I’ve had many calls and emails from the Yes for Measure G camp asking me to weigh in and stop allowing the No folks to use my March 2014 letter to council to give support to their efforts (without contacting me and asking for my current thoughts).
I have given this some very serious consideration as I care deeply about the quality of life and financial health of our great city. I know weighing in will not make a lot of folks happy that are friends of mine, but I have never let my personal loss keep me from doing what I think is the right thing. You might say that philosophy is what got me into this mess in the first place, generating my now infamous letter to the council, as I know my original letter made no friends in City Hall and elsewhere.
That said, I went back and re-read my letter to the council and, to be honest, what I wrote is still true today: City staff (you can say at the direction of the council or at least approval by the council) did not accomplish the goals of Measure Y as put forth to the voters, and that, quite frankly, is why Measure G opponents are able to mount such an argument. You can say it was the unexpected interruption of the Great Recession or whatever you choose, but the fact remains we have very little tangible evidence to show for the past measure, not to mention little planning for the loss of this revenue stream until most recently, even though revenues have been growing strong these years coming out of the recession.
I did soften my position against a new measure on the ballot, based on the recommendations put forth by the Chamber, which appear will be adopted by the council for Measure G. With these changes and new promises, I did feel it should go to the voters.
So where do I stand today? Well, I believe that, due to poor long-term planning, not continuing this revenue stream will have some financial consequences (maybe not the sky is falling, as some would suggest, but consequences for sure ) even with the revenue growth we’ve seen. For this reason, I will be personally voting to approve this measure, as I love the quality of life we enjoy, and if more of the Measure G funds go to CIP as once again promised, that would be great.
That said, I completely understand the general public’s hesitancy to trust that we can do better the second time around—however, being pragmatic, government is not known for its efficiencies, forward planning, or addressing hard questions unless forced to (don’t even get me started on pension reform), so it’s not perfect. No, my vote for Measure G is more of a hope we have learned something and a belief the staff who work down at City Hall are good people doing their best, within a less-than-perfect political environment. This, and an optimistic belief we will see some spending changes and more oversight going forward. Will it be perfect? Likely no—but then, what in life is?
-- John Fowler - San Luis Obispo