The Fresno City Council voted September 29 to spend $600,000 on “voter education” materials for two November ballot measures, including a sales tax increase measure.
“The city will pay a consultant $450,000 to produce voter education materials for Measure M, a Fresno city proposed sales tax that would raise money for veterans’ facilities and services,” The Fresno Bee reported. “Measure M is proposed as a 0.125 percent sales tax, or one-eighth of a percent, on sales of taxable goods and services in the city. The city also will pay an advertising firm $150,000 to produce materials for Measure C, a countywide proposed $7 billion, 30-year transportation spending plan renewal.”
Members of the No on Measure C Committee opposed the move, arguing that it is unlikely the “education materials” will be impartial, and that the spending will amount to an illegal use of tax dollars to campaign for the ballot measures.
“The council’s ultimate approval hinged on the condition that all materials must be reviewed by the city attorney’s office before they are distributed,” The Bee reported.
“Regardless of how these funds are labeled, this close to an election, there is a clear conflict of interest in spending public funds on advancing ballot measures,” the No on Measure C Committee wrote in a statement after the vote. “The Fresno City Council’s actions confirm that we cannot trust politicians with the public’s money. Why would we trust them with $7 billion more?” (Source: The Fresno Bee, September 29.)