Police parcel tax for November ballot (Updated!)

This morning, the City Council’s Rules Committee will consider placing a parcel tax for police services, requested by the Mayor, on the November ballot. I’ll be on an airplane, and therefore tragically unable to watch the discussion. Curses!

Anyway, here’s what Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums is asking for. The idea is to add an additional 35 police officers and 25 police service technicians (PSTs) every year for the next three years. By the end of that period, we will the have an additional 105 police officers, bringing the total authorized force to 908, and an additional 75 PSTs, who can perform department jobs that don’t require a sworn officer. They’re cheaper. It’s a refreshingly realistic timetable.

The additional officers would be funded through a new parcel tax, which would phase in over the course of the three years. For a single family home, the tax would be $106.66 in the first year, $177.40 in the second year, and $266.96 in the third year. That is expected to generate for the City $15.8 million the first year, $26.4 million the second year, and $39.7 by the third year. $266 is a lot of money, especially considering this won’t be the only tax on the ballot this November, but there seems to be a widespread consensus that we need more officers, and we’ve got to pay for them somehow. You can read the details of the Mayor’s proposal here (PDF!).

Councilmember Jane Brunner will be requesting a number of amendments (PDF!) to the proposed ballot measure. She wants the additional police officers added per year increased for 35 to 50 (that would be nice, but it’s not a realistic goal), wants to require the police department to fully staff the investigations division (laudable goal, but unclear. Does she mean fully staff the positions that exist now and aren’t filled? Because even fully staffed, we still wouldn’t have nearly enough investigators. We need to increase the positions in the division, then fill them.), adopt CompStat (I’ve been saying we should do this forever, so hooray!), and “include a independent evaluation ad performance standards (again, laudable, but vague). Brunner’s version would cost, for single family homes, $143.69 in the first year, $241.52 in the second year, and $360.25 in the third year.

Anyway, like I said, I won’t be able to watch, but I’m sure it will be an interesting discussion. We all want more police, but many Oakland homeowners already feel heavily overtaxed, and I’m fairly certain that Oakland voters are probably feeling less generous than usual about giving the City their money, in light of recent events. If any readers can watch and give a little report in the comments, that would be awesome. Rules Committee is at 10:30 in Council Chambers, and you can also watch it live, streaming, over the interweb.

UPDATE: So here’s what happened, according to one of my helpful correspondents. Jane Brunner compromised with the Mayor, measure will include investigations, 35 cops, CompStat. Ignacio De La Fuente and Henry Chang voted no, Jane Brunner and Larry Reid said yes, meaning it was not going to advance. Larry Reid was upset that it wasn’t going to get out of the Committee and Jane Brunner threw a temper tantrum and stormed out, then Larry Reid asked nicely for it to at least get heard by the full Council, so Henry Chang changed his vote to get it out of committee, and it will be discussed at the City Council meeting next week. Exciting! Apparently earlier in the meeting Jean Quan threw a temper tantrum over Kids First 2. Why do I always miss the best meetings?

UPDATE 2: Apparently, Quan ended up getting her way later on, and with the assistance of Pat Kernighan and Nancy Nadel, has arranged for a special Council meeting on the 22nd to try to put a Council supported compromise version of Kids First 2 on the ballot. Kids First 2 is an attempt to basically double the amount of money the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth gets, and would take an insane portion of the already tiny discretionary section of our budget, forcing the City to scale back basic services even further. It’s awful! And to think, I’d been meaning to write a post about how awesome Pat’s been lately. So much for that!

33 thoughts on “Police parcel tax for November ballot (Updated!)

  1. PaulineZ

    In this November election, there will be 3 property tax increase requests — AC Transit wants to double their tax receipts, $48 more. East Bay Parks wants a $500 million bond measure paid for from Contra Costa and Alameda counties property taxes. They say they want this to be an extension of the 1988 park bond measure, an existing tax, which costs $10 annually per $100,000 of assessed. The police measure is the third property tax increase request. And, if the LLAD vote does not get set aside, the LLAD property tax amount will be increased by 65% (I think) on single family homes and increases on other properties. These are too many taxes and too many government people/agencies wanting more property tax revenue.

