Soon you will be receiving your Sample Ballots, Vote by Mail Envelopes and seeing Yard Signs around the city. Don't forget the many campaign flyers and postcards asking you to vote one way or another. Yes, it is election time.
In West Covina, we are being asked to vote on a sales tax increase on ourselves. What this means is we will be paying more for everything we buy in the City of West Covina. Can you afford more taxes and less money to pay your own bills? Many people are asking that same question.
The facts are as follows. This proposed sales tax increase is estimated to bring in $9,000,000 more revenue for the city. Many believe that is the main reason to vote for it. But when you learn that nearly all of the money being proposed has already been allocated to the paychecks of the Police and Fire Unions, people are not so eager. The City Council of West Covina approved a 25% pay increase if this tax measure passes. That is no surprise since the Police and Fire Unions paid about $170,000+ to collect enough signatures to get this on the ballot. So the City Council decided to reward them with enormous pay increases for their work getting this on the ballot. All at the expense of the residents. Basically the residents are going to have less money to spend just so our Police and Fire Unions can have more, seems like a reverse Robin Hood to me. Do you want to struggle more so the top 1% can have more?
Did you know that our Police Union President is the highest paid Police Officer in 2018? He made more than $200,000 for his time. Do you make that much, it's likely you do not as the average income in West Covina is about $65,000-$70,000 per household. Our struggling residents will be forced to pay more so those in the top 1% income earners can buy more boats, ATV's, Motor homes, Jet Skies, vacation homes, or go on lavish vacations around the world. If you are ever curious what they own, just go by a fire station before the summer and see them washing their personal vacation toys while on duty and being paid by our tax dollars. Keep in mind that when the City of West Covina was promoting water saving techniques, the Fire Union filed a lawsuit against the City of West Covina indicating that they should not have to be water wise and must be allowed to wash their personal vehicles, motor homes, boats, trailers, and dune buggies at the station houses and at the tax payers expense. If you want to read more, Click Here, for the official report from the Public Employment Relations Board ("PERB") that is residing on the City of West Covina website. The part we are referring to is on page 25.
When it comes to elections the Police and Fire Unions "endorse" and support council candidates. But did you also know that they provide much of the mailers you receive in support or opposition of their preferred candidate? In November 2018, they spent approximately $17,000 to help get Dario Castellanos elected in the District 4 council seat. Keep in mind that Dario told everyone he was "self-funded" through the whole election. The Fire Union also spent $7,000 on mailers to oppose the incumbent James Toma. You can view a chart prepared by the West Covina Neighbors Stopping The Tax Grab for more information. They even spent thousands to get the Treasurer elected. Why? Because they hope she will run for City Council eventually. Her district election is due up in November 2020. Expect her to announce that she is running for that office and the Unions to pay handsomely to get her elected.
There are a lot of things that are wrong with this tax measure. The biggest reason to VOTE NO is that this measure is so poorly written and we have time to write a proper one and put it on another ballot, if that is so important for the City of West Covina. However, we really do not know if the city needs this. The City Council has not uttered one word on this tax measure or the need for one during any council meeting. In fact, the Mayor of West Covina, Tony Wu, repeatedly says we do not need a sales tax increase (Visit our Videos section). So, why are the unions pushing this measure? To get higher salaries! They did not even wait until the March 3, 2020 ballot to have the City Council vote to give them their pay increase. That was approved at the October 15, 2019 City Council Meeting, feel free to look it up on YouTube. Many residents feel that is political blackmail and are voting "no" just to prove a point. We don't care the reason you vote no on this measure, we just hope you VOTE NO. Let's vote no to keep West Covina fiscally sound and not allow our police and fire unions the ability to control more elections. Let's send a clear message.
The City of West Covina has placed all of the ballot information available on their website. We have linked to it here.
You will find a bunch of important information you should review. We have listed a few important ones here.
1) Ballot Arguments in Opposition
2) Ballot Argument in Favor
3) Rebuttal Ballot Arguments (Both Sides)
4) Resolutions of City Council
5) County Letter Confirming Signatures
January 9, 2020 - Orange County Register Article (Click Here)
It appears the Police Union of Santa Ana has funded a campaign to recall City Councilmember Cecilia Iglesias. The Police Union also funded the recall of City Councilmember Juan Villegas, but that campaign seems to have stalled. How much money have the Santa Ana Police Union paid to recall these councilmembers? They have already spent $220,000 on the recall efforts of Iglesias and have spent another $100,000 in an effort to recall Villegas.
In the article they point out that the two councilmembers have been fighting to keep city expenses low and opposed massive police raises. They indicated that the city could not afford to give out lavish pay raises and ultimately would not be sustainable. The police union wanted more raises due to the passing of Measure X that raised more revenue (by taxation) for the City of Santa Ana.
The Santa Police Union used "over-the-top" rhetoric to try and bully those councilmembers into supporting their raise proposal.
Does this sound familiar to those of us in West Covina? It should, the Police and Fire Unions have been doing this for years. They spend tens of thousands of dollars to get councilmembers elected just to have them vote for lavish pay increases that are paid for by the taxes of the residents. In 2018 the unions of West Covina paid thousands of dollars for several candidates to get elected. Now, those same councilmembers (Dario Castellanos & Letty Lopez-Viado) have voted to give the Police and Fire Unions 25% or more pay raises if the Police and Fire Unions can get the residents to vote in a tax increase.
That means that all of the residents will be receiving annoying phone calls, mailers, door knocks and social media posts to try and mislead them into believing the tax is justified. They are claiming the tax will go to many things, but when you actually look at the numbers and do the math correctly, you will see right away, they are only funding their own pay increases.
Think about for a minute. How much money do you make? The average West Covina Household makes about $74,000/Year. After taxes they probably bring home about $45,000/year. The Police and Fire Unions make over $200,000/Year. After taxes they probably bring home about $140,000/Year. More than three times the city average median income. The City of West Covina provides many things as part of the "package of benefits" that our Police and Fire Unions receive.
100% City Paid:
How many of you get these provided by your employers at 100% of premiums, in this case paid by the City of West Covina with your tax dollars? Most employers only pay a percentage of each of these and that ranges from 30%-75% depending on your employer and the cost of the premium. So when you hear that our Police and Fire Unions are not being treated "Fairly," you should really think about that.
(Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Copyright © 2019 No West Covina Public Safety Tax - All Rights Reserved. Not paid for by any candidate, candidate controlled committee, or any political action committee. The site is owned solely to provide information to the residents of West Covina and serves no political entities.