Marin IJ

Monday Readers' Forum
Staff Report
Marin Independent Journal
Article Launched:08/12/2007 11:04:16 PM PDT
These letters were first published in the Aug. 8 print edition of the IJ.

IJ is 'flip-flopping'

The IJ is flip-flopping in its editorial position on the flood fee election.

The July 25 editorial ends with the statement that "the integrity of our elections is paramount." After Supervisor Hal Brown met with the Editorial Board on July 30, the August 1 editorial was entitled, "Ross Valley flood vote should stand."

No vote should stand if voters are denied their right to a secret ballot. Our county officials allowed the election to be conducted by the Department of Public Works, which had a stake in the outcome. A flawed ballot design resulted in the 21 percent ballot disqualification rate, yet county officials blamed the voters for "not following the rules."

What's worse, hundreds of parcel owners were disenfranchised when the county failed to include them in the list of 15,010 parcel owners in Flood District 9. They never received a ballot and thus will be taxed without having the opportunity to vote. This omission alone should make the election null and void.

San Anselmo sleuth and activist Louise Matthews, who worked tirelessly to put together the list of disenfranchised voters, made many attempts to alert county officials and the press to this problem but she was ignored and vilified. Taxpayers owe Louise a ton of gratitude.

Our county officials are asking for $40 million over the next 20 years before the engineers have a plan. There still isn't an enviromental impact report. Who knows where the money is going. We certainly don't want the county to start running "fee" elections every time they need some money.

Basia Crane, Kentfield

Election should be repeated

I read with much pleasure that Supervisor Hal Brown worries that the June mail-in "election" to control flooding in the Ross Valley may be deemed invalid and should be repeated.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

However, this time let's do it correctly. Do not call a tax a fee merely to circumvent Proposition 13, which mandates a two-third majority vote. This $40 million fee would not be deductible for property owners and will continue for 20 years at an increase of 3 percent a year. Do the math based on your fee.

As far as the accuracy of the mail-out, mail-in ballots, like many others, I had to take the time to look up my supervisor's number, then his secretary's number and my parcel number in order to call and request a ballot. I wonder how many elderly people had to go through this process to receive a ballot, and if they bothered at all?

I suggest we decide this at a regular election run by the Marin Registrar of Voters, certainly not the Department of Public Works.

Let's hear it for Ford Greene. He brought the inequities of this election to the attention of the public.

As for me: I will look very closely as to where my vote is cast in the next Marin election for supervisor.

Helen Austin, Fairfax

Stop whining

Frequently, when traveling, I am asked what part of California I'm from. Marin, just north of San Francisco. Oh, isn't that near the Wine Country? Why, yes. As a matter of fact, we are the largest producers of Whine in the state. We also have a unique radio station in Marin - WIIFM (What's In It For Me).

I thank the IJ for printing the flood ballot in question (Aug. 4). I now know that my ballot was counted as I did read and comply with the instructions. Whether ignorance or stupidity stem from the same tree, I know not, but they appear to overlap. If anyone did not receive a ballot through the mail, has it been three, six or nine years since they voted? If more than 50 percent of Marin voters use absentee ballots, why were so many ballots not counted? If living in Sleepy Hollow, or on a hill as I do, makes one exempt, then why wasn't I exempted from school taxes as my children never attended public schools?

If one thinks that the $125 annual fee is too much, well guess what, you paid more than that in the cleanup that followed the latest flood. It was tax money that funded that cleanup, whether it was local, state or federal money.

Both citizenship and a functioning democracy take effort. Reading and thinking take work. Call your supervisor and let them know how you think (499-7331). Ignore those whose egos are so small that they have to huff and puff and blow on any issue, just to keep themselves afloat until the next flood.

Brian Cahill, Greenbrae

Ballot seemed simple enough

Although I was not eligible to participate in the flood fee vote, I've followed the proceedings.

I would d like to thank the IJ for publishing a copy of the ballot (Aug. 4) that caused so much confusion. I must say, It looked pretty straight forward to me. Let's see, four simple instructions.

1. Read É duh.

2. Check "yes" or "no." Seems simple enough.

3. Sign your name. Another easy one.

4. Return. Again, duh.

None of that confused me. What does, however, is why a community of well-educated and sophisticated people doesn't feel an obligation to help each other. I wonder what the "No" voter will think when they are having a heart attack while watching their house burn down and, gee whiz, the fire department and paramedics are under water.

Wayne Woods, Forest Knolls

Too many questions

I shall not repeat the many flaws of the flood control vote.

However, you know something is vitally wrong when my property in San Quentin Village right on the beach is assessed. The runoff from this property goes directly into the bay - not Corte Madera Creek.

What is even more critical is we don't know what, where and when the work is going to be done.

If these matters are to be decided in the same unilateral way, we have bigger problems ahead than anyone can possibly imagine today.

Jorgen Lunding, San Rafael

Let honesty prevail

In regard to the "flood tax results," I think a revote is essential to uphold our democratic process. We, of Marin County, do not want to fall to the tragic level of Dade County, Fla.

Let honesty and clear instructions prevail.

Estelle Boyer, Greenbrae

Signing ballot no big deal

The flood vote outcry seems misplaced and disingenuous to me.

For starters, when did signing your ballot become a "technicality"? In our society nothing is valid until signed - not your credit card, drivers license, or your ballot, whether you vote at the booth or absentee. It's the law of the land, all over the land. I forgot to sign my ballot, so I guess my vote didn't count. Shame on me, not on the county.

Secondly, it is sad to see the same sorry cast of characters leading the fight to stop the county's flood abatement efforts. We have seen these misanthropes in action for far too long. It is hard to fathom how these people can be against everything, but never for anything. Other than their "15 minutes of fame," what do these people stand for?

Finally, and most importantly, improving the safety and well-being of its citizens is the primary job of government and something our community should support.

Clearly, we live in a horribly selfish age when you see quotes like "I live on the hill, why should I support flood control."

I have always thought that our community had some decency and gumption. It's not looking that way now.

Brock Greene, San Anselmo

Who cares what the IJ thinks?

The Ross Valley special election debacle has certainly brought up some interesting issues, the foremost being that perhaps there should be no "special" elections to begin with.

Another issue worth considering seems to be whether a fee (tax) should be paid by those directly affected or shared by an entire town or an entire county. There are certainly good arguments for each point of view. I, for instance, live in Lucas Valley but enjoy the quaint shops and restaurants in San Anselmo. Maybe I should pitch in to help them stay above water. They, in turn, could help us out if we have another mudslide. Seems reasonable.

And last, but definitely not least, does the IJ, or any newspaper, really need to deliver their opinions as if they have some superior knowledge or insight? This applies not only to issues but to elective offices. Who really cares how a newspaper's Editorial Board would vote? Sorry, not me.

Jody Morales, San Rafael
Hub Law Offices 711 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo, California 94960-1949 415-258-0360 ford@fordgreene.com