    To get more police and technicians, I would like to see the city lay off the number of staff whose salaries are equal to the amount of money needed to obtain the police and technicians to be hired. I would like to see no increase in the total city headcount until there are new revenue streams and until the city explains its strategy to annually come up with the revenue needed to pay its employees, 1200 plus (28% of current employees) of whom have take home pay of over $100,000 a year (salary, overtime, bonuses, car allowances, etc.) Per the Oakland Digest, in 2004 there were 247 employees with base salary of $100,000. In 2008, there are 606. In 2004 there were 7 employees who earned more than $200,000; as of December 2007, there were 73 and in 2008, there will be more than 165 employees likely to earn $200,000 plus.

    Where is the money coming from to pay these kinds of salaries.

  2. oakie

    I have NO CONFIDENCE in the city’s use of our money. Check today’s Chip Johnson story. It now looks like Miss Debbie had her 2 kids hired as summer interns (I THOUGHT those summer intern jobs were for underprivileged youth, not the kids of someone making $260,000 per year). It is alleged by the City Controller at the time that they didn’t work most of the time. And then the Oakland Finance Director handed the Controller a couple thousand in CASH to make up for it. A bribe? The Director claims not, of course. WHY IS THIS GUY STILL ON THE PAYROLL? And those 2 kids who falsified their time cards (allegedly, at this point)? Both are full time employees of the city (including Miss Debbie’s daughter, who is only a police trainee because the rules of employment was changed 4 times so she could keep trying!). When the Controller subsequently confronted Miss Debbie with the evidence, the Controller was fired. Now the pimp John Burris is representing her and the city will be paying big time for this. And the Finance Director continues to get paid (how much? Probably close to $200,000?) in spite of the fact that he was apparently participating in an attempted bribe to cover up the misdeeds of other city employees.

    This city already has a $ONE BILLION annual budget. One third of the employees of this city make over $100,000. It has enough money. It is just wasting the money. VOTE NO CONFIDENCE.

  3. len raphael

    Oaklie, is it true that the city council approved a budget in june 08 that gave every city employee a 4 to 5% annual wage increase? where would we even find out what the raises were and for which jobs?

    what’s the link to Oakland Digest and how would one get a redacted (no employee names) list of pay by position, and a summary of retirement benefits by position?

    -len raphael
    temescal

  4. len raphael

    Pauline, assumedly the proposed parcel taxes would be voted on by all residents, not just property owners like the LLAD? 2/3 majority required?

    can anyone confirm my understanding that parcel tax increases are allowed to be passed thru immediately to tennants in rent controlled buildings?

    -len raphael
    temescal

  5. V Smoothe Post author

    The list of employee salaries, provided by Oakland’s Finance & Management Agency, is available through the San Francisco Chronicle’s website here.

  6. R. Kaplan

    Thanks V., for keeping everyone updated.

    My understanding is that the police parcel tax measure would require 2/3 of the vote, and that it would be “normal” election rules (“one person, one vote”).

    Some questions which I think should be asked (and answered) about this Measure.

    1) Does the amount of money in the Measure cover the full cost of implementing the promised Officers and PST’s? Does it include the funds needed for training, recruitment, testing, equipment, vehicles, etc for the new positions?

    (In other words, are we learning from the mistakes in Measure Y?)

    2) What kind of legally-binding guarantees does it have (or could be added) to make sure that the promised services really would be provided, if passed?

    3) Has there been any polling? If so, what were the results? Is there any realistic chance of something like this passing? (If not, we shouldn’t waste the money and time involved in conducting the election for it).

    4) When will we get the specifically-assigned neighborhood-beat officers, (also known as “community police officers” or “problem solving officers”), in every police beat in the City? (These were promised to Oakland voters in Measure Y in 2004).

    Also, I would say that while I do not yet have a position on the Parcel tax, I do agree that we should be adding the proposed Officers and PST’s — and that the rate (35 + 25 each year), seems like a healthy rate, which could be achieved (in terms of our recruitment/intake capacity) without needing to divert too many experienced officers away from their duties to be “field training officers.”

    I do like the fact that it includes the Police Service Technicians.

    I think we should be also seeking other sources of funding (both from inside the city and outside). And there should be a simultanous implementation of methods to improve police recruitment and retention (some of which, like “signing bonus”, have already been discussed, and others which should be explored in terms of “best practices” in other cities).

    P.S. My prior public safety position paper (written before the recent proposals were made).
    http://ccwidget.com/kaplan/PublicSafetyforOakland.pdf

    P.P.S. Since writing the position paper, more information has come out about the difficulties involved in recruiting large numbers within one year, in terms of overburdening the “field training” ability of the police department, so this should also be taken into consideration in planning for the future.

