Michael Duveneck and the truth behind Stay Sacramento

Someone who sounds a lot like me has released a 30,000 person calling project to Arden Arcade residents, letting them know about Michael Duveneck and the Stay Sacramento peoples’ lies against Measure D, and the trickery that defrauded voters of making an informed choice.

Michael Duveneck and his folks took $50,000 in hush money to kill Measure D and ready the area for annexation by the City of Sacramento.

Now the City of Sacramento is proceeding with annexation and can only meet the revenue neutrality requirements by raising taxes (property taxes, utilitity taxes, fees and licenses), without a vote of the people. Michael Duveneck, who lives on El Sur in Arden Park, lied to his neighbors and friends, lied about everything, and sold out his community.

Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOqsS1_9RGY

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You Don’t Say

It took just 2 days after the election for the City of Sacramento to again reverse itself and ‘suddenly’ become interested in annexing Arden Arcade. Immediately, the Stay Sacramento website removed it’s own claims that there would be no annexation effort and instead replaced it with excuses and issue avoidance tactics.

For months the Stay Sacramento advocates repeatedly promised voters that the threat of annexation was all a big lie. Disproving their claims, Arden Arcade City Council candidate Matt Gray poured over the official city documents and public statements by city officials, all of which clearly showed as early as April, 2010, that the city was indeed very interested in annexation. Those documents and reference citations have been available for months at http://www.votemattgray.com by clicking upon the Arden Arcade Info tab near the top.

Then, between April, 2010 and election day on November 2nd, when anyone called the city planning department and spoke with the director, he uttered his rehearsed speech that the city has “no plans to annex any part of Arden Arcade.”

But today Mayor Kevin Johnson set the record straight. It took just two days after the defeat of Measure D for the mayor to come clean and admit that there is indeed much interest in the City of Sacramento annexing Arden Arcade, and the council suddenly has a renewed interest in looking again at taking over Arden Arcade.

Not surprisingly, the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, headed by Matthew Mahood, which was instrumental in killing Measure D because they viewed it as ‘bad for business,’ similarly came out in support of consolidating city and county services. Proponents of Measure D pointed out that under California law, just by being a city our local area would automatically be entitled to a higher return of our tax dollars to be put into streetscape improvements, more law enforcement patrols, blight control, and a business/economic development committee which would undoubtedly improve local business and shopping conditions – all of which fell upon deaf ears with the Chamber.

Add to all this the $50,000 influx from the Plumbers and Pipefitters union, Local 447, which has already paid off City of Sacramento council members and established high benefits packages in partnership with their public employee labor unions.

Taken in total, a very different picture emerges about the effort to defeat Measure D. The voters of Arden Arcade are victims of a political coup where fear mongering claims by the Stay Sacramento special interest group trampled the facts and intentionally misled voters.

Now what? The City of Sacramento can proceed with annexation efforts without any voter approval, because it just takes a vote of the city council to amend their plan and submit a revenue neutrality report (which is already done by the measure D folks to justify their effort) to the county of Sacramento which must accept the request.

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The Truth About Arden Arcade Cityhood

The issue of Cityhood (Measure D) is an emotional one for many people, and a lot of misinformation is floating around about it.  But it is important to look at the facts and make a decision based upon real circumstances instead of “the sky is falling” rhetoric.

Here is the information (with citations to the source), so you can see the facts for yourself and draw your own conclusion. 

The key issues in the cityhood discussion are:

  1. Is the City of Sacramento really trying to annex portions of Arden Arcade into it’s own boundaries?
  2. Why do some people believe there is a need to incorporate; why can’t we just leave things the way they are?
  3. Is cityhood feasible from both an economic and quality of service standpoint?
  4. Are taxes going to go up?
  5. Do we have to keep the name Arden Arcade if we do incorporate?
  6. Who stands to benefit if we become a city, and who benefits if cityhood fails?

I.  Is the City of Sacramento Really Trying to Annex Arden Arcade?

On the issue of whether or not the City of Sacramento is trying to annex Arden Arcade, both their 2030 General Plan and their New Growth Quarterly Report (January, 2010) clearly state Arden Arcade is an area of interest and they are looking at annexation.

