The main people trying to get this sales tax passed are the West Covina Police Officer Association ("POA") and the West Covina Fire Fighters Association ("FFA"). These are the two unions that have placed $175,000+ into a compaign account to send mailers, make phone calls, walk neighborhoods in an effort to convince your neighbors to vote in favor of this tax.
The current West Covina Mayor (Tony Wu) has stated over and over that we do not need a Sales Tax Increase in the City of West Covina (visit our VIDEOS page to see for yourself) and has voted against any attempt by the council to raise any tax in the city. The West Covina City Council had an opportunity to place a tax on the ballot and chose not to. When the City Council does not feel a tax is needed, and chooses to not take a LEADERSHIP role and instead allows a UNION to write the tax, that is a dereliction of responsibility by those Council Members. Even one Council Member (Jessica Shewmaker) told residents that it was "none of their business" how she felt about the tax. This is not a City Council that has shown any leadership. Ms. Shewmaker lost her 2018 School Board re-election and was rewarded with an appointment to the City Council in January 2019. Many people in the city voted her out of office on the West Covina School Board to only have to deal with her on the City Council. She was voted out of office for a reason!
Glenn Kennedy is a current Planning Commissioner (Appointed by Jessica Shewmaker) and a PAID CONSULTANT for the West Covina Police Officers Association ("POA"). He has been paid thousands of dollars to place his name and signature on the petition so that the POA can make it look like the "Residents" are promoting this tax increase. When in fact, he did nothing except place a signature on the bottom of a petition that will ultimately bankrupt the City of West Covina.
The remaining people that are supporting this measure are Ms. Shewmakers' father, who cares only about two things. 1) That his daughter is a West Covina Council Member and 2) that he is perceived as a "VIP" in the City of West Covina. Mr. Shewmaker claims to be a political "Know-It-All" but outside of his daughters election to the school board, he has a very poor success rate in the political field, even losing his own election to the school board. His tactics are to demean and attack anyone with a different opinion to his, since he believes he is superior to everyone else. If you have any question to this tactic, then just seek him out on Facebook and read his posts.
We also have a community activist that has been waging a one person war against the homeless in the City of West Covina. She claims to have more than a thousand supporters on a Facebook page and claims to be improving the homeless situation in the City of West Covina. However, during her "Success" the homeless population has exploded and any area that is "reported" to be cleaned up on her Facebook site is over run with homeless and trash a few hours later. Not what we call a difference maker.
Well, that is what the people pushing this tax want you to beleive. They have provided a "Wish List" of things that they claim will be helped, but so far, nearly 70% of the projected income from the tax has been allocated to the salaries and benefits of the Police Officers and Fire Fighters in the City of West Covina. If this tax passes those officers and firefighters will end up getting nearly a 30% pay increase. They will look for more raises above this in the next couple of years. In fact, the City Council has already promised so much money to the Police and Fire Unions, that there is virtually nothing left for the "Wish List" they seem to keep promoting.
Currently the City of West Covina has an estimated $186,000,000 in unfunded pension liability and that number is rising each year at an alarming rate. This sales tax could only make a dent in that liability if every dollar was paid directly to the Unfunded Pension Liability. However, nearly 70% of this sales tax money has already been allocated to pay raises and bonuses to the Police and Fire Unions. So, to answer the question, NO, virtually nothing will be paid to the Unfunded Pension Liability and there is not enough money to do it even if it passes.
NO, that is a complete myth and was being used by signature gatherers to scare people into signing the petition. The fact is that the City of West Covina has looked into the costs to switch to Los Angeles County Sheriffs and Los Angeles County Fire Department on a few occasions over the last decade or two. IN ALL CASES, the staff report showed it would cost far more to switch and not provide any relief in the ongoing costs over a ten or twenty year period. There are officers and fire fighters that have expressed an interest to switch to County Services as well as several that have left the City of West Covina to seek employment with County Services. But at this time, all of the previous City Councils have voted to not switch to County Services. The current City Council also does not share a desire to switch to County Services based on council meetings.
September 17, 2019, many residents showed to openly request that the West Covina City Council Members support a request (often called a "Mother May I?") by Mayor Lloyd Johnson to have city staff bring back details about possibly putting a tax increase measure on the March 2020 Ballot instead of letting the West Covina Police Officer's Association ("POA") placing a measure they have written.
Currently the POA is circulating a petition under the pseudo Political Action Committee ("PAC") "Taxpayers for Public Safety" in an effort to mislead residents to believe that "Actual" residents are behind this measure. The fact of the matter is, that the vast majority of the employees who work for the City of West Covina do not live in West Covina. So this is a sham of a name. The real residents of West Covina showed up at the council meeting asking for the City Council to OPENLY DISCUSS this tax measure and the financial status of the city. Mayor Johnson started out by asking the other council members to do what the residents have asked for on multiple occasions and support his request for it to be officially an agenda item on the next Council Agenda.
Mayor Pro Tem Tony Wu spoke first in opposition to any discussion since he felt that everyone knows he is against the tax increase. He is correct, in that over the last few years he has been on the City Council he has consistently stated he is opposed to raising taxes and feels it is not in the best interest of the council and the city to do such a thing. However, in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune dated August 5, 2019 Tony Wu was quoted as “I don’t think a sales tax increase will work, but I’m not going to interfere." This leaves residents to believe that you actually support the tax measure the POA is circulating, and wondering if it is because of a behind closed door agreement you may have with the petition supporters.
Councilwoman Jessica Shewmaker spoke next and stated that she will not voice her opinion to the tax measure because she is "letting the residents decide" if they want to support the tax measure. However, what Ms. Shewmaker does not realize is that the residents have consistently and frequently accused the Signature Gathering Efforts of Misrepresentation and Lying to gain signatures. We have pointed out on this website many times over with video accounts of residents stating their experience with signature gatherers that have been hired by the POA. The ethics of our Police Officers Association is being put into question when they hire such unethical signature gatherers and continue to let these actions take place after weeks of complaints from residents. So at this time it appears that Councilwoman Shewmaker is not willing to provide truthful information to residents so they can make an informed decision and instead will let her constituents be lied to by the Union that she has received political donations from in the past.
Councilwoman Letty Lopez-Viado and Councilman Dario Castellanos made no comments on the subject. In fact, they rarely make any comments on any subject so we should not be surprised. Both of these council members have performed below expectations and many residents have stated such in public comments and on social media.
The lack of "Leadership" as many residents requested from this council at the September 17, 2019 meeting is very evident. In fact, it is very telling that the new council majority that Mayor Pro Tem mentioned in a San Gabriel Valley Tribune article dated November 7, 2018 is alive and well. Here is the quote from Mayor Pro Tem Tony Wu about the election of Councilwoman Lopez-Viado and Councilman Castellanos from that newspaper article.
“I used to complain about not having a majority behind me, and now I got my wish,” Wu said. “The full responsibility is on our shoulders now.”
It is another "poorly kept secret" that Tony Wu was behind Councilwoman Lopez-Viado deciding to campaign for the City Council. If you review her campaign finance form 460 from the November 2018 election, you will see numerous donations from people affiliated with Tony Wu in one fashion or another. Including a donation from the Police Officers Association after the election so it did not need to be disclosed prior to voting. All of the Form 460's are located on the West Covina City Website for your review. Unredacted versions are available through a "Public Records Act Request" to the City Clerk's Office.
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