  7. Mike Hardy

    Not sure about other folks, but my RSS feed reader doesn’t “do” updates. If you update a post, I’m guessing most people that read your blog via RSS (probably a lot!) won’t ever see your update.

    The best practice is to make a new post, linking back to the original for reference I think

  8. len raphael

    RK, many of us worked in the recent unsuccessful council campaign to overthrow Brunner because we strongly believed that her and her fellow council members decisions had helped create the unsafe conditions of our city by freezing hiring by the police force, allowing a well connected political hack to stay on police chief, and throwing money at ineffective programs. We’re were furious that she and her colleagues approved every single compensation increase for union and management over her years in office, as the quality of city services plummeted.

    Hammil’s constant barrage of mailers mindlessly screaming about crime came across as pandering bordering on ludicrous. She never listed any specific concrete proposal to reduce crime.

    All you have to do to tap into the active support of those who voted against Brunner would be to show that you have a feasible way to staff opd at 1,000 or more level within 3 years without raising taxes. That’s gonna be hard to do without pissing off the unions (addicted to those 4.5% annual raises and generous retirements) whose support you’ll want, but heck, Hammil probably has those tied up anyway.

    Show us that you’re willing to make tough choices to get all oakland residents high quality basic services without raising taxes and we’ll work for your election.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  9. J Given

    I read a scan of the parcel tax resolution, and here are my initial impressions and questions:

    1) The parcel tax is collectible whether or not new officers are hired.

    2) From 2009 through 2012, proceeds must be spent on hiring additional officers and related costs. “Additional officers” is not defined in the resolution. Does it include positions already fully funded by the budget and Measure Y?

    3) While the $266 parcel tax will remain in effect indefinitely, I see no requirement that the proceeds be used for any specific purpose after 2012.

  10. VivekB

    I’m with Oakie; i don’t care about the merits or demerits about this particular tax (esp given J Given’s comments). The City Gov’t has proven to be irresponsible with our money, and until they can prove they’re worth trusting then they don’t deserve any more.

    Hell, they really deserve a criminal investigation, with jail terms for any City Councilperson or Mayor or … that’s done anything wrong. If only deriliction of duty was a criminal offense…

  11. Pat Kernighan

    Dear V–I’m responding to your criticizm of my support for scheduling an additional City Council meeting so that Jean Quan’s proposed compromise on Kids First could be discussed: Why did I do it? Because this is a democracy! The whole idea is that ideas are debated on their merits and then voted up or down. I strongly disagree with my friend Ignacio that the Rules Committee should be used to “deep-six” ideas with which the Rules Committee members do not agree. Parliamentary maneuvers or exercises of raw power should not be used to prevent the full Council from debating important issues. And believe me, this is an important issue, involving as it does many millions of dollars. I haven’t decided yet whether to support Jean’s compromise proposal, but the public on both sides of the issue has the right to speak on it and the full Council has the right to debate it and vote on it.

  12. Charles Pine

    Councilmember Kernighan: “exercises of raw power should not be used to prevent the full Council from debating important issues. And believe me, this is an important issue, involving as it does many millions of dollars.”

    So will the councilmember reverse her refusal to address the LLAD scandal that David E. Mix raised to the council on June 17, since confirmed by independent press investigation? Or will she go along with an “exercise of raw power” to steal “many millions of dollars” from Oakland residents who voted down a LLAD tax increase?

  13. tagami

    Pat

    You have found your voice!

    It is nice to hear you out…

    Thank you for your leadership and service to our community.

    Tagami

  14. V Smoothe Post author

    Pat –

    I disagree with your characterization of the Rules Committee’s refusal to discuss Quan’s compromise. Yes, we have a democracy – one that functions according to mutually agreed upon parliamentary procedure.

    The entire point of having committees in the first place is that they act as a clearinghouse where issues get aired and discussed, and yes, possibly rejected, before moving on to the full Council. If you don’t like a proposal that comes before the Life Enrichment Committee, you are entirely within your rights to vote against it there, or amend it, removing or adding aspects, which you have done any number of times. Is it an offense to “democracy” that you didn’t agree to let the full original proposal be discussed by the full Council? Of course not – you were doing your job as a member of the Committee.