From the City of Sacramento’s official New Growth Quarterly Report (January, 2010)
“Arden Arcade includes 15 square miles between the American River and I-80, Ethan Avenue to Mission Avenue. The City is exploring annexation as an alternative to incorporation for the residents. The City’s General Plan identifies Arden-Arcade as a “Study Area”.”

From the Sacramento 2030 General Plan, Part 3, Page 3-SSA-4
“The City of Sacramento is interested in possibly annexing the Arden Arcade Study Area to consolidate public services. Currently (2009), some Arden Arcade Study Area residents and businesses favor staying within the county or incorporating the area as its own city to protect existing special districts such as fire protection, water districts, and parks.  Challenges to annexation will likely include revenue sharing issues with Sacramento County, overcoming infrastructure issues, and public support for annexation.”

Then there are public statements made by City Council Members:
Published by Sacramento Bee (April 23, 2007), Page B1
City exploring annexation of Arden Arcade. Despite incorporation bid, a councilman says merger would be a better option.
“Some residents are fighting to incorporate it. County officials desperately want to keep the revenue generated there. And now, some city of Sacramento elected leaders say the city should consider annexing the unincorporated county turf. Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn said he respects cityhood backers’ desire to break from the county but said he has an alternative. There is a an even better option, and that is annexing into the city of Sacramento,” Cohn said.”

Published by Sacramento Bee (May 1, 2000), Page A1
“A report to aggressively expand the city of Sacramento’s boundaries is touching off controversy among Sacramento County and Elk Grove officials, who stand to lose control of key facilities and economic zones. Areas mentioned for possible takeover by Sacramento include sensitive lands around Sacramento International Airport, affluent Arden-Arcade neighborhoods and Laguna West, which the soon-to-be city of Elk Grove already is claiming for eventual annexation.”

One would have to have the imagination powerful enough to still believe in the tooth fairy to believe that the City of Sacramento has no interest in annexing Arden Arcade.  The only requirements for them to do so are 1) show revenue neutrality to the county, which is already done for Arden Arcade’s adopted study through LAFCO; and 2) amend their Master Plan by a simple vote of the city council.  That’s it!

II.  Why Incorporate?  Why Not Just Leave Things as They Are?

The trend, set by the Legislature, is for counties to come up with high density housing and transportation plans for their area, and to move away from county-wide services and instead have unincorporated regions become their own self-sufficient cities. 

Toward that goal, there are financial incentives built into the funding stream.  At the county level, most of the tax revenues are lumped together into one pot, and then re-distributed based upon a number of factors. 

That funding model provides that cities are first in line for receiving the most money.  Each year, that has resulted in the unincorporated Arden Arcade area losing 40% of its tax revenues which are given to the cities.

Incorporation will keep more of our local tax dollars to stay working in our community.

III.  Is cityhood feasible from both an economic and quality of service standpoint?

Yes, and a recent study by the independent Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) showed beyond a reasonable doubt that changing to a city was both financially viable and there would actually be a savings, even with the “revenue neutrality” payment being made.

Those  figures are from 2009 and part of 2010, and include the current economic downturn.  That means the new City of Arden Arcade would generate more revenue than the City of Citrus Heights which continues to enjoy a budget that is in the black.

So what is “revenue neutrality,” and what does it mean?  The State Legislature created “revenue neutrality” in 1985 and further amended it in 1992 and again in 2000.  The law is designed to protect county operations, particularly countywide services, in the event a portion incorporated into its own city.  The amount of the payment (from the new city to the county as compensation), is negotiated by LAFCo and the county along with cityhood proponents.

Arden Arcade went through that process and successfully negotiated revenue neutrality agreement based upon 90% property tax revenue, while preserving 100% of the local sales tax in addition to the remaining 10% of those property taxes.  That extra 10% property tax buffer demonstrates that property taxes will not be raised to pay for the incorporation.

As an example of how services will improve, at current rates for the number of police (Sac Sheriff) we have patrolling the Arden Arcade area, cityhood will result in twice the number of police patrols; and that was before the pending 25% cut in services that the county is proposing.  If the 25% cut goes through at the county level, then Arden Arcade will have at least three times the number of police on patrol as a result of incorporating.

