Editorial: Why was the Pioneer Fire Ballot Measure Important in the recent Measure B Defeat?

by Placerville Newswire / Aug 31, 2019 / comments

[Cris Alarcon. Img "Get Back Up" Ali in Manila]

If the consumer does not feel they are getting value for the tax dollars, they will revolt. Value does not mean the Best, but it means that sweet spot that most taxpayers feel is a fair value for their taxes. A spot between the best and the cheapest.

During an Online debate Jimmy Chilcott wrote:
“Cris Alarcon I kept private previously, but your continued push to tout pioneer as a district that is fixed is a huge disservice to the public and to the firefighters in that district who struggle to have basic safety equipment. You continue to push a political agenda with complete disregard for the actual state of the department in pioneer.”

I replied: --- “... Did I say that PFPD was doing fine? No. I said that a successful campaign to get over the very high bar [of 2/3 of people voting to raise their own taxes] is doable if you put convincing facts on the table. In addition, it was critical that they were willing to seek and make changes to the proposal based on stakeholder feedback.

Changes were made to include suggestion that addressed Taxpayers’ significant concerns. The PFPD Measure later gained the support of the Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County. Measure B failing to address those concerns resulted in the Taxpayers Association actively coming out Against Measure B. They expressed concerns that the proposed tax did not have any taxpayer protects like a Sunset clause or any kind of community oversight of use of the Tax of almost $2.5 million dollars each year. In the PFPD they even met with Joe Harn privately to hear his objections and suggestions. PFPD integrated and addressed many issues before a final revised measure language was set.

Basic “Preemptive” work.

They engaged the voters in a meaningful way. Taking the information to community events like the Grizzly community hamburger night rather than trying to get the public to turnout at their informational meetings.

This was all after two prior attempts by the fire agency to get local citizens to direct additional funding to the agency. They then hired consultants in local Politics to communicate to the voters as the firefighters did what they did best - helping people in emergencies.

The point is that any claim that the bar of ⅔ vote getting people to raise their own tax is too high is invalid. We know from local recent comparable history that it can be done right here on the Western slope of El Dorado County - when the voters are so moved.

From "It CAN be Done" to the after effects...

The PFPD fire agency was successful and the public passed the additional tax the agency requested. How the agency manages its budget is an area of debate for nearly every government agency, the Fire agencies being no different.

It is easy for those that deliver critical service to lose sight of the forest as they see the trees. If those that are in the emergency services don't see their job as Vital, maybe they are in the wrong career. That said, it becomes very difficult to put the Quality/Quantity of the services provided against the cost the public is willing to pay for said services.

"Public as Customer" - Greg Post

In the Private Sector the efficacies of Efficiency and Effectiveness is one single business imperative requiring a Balance of “what is most effective” against “what is most efficient.” In other words, balancing Best against Cheapest. Often markets are segmented and we know that only few can afford the Best and also that only few want the Cheapest. So Private Sector adjust to what the consumers are willing to pay.

"Bureaucracy" is used as a prerogative for good reason.

In our Government, the Budgetary constraint of “what the consumers are willing to pay” is perverted to "the Public SHOULD pay these taxes to get the best of the critical service delivered."

How do we as citizens bring reality back into government budgets? In the “Here and Now” we see the process playing out.

Generally the government always wants more money to do better/more of XXX. Trying to do more of, and better at [Quantity /Quality] what it does it will grow like a virus and consume its host. This is an inherent aspect of Bureaucracy. So an external constraint is needed to keep this growth within a parameter that the public feels is appropriate.

We the public are the bill payer. Often the public will tighten the tax purse-strings and the government will be forced to adjust to what the citizens find acceptable as a tax generated revenue stream.

This week we saw a Fire Agency make an additional budget request of their service area voters. That increase was soundly defeated. The primary clapper on the tolling of the “Bell of Defeat” were the public’s feeling that 1) they are paid enough; 2) there is no real oversight; 3) Do we really need four butts in every truck?

Now the fire agency is looking over the ashes of a burned-down political campaign and kicking their boots on the ground to shake the crud off as they contemplate the next move.

I don’t know how it is a firehouse after a bad fire, but I know how it is when you lose a political campaign. You grown, bush off the soot, take a deep breath, then run to the next battle.

The proponents of the failed Measure now have all the necessary information on: what did compel people; what was unpersuasive; what was objected to; to what degree of voter influence did key objections carry. That is the foundation for a successful “next” campaign if those factors are sufficiently addressed.

Just like a fire, a lot of thoughts about strategies goes on long before the first fighter blows through the door with an axe or hose. Gung-ho in the wrong direction, not so good. Gung-ho in the right directions, with a well thought-out plan, and a good team - well, nearly unstoppable.

Makes me think of the Firehouse Cafe - Burned down? Kinda. Gave up? No Way!

Cris Alarcon.