    Likewise, since Rules is the Council Committee charged with considering ballot measures, the members of the Rules Committee are entirely within their rights to reject one they feel doesn’t belong on the ballot. In fact, it is their obligation to do so!

    If the Rules Committee refused to agendize an item that would rightfully be heard, for example, by the Public Safety Committee, then that would be an instance of “deep-sixing” an idea without letting it get a full hearing. But in this case, they’re the ones who are supposed to hear this item and make the decision as to whether or not it should move on. By the time Quan brought this item to Rules, it was too late for it to be agendized properly, heard by the appropriate Committee, or properly noticed to the public according to Council rules. Given the circumstances, Rules, I believe rightfully, decided it shouldn’t get a special hearing. It is not Ignacio, but you, Quan, and Nadel who used the parliamentary maneuver to circumvent our standard process.

  15. Max Allstadt

    Well, V

    I’m going to stay neutral on this whole argument, but I will say this: You certainly are having an awful lot more high-profile commentators of late. Councilmembers, candidates, ex-candidates, campaign managers, “power brokers”. And they’re all signing their real names. It also seems that we’re seeing a lot more two-sided debates lately too. This is exactly what I like to see here.

    Pat, Rebecca, Phil, Charles, Len, Doug, Carlos… please keep coming back. I realize you’re all probably up to your elbows in other things, but whether or not we agree with V’s post or positions here, I think she’s proven this format is a leap forward in local political coverage. The papers and the TV just can’t do what gets done here.

    And with that, I’ll end my shameless sycophantry. I have a plane to catch. See you all in a week.

  16. PaulineZ

    The LLAD and what the city (city council/mayor/city manager) did to screw the voters needs to be addressed. This issue will not go away.

    If Jean Quan’s KIds First 2 is put on the ballot instead of all council members supporting the defeat of the November Kids First ballot, this will bring into play the question of whether the mayor and city council are lying to the voters about there being no money for police when they are sanctioning the dedicating of money to Kids First. There is then also the question of whether Jean Quan, head of the Finance Committee, is hiding or finageling money that only she knows how to get access to it – in which case, the city council may be keeping the mayor ignorant of city finances.

    Given that the number of kids enrolling in Oakland schools has decreased to the point that schools in Oakland have to be closed, I question the claim that Kids First is serving 30,000 children. Where are the results of their past programs?

    The idea that “non-profits” are being given city money for children’s programs when there are existing city run Parks and Recreation programs, city run Library programs and city run school programs is outrageous at a time when revenue at all levels of government is tight and decreasing because of the real estate crisis and its impact on tax revenue.

  17. Kevin Cook

    V, your explanation of the reasons of why Quan’s proposal shouldn’t see the light of day does an excellent job of explaining the critical role of parlimentary procedure in a democracy. However, I”d like to explain why its bad electoral politics as well.

    Pat, since you have raised the issue of a properly functioning democracy, let me remind you of what you already know–ideas without merit, ideas beyond some reasonable community standard don’t receive consideration–they are simply squashed. You wouldn’t entertain a proposal to legalize my backyard fireworks factory, right? Quan’s proposal–”involving as it does millions of dollars” that go to seemingly unaccountable and politically connected non-profits–appears unreasonable to an increasing number of Oakland residents. Really, does it seem like a good idea to even think about giving more money to these groups at a time when the city cannot demonstrate that it can competently hire its own employees? I don’t own a home, probably never will and for years have voted for these parcel tax increases out of a general political commitment to screwing with property owners. However, Oakland has changed that and I am done making my more well off neighbors pay more taxes and get nothing in return. I’m a district 2 resident, and Pat, the next election isn’t going to be won by fighting a challenge from the left and pointing to Trader’s Joes.

  18. Robert

    Kevin – I too live in district 2, and I have to go with Pat on this one. 45,000 people in Oakland apparently do believe that there is a need for increased funding. Since this is almost as many people who voted in the last election, it does seem that this is an issue that the whole council should address, and not let a small minority block discussion. The choice is not the Quan compromise or nothing, it is a choice between the Quan compromise and the petition version to go on the ballot. Committees exist to decrease the workload on the council as a whole, not to block discussion of issues that are of interest to the greater community. Kids First 2 is going forward in some form, and I don’t think that it is appropriate to try and keep the council from discussing what form of Kids First 2 does go forward.

