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Contra Costa Taxpayers Association

Issue Updates & Perspectives

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  • 10 Jan 2020 5:26 PM | Anonymous

    Submitted by Mark Fernwood:

    Few know that a slum may be coming to a neighborhood near you! Unelected bureaucrats in Plan Bay Area, ABAG and MTC and now the CASA Compact, will force thousands of high-density housing projects into our communities.  A portion of which will be for low to very low incomes. This will totally change the character and livability of our communities. 

    The function of local zoning laws is to protect the character and commonality of our communities. Local zoning allows the residents to determine their future.  Maintaining local character protects the value of our homes.  With CASA, we now have Soviet style central planning imposed on us.

    Lie # 1. Amid cries of “housing crisis” we are told that there is an acute housing shortage.  A quick fact check can be had by searching apartment locating web sites such as Hotpads.com, Apartmentfinder.com and others.  Each will show thousands of vacant Bay Area units.  A “crisis” of shortages should show only long waiting lists, not thousands of vacant, waiting Bay Area apartments.

    Lie # 2. We are also told that housing is too expensive.  CASA asserts that building still more units will lower costs.  According to the Building Industry Association, the average cost to build a new Bay Area unit is $500,000.  With this hard cost burden, new units cannot lower costs.

    Lie # 3. CASA’s further assertion is that if populations are tightly packed, near transit hubs, residents will not need cars.  In fact, no parking will be provided in many complexes. The reality is that many will own cars and will have visitors.  This will further burden limited public parking. The stated goal is to reduce the amount of CO2 from driving to prevent “Global Warming.”  How will imposing high density on outlying communities, where there are few jobs or mass transit possibly help this?  

    Lie # 4.  We are also told adding more housing will help solve the “homeless” epidemic.  The “homeless” have no money for any rent. They can live for free in “shelters” but rarely choose to do so as “shelters” don’t allow drinking or drugs.

    Lie # 5. We are led to believe the “housing crisis” is unique to California and the Bay Area. This is actually just part of an international effort to compress populations.  Google “housing crisis, Berlin” or another major, Western city.

    It should be of great concern how these agencies can dictate such destructive changes in our lives. Decisions imposed by the unelected regional governments, insures no means of redress.   Our communities will be wrecked for “reasons” that are lies. Consider: what will they do to us next?

    What you can do is to become involved.  Call and write to your community and state leaders. Donate to CoCoTax to help with the production of educational videos.

    CoCoTax is a nonpartisan organization whose motto is “Good government at an affordable price.” To find out more about us go to: CoCoTax.org.

  • 07 Oct 2019 1:16 PM | Anonymous

    From the California Policy Center:

    Californians are now paying over $4.00/gallon at the pump. According to GasBuddy, refining issues led gas prices to jump about 25 cents per gallon. However, rest assured, you’re still paying only an average of 79 cents per gallon in taxes when you fill up your vehicle. If this number makes you want to scream, I have more bad news for you - Americans spent more on taxes last year than on food, clothing and health care combined. Click here to read a full analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

    A new report on the financial condition of the United States ranks California 43rd in the nation for its fiscal health. With the economy cooling off, and talks of a recession in the news, you may be wondering what that means for your wallet. Well, consider not only your own income and spending, but that of your local government. As we have noted in the past, California’s total state and local government debt is over $1.5 trillion. This week CPC fellow Edward Ring makes the case for pension reform by pointing out the unsustainability of current government spending in times of economic downturn. Click here to read his analysis

    One of the reasons many municipalities are on the brink of fiscal insolvency is because government unions are able to spend money and elected local officials, who in turn increase their pay and benefits. One such union is the teachers union in California, which frequently asserts that teachers need higher pay because of a “pay gap.” Yet, as CPC contributor Larry Sand points this is a myth. Click here to read more.

    Many Californians are rightfully concerned about stewarding the environment. Yet, a topic that frequently is not discussed by people is water. Although the Left and Right may argue about social issues and economic issues, the water issue should be one where both sides find common ground. This week CPC contributor Darin DuPont makes the case for why Californians must not remain complacent about this important issue. Click here to read the full article

  • 13 May 2019 11:24 AM | Anonymous

    The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors has established many boards, committees, and commissions to which it appoints Contra Costa residents to serve, on a volunteer basis, to advise the Board on the myriad of programs and issues under the Board's jurisdiction. Contra Costa residents are encouraged to participate in their County government, and to put their expert knowledge and experience to work in their communities by applying to serve on a Board advisory body.  

