A community news source for residents of the HarriOak neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nancy Nadel: LLAD Vote Rigging Ok by Me

Below is an exchange between Councilwoman Nancy Nadel and a HarriOak homeowner about the rigged LLAD vote. The city added extra weight to the votes made by the Port of Oakland and by city-owned properties to insure the measure would pass. In a country that was founded on the principal of no taxation without representation, this is surely illegal. Nonetheless, Nadel defends the practice. One thing to keep in mind is that the average Oakland homeowner with an assessed value between $300,00 and $400,000 is already paying $5000 a year in property taxes. In contrast, Nadel, who lives on a very pretty, largely renovated street near the Emeryville border, pays less than $1700 thanks to Proposition 13. Keep that in mind as you read the following exchange. The name of the homeowner has been removed to protect his privacy.

Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:59 PM
To: Nadel, Nancy
Subject: LLAD tax vote

Dear Ms. Nadel,

Simply put, I am appalled over what I have been hearing in the media regarding the LLAD tax vote.

I became a resident and homeowner of Oakland one year ago and was optimistic about life here in Oakland. But since my arrival I can only say I have been disappointed by the City government in almost every way. Wasteful spending, nepotism, corruption, and an almost complete denial of reality regarding the crime problem and our hopelessly inadequate police force.

And now comes the LLAD vote rigging which, in the opinion of myself and many of my neighbors, is the ultimate insult (at least to those who live in what is supposed to be a democracy.) As I understand it, the LLAD votes were weighted by how much of an increase the voter would be required to pay. But a simple reading of the facts shows that the Port of Oakland’s votes were weighted by the total amount they would pay, NOT the increase. If all of our votes had been weighted this way, the measure would have been defeated. In fact, the measure would have been defeated by every method of counting except the one you used. Never mind the question of why an entity like the Port of Oakland has any say at all about homeowners’ property taxes, but that’s another letter.

It seems fairly obvious that the citizens of Oakland are not in favor of a property tax increase. I respectfully request that will of the majority of the people of Oakland be acknowledged and that the improperly counted LLAD vote be declared invalid.

This issue will not go away. And the City government has a long road to travel to regain the confidence of the people you represent. Recognizing the seriousness of this issue and implementing, what to most Oakland residents is, the obvious solution would go a long way towards regaining some trust.



From: Nadel, Nancy [mailto:NNadel@oaklandnet.com]
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 1:18 PM
Subject: RE: LLAD tax vote

Dear J.

Not sure what factual media account you might have read about the LLAD vote. I don’t know any investigative reporters anymore, sadly. The blog, newspaper and yahoo group information is inaccurate as is David Mix. Incorrect things repeated over and over doesn’t make them correct. The Port had no LLAD assessment in 1994 therefore the votes based on the full assessment rather than the difference was appropriate.


Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 1:44 PM
To: Nadel, Nancy
Subject: RE: LLAD tax vote

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for your response, Nancy.

From what I’ve been able to find, the argument for the Port’s votes counting as much as they did is that the LLAD tax that they’ve been paying all along was done so on a voluntary basis, an assertion that I find unbelievable. I would love to see this claim documented. Am I to believe that the Port has been paying this tax out of the goodness of their heart, as they would to a charity? Surely they have been paying this tax as part of an agreement they made with the City, which makes it a tax nonetheless (maybe it wasn’t “assessed”, but it has been an obligation on Port’s part.)

Since the Port has been paying the LLAD tax for many years (voluntarily or otherwise), their vote should count based on the increase, not the total amount. In any event, the logic used here to validate the vote counting method is so convoluted that it makes me ill to think that people in our city government actually devised it.

You know, I’m not opposed to raising taxes when it’s necessary and the money is used wisely. But this LLAD tax vote has to be one of the most convoluted things I’ve seen in government. This was so poorly represented and explained that it’s no wonder people are calling this fraudulent.

One last question for you: can you understand why people are so upset about this?


From: Nadel, Nancy [mailto:NNadel@oaklandnet.com]
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 1:54 PM
Subject: RE: LLAD tax vote

Dear J,

I can understand why people are upset about many things in Oakland government but the LLAD increase is not one of them for me. The city is constantly increasing parks and landscaped median strips at the request of residents and we had no escalator in the earlier LLAD. As property to maintain increases, and inflation increases, the money has to come from somewhere to do the maintenance on parks that people want. Mandela Parkway, Bancroft median are huge new areas for which we had no money to maintain. Even with the LLAD increase, Mandela Parkway is not in it and I had to peel off money from a seismic rehab project just to fund continued maintenance of Mandela which is supposed to be our catalyst for industrial attraction in West Oakland.


Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 2:45 PM
To: 'Nadel, Nancy'
Subject: RE: LLAD tax vote

Hi Nancy,

I’m totally with you when the City needs money to do something and the money is used wisely. But that’s not the issue. The issue is that the City isn’t counting votes properly. If the LLAD tax had won (that is, a majority of people in Oakland had voted in favor of it) I wouldn’t have a problem – I might express my feelings about whether the money is used efficiently and, for instance, not used to pay people who don’t show up for work.

But in this case, the voters declined the tax increase, only to find that after a rather convoluted method of counting, the City government declared the tax increase had won. And guess what, the City government was almost unanimously in favor of the increase.

This just isn’t democracy: the vast majority of PEOPLE in Oakland voted against it, yet it passed. Wouldn’t you be angry? The issue isn’t the tax, it’s the counting of the votes. It makes me feel like the only reason we had a vote at all was to give people the illusion that they had some control over this issue.

I think people would be more comfortable with tax increases if there were very specific requirements for how the money would be used. As it is, taxes are increased on Project A, and money that was coming from the general fund to Project A gets diverted to some other project and replaced by the tax increase. I’m simplifying here, but the point is made, and it makes people furious.

Anyway, thanks for writing, Nancy!

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