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Sunday, 28 September 2014 17:35

City of Turlock Sends Insert by Citizens for Yes on Measure B in Utility Bills, Both Say It Was Only Informational

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City of Turlock Sends Insert by Citizens for Yes on Measure B in Utility Bills, Both Say It Was Only Informational Brandon McMillan/TurlockCityNews.com
As the Nov. 4 election quickly approaches, Turlock voters will be deciding whether or not to approve two measures that will greatly affect the City of Turlock.

Voters will vote on Measure A, a move toward district based elections to elect City Councilmembers, and Measure B, a half-cent sales tax with revenues going toward Turlock roads.

In June, the Turlock City Council unanimously voted to place Measure A on the November ballot. Turlock voters currently elect their councilmembers at-large; councilmembers can live in any part of the city, and Turlockers vote in each councilmember. However, due to a threatened lawsuit, Turlock will be divided into four equally-sized districts from which councilmembers would be elected if the measure is passed.

At the same meeting, the Turlock City Council voted, on a 4-1 majority, to place the road tax on the November ballot. If approved, Measure B would implement a citywide half-cent sales tax with 100 percent of revenues going toward Turlock roads. The measure is estimated to raise $5.6 million each year, or approximately $39.6 million over the seven-year life of the tax.

Some Turlockers may have noticed inserts with information on Measure A and B in their September utility bills. However, while these both supply factual information about each measure, the two are not alike.

The insert with information on Measure B supplies information that is nearly, if not exactly, word for word from FixTurlockRoads.com — the website for the “Citizens for Yes on Measure B,” a committee supporting the road tax.

FixTurlockRoads.com is the only website provided on the insert, although the website is a website in support of Measure B.

“[Local governments] are not allowed to send out any communication that unambiguously urges a particular result in an election,” said Brian Hildreth, Attorney at Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP.

Hildreth added that any communication can appear to be in support of a measure, but that is different from unambiguously urging a result.

The insert is also labeled with a large logo that is very similar to the logo used by FixTurlockRoads.com and Citzens for Yes on Measure B; the only small change to the logo is “Yes On” is replaced with “Measure” on the insert.

According to Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden, the Measure B inserts were not prepared by City of Turlock, but instead by the Citizens for Yes on Measure B.

“The measure B insert was not prepared by City Staff,” said Wasden. “The permission to use the utility insert was given by me with the understanding that the insert could only educate….My understanding is the Citizens Committee for Yes on Measure B prepared the Measure B insert.”

Jim Theis, head of the Steering Committee for Citizens for Yes on Measure B, confirmed that the committee prepared the insert.

Although being prepared by a group supporting the road tax, Wasden said both the inserts only give factual information on both measures.

“Both items were educational and detailed what each of the proposed measures do,” said Wasden.

While, as Wasden claims, both are educational, the insert with information about Measure A appears to be much more detailed than the insert for Measure B. The Measure A insert details the importance of the measure and what happens if voters vote yes or no on the measure; the Measure B insert only lists four points, which are all from FixTurlockRoads.com.

The Measure A insert also clearly cites the City of Turlock and California Institute for Local Government, which is a part of the League of California Cities, as the sources for the information, while the Measure B insert only cites FixTurlockRoads.com. The Institute for Local Government prepared the Measure A insert with City staff, according to Wasden.

Wasden said that the City of Turlock did not prepare the Measure B insert, but was approved by him prior to being inserted.

“The public official that approved the communication can be held personally liable to reimburse the government for the expense of the communication,” said Hildreth.

Councilmember Steven Nascimento, who is also on the Steering Committee for Citizens for Yes on Measure B, said that he did not directly communicate with Wasden regarding the inserts.

Nascimento is joined on the committee by fellow Councilmember Forrest White and Mayor John Lazar, who are both on the Advising Committee for Citizens for Yes on Measure B.

Typically, inserts contain City material and are paid for by the City of Turlock, such as public meeting announcements. However, Wasden said the Measure A and B inserts were not paid for by the City.

“Up to three utility bill inserts can be placed in the monthly utility bills at no cost to the City,” said Wasden. “There were two utility bill inserts placed in the September utility bills related to Measure A, District Elections and Measure B, 1/2 cent sales tax for road repair.”

According to the Fair Political Practices Commission, the mass mailing can be a violation if “any of the costs of distribution are paid for with public moneys, or if public funds are not used for the actual distribution, in excess of $50 in public moneys is used to design, produce, or print the item and the design, production, or printing is done with the intent of sending the item other than as permitted by Regulation 18901.”

Theis also said that the Measure B insert was purely informational, which is why “Paid for by” was not included on the insert, although it was prepared by the Citizens for Yes on Measure B and it directed people to the vote yes website.

“The ‘paid for by’ language was not included because the piece was strictly informational and part of a larger mailing,” said Theis.

However, public money does not only mean that it is directly funded by the City, but that there is also a “fair market value” to the mailers, said Hildreth.

“There’s still a fair market value to that communication,” said Hildreth. “What would it cost the opponent of Measure B to send out a mailer opposing it?”

TurlockCityNews.com is Turlock’s number one news source and the leader in providing election coverage. We will have more candidate information and campaign coverage leading up to the Nov. 4 election. 


TAKE THE TURLOCK MAYOR, COUNCIL AND MEASURE B POLL

Comments (22)

  1. Illegal

This is illegal and BS. The law is clear the government can not spend tax payer money to support only one side especially to raise taxes.

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  1. FPPC Violation

Come on Tcn stop asking questions and do your research. This is a clear violation of FPPC rules.