    Supervisors appoint individuals to various boards within their district.  Currently there are vacancies for District IV representatives on the following boards: 

    1. Mental Health Commission - Consumer Seat

    2. Library Commission - Alternate District IV Seat

    3. Economic Opportunity Council - District IV Public Sector Seat

    In addition to the District IV vacancies, there are several seats on commissions that are at-large vacancies and open to Contra Costa County Residents. You can search the commissions and vacancies and apply here

    For more information, you may also contact Supervisor Karen Mitchoff's office at (925) 521-7100.


    Economic Opportunity Council 


    The Economic Opportunity Council (EOC) is an advisory board to the Board of Supervisors and the Community Services Bureau of the Employment & Human Services Department (EHSD) for Contra Costa County for administration of the Community Services Block Grant. 

    The Clerk of the Board is currently accepting applications for the Economic Opportunity Council - District IV Public Sector. The deadline to apply is May 24th. To apply or for more information, click here

  • 07 Mar 2019 3:01 PM | Anonymous

    The state Supreme Court ruled that certain “spiking” contract measures for public workers can be stopped, but side-stepped the more critical issue of the mythical “ California Rule.”

    CoCoTax will continue its campaign to educate the public on the disastrous unfunded public pension and OPEB obligations, which not only threaten basic municipal and school services, but future pension security as well.


  • 04 Mar 2019 10:35 AM | Anonymous

    Charles Ramsay, key architect of the corrupt West Contra Costa USD’s $1.6 billion school bond program, has been fined $18,000 by the FPPC for violations of reporting rules.

    The forensic audit of a relatively small portion of the program revealed high likelihood of serious waste, fraud and abuse in the program.

    CoCoTax strongly supported the forensic audit, which confirmed the allegations of whistle blower Dennis Clay, who was forced out of the district following his courageous disclosure of a variety of violations of district policy. Unfortunately, the new board of trustees have decided, apparently on the advice of the same counsel who failed to properly oversee the very same contracts that were so poorly mismanaged by the district, to take only token remedial action. They have not followed the forensic auditor’s recommendation to seek recovery of misspent funds, and to seek criminal investigation. 

    This fine is a slap on the wrist, and reflects only the tip of this massive iceberg of corruption.

    Bottom line: all $1.6 billion has been spent, yet half of the district’s schools remain untouched.


  • 31 Jan 2019 10:58 AM | Anonymous

    Driving Californians Crazy:

    Incompetence and Poor Customer Service Plague the
    California Department of Motor Vehicles


    Although the DMV has long been characterized as the embodiment of government ineptitude, a series of recent events have taken the department's incompetency to a new level. Long lines have stretched out through its branch doors, wrapped around buildings, and down sidewalks, reflecting the dramatic increase in wait times suffered by California residents during the past year.

    At the same time, news stories about DMV workers literally sleeping on the job and committing crimes highlight a shocking lack of oversight and accountability. And severe mishandling of voter registrations, disability placards, and IDs underscores a failure of the DMV to perform its assigned tasks. 

    The DMV is in shambles, and its "solution" is to receive more taxpayer money. For these reasons, the California Department of Motor Vehicles—the quintessential poster child for bureaucratic incompetence—has won the Independent Institute's seventh California Golden Fleece® Award, a distinction given quarterly to California state or local agencies or government projects that swindle taxpayers or break the public trust. 

    For complete article click here:  http://www.cocotax.org/resources/Documents/2019_01_26_cagf_winter_2019.pdf

  • 04 Dec 2018 9:58 AM | Anonymous

    The CoCoTax mission is to promote “good government at affordable cost.”

    Encouraging illegal immigration, and subsidizing them with taxpayer dollars is anything but. And now, our outgoing governor commits $30 million to legal assistance for illegals, while many citizens face unmet housing and health care needs - upside down government!


