Posted by R.Tomson, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:45 am
R.Tomson is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I have read the actual text of Prop. A1. It will not receive my vote.
While I believe that the general stated intent, on the surface, sounds worthy (providing proper care and maintenance for the animals in the zoo), the actual written proposition is nothing more that an attempt to legalize a taxing of the people by a private company. This is wrong and I will not support it.
It is however not surprising, that special interest supported politicians and other civic leaders would attempt such a blatant money grab from the citizens. The groundwork has been laid in the courts and our own federal government set the precedence.
Our highest court has made two rulings to lay this foundation.
Ruling 1: Corporations are allowed to use their resources to persuade and change our government, with the same rights and constitutional protections, as granted to every citizen of the United States. Said another way, Corporations are the same as Citizens.
Ruling 2: Individual citizens can be compelled by the government to contribute to the economic welfare of the United States, either by direct taxation or through commercial enterprise. Said another way, you can be forced to spend your money, with a corporation, or face a tax punishment from the government if you fail to do so.
Given these rulings, why wouldn't Oakland's private Zoo Management Corporation, pressure city and county officials (officials that they can either choose to support or not to support in any election bid) into placing on the ballot a new Private Tax, to be given to a Private Corporation. Prior to the high court rulings this would have been unthinkable. Corporations would never have been allowed to attempt to Tax the people directly, to keep the money for themselves, and to be the sole authority over the tax. Our courts have not helped us. We see here the resulting attempt to establish authority Of the Corporation, By the Corporation, For the Corporation. I for one reject such a notion and shall campaign against it. I would encourage you to do the same.
There is a great difference in taxing the people, and subsequently using those taxes to promote industry in our country. We as a people agree to use this as a method for improvement in the country, for all of our benefit. And we the people can effect how this is done, through our elected officials. This is not the same as establishing a Corporation as a sole taxing authority that has no responsibility to the people. One that can not be removed directly by the people.
Take a moment an actually read the proposition. Go through the Pro and Con statements. They can be a nice summary, albeit extremely slanted towards the viewpoint that the author wants your to take. But read the actual text and the truth will become clear.
Here are the primary results of this proposition that I object to:
1. The Oakland Zoo, while it may be an attraction in the general area, remains the City of Oakland's Zoo. As such it is the City of Oakland's responsibility to finance and maintain their property. If I attend the Zoo, I am charged a fee. I have no objection to paying an entrance fee. It seems right and a good way to support the Zoo, when I choose. I object to being forced to pay a Tax, for a Zoo in a city in which I do not live. I see no difference here than if the City of San Francisco wanted a parcel tax from the citizens of the surrounding counties in the Bay Area because itís a popular destination attraction. I say No.
2. We the citizens will be forced to pay a tax to a private corporation. Not to a government, but to a private corporation. While the county Tax Assessor will collect the tax, the money (minus county expenses) will be turned over to the corporation for their exclusive use. I pay tax and tribute to my government, for the mutual benefit of my family and others in our society. However, I will be the only person to decide which corporation I want to do business with, or not.
3. While the proposition provides a specific statement as to the general uses that this tax will support, the law would not obligate the Private Corporation to actually use the money for those actual purposes. It is natural that people want to assume that any monies will be used for the good things that they themselves would want. The proposition text speaks to that ideal, but does not obligate spending to any one ideal at all. They could simply pay most of it to Salaries and Benefits for themselves, while spending a reduced amount on the listed ideals, without violating the law. I object and will not support establishing such an entity.
4. The proposition would allow exemptions from paying the tax, by certain people (e.g. elderly) or under specific conditions (e.g. undeveloped or unoccupied property). However, as an individual you would have to apply directly to the Private Corporation for their approval to exempt the tax. You as an individual would have to make the application to the Private Corporation every year. If there is any dispute over this issue, you can only appeal to the Private Corporation for their consideration. The county government will not help you. The Tax Assessor will not be able to help you. The Private Corporation is the entity authorized to decide the matter, either in your favor, or their favor. It's up to them.
5. With this Private Tax Proposition, there is no elected official, who is responsible to the people for this tax. There will be no one person who can be removed from office if they fail to enact the will of the people. There will be no one person responsible to the people nor have authority over the accounting of the expenditure of this tax. This is not government.
This is important. I encourage you to take the time to consider what will be established by this proposition. Consider the groundbreaking authority and precedence that will be turned over to a private corporation.
And if this proposition is successful, consider that this will only be the start of a flood of similar propositions. All for good reasons of course, but all with the same financial aim. Steady funding, to pay for and support the activities of a Private Corporation, be it for profit, not for profit, charity, legitimate or not so much. This could overwhelm us and completely change our ideal of self government.