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Monday, August 22, 2016

Video shows Alameda mayor supporting tax measure she now opposes, while labeling city's schools unsafe

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Before Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer became a staunch opponent of the city’s utility users tax ballot measure, she was a strong supporter of the initiative that will secure $5 million in annual revenue, if approved this November.

Earlier this month, Spencer wrote a blistering opposition statement to the city-backed measure, along with a rebuttal that upset City Hall for a personal attack against City Manager Jill Keimach.

However, outtakes from an informational video the city produced about the Utility Modernization Act (UMA) show a far different picture, revealing Spencer once strongly favored the initiative. The footage was obtained through a California Public Records Act request.

In the ballot argument penned by Spencer she falsely asserts the UMA will raise taxes. In fact, it merely reaffirms the city’s ability to continue collecting the proceeds and more broadly. For instance, some cell phone carriers do not recognize the city’s UUT as written and, therefore, do not collect the tax from some Alameda residents.

In other parts of the rambling 17-minute interview, Spencer struggled to muster a response to why she loved Alameda. In one case she simply answered, "the trees."

Later, when asked how she would describe the positive attributes of Alameda, Spencer mentioned the safety of its streets and schools, but quickly backtracked. “No they’re not,” a giggling Spencer said in reference to schools being safe.

The seeds of Spencer’s flip-flop on the UMA followed a moment of pique on her part following the Alameda City Council’s decision to name the city manager, and not Spencer, as the head of a little-known and somewhat inconsequential Disaster Council.

Watch the entire unedited interview here.

Watch the final product below:

20 comments :

Regarding the UMA - it clearly does raise more tax revenue - a stated goal. To raise an additional $1.5 million.

It does this by expanding the number of things taxed - as stated in a staff presentation from June.


From Slide 2, of the presentation included in the July 5th packet:

"What is the UMA?
1.Modernizes our existing Utility Users Tax (UUT)

- No increase to current tax rates but expands things that are taxed"

https://alameda.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=4545282&GUID=F88D8E04-E7F8-4D7C-850A-2294D639B919


From slide 7 of the staff July 5th presentation:

"This measure will return the UUT revenue in the
General Fund back to the FY 2007/08 level.

- Expect to raise approximately $1.5 million"


This "update" is, in fact, a tax increase because it taxes things not currently taxed. So says supporter Councilman Frank Mataresse. The current utility tax's section defining what is to be taxed uses 156 words. The proposed "update" uses 1,856. It does not pass the smell test that 1,700 additional word does not add items that are not currently taxed. Clearly, this is a tax increase despite the council's ballot argument to the contrary. $60 per year for each cell phone line and that is just the beginning.

Yeah, but what about the babbling Mayor who clearly can't explain the roll of the Mayor, why she loves Alameda, and whether or not the schools are safe.

But hey, at least she's a master of the smile and nod.

what an embarrassment.

Sad that a California Public Records Act request was used to garner content for another montage of emotionally biased "journalism."

The City if forbidden by law from using public funds to influence an election. If the video is being interpreted as favoring the measure, then whoever authorized the funds is in far more trouble than the mayor.

Emotionally biased journalism, huh? The FOIA allows for government transparency. I would argue that it was applied appropriately here. There was lots of speculation surrounding the video and the Mayor's sudden and rather emotional reaction to the UUT. Now, as a result of FOIA, we don't have to speculate about what the Mayor actually said.

Continue to support her if you want, but you cannot deny that in this particular instance she sounds foolish and is totally unprepared. (She can't answer the relatively easy questions she's being asked [what she loves about the City, what her job as Mayor is, how to define the UUT acronym], and is unable to focus on the task at hand. )

Are you sad because you realize that the person who serves as the ceremonial head of the City stupidly states that our schools are unsafe and laughs about it, or that you've been drinking the Kool-aid.

>>Sad that a California Public Records Act request was used to garner content for another montage of emotionally biased "journalism."

It's election season. The true purpose of Steven's blog is bound to be revealed.

>>Yeah, but what about the babbling Mayor who clearly can't explain the roll of the...

Yea, but what about the babbling silly civil servant who doesn't know the difference between "roll" and "role" ?

"Roll v role" is probably a typo. Anything to deflect from the actual issue of the Mayor's incompetence. And if was written by a civil servant, it's not like you at 6:32 can hold them to high standards, I mean look at who the Mayor is.

By MW:

If Trish Spencer, and who is a lawyer and also a graduate of UC Berserkely, strongly, openly, and publicly insulted the position of the City Manager, she should be ashamed of herself, since regardless of the supposed merits or supposed lack of merits of the proposed utility tax, the very most important duties of government are: one, ripping off the general public; and two, providing a united front in which the big boys in government pretend that they are superior and their thinking is extremely wise.

In other words, she should have taken one for the team, joined In circling the wagons, and therefore pretended that whatever one of the other big boys wanted was obviously correct, and rather than letting more of the little people realize that sometimes the ideas of the big boys are nothing more than hairbrained nonsense.

In fact about a million years ago, in other words back when I was a teenager, I read about an ancient society that had a group of judges that functioned basically as a supreme court. (NOTE: I do not remember the name of that society, or even the continent it was located on, but still the point that article made I never forgot.)

That society, and just like the USA, had a "supreme court," and which I assume was made up of lawyers and people who were supposedly very intelligent, extremely superior, and totally logical.

So of course situations came up in which that "supreme court" would have to make a ruling on an extremely controversial subject, and yet it would want its ruling to be respected and followed.

