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By Dave Wielenga
(Note: Mr. Wielenga is an LCCN Contributor and Publisher of www.greaterlongbeach.com!)
The token of affection that Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe annually delivers to the Cerritos Regional Chamber of Commerce—a so-called “State of the County” address the Chamber uses to raise money—arrived on Valentine’s Day this year, but the centerpiece of his noon-hour speech Wednesday at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts definitely was not one of hearts and flowers.
Knabe began affably enough, extolling the Board of Supervisors for imposing “fiscal discipline” on LA County, which he noted was rewarded last October when Standard & Poor upgraded the County’s long-term credit rating from AA-minus to AA,” its highest level ever.
“You don’t read about fiscal cliffs at the County,” Knabe pointed out. “See, we have to balance our budget every year.”
As an example, Knabe cited LA County’s ongoing preparation for what he called its “biggest financial and operational challenge”—the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in January 2014.
“It doesn’t matter if you were for it or against it—it’s coming,” he emphasized, explaining how LA County’s large population raises the stakes of the biggest change mandated by the Affordable Care Act— the ability of patients to choose their health insurance coverage.
“We must have a competitive marketplace,” Knabe said. “If we are not competitive, the only people left in our system will be non-paying.
Knabe sounded enthusiastic about meeting the challenges presented by the new health care system—everything from preparing operations, upgrading technology to updating personnel. “Frankly, we must instill a new culture in our staff,” he said. “It’s a whole new world, come January 2014!”
But there was disgust dripping from Knabe’s voice when he brought up the subject of the Clean Water Initiative proposed by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. In a room filled with people who know him well—Knabe lives in Cerritos and is a former city councilmember—the shift in tone did not go unnoticed.
“Let me be clear—I want clean water and I think most people do,” he said. “But this… this is such a mess.”
Besides that nod to its clean-water mission, Knabe couldn’t find a single thing that didn’t bother him about the Clean Water Initiative’s proposed annual fee on property to pay for clean water programs.
Even as he railed against the measure, however, Knabe found a way to incorporate humor. “In the spirit of David Letterman,” he said, “let me give you ‘Don Knabe’s Top 10 Reasons I Think This Initiative Sucks.’”
No.10: This is the largest parcel fee the County has ever undertaken. We need the process to be convenient, transparent and open… Unfortunately, it’s been the opposite.
No. 9: The distribution was such a mess that some huge organizations like Metro never received notices.
No. 8: We need a specific project list so you know where your money is going.
No. 7: In the beginning, there was no email or online protest ability. Come on: its 2013!
No. 6: Many property owners and businesses are already required to do the things the parcel fee is meant to achieve—this will be a double tax for them.
No. 5: Only property owners received the mailing, yet it would impact everyone—school children, church members, renters, small business owners—through program cuts or higher costs
No. 4: Voters just passed Prop 30 to support schools. If this fee is passed, school districts could have to pay $14 million annually. Churches and non-profit organizations would also have to pay. And get this: The national forests, state parks, and organizations like the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy will have to pay. Come on! Open space is part of the solution to pollution.
No. 3: The fees are exorbitant.
No.2: The election method could be a mail-in ballot, which would only require a majority to pass. A normal ballot measure during an election would require 2/3 for approval. I’m concerned it was set up as an easier way to get it passed.
No.1: It never ends! This is a forever tax – no sunset date.
Note: Los Cerritos Community Newspaper would like to thank Journalist Dave Wielenga for this article and coverage! Read more of Dave’s work at www.greaterlongbeach.com
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