Editor's Note: The Register asked the Open Space District about the issues raised by the author. Their response is published on the same day and page as this letter, Sept. 20, and can be found online here.
The Napa Parks and Open Space District recent appeal for a tenfold increase in their annual funding reminds me of long ago times when I would beg my mother for pie or ice cream. Generally, my strategy did not work with my mother but I continued to use it always hoping for an improved outcome.
It appears that the president of the Parks and Open Space District, Brent Randol, should have listened to his mother’s advice in 2016 when he knew Measure Z was in trouble. At that time Randol said at a meeting at the Odd Fellows Hall in St. Helena that he then asked, “Mom, how are you voting on Measure Z?” and quoted her response as, “Not another damn tax, I’m voting NO.”
In the Open Space District’s own board of directors vote on July 8, 2019 only three of the five directors voted to bring an election proposal to the board of supervisors. That is 60% yet they want 66.7% of the voters to approve this new sales tax.
Were the two non-voting directors concerned about another defeat at the polls? County voters have clearly shown in three of three past elections (over 27 years) that they do not want to fund an independent bureaucratic parks and open space organization. All three of the previous elections asking for massive increases in funding for the parks district have been defeated by voters.
Perhaps residents are concerned about the example of bureaucratic protection (or destruction) they have witnessed by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) at lake Berryessa? An obvious question for the open space district leaders, “What Part of “NO” do you not understand?”
And for our supervisors, does your action in approving this request really indicate your respect for the desires your constituents have repeatedly demonstrated at the ballot box?
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Polling for Measure Z in 2016 predicted there was insufficient support to win the election. The polling report results for this election have been withheld from the public. Current polling was paid for by the quasi-private Land Trust and the results of the poll have been withheld from the public by the district and by the Land Trust. Why?
More importantly, I believe Napa residents have demonstrated, more clearly than any paid for polling, the actual desires of Napa residents. Yet the county supervisors have continued to place these tax measures on the ballot.
Mr. Randol recently discussed an anticipated 60 years of projects with the Napa County Taxpayers Association he also discussed plans for another potential measure to extend the sales tax after 15 years. An example project envisions purchasing Skyline Park, which seems to be operating well as a multi use recreational asset. Why should Skyline purchase have any priority?
Voters should make no mistake by believing this is a temporary tax measure. It is obvious that the Parks and Open Space District has no intent for it to be a temporary tax. In fact, the district directors have already discussed and proposed a doubling of the sales tax to half a percent with an anticipated extension request.
Jack Gray, Director
Napa County Taxpayers Association