Under the Children’s Fund ballot language, a private organization can expend city tax dollars in a cruise ship casino, and the public will never know.
Special to California Globe by Richard Stevenson
The Sacramento Children’s Fund ballot measure proposal gathered sufficient signatures to be placed on the March 3rd 2020 city ballot.
The measure would force annually 2.5% of the city’s unrestricted revenues, starting at $12.5 million, to the Children’s Fund, leaving no discretion to the City Council, even in time of extreme emergency, such as a major levee failure.
Ballot measure provisions require that the 2.5% expenditure is in addition to, and cannot supplant, current youth services provided for decades by Parks and Recreation and other city agencies. There was huge money behind getting this onto the ballot as evidenced by signature collectors brought in from southern California to get the Children’s Fund onto the Sacramento city ballot. This was likely financed by those seeking to plunder the city treasury through this measure.
What is hidden from the public is that the Children’s Fund measure direct language requires that current city services will immediately have to be cut to comply. The 2.5% minimum means some city services have to be eliminated. Even if economic conditions lower city revenues, as happened a few years ago, forcing police and fire protections to be cut, the Children’s Fund cannot ever be cut for any reason. The Children’s Fund will actually have city budget legal priority over police and fire protection under this dangerous measure.
This ballot measure actually removes City Council control over the city budget. A provision forces the City Council to accept fund appropriations allocated by the unelected Children’s Fund Planning and Oversight Commission as a package and the City Council “…shall not approve or disapprove individual applicants and projects.”
The Children’s Fund in reality is a conduit for city tax dollars to be funneled to outside private organizations, with no audit authority by the city and no transparency for the public to see what those organizations are doing. Legally, under the Children’s Fund language, a private organization can expend city tax dollars in a cruise ship casino, and the public will never know.
Proponents will assert that an appointed commission can order audits, but that commission will have no sufficient skilled staff or legal authority, and this is no accident. Such commissions are ineffectual window dressing as an oversight body, as other city financial oversight commissions have been. None have been an effective oversight body in protecting the objective public interest.
Further, the Sacramento Children’s Fund is a proposed city charter amendment, which legally disallows corrections of problems by the City Council. All problems would have to go back to city voters for correction, while tax funds will be still funneled to private organizations, with no public accountability, while that lengthy process takes place.
Richard Stevenson, a 5th generation Sacramentan, was first appointed to a Sacramento city commission in 1973, and served on several city and state commissions thereafter. He has an institutional memory reaching back longer than anyone in Sacramento City Hall, and says Sacramento used to be so clean one could not get a $2 parking ticket “fixed.” Now, he says, Sacramento is rapidly approaching the standards of Baltimore.
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