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Editorial: Measure M stands for government malpractice

By   /   Friday, August 8th, 2014  /   Comments Off on Editorial: Measure M stands for government malpractice

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“Mistake” might be a good way to characterize Measure M, an initiative that the city of Port Hueneme has hurriedly approved for the November ballot.

In case you have not heard about it, Measure M would dispose of a minor tax on home-based businesses that now brings in about $7,000 per year and replace it with a tax on “various businesses that generate high gross operating revenues, including numerous private businesses that operate at Naval Base Ventura County and the Port of Hueneme.”

The city’s staff said on July 21 the new tax could generate $500,000 to $1 million in revenue from companies that currently “pay no taxes.”

It’s obviously not true that these companies pay no taxes. They and their employees pay sales taxes on items purchased in the city, taxes on city property and countless other levies. The port pays hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to the city as part of a longstanding agreement that is also in need of renegotiation.

Moves to put Measure M on the ballot have drawn immediate and strong opposition from a number of community leaders, including former Congressman Elton Gallegly and former Naval Base commanders Jim McHugh and Brad “Brick” Conners. The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, a leading trade group, said that Measure M is “misleading its residents” by not considering that the tax probably violates federal interstate commerce statutes and will, if enacted, run up huge legal bills for the city.

Clearly, the better path forward would be for the city of Port Hueneme, the Naval Base and the port to negotiate a settlement that might take the form of a future ballot initiative or council vote that has broad support.
Arbitrary and capricious moves by the city of Port Hueneme to drive business away from the port and damage years of good-faith outreach efforts by the Naval Base, Ventura County’s largest employer, are not at all in the interests of Ventura County. In addition to misleading and mistake, there’s another M word that might be applicable here. Measure M might just be the clearest case of government malpractice we’ve seen in a long time.

We’d advise the city to end the Measure M mayhem by moving it to the back burner. Instead, city representatives should sit down with Oxnard Harbor District CEO Kristin Decas and Naval Base officials to resolve the substantive issues that exist between the port and the city.

Editorial: Support SLO’s Measure G

Standing in sharp contrast to the Measure M madness is a broad-based effort for passage of an extension of a half-cent sales tax in San Luis Obispo.

Members of the Madonna family, leaders of the city’s downtown organization and leading figures in the construction and design community have teamed up to support Measure G, the extension of the sales tax. Among the supporters is Dave Romero,  former SLO mayor and leading advocate for business interests as well as a trustee of the city’s land conservancy.

The tax was placed before voters in 2006 and passed overwhelmingly. Some 70 percent of the revenue derived from the tax comes from tourists. The extension is not a blank check, as money is designated for seven key services including street paving, public safety, flood protections, senior services and open space.

Measure G is worth passing and the broad-based coalition supporting it shows the city is on what entrepreneur and arts advocate Linnaea Phillips said was “the right track.”

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