  • 04 Nov 2018 7:46 PM | Anonymous

    CoCoTax members currently serve on seven Prop 39 citizens bond oversight committees (CBOC's) in Contra Costa county, including local K-12 school districts and the community college district.  Most districts appear to follow the constraints of Prop 39 and manage bond funds effectively, but there continue to be problems in the West Contra Costa USD with its massive $1.6 billion program, and in other districts with their use of long-term bond funds to catch up on deferred maintenance.


  • 04 Nov 2018 7:43 PM | Anonymous

    Our CoCoTax board member Hal Bray nails the ongoing problem with the board and management of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District - refusing to acknowledge the need to revamp its service model, and to seriously address its fiscal issues.  As they have many times in the past, district leadership is apparently gearing up once again for some sort of new tax measure.  We have repeatedly and successfully defeated such measures, as it is patently unfair to ask district residents to shoulder additional taxes.  


  • 31 Oct 2018 10:12 AM | Anonymous

    Hal Bray is a board member of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, and chairman of our East County chapter.  Hal is also co-founder of ECV.org, the grass roots organization that has worked for several years to bring attention to the fiscal plight of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District; CoCoTax has partnered with ECV on that and other area issues.

    Don’t Californicate Arizona

    Danger looms on your border, Arizona.  Not the known danger to your south, but the insidious danger looming on your western border.  A people that has transformed their “Golden State” into a dirty, congested third world state with high taxes, high crime, the highest poverty rate in America and the highest cost of living in the country wants to replace your values and culture and import its “standard of living”.  Fight back Arizona.  Stay “Red”.

    My wife and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.  But like 46% of Bay area residents in a recent Bay Area Council poll, we are considering leaving California.   Arizona looks like our destination, although many friends have already moved to Texas, Nevada, Idaho, and Tennessee.

    Why?  Simple.  California's Progressive culture and government has turned the state into a filthy, debt ridden, congested third world country with high taxes, high crime, the highest housing costs in the country, and lousy government (for example, my Fire Department "declines" 911 calls 10-20 hours per month.)

    Our little piece of bliss is a third world country, made up of a large wealthy population (Hollywood and Silicon Valley tech giants), an enormous poor population, and a declining middle class that elected officials only view as a large, distributed human ATM machine they withdraw money from for "sanctuary cities” (actually sanctuary everything, cities, universities, the State, etc.), social justice programs, suing the Trump administration, and “free” everything for everyone (The Federal government has informed California this year, for example, that as it [California] tries to implement free health care for everyone, it illegally enrolled 400,000 people on Medicaid at a cost of $1 billion+ per year).

    According to the Census Bureau, California has the highest poverty rate in the country at 19%. And, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, California has 12% of the country’s population and 43% of its TANF (welfare).  California spends $103 billion per year on welfare, more than the next two states combined (New York at $61.4 billion, Texas at $35.4 billion).

    California has the one of the highest GINI, or inequality, ratio in the country.  A GINI ratio measures the difference between the richest residents and its poorest residents. According to Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy, the state’s inequality is worse than Mexico and equal to Guatemala and Honduras (ironically, where many of our new voters appear to be coming from).

    San Francisco, proud to be what it thinks of itself as America's most Progressive city, is a good surrogate for the state as a whole.  The city has:

    - hundreds of complaints weekly (more than 1600 in one recent week) about human feces (or “shit” to our progressive friends) on the street, in parks, and in other public places; residents in the city, therefore, implemented a "POOP" or “Human Waste” Map, that tells visitors and residents which neighborhoods to avoid because of the overwhelming amount of human waste on the streets and other public places.

    - Not to be outdone by feces, urine has made a strong effort to be the number one smell in the city. So much so the city developed a paint that rejects urine to stop the decay of outer walls on buildings from an abundance of, well, urine.

    - As if feces and urine everywhere were not bad enough, the city government is, in effect, turning the city into one large outdoor illegal drug market.  The city distributes more than 4.5 million hypodermic syringes and needles yearly to its growing horde of drug addicts; so many drug addicts clog the city’s commuter train (BART) stations, for example, BART has had to supplement its own police with SFPD assistance so commuters could walk into and through BART train stations without walking over addicts shooting up or passed out or their vomit in the stations.