    If the decision was whether the Quan proposal would go on the ballot, or nothing, then that would be appropriate for the committee to decide on. But that is not the real decision. The real decision is what form of Kids First 2 should go on the ballot. So in a sense, the committee was bypassed by the petition, and so it seems necessary to to refer the discussion to the council as a whole.

    The fact that I will probably vote against either version of this proposal does not lead me to want to stick my head in the sand and hope for the best. If it is Pat’s conclusion that this warrants a discussion by the entire council, then I do believe that this is in the best traditions of representative democracy.

  19. MarleenLee

    What is being left out of this debate is a focus on the fact that Measure Y, a similar “special tax,” was an abject failure. Measure Y promised an additional 63 officers. Nearly four years later, after collecting $60 million in taxes, the City’s police force was actually smaller than it was before Measure Y passed. Because the money hasn’t been spent on officers, it was sitting in an account gathering dust, until the City decided to raid it for all sorts of unauthorized purposes, like funding general recruitment, police academy training, and the recent $8 million “recruitment program.” All of these things should be funded by the General Fund, but that fund is broke, so Measure Y is essentially serving as a “slush fund.” Measure Y has also suffered from a complete lack of oversight and a failure to conduct an annual audit, which is required of all special taxes. Why on earth would anybody approve yet another one of these taxes given the failures of Measure Y? By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I am suing the City over the Measure Y abuses.

  20. Robert

    This stream wandered off into whether the process was appropriate, and not about whether the measure itself was ‘good’ or not. Since the final form of the measure has not been decided, I personally think it is a little premature to get in to a serious discussion about the merits. For the record, I am generally opposed to this sort of targeted financing, although not for the accountablity reasons you provide. Initiative targeted budgeting severly inhibits the ability of our elected representatives to make adjustments to the funding for all the confilcting priorities that a city has. For a whole ot of reasons we are not ready to go with a pure democratic form for the budgeting process. But this is what the initiative process is doing to us peicemeal.

  21. dto510

    Robert, Jean Quan’s Kids’ funding mandate proposal has been released, not in time for Rules Committee to look at it last Thursday, but V linked to it on Friday. Even without knowing the specifics, it’s fair to question whether the city can mandate any amount of permanently increased funding to outside program grants when Councilmembers and the Mayor acknowledge that the city’s funding for policing, a basic service, is sorely inadequate.

  22. Robert

    dto – I am not totally sure that I understand your point. Quan’s compromise is a proposal that can be modified by council before they decide to put it on the ballot, or leave the original initiative Kids First 2 on the ballot. So what goes on the ballot is not yet decided.

    I agree with you that any mandate will create major problems for the city, but it is sort of like Quan’s proposal is a disaster and the original initiative is a bad disaster. We do not have a choice anymore about whether to put something on the ballot, it is just the details of that ballor proposition that remian to be decided.

  23. dto510

    KF2 don’t have to submit their signatures. Councilmembers should be trying to convince them not to submit their initiative. As Jane Brunner pointed out, the city recently made commitments to Kids First programs, and simply cannot afford to be budgeted by the ballot box. Any “compromise” would only lend the imprimatur of official support to this disastrous, and very greedy, initiative. It would imperil support for the Regional Parks bond, the AC Transit tax, and any anti-crime initiative or tax. Councilmember should lean on the Central Labor Council and the nonprofits to drop their ill-timed budget grab. Futhermore, the nonprofits have been gathering signatures for months, why didn’t Jean Quan attempt a compromise earlier in the process? Why was it so late that it necessitates a special council session that may not even have a quorum?

  24. InsideOak

    Robert,

    If I were you, Id just give it up now. The factual errors in your last four messages are too numerous to even count. Leave the arguing to people who understand how the city works and have half a clue about whats going on.

  25. Ralph

    no way that the city is getting my tax dollars until they can prove to me that they do a better job with the money they already have

    why are so many people caught up on the $100K barometer? a $100k in the bay is the equivalent of $65k

    i am so sick of those annoying surveys sorry – now back to regularly scheduled programming

  26. californio

    Here goes another $2,000,000. Anybody follow this item, which is on the agenda for tonight’s Council meeting?

