Lines have been drawn as Mayor Bob Foster’s infrastructure parcel tax (which will appear on the November ballot as Measure I) creeps toward its November date with the voters. Yesterday, the Mayor and about two dozen supporters gathered to talk about their choice to endorse the measure, just one day after NoMeasureI.com—a website campaigning in opposition of the infrastructure tax—debuted.
The website—operated by the No On Measure I Committee—contains information against Measure I, with a section for recently published news stories and “5 Reasons To Vote No On Measure I.” The reasons listed are (detailed explanations included on the site):
1. It’s Expensive
2. It’s Bad Timing
3. It’s Irresponsible
4. It’s Vague
5. It’s Too Regressive
But the Mayor and his supporters have begun campaigning hard, drawing endorsements from the likes of former California governor and long-time Long Beach resident George Deukmejian. The former governor spoke favorably of the mayor and his proposal yesterday at McBride Park—one of the recreation areas that would be improved under the proposed infrastructure tax.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen some decline in our infrastructure,” said Deukmejian. “If we’re going to aim to be a first-class city, we need to invest in our city. It isn’t very much money when you stop to think about the tremendous benefit.”
Former Governor Deukmejian speaks alongside Mayor Foster in support of Measure I Thursday afternoon.
But NoMeasureI.com feels differently:
According to the Long Beach Business Journal, Long Beach residents and businesses will pay almost $1.3 billion for $571 million in improvements.
In fact, the Business Journal did publish that report—which states that members of the business community have received pressure to support Measure I—and two others critical of the Mayor on its website, one of which bashes the method in which Measure I was introduced to the city.
“Foster is now making his rounds at community meetings, campaigning in support of the measure,” writes The Watchdog. “One could argue – and I will – that this should have been done prior to unveiling a formal plan. Now that would have been transparent – and responsible.”
Indeed, Foster has been busy with community meetings and forums to spread the word about the proposal that he says “will fix what’s wrong with Long Beach.”
At McBride park yesterday, Mayor Foster outlined his plan to increase community awareness.
“A lot of times, you have to explain the problem and show the solution. Everyone here knows the problems. They realize there’s a problem. Our job is to say, ‘No solution is perfect, but this one is good.’ It’s a modest proposal. It will make this city go to the next level. Our city will be more attractive to businesses, and residents with disposable income. When you have good facilities, it actually lifts everybody up. This is a case where the rising tide lifts all boats.”
However, NoOnMeasureI.com does not think the money it will take to raise that tide is worth it—nor is it the right time to do so:
With the economy in decline, including real estate and other businesses at a crossroads, now isn’t the time to levy exorbitant taxes that hurt future growth.
One of the news stories listed on the website as an example of opposition to the measure states, “Measure I Lacks Chamber of Commerce Votes”—linking to a Press-Telegram story published earlier this week. In fact, the story is about the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee—an advisory committee which voted to recommend a “No” vote to the actual Chamber. Ten voted in opposition, seven neutrally, and one in support.
The Chamber itself voted differently, defying the GAC recommendation and reaching an official “No Position” vote with 19 neutrals, 12 supporting votes and 8 opposing votes.
As battle lines have been drawn, both sides ready their campaigns. NoMeasureI.com includes a section to sign up to receive a lawn sign, and Mayor Foster says campaign strategy for Measure I is still in the works.
What are your thoughts as we inch closer to Voting Day?
By Ryan ZumMallen, Managing Editor
Disclosure: LBPOST.com co-founder Shaun Lumachi is a government affairs advisor to the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.