So therefore, and even if the judges on that "supreme court" had actually had the equivalent of a 5-4 vote on an issue, still it would always be announced to the general public that the vote of the judges had been unanimous.so therefore the members of the general public would "realize" that since the vote of the extremely intelligent, highly educated, and totally logical lawyers and judges had been unanimous, therefore any other opinions were obviously stupid and totally ridiculous.

(In fact, it's similar to the method that whenever Alameda County's Board of Supervisors and/or Public Works Agency comes up with anything unusually stupid and totally outrageous, they then get their stooges and puppets on a string lawyers in the County Counsel's office to go through a scripted, choreographed, and prearranged "investigation" to definitely "prove" that the whole thing is both "legal" and also a "wonderful" idea.)

So Mayor Spencer, you gotta close ranks and circle the wagons.

Who authorized the expenditure for this video? What was its intended purpose? Which funds were used to create it?

@8:01 PM - it's pretty clear the comments are coming from a city staffer or public safety employee with an axe to grind against the mayor. And if we're going to nitpick, well, let's nitpick.

What, exactly, do a bunch of video out-takes, deliberately taken out of context by a blogger with an agenda and clear allegince to a political ideology, have to do with the Mayor's ability?

@6:37am

No doubt city funds/resources were used to create the video. There's a loophole in the law that should be closed which allows them to produce such material so long as it doesn't get overly sensational or explicitly call for voters to vote yes or no.

If anything, the expenditure of our taxes for creating the video shows the need for our taxes to be cut, not increased.

The interviewer, videographer and editor did substandard work. The finished product is all that needs to be published.

Nice try. Attack the Public Records Act when in truth Open and Transparent is the rule of law. The Mayor is shown in her true colors. She did not have to do the video. She choose to do it. The fact that it makes her look like an idiot is on her. The UMA is not an increase! Why is this so hard to understand? Look at your bill. You are probably paying it. Spencer has no clue what makes Alameda great, what the UMA will bring in, what the budget is, and she thinks schools are unsafe. She can't even remember what the videoto graphed told her to say. I do not believe she was drunk or high, but she clearly has cognitive and memory issues. I think the video showas the real Trish Spencer.

Silly civil servants keep trying to spin the UMA as "not a tax increase" - when their own presentations clearly explain that it is, and that it "expands" the number of things taxed - see below.

Staff was stupid to try to frame this as a 50%+1 vote, when it clearly requires a 2/3rd vote, especially in the midst of a lawsuit over that exact issue - the Ginsberg suit.

They're leaving themselves open to a legal challenge over this tax increase ballot measure.


"This UUT modernization will shore up the funds that the City is now losing, an estimated $1.5 million, due to changing technology, bundling of services, and unequal application of the UUT by telecommunication companies."

https://alamedaca.gov/city-hall/news/2017/06/27/utility-modernization-act-uma

From Slide 2, of the presentation included in the July 5th packet:

"What is the UMA?
1.Modernizes our existing Utility Users Tax (UUT)

- No increase to current tax rates but expands things that are taxed"

https://alameda.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=4545282&GUID=F88D8E04-E7F8-4D7C-850A-2294D639B919

From slide 7 of the staff July 5th presentation:

"This measure will return the UUT revenue in the
General Fund back to the FY 2007/08 level.

- Expect to raise approximately $1.5 million"

From the June 7th city council meeting, re: UMA:

"Over the past several years, every city in Alameda County with a UUT (except Alameda and Piedmont) has successfully secured voter approval to modernize its UUT ordinance primarily to reflect the migration from traditional landline telephone use to new electronic communication technologies, such as wireless and VOIP (“Voice Over Internet Protocol”).

Modernizing the City’s existing UUT would assure that the 7.5% rate is applied fairly to all consumers so that those that use more advanced technology share the tax burden equally. It also is a tax that is paid irrespective of housing status, unlike a parcel tax that is paid solely by property owners.

Staff recommends leaving the tax rate the same (7.5%), but modernizing the language of the entire ordinance to ensure equal treatment of all users. While the tax rate would remain unchanged, the modernized UUT with its more explicit and modernized definitions should ensure an increase in collections and thus result in a net benefit to the City’s General Fund. "

https://alameda.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2737015&GUID=966D2EC8-EAA6-4A45-B5CD-5BD15056969E&Options=&Search=&FullText=1

Nit picking would be commenting on Trish's appearance or the way she enunciates. Nit picking is NOT commenting critically on the content of the video and the statements that she made.

I wouldn't bet money on all the critical comments coming from civil servants. There are plenty of private sector employed people who are fed up with Trish and her behavior.

You can't blame the videographer and editor and not blame Trish. She had a pretty important responsibility to at least prepare her thoughts and she blew it. I'm totally down with Trish changing her mind, but she needs to own the change and explain why. She also needs to get her shit together and start acting/sounding like she gives a rip instead of sounding like she just dropped $50 at her favorite watering hole.

Who ordered that the video be made?
Did those recorded sign release forms?
Were those recorded told how the recording would be used?
Who did the actual recording?

Sad that a VIDEO OUT-TAKE obtained via a California Public Records Act is used to discuss a serious City measure by way of ripping the Mayor- which deflects from the ramifications of the measure on the citizens of Alameda (regardless of how anyone views the money trail this measure leaves one way or another) and WHY the mayor changed her stance on it.

From which school of journalism did you graduate?

Once again great story Tavares. I really enjoy and want to you to keep informing us on what is going on in Alameda. We want to Get rid of the mayor.

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