fire house. Firefighter jobs is an issue people care about. Firehouse maintenance isn't.

I voted for the tax at the time, understanding that it was really an indirect way to replenish the general fund. But I felt the city deserved a chance to get its act together and use those five years to build an economic base. It didn't do that.

When they did their survey asking whether the fire tax could be renewed, the council found that most people in town wouldn't vote to renew it, because voters saw that the tax monies were squandered and not used as promised. That's why they tried to pass the sales tax measure instead. Of course, that failed, as will any other proposed tax measure as long as Vreeland, Digre, Lancelle and DeJarnatt, and their twirly-dancing, hippie supporters control the town.

Anonymous said...

Twirly-dancing, hippies have more fun!

Steve Sinai said...

I'm sure they do, especially with the help of chemical substances. That doesn't help run a city, though.

wagner said...

so now the answer to the citys ills is to pass a series of tax increases. another band aid to empower this council to hang on and pass out more favors to the "enititled ones". i will not vote for any tax increases as long as digre and vreeland are on council. period. and i will think long and hard about any bailouts for this city if any more of curtis' green machine candidates get elected.
the TOT is expected to bring in around 650k over the next 5 years. How much has vreeland squandered over the last 12 years of his monarchy?
$250,000 on his taj mahal by the sea
$150,000 on his bio-diesel bribe to the greenies
$100,000 or more on an illegal trail on private land
that's $500,000 with no real research.
so we're asking the hotels to further gouge our guests by 20% more on the TOT for what reason? TO PAY FOR VREELAND'S FOLLIES!

how much more in legal fees bailing his ass out of employee lawsuits? you know, the 3 department heads that dared cross the great and all powerful vreeman.

Rocky said...

I wish all of you had watched the City Council meeting where someone (I believe it was Councilmember and former Pacifica Fire Chief Cal Hinton) asked City Manager Tanner if the Fire Assessment was a dedicated fund or could it be directed into the General Fund. Surprisingly, Tanner acknowledged that the funds would not be segregated. This, at a City Council meeting where fire department officials and Council marched out orphans, starving children, hurricane victims, holocaust survivors, battered women, cancer patients, etc. to shamelessly beg for the assessment.

The fact that our City Council at the time chose NOT to segregate the funds from the Fire Assessment as exclusive for the fire suppression needs of Pacifica should have set off fire alarms. It shows a deliberate decision to deceive the public in the appropriation of funds.

Kathy Meeh said...

At city council there was quite a lot of discussion about fixing the Manor firehouse deterioration. And, what was made clear when the firefighters were sent-out to Safeway to sell the tax was that although money would be put into the city general fund, none of it would be spent for salaries, and the project was firehouse repair and maintenance.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that each time somebody needs to pay for a building permit. Don't be surprised that there is a chunk of money towards the" FAMOUS GENERAL FUND". Why, why , why, who made that fee decision to be implement . Let me share with all the you. We are going to see less and less developers wanted to invest money in Pacifica. The fees are ridiculous. Until we get new people in council and study this crime. Our city isn't going to get better. If all of you want to see Pacifica grow . We need to follow the money that the City of Pacifica is taking away from people. We wonder why so many project haven't started yet?

Anonymous said...

One important issue if the city is broke Why they dumped this ridiculous fees on developers. When they tried to pull a permit , they don't even have an explanation in why this fees?

This town is worse that a "THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES." Our leaders are bad news.

Lionel Emde said...

So here's a question for Kathy or Jeff or whomever:
The Fire Assessment wasn't renewed, obviously.
Could it have been that the then-new North County Fire group (not sure of the name) that included Daly City, would have raised a legal issue for Pacifica.
A special tax, one that is specified and requires a two-thirds vote, might have been illegal going to a joint powers agreement, such as we have now.
If that was the case, then the Financing such and such committee would have had no choice but to try something else. Given their marching orders, "into the Valley of Death they rode..."

Jeffrey W Simons said...


You raise an excellent point. In order for the fire assessment to have been dedicated exclusively to the fire department, it would have required a 2/3 vote versus a 50%+1 vote to just allocate money to the General Fund. What the city council did was sell it to the public as a dedicated fund while WINK WINK it went into the General Fund to avoid the 2/3 requirement.

However, the City of Pacifica never indicated they planned to join the JPA while they promoted the fire assessment. In fact, as told to me by those more intimately involved with the process, the original fire assessment was sold as a way for Pacifica to maintain its own independent fire department.

So it is possible the city council (or at least the city manager and city attorney) knew of the possible legal ramifications of passing a special tax since they were planning on joining the JPA and . . . ahhh, conveniently forgot to mention the JPA until after the fire assessment passed.

Remember, the analysis of the fire assessment didn't say money was misallocated, but it DID say the public felt they were misled about the fire assessment and would not vote for another one.

Unknown said...

Reading this blog often leaves the feeling that Pacifica is the only city in the country that is suffering from a lack of funding. It's unfortunately an issue in almost every city. Were the current Pacifica city council incumbents responsible for the downfall of cities state and nationwide? I think not.

How about the salaries we pay to some city staff (city manager making +$185,000 and generously waiving around $3000 in increases this year. Wow, what a sacrifice!) when we don't seem to get the value in return.

Dirty said...

Clean - City Manager salary? Read this one and be prepared to soil yourself:

Kathy Meeh said...

Dirty, one of Lionel's finest research article posts on Riptide. Clean,the current city council incumbents are responsible for the continued 8 year decline and deplorable state of this city. Not only is this city on the brink of bankruptcy (cost paid by property owners), but also the city infrastructure is failing (sewer collection, roads, city budget/debt).

Anonymous said...

Does anyone knows about if the city of Pacifica is allowed to collect money to improve highway 1.????
I thought the state of CA is responsible to maintain it?

Anonymous said...

Todd Bray tried to file false charges against Don Peebles. This is fact.