"Under California’s Political Reform Act, committees must put “paid for by” disclaimers on campaign advertising, including campaign mailers, radio...

Come on Tcn stop asking questions and do your research. This is a clear violation of FPPC rules.

"Under California’s Political Reform Act, committees must put “paid for by” disclaimers on campaign advertising, including campaign mailers, radio and television ads, telephone robocalls, and electronic media ads."

http://www.fppc.ca.gov/charts/PoliticalAdvertisingDisclaimers.pdf

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  1. Brem again

Looks like another Brem scandal. Everyone knew this would come and keep occurring. Lazar and The Turlock Chamber of Commerce are behind Brem and Measure B to raise taxes so the city doesn't have to make cuts and give the city manager his...

Looks like another Brem scandal. Everyone knew this would come and keep occurring. Lazar and The Turlock Chamber of Commerce are behind Brem and Measure B to raise taxes so the city doesn't have to make cuts and give the city manager his $1,000,000 contact.

Vote no on Brem, Meaure B and throw the city manager out for lying.

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  1. Bad

I'm voting for Gary Soiseth to be mayor and I hope he cleans up the city and the illegal politics.

This is why I heard Curt Andre told John Lazar he wasn't going to let him be mayor another year and forced him to not run again and why he is...

I'm voting for Gary Soiseth to be mayor and I hope he cleans up the city and the illegal politics.

This is why I heard Curt Andre told John Lazar he wasn't going to let him be mayor another year and forced him to not run again and why he is supporting Soiseth. I thank Curt Andre and Matt Swanson for stepping in and helping Gary Soiseth get elected to fix Turlock.

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  1. Voter

I didn't say the city could spend my taxes to brainwash others to vote for paying more taxes!!! What do we do about this to make it fair?

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  1. Hey Al Seaton

Another Mike "The Tax Man" Brem scheme. What does Al Seaton say now?

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  1. Joe B

I hope these mailers, which some say are illegal, outline why some roads are taken care of and some aren't. They need to create special assessment districts in the areas of the city where that do not already have them. End of story.

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CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE
SECTION 89001
89001. No newsletter or other mass mailing shall be sent at public
expense.
History will note lawsuits against cities who engage in the mass mailing at the public expense is against the law and have not...

CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE
SECTION 89001
89001. No newsletter or other mass mailing shall be sent at public
expense.
History will note lawsuits against cities who engage in the mass mailing at the public expense is against the law and have not prevailed in litigation.

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  1. ???

Did a high priced attorney advise the city on the legalities??? oops........

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  1. Let's sue Turdlock

I too, am not appreciative of my tax dollars going to pay for propaganda for measure B or any other political agenda. I'm not voting to increase my own taxes so you corrupt turlock well-connected scum can fix your own streets with my money. So...

I too, am not appreciative of my tax dollars going to pay for propaganda for measure B or any other political agenda. I'm not voting to increase my own taxes so you corrupt turlock well-connected scum can fix your own streets with my money. So tired of this town and all the blatant glad-handing that happens here. This BS don't fly in real cities, only podunk little wannabe ones.

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0 #22 @ everyone 2014-11-08 13:05
LOL.....Haters gonna hate!
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0 #21 Guest 2014-11-08 10:59
Yes she was his manager. Or she at least identified herself as his manager to me
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0 #20 everyone 2014-11-08 10:45
All city, fire, and police employees are OVERPAID plain and simple. I hope you all choke on a pretzel and never get to use the benefits that you have fraudulently stolen.
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0 #19 Overpaid and no money for road repair 2014-11-07 23:17
No wonder there is no money for road repair.
http://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/turlock/?page=1
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0 #18 Good ole boy club days are gone. 2014-11-07 22:48
Did she even go through the interview process or was she appointed?
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0 #17 Lazar friend pay 2014-11-07 19:39
Here's what Lazar's friend Maryn Pitt got paid because she helped get him elected. I don't know if she was his manager but if she was this should be illegal.

http://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/turlock/?page=1
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0 #16 High pay not possible 2014-11-07 17:45
Lazar's friend Maryn Pitt can't possibly be making $160,000!!! No way where is proof??
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0 #15 Lazar campaign manager city job 2014-11-07 17:38
Maryn Pitt was never proven to be John Lazar's campaign manager. DJ kept reporting the rumor as fact on his blog in 2007. Yes Lazar did hire her with no experience right after he was elected because she was a friend who supported him when he ran for Mayor. She was given a job in the building department making only $60,000 annually.

When the recession hit many of the building personnel was fired even people who had been there 20 years. Maryn Pitt was moved right before cuts hit and given a job in the housing department and now she is the housing manager making $161,000 salary with benefits.

Mayor Lazar has always said he was friends with her and yes she supported his campaign but it was never proven she was his manager. They have also been transparent that the City Manager Roy Wasden has promoted her for Lazar in return for job security. Everybody knows this. Find something new besides crying that life isn't fair.
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0 #14 @#%$^ 2014-11-07 17:28
Lazar's campaign manager should go also.
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0 #13 Manager needs to go 2014-11-07 15:36
Now that Lazar is gone and a new council with integrity has been elected the city manager needs to be held accountable for this and fired. He spent tax payers money trying to trick people to vote for a tax and it failed even after all that illegal activity.

The Turlock Chamber president Sharen Silva needs to be fired too for sending the illegal campaign mailers in the tax payer paid for utility bills.

Lazar has a whole group of people that need to go when he leaves which is now.

Good riddance to all the corruption coming out of city hall that we the tax payers are paying for.
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