    Subject: Jane Smith – Settlement Agreement From: Office of the City Attorney Recommendation: Adopt A Resolution Authorizing And Directing The City Attorney To Settle The Case Of Jane Smith, Et Al. V. City Of Oakland, U.S. District Court Action No. C06-07171 MMC (JCS), Our File No. X02981, In The Amount Of $2,000,000.00. This Case Involves Alleged Civil Rights Violations (Police Department)

    For more information:

    http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/detailreport/matter.aspx?key=15895

    To paraphrase William Blake:

    Oakland! Awake! Awake! Awake!

  27. dto510

    Robert – the Rules Committee is not a “small minority” of the City Council, it is half of the Council. Without the vote of at least two of them, nothing can be placed on the ballot, according to Jean Quan’s newsletter. Rules was unable to second a motion to discuss KF2, so there clearly aren’t two votes there. Quan also said that KF2 can remove their measure, which they “promise” to do if the Council adopts a compromise. The Council shouldn’t listen to threats and should instead ask KF2 to withdraw their measure for the good of the city and the the other public agencies that will taxes on the ballot. Jean Quan has had months to negotiate with them – giving into blackmail with a last-minute, backdoor deal demonstrates very poor leadership

  28. Robert

    I thought it took a majority of the rules committee to report something out, which means that 2 member can block the legislation. I could be wrong, but V’s post indicated that the 2 to 2 tie kept the police measure from being reported out. To me, if 2 members of the rules committee can block something being reported out of committee, that does represent a small minority of the council, 2 out of 8, but I guess that can be considered a matter of opinion.

    While it would be nice if the organizers withdrew their measure, do you seriously think that that will happen? Dellums is quite probably the only one with enough clout with the groups involved to have a chance, and I haven’t seen him demonstrate that form of leadership. If he does manage to pull it off, I will have to take back other things I have said about him. “Blackmail’ is such a negative term. It is really are the art of political compromise, but call it what you will. This is a complicated political decision, and I really don’t see the problem with having the full council discuss and agree on the best way to go forward. Maybe the council will come to the decision to tell the KF2 group that if they put their measure on the ballot, then the full weight of the council and mayor will come down against them. Cause it is not clear to me that anybody on the council is in favor of either the original KF2 measure or Quan’s compromise. I think that the only conclusion you can come to is that Quan thinks that her compromise is less damaging than the original.

    And I just realized when I looked back at V’s post that Henry Chang changing his vote to get the police measure considered by the full council is great news, but Kernighan changing her vote to put the KF2 compromise before the full council is a subversion of democracy. Huh?

  29. V Smoothe Post author

    Robert –

    Pat Kernighan didn’t change her vote – she didn’t have a vote, because she isn’t on Rules Committee. Chang, as a member of the Committee, is welcome to change his vote to move an issue on to the full Council. Kernighan, along with Quan and Nadel, bypassed the committee process by calling a special meeting of the Council.

    In any case, the full Council (as well as Finance and Management Committee) already discussed, and rejected, an increase in Kids First funding back during the Spring. The ballot initiative people were there then as well with their threats, and the Council said no anyway. In any case, there was not a 2-2 vote on Quan’s request at Rules as you seem to think. As dto510 already explained, no motion could even get a second in order for there to be a vote.

    If Quan wanted the Council to revisit the issue and discuss a compromise in light of the signatures submitted, she’s had since the beginning of June, over a month, to do so. Instead, she waited until the absolute last minute to request a discussion, when it was to late for the item to move through the proper channels.

  30. Jonathan C. Breault

    No one denies that Oakland has been overrun with crime and that the administration has done practically nothing about it. The fact is that Oakland is unique in that it has a serious, deadly crime problem and a police force the size of which is more commonly found in a small city with relatively little crime. We don’t even have a jail which is extraordinarily odd. And yet the preponderance of Oakland taxpayers are very, very reluctant to pass any parcel tax for this or any other purpose. Why? Simple. The people running things in Oakland are crooked, stupid, disorganized, philosophically delusional, contemptible and financially and fiscally unsophisticated and incompetent. So we are therefore confonted with the classic conundrum commonly known as the Hobsen’s choice. Give more money to idiots who have screwed up everything they touch? Or deny our police force the manpower needed? I say pass the parcel tax ONLY if the Mayor and council resign and a special election is held to give the city a chance to save itself from the endless, dreary, depressing ineptitude and worse emanating from our city hall. It is our town. It doesn’t belong the blithering idiots who have literally destroyed the place these past 40 years. Giving more money to these morons is akin to giving an alcoholic another bottle of gin. Wasted and doomed to endless proverbial hell on earth.