Thursday, November 09, 2006

Manteca Bulletin is "full of it"

Check out the headline in today's Manteca Bulletin. Notice anything odd? They are loudly proclaiming in the headline that the sales tax will go to "8 percent!" This is wrong, the sales tax will be 8.25 percent.

If it were just the headline, you might be able to excuse it because of space limitations or a simple error. But check out the text of the article. It repeats the "8 percent" thing a few times. And the accompanying graphic/chart says the same thing. And, those numbers aren't even close. Here's what the chart should read:

  • 5 1/4 cent State of California[1]

  • 1/2 cent, local government "mental health" and health fund.

  • 1/2 cent local public safety (for Manteca's police and fire, administered by the state and county)

  • 1 cent, City of Manteca general fund (for police and fire and other government functions)

  • 1/2 cent, Measure K (1/3 for fixing the roads, 2/3 for social meddling programs)

  • 1/2 cent, Measure M presumably for police and fire or other purposes as determined by the City Council.

For a grand total of 8 1/4 cents for each dollar you spend on taxable things.

Notice there are now three separate sales taxes that pay for police and fire protection. Sure, those are important functions, but why does it cost so much? And did you notice how, if you get all your knowledge from reading the Manteca Bulletin you wouldn't know about that "other" 1/2 cent public safety tax. They sure didn't mention anything about the two other taxes that are supposed to pay for public safety when they were campaigning for the new tax to "save the police and fire," that's for sure. And they still aren't mentioning it. I wonder if they don't want people to feel betrayed while the thoughts of the election are still fresh in their minds.

The same might be true for the purposeful understating the level of the tax as "8 percent." I wonder if some people were confused and thought the tax was only going to be raised to 8 percent instead of 8.25 percent? Who knows what people said when they called Grandma Millie[2] from the city's phone bank on Election Day? Pure speculation of course, but were some people told it was just 8 percent and it was to save the police and fire? I'm sure they wouldn't purposely lie, but maybe some people were confused a little and if they thought it was just 8 percent, well who's to correct 'em? Just get out there and vote! After all, it's to save your children from the bad man who want to cut the funding for the police and fire departments and let something bad happen to your children.[3]

Never mind the fact that there's already a general sales tax for police and fire and another special sales tax for police and fire already being collected (and other taxes too).

Which leads us to the front page of the Manteca Bulletin. All speculation aside, one thing we can know for certain is that someone wants to hide the fact that tax is really going to be 8.25 percent. Maybe it's the editor of the paper, maybe the city official interviewed, maybe the campaigners, who knows who -- but it's someone -- because that kind of "error" doesn't just happen. Not when it's mentioned throughout the article and in the graphic. And not when we've just had months of arguing about imposing the new Measure M tax. And not when the city official being interviewed isn't just anyone down there at city hall, but none other than the City Finance Director. The Finance Director doesn't know what the sales tax is?

OK, I guess technically we can't know that someone wants to hide something. If the paper claims it was just an error, or two or three, then I'll retract that statement and simply pronounce the newspaper "the dumbest newspaper on earth."


Note 1: I combined three different state taxes for simplicity, the point is they all go to the state, not the local government.
Note 2: This is a reference to the now infamous audio tape of Enron traders who laughed about sticking it to "Grandma Millie" in California. Sorry if there really is a Grandma Millie.
Note 3: I do have some evidence that police personnel were making defamatory statements about me, but for "reasons" we won't go into that at this point.

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