Despite outcry, Fresno will spend $600k on ballot campaigns. Is it a conflict of interest?

It took a couple tries, but the Fresno City Council on Thursday voted to spend $600,000 on voter education materials for two November ballot measures, despite criticism from a coalition of community organizations. The city will pay a consultant $450,000 to produce voter education materials for Measure M, a Fresno city proposed sales tax that would raise money for veterans facilities and services. Measure M is proposed as a 0.125% sales tax, or one-eighth of a percent, on sales of taxable goods and services in the city. The city also will pay an advertising firm $150,000 to produce materials for Measure C, a countywide proposed $7 billion, 30-year transportation spending plan renewal.

Funding the Measure C educational materials is what drew criticism from many members of the No on Measure C Committee. They argued it was unlikely the education materials would be impartial and ultimately would amount to using taxpayer money for campaign materials, which is illegal. Many community members spoke during public comment in opposition to the agenda item. City officials disagreed and said the city attorney’s office reviewed the spending proposal to make sure no laws would be broken.

Before Thursday’s vote, City Manager Georgeanne White said she personally would oversee the contracts to ensure all laws are followed. The council’s ultimate approval hinged on the condition that all materials must be reviewed by the city attorney’s office before they are distributed. “I’m giving my commitment on this dais that we will follow the direction that no materials will be going out without the city attorney having reviewed them,” White said. “So we will be very cautious. We’re very clear on not only what the government code says and what the FPPC guidance says. …We all want to stay out of trouble.” Measure C was prepared by local political leaders, including Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer. Citing internal polls that show that Fresno County voters want, first and foremost, their neighborhood streets improved, the plan’s proponents want to spend the majority of Measure C’s revenue over the next 30 years to repave local roads. The No on C Committee argues that the