Want to see what a classic political hit piece looks like?
Assuming you do what most self-respecting voters do and toss the slick political gibberish that comes in your mail, rifle through your trash can. It was the correct place to file the whooper that made its way to San Joaquin County mailboxes at the end of last week. It’s the one screaming, “Ken Vogel Raised Your Taxes $1.3 Billion.” The filthy lie was distributed by those fine people from the California Alliance for Progress and Education, an Alliance of Small Business Organizations. They’re based in the cradle of California hypocrisy better known as Capitol Mall in Sacramento that’s lined with bureaucrats churning out regulations slowly choking the state to death and the offices of lobbyists that labor to take as much gold as they can from beneath the State Capitol dome.
Vogel, by the way, is a farmer and independent businessman who is running for the 12th District Assembly seat after serving eight years on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.
Let’s start with Measure K — the tax the mailer wisely didn’t emphasis as being Vogel’s cardinal sin. Yes, it’s probably true that Vogel voted to increase “our” taxes $1.3 billion but so did almost 8 out of every 10 San Joaquin County voters in the November 2006 election. The vote was to extend the Measure K half cent sales tax — arguably the most effective and honest tax in California — for another 30 years until 2041.
The tax, first authorized in 1990 by county voters, gave us the 120 Bypass as a full-fledged freeway, widened Interstate 205 through Tracy, established the Altamont Corridor Express and subsequent expansions, underwrites bus service, is paying for the current Highway 99 and Interstate 5 widenings, helped secure the Tidewater Bikeway in Manteca, the Lathrop Road bridge overcrossings, paid for the Manteca Transit Station and a list of other projects throughout the county and six other San Joaquin cities from fixing potholes to safety improvements that’s long enough to fill this page and then some.
It is the tax that will make improvements to the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 interchange happen to address the carnage and congestion on eastbound 120 as it nears the split.
The $1.3 billion in taxes that Vogel as well as almost 80 percent of his fellow San Joaquin residents — and not paid political hacks working for the highest bidder from their Suite 600 at 455 Capitol Mall in Sacramento — voted for will be collected over the course of 30 years.
As for Vogel’s apparent original sin — supporting a resolution of the San Joaquin Council of Governments he was serving as a member in his capacity as a county supervisor to let the voters decide — at least his actions have all been open and on the record which his more than can be said for whoever is hiding behind the Capitol Mall political hit firm’s piece.
Giving whoever his opponent is that’s behind the deliberate distortion of the facts the benefit of the doubt, if they are against all taxes they need to get off their high horse. What do you think pays for government services such as firefighters — Blue Chip Stamps?
Measure K is a good tax. Eighty percent of San Joaquin County voters agreed with that assessment.
So what are the other smoking guns of Vogel’s alleged treacheries rained down on taxpayer. Flip over the mailer. The political hacks really get down and dirty.
Among Vogel’s other three big sins as an elected official is voting in October of 2008 to increase the county dog licensing fee, voting in June of 2012 to increase fees for parking, and increasing the fees for using Micke Grove Zoo on a short term basis until June 2010 so hours wouldn’t have to be cutback drastically due to the Great Recession.
Is that the best the hit firm can do?
Come to think of this, the mailer isn’t a hit piece. It is a ringing endorsement of Vogel as being the taxpayers’ best friend.
Let’s recount the points it makes:
Vogel as a guardian of tax dollars by working to make sure a tax was spent exactly how voters were promised it would and then turned around and placed that tax on the ballot again to see if voters wanted to extend it for another 30 years. The voter responded with a resounding “yes”.
Assuming Vogel when he stepped into the voting booth checked “yes” for extending the Measure K tax, he did so with 80-pecent of the rest of the county’s voters.
Vogel believes general taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize the act of the county issuing dog licensees.
Vogel supports the idea government provides and maintains specific amenities such as public parking for specific areas that it should not be a drag on those taxpayers who never use it.
Vogel is responsible enough not to simply cut back public access as the federal government did to national parks just to make a political point, but instead provided people an alternative if they wanted the zoo kept open so they could visit it, they’d have to pay a temporary surcharge to do instead of cannibalizing other segments of the county budget such as law enforcement to keep the zoo operating.
I’d like to thank the political goons up in Sacramento for making it crystal clear who the best choice is to represent San Joaquin County in the California Assembly.
Until I got the mailer I wasn’t too sure who I was voting for June 7.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.