Thursday, October 9, 2008

Panic and Disinformation

I've just taken another look at Alamo Spotlight, after the LAFCO decision, and I'm basically horrified by what I've found. It seems to have been transformed into a panic-stricken emotive content only zone, and lost whatever rationality it seemed to have when I first looked.

(Curiously, it's a web-site that intentionally makes it hard to copy-and-paste content. This will not deter us!)
Thank you for visiting Alamo Spotlight, online to share your comments and provide reliable information on the incorporation of Alamo into a Contract-City. Our website offers Alamo residents who oppose incorporation an opportunity to voice their opinion and demand answers to the question WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF INCORPORATION?

Main answer: To ensure local control of future planning decisions.


5 p.m. OCTOBER 20, 2008

Say those who disagree, and don't want the issue to go before the voters directly. When things came present at the LAFCO meeting, the commisioners decided they would rather the voters decided then they alone. Apparently the folks at Alamo Spotlight do not want the voters to have the opportunity. Why not?

What LAFCO did not KNOW then, and should reconsider NOW
  • The current financial crisis is the greatest financial meltdown since The Great Depression of 1930. LAFCO should have the courage to reconsider its September 18 decision based on seriously flawed financial studies.

This was openly aired at the meeting where the vote was held and considered. The flaw in the financial model have been charged, but not clearly substantiated. The commentsby Alamo Spotlight that they are "seriously flawed" are assertions only, not here backed up by substance.
  • The Commissioners' doubts, regarding the financial data in the old 2006-07 model to approve the 2009 Alamo Incorporation, were denied consideration.

Demonstrably untrue. They were openly aired, were considered, and there was a vote which favored putting the measure before the voters.

  • LAFCO could not have known the Petition signed by Alamo voters for a LAFCO study, submitted with Application No. LAFCO 07-27, was secured with verbally misleading information prior to obtaining the signatures.

Also untrue; these charges were made before the meeting. They are now being repeated by the Alamo Spotlight as if they were (a) new claims, and (b) amounted to anything. The fact is that the signatures were obtained legally, and LAFCO has considered all input and had its vote. If Alamo Spotlight believed the signatures were illegally obtained, it could have filed suit to invalidate the filing. It did not, and has not done so -- we think because it is a non-starter.

As far as we can tell, the "sales pitch" given during the petition drive was accurate and not misleading.

  • LAFCO could not have known that $200,000 would be raised by Alamo Community Foundation, which solicited tax-exempt funds, to meet the requirement of "private money" to pay for LAFCO's incorporation studies.

This makes no sense at all, because there is nothing to complain about! The study funding had to be raised privately. LAFCO knew this. It did not know the name of the Alamo Community Foundation, nor did it need to; that ACF may or may not be organized as a tax-exempt 501c3 is irrelevant to anything. This complaint is like saying "LAFCO could not have known Troop 347 of the Girl Scouts was going to sell cookies without collecting sales tax!"

A Bailout for Contra Costa County on the backs of Alamo Taxpayers

When Tip O'Neill, Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1987, wrote the book entitled All Politics Are Local, he was not kidding. We all know fiscally irresponsible governments can always feed at the taxpayers' trough. Who did the LAFCO commissioners think they were fooling holding the charade of a hearing at Creekside Church on September 18? Certainly not speakers who had the courage to challenge its flawed "studies" and certainly not the enthusiastic audience who supported the speakers' sentiments with loud applause.

Let's try to deconstruct this. First is a claim that incorporation is a "bailout" for the County. This assertion is left completely unsupported, and makes zero sense. The plan is for a one-time payment of about $3.4 million after ten years. This isn't going to be a thimble-full in the bailing bucket the county may need over the next decade.

Who were the commisioners "fooling" at the hearing? I was there, and it looked well attended by people of all persuasions. There were people who claimed the studies were flawed, and those who thought they were good enough estimates. There was enthusiasm for those opposed, and there was enthusiasm for those in favor. There were passionate speakers on both sides.

Alamo Spotlight is filing a Request for Reconsideration with the required check of $2500. A check written from a personal account. A check, which will not appear as a charitable deduction on any IRS tax form. The only goods and services the opposition forces need is a NO vote in March to save Alamo taxpayers from bailing out Contra Costa County from bankruptcy.

Fine, someone has a right to do so. Yet for all the complaints Alamo Spotlight and others have made about "who funded the original studies?", shouldn't there be more transparency than this about who is forking out the money to try to get the matter off the ballot?

Then, at the end, there is a non-sensical claim that somehow Alamo is going to bail out Contra Costa county from bankruptcy. Which is it folks -- Alamo is not financially viable, and should rely on the county for funding of things, or Alamo is financially viable, to the extent the County needs Alamo's money to stave off bankruptcy?

If the county is going to go bankrupt without Alamo's piddling $3.4 million, are the residents better off being in their own city, or still completely tied to a now bankrupt county?

Frankly, we'd hoped for better formed arguments against incorporation than this.

Putting it before the voters to decide is a reasonable decision for LAFCO to have made.

This reconsideration is a waste of time, and we'd be better served with substantive discussion of the real issues before the election in March.

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