IV.  Are Taxes Going to Go Up?

NO!  Matt knows that people are working hard to make ends meet and government should tighten its belt and help taxpayers keep more of the money they have earned.

Matt has signed an agreement that he will not raise taxes to pay for any part of incorporating into a city.  Matt has further pledged that while he will neither raise taxes nor create new taxes, he will take it a step further to see what taxes he can CUT! 

In addition to this, the above section about property taxes shows the revenue neutrality for cityhood relies upon only 90% of the existing property taxes and none of the sales tax revenues.  The remaining 10% in property taxes is a cushion for other expenses and will more than pay for the needed city staff (and more police), with some still left over.

V.  Do we have to keep the name Arden Arcade if we do incorporate?

NO!  Upon incorporating and electing our own City Council, that council can vote to adopt a resolution to change the name.  Matt supports asking the residents for their suggestions and then voting based upon what residents want their new city to be called.

One popular name being floated around is simply “Arden.”  But as residents, we will have our input.

VI.  Who stands to benefit if we become a city, and who benefits if cityhood fails?

With more local tax dollars staying in our community to provide public services, such as more police patrols, the residents of Arden Arcade will clearly benefit. 

At the head of the YES side (www.ardenarcadecity.org), are the cities of Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova, both of whom have incorporated and are enjoying better quality of public services. 

These two cities are strongly supporting cityhood for Arden Arcade for two primary reasons:  1) we are located between the two, and so when we incorporate we will have a stronger police force and both Citrus Heights as well as Rancho Cordova will benefit because the crime occurring in our area won’t drift over into theirs; and 2) things such as the regional transit board will have more representation (from Arden Arcade), to give our general area a majority portion of the votes, and we can finally start having our fair share of public transportation dollars going into serving routes in our area instead of mostly all downtown. 

These and other similar reasons are why the two cities are pushing so hard for cityhood.

If cityhood fails, then the City of Sacramento will revive its plans to annex portions of Arden Arcade.  Those plans are temporarily on hold because the City realized that fight was being used against them and fueling the cityhood effort.  But as soon as the election is over, if cityhood fails, that annexation effort will again move forward.

The City of Sacramento has clearly shown interest in, and taken the first steps toward, annexing portions of Arden Arcade through its feasibility study.

To complete the process they would merely need to:
1) amend their Master Plan to identify Arden Arcade as part of the sphere of influence; and
2) reach an agreement with the County that would show revenue neutrality (which has already been proven possible through the recent application approved by LAFCO in support of cityhood).

That means the City of Sacramento is really only one step away, and that one step is a simple vote by their own city council to amend their internal Master Plan.  To view the boundaries for the proposed City of Arden Arcade, click here to see if you live within the boundaries and will be voting on it in the November 2nd, General Election.

For more information about Matt Gray for City Council (Arden Arcade), go to http://www.votemattgray.com and select any of the Platform links, or visit his Facebook fanpage at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matt-Gray-for-City-Council/144738522210695?ref=ts .  You can also find him on Twitter by searching for votemattgray.

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Cityhood for Arden Arcade?

On their November 2nd General Election ballot, Sacramento residents will be faced with deciding whether or not to incorporate the Arden Arcade area into its own city.  At the same time they will vote upon twenty-two candidates for the Arden Arcade City Council. 

If cityhood is approved, then the top seven city council candidates will be elected on the same ballot.  Conversely, if cityhood is voted down, then no city council will be elected.

People are lining up on both sides of the cityhood discussion to voice their opinions.  At the heart of the debate on both sides is finding ways to improve our quality of life without costing taxpayers more.