    - has implemented a Hazmat crew with a $13 million budget to clean up the used hypodermic needles (estimated 40% of the needles it gives out) in the city's parks, on the streets and in transportation systems (buses and commuter trains) vehicles.

    - But filth is not the city's only issue.  the FBI recently ranked San Francisco the city with the highest crime rate in the Country.  For example, in 2017 the city's residents were burdened with 32,000 car burglaries (residents put signs in their car windows begging people not to break their windows or steal anything from their cars).

    -The city has produced a registration and voting guide for illegal immigrants and encourages non-citizens to vote in local school elections.

    If we look out past the city limits of San Francisco we see filth and dysfunction as far as the eye can see and the mind can comprehend.  In 2018 CalTrans, the State Transportation Agency, budgeted an extra $170 million to clean up garbage/human waste from alongside freeways and under bridges; its union employees are protesting that its members did not “sign up” to clean this level of filth and are demanding pay increases and better protective clothing.

    And BART, in addition to its drug addict problem, has recently added extra police due to multiple killings over the past year (three in July, for example) and numerous muggings and other crimes in its system.  It has also instituted a crew of "enforcement officers" to try to recoup the $25 million it says it is losing annually in lost fares from "fare evaders".  It appears Progressive populations are not only dirty, but they don't pay for anything.

     The city of San Diego, adjacent to the Mexican border, is itself recovering from a Hepatitis A outbreak from human waste by washing its downtown streets nightly with bleach.

    For the sake of space, I will just mention a few other items;

    Our (my wife and I) monthly gas and electricity bill five years ago was less than $100 per month, except for 2 or 3 months per year; today it is 50% higher than 5 years ago and more than $200 three months per year.  This tracks with U.S. Energy Information Administration, whose studies found that our residential electricity rate is 41% higher than the average for the other states; our commercial rates are 48% higher than the national average and our industrial rates are 85% higher.  And we wonder why businesses are leaving California!

    The State has the country's highest income tax (and the highest Capital Gains tax in the WORLD), sales tax, gasoline tax, unemployment tax, and workers compensation tax.  And, lucky us, we have the only Cap and Trade tax in the country, a secret “tax” administered by a State of California Corporation formed in Delaware.

    Under the heading of criminal justice reform, the State has recently reduced many crimes in the State from felonies to misdemeanor status and released thousands of inmates from prison early.  This August Governor Moonbeam signed Bail reform into law outlawing money bail.  Combined, these new laws have added to both the crime problem and the homelessness problem.

    Speaking of homelessness, since government began focusing on solving the problem, the state's homeless population has doubled; it is like a homeless manufacturing and marketing plan.  Five years ago, L.A.’s homeless population was 32,000; last year's count was 57,000.  Cities, Counties and the State are spending billions of dollars on "fixing" the problem, only to see it grow.  To ensure that homelessness never goes away, a combined Los Angeles City and County homelessness task force is now hiring 1,000 new homeless outreach workers and building millions of dollars in housing units for the homeless.

    Conservative Orange County (between Los Angeles and San Diego) recently cleaned up a three mile long homeless encampment on walking trails adjacent to the Santa Ana River.  Crews removed more than 700 tents and 14,000 hypodermic needles.  But the County did not “solve” the homeless problem; the County provided each “camper” with short term vouchers for motels in the county.

    The average price of a home in California is 2.5 times higher than the price of homes in other states (Average price of a home in San Francisco and many surrounding suburbs is more than $1million).  This means owning a house is difficult, at best and the median homeowner property tax bill is 93% higher than the average for the other 49 states.

    • -          My property tax bill has the bill for my property taxes AND sixteen other taxes by local government agencies.  In addition, my city charges developers up to $90,000 per building/home they build. 
    • -          In the last election, 70 California cities raised their sales tax rates (primarily to pay for escalating pension costs for our failing pension systems). 
    • -          Cities are now developing tax ordinances for VACANT properties.  

    California’s business tax is third worst in the nation (the small business tax is second worst) and the Tort Reform Network ranks California as the second worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the Country.  CEO magazine has ranked California the worst state in the Country to do business in for the 14th straight year.

    California’s public schools are among the worst in the country.  National tests place California students 44th (reading) and 46th (math) in the nation.  California had a high school exit exam between 2006 and 2016.  Calibrated at the 8th grade level, students were required to pass the test (and given multiple chances) to graduate.  Few passed that the test and it was killed in 2016.

                -Fifty three percent of students entering the California State University system were so low academically they were required to take remedial English and math courses.  Citing low graduation rates for these students, the CSU is canceling remedial classes (Progressive logic).

                - California provides $2 billion in “CalGrants” to high school seniors going on to college.  It does not, and will not, release college graduation rates for students funded through the program. 

                - Tuition has skyrocketed for California’s public colleges, but quietly more than half of all students pay nothing.  Thanks to California’s middle-class taxes, fifty-five percent of UC students pay no tuition or fees, as do 300,000 CSU students and 300,000 Community College students. Not satisfied with this, our Democratic candidate for Governor (who will win in this one-party state) is proposing free tuition for all (and apparently, our progressive population actually thinks this means college will be free). 

    - Again, college graduation rates are abysmal so the State, saying it takes too long for students to graduate, is considering three year, rather than four-year, Bachelor degree programs.

    While private sector workers in the State (and Country) who retire this year with at least 30 years of full-time work will receive, on average, a Social Security pension of $15,800 ($38,000 maximum), State and most city workers in the CalPERS pension system will receive a pension of $70,000 (police and fire more than $100,000 at age 50).  Teachers in the State make, on average, $81,000 per year and retire at 60 with an average pension of $55,000 per year.  Yet both pension systems (CalPERS and CalSTRS) are only 2/3 funded with unfunded liabilities of close to $1 trillion.  Employer contributions (read taxpayer contributions) that are already unsustainably high are doubling over the next five years to try to keep the systems from bankruptcy.

    TRIP, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit, reported this month that California is home to six of the 20 U.S. cities of 200,000 or more people with the highest percentage of their streets and roads whose pavement condition is rated in poor condition:  No. 1 San Francisco; No. 2 San Jose; No. 3 Los Angeles; No. 12 Sacramento; No. 13 Riverside; No. 16 Fresno.

    According to the Federal government, California’s Cost of living is 41% higher than the national average.

    Kiplinger has ranked California the 3rd worst state, behind New York and New Jersey, to retire in.  They clearly missed something because from where I live, we’re number one and as a result we are all moving.

    Do Californians see relief in the future from the dysfunction and ignorance that has/is causing its filth, homelessness, and high cost of living?

                Just the opposite.  The State is a one-party State, Democratic, and its candidates hold all Statewide offices.  This year the party’s candidates are running on a platform of Single Payer Health care, at an estimated cost of $400 billion or more (doubling most, if not all taxes in the state), “free” college for everyone, and open borders.  There are 541 million people in Mexico, Central America, and South America; how many of this population do you think California can hold?  Is Arizona the “overflow” state?

    Not to be all negative, the State and many cities in California have one BIG accomplishment for 2018:  they have banned plastic straws.  Yes, plastic straws.  I guess they wanted to make sure there is enough plastic for the free hypodermic syringes they are giving out. And, oh, another big accomplishment, by golly, was banning all drinks for children meals in restaurants except water and milk.  This may sound stupid, but we have all seen progressive parenting. 

    Yep, it was a really big year in California.

    The lesson.  Liberal/Progressive culture and the government it creates does not work.  As a result, people are leaving in droves.  Need a U-Haul trailer to move your stuff?  Sorry, there is a long waiting list.  Want a mover to take your stuff to your new home in a new state?  Sorry many movers will no longer bid on out of state moves; it is too time consuming to get their trucks back.

    Maybe “Progressive” works when the progressive population is small and can be mostly ignored and/or tolerated by the population that pays the tab for it.  But when its population becomes something closer in size to the mainstream population it is painful to live with and financially unsustainable.   

    My advice to Arizonians:  get ready for the onslaught.  Accept those coming to Arizona to flee the devastation of California and join your culture, your values.  Be wary, however, of those coming to bring their devastation to Arizona.  My request, as we plan our move to Arizona, is please don’t duplicate California’s failures; don’t “Californicate” Arizona.

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