Proponents of making Arden Arcade into its own city point out:
– The City of Sacramento has expressed an interest in considering the annexation of the Arden Arcade area into its own city boundaries as an area adjacent to the city, and could do so by a mere vote of the Sacramento City Council and Sacramento County Supervisors without voter approval.
– We don’t want someone downtown deciding things for out community, and we want local control over local issues.
– Because Arden Arcade is not its own city, valuable tax dollars are leaving the area to be spread around to incorporated cities, thus resulting in fewer public services being available to serve our own community.
– Local services, such as garbage collection, can be contracted out to private companies for about ½ the cost of relying upon the county, and done with increased service quality.
– By having our own police department, response time will be quicker, the officers will know residents and local needs, and be able to improve overall quality of services provided.
– The cost for paying government employees will be removed from the county and that money will shifted to the city to pay for local government employees, with more of our own tax dollars staying locally..
– Other nearby new cities have improved their local services and overall quality of life.  One of them, Rancho Cordova, just won a national contest and was awarded the All America City 2010 recognition.  These local cities and park districts have donated to the cityhood effort because of the benefits such as it will increase overall votes on boards for things like more public transportation in our more rural areas.
– Feedback from agencies providing existing services, such as traffic patrol by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), will be able to continue at the same rate if that’s what the City Council decides to do.
– Unlike previous incorporations, the amount our new city will owe the County of Sacramento is a fixed amount and can be paid off early or over a 33 year period, without penalties of changing payment requirements.  It is a fixed debt with flexible payoff terms.
– Finally, by becoming our own city, we can keep government costs down, keep our tax dollars here, and provide improved public services while getting better representation for our local needs.

Opponents to cityhood feel just as strongly, and argue:
– Why change, we like being “Sacramento.”
– We don’t want to create another government bureaucracy.
– Cityhood means higher taxes and fees for more employees and benefits
– Just like the City of Bell, where council members were getting paid over $100,000 and the City Manager nearly $800,000, Arden Arcade residents will get robbed by unscrupulous dirty politicians
– Vital services like law enforcement will suffer and residents will have less protection.
– Cityhood would duplicate government functions already provided to residents and those services would be at a much higher cost.
– Surrounding cities and park boards have donated to the cityhood campaign and acted inappropriately.
– finally, Arden Arcade is landlocked and doesn’t have room for future growth.

At the end of the day, we must find lasting solutions which best address our needs without creating new problems.  As someone who is experienced in listening to impassioned pleas from diverse groups which are often on different sides of a debate, I find it valuable to step back and look around the rhetoric to see the facts. 

I have not sided with either campaign on cityhood, as I need additional information first.  However, as a candidate for City Council for the proposed City of Arden Arcade, I have been listening to both sides of the discussion and recognize there is more to the story behind the claims than first meets the eye. 
One thing is for sure, I will continue to delve into this issue and present the voters of Arden Arcade with my own informed and balanced opinion on whether or not cityhood is viable, necessary, and will provide for the needs of our community without raising taxes.

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Tit for Tat

Sacramento’s latest local political scandal surrounds former lawmaker Debra Ortiz and her late filing for election as Trustee to the Los Rios Community College District.  Ortiz was allowed to file her candidacy papers after the filing deadline had passed.

The Sacramento County Registrar of Voters, which validates and authorizes candidates to proceed in elections, admits they provided incorrect information to Ortiz and that information directly led to her late filing.  An internal audit revealed the oversight and the office took corrective measures which included accepting the late papers.

Ortiz’ opponents (of the opposite party) decry the late entry as showing special favor, pointing to the letter of the law as the gospel in these matters.

But where were these opponents when a member of their own party violated election law on residency within a district and set up a shell residence to qualify for the local Assembly District 5 race?

Election law in legislative races requires a candidate to have lived in the district for which they are running for at least 1 year prior to filing as a candidate, and Andrew Pugno, candidate for AD 5, “moved” into the district about 13 days prior to his candidate filing.

While he now maintains his home inside the district with his family, his opponent, Richard Pan, has yet to contest Pugno’s carpetbagging strategy.  But the race is far from over.

But more to the point, where are these same election law fundamentalists when it comes to upholding that election law?  Their cries for swift justice fall silent when one of their own violates the law.

We need to move beyond this pettiness and the politics as usual tit for tat, and instead work together to elect the best candidates — regardless of political affiliation — and find meaningful, lasting solutions which best solve the problems we face.

Voters in the greater Sacramento region want more from their candidates and elected officials.  Constituents want solutions which improve the economy, attract and create jobs, lower government costs so that we don’t pay so much in taxes, avenues to cost-effective healthcare, and of course safer streets without stealing money from programs that provide our children with the highest quality public education was can provide.

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Thank You Supporters!

While the typical campaign for the California State Assembly takes 18-24 months, ours was just 3 days short of 6 months. 

While the typical campaign costs more than $300,000 per election cycle, we had about $100,000.   (My prevailing opponent and his special interest donors collectively spent more than $600,000.)

While most campaigns manipulate voters’ sentiments through vague and ambiguous statements about where the candidate stands on the issues, I was very specific and clear about my views.

But despite all of this I had the support of nearly 20% of the voters, and I owe a great thanks to my friends & family who got out the vote, shared me with their circles of friends, and helped to put the word out about our campaign.  Thank you!

In crunching the final numbers, it turns out we spent $21 to get each vote, while the winning candidate spent $128 (but received only twice the number of votes).  While my opponent outspent me 6-1, we can clearly see that had we more time to reach more voters, our strategies would have prevailed.

The absentee voters, who tend to vote 1 month prior to the election and mail-in their ballots, pushed this election in favor of my opponent.  This is because he was able to raise the money to reach them with repeated mailers (swaying them with vague emotional rhetoric) before I was even in the race.

By the time we raised the money and began our mailers, voters were already inundated with info from every race and so many of them simply tuned out.  By the time we raised the money for our radio ads, most of the absentee voters had already voted.

It is true that voters are fed-up with the politics as usual, but when they don’t know about all of their options, they tend to vote based upon name recognition and emotions.

This is why raising money to reach voters early-on is critical in all political campaigns.

The passage of Proposition 14 (open Primary elections), would have helped me immensely as I didn’t appear on the ballots of many people who were registered to other parties, but who still really liked my platform and helped out in other ways.

Many people are encouraging me to run again.  I’ll tell you, frankly, that campaigning is hell. 

While I truly enjoy getting out and meeting so many new people in Sacramento, and learning about what is important to them in their daily lives, the time away from my family was torcherous and dealing with the small minority of people who forget all social etiquettes and go on the attack (without knowing the candidate personally, but simply because the issue of politics comes up), got old quickly.

Still, I’m undecided.  While friends & family offered sympathies over my “loss” I assure them that I’m doing quite well and I am happy.  I am not discouraged.

One thing is for sure, our campaign would have been nearly as successful without the strong support of my family and friends, and I am eternally grateful.  To have genuinely put myself ‘out there’ and bear my inner beliefs for all to see (and earn the support of many thousands of people in our community) is both reassuring and encouraging.  Thank you again!

To see what we put together and how we reached voters, visit http://www.votemattgray.com and take some time to peruse my platform issues.

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Dr. Richard Pan for Assembly won’t debate at all

For weeks I have been challenging my opponent Dr. Richard Pan to a public debate of the issues in our race to win Assembly District 5.  Since then he has gone into hiding and will not appear at any public meetings where he knows I’ll again challenge him.

Richard Pan has refused to debate anything and everything, and will not even provide any details about his own campaign platform statements.  Relying upon loosely worded vague generalities, no-one is really sure what he actually stands for.

What kind of candidate expects to be elected that won’t discuss the issues?  The kind that wants to buy the election and thinks he is too good to be tasked with explaining himself.

The details of Richard Pan’s sorted special interest campaign is detailed at http://www.votemattgray.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76%3Arichard-pan&Itemid=76 and more harshly on other sites (which I won’t mention because I don’t like that kind of campaigning), which centers around about $300,000 in campaign contributions from health care special interests that have publicly opposed health care reform in California and across the nation.

These special interest groups have read the writing on the walls and recognize that health care reform will surface again, and so now they are working to stack legislatures with their own people so they can push votes in their favor.

Will voters allow the race for Assembly seat 5 to be bought by special interest groups?  100% of my campaign support (about $90,000 to date, has come exclusively from individuals and small businesses.  100% of my platform is clearly explained for anyone to understand and print out — see it in writing — so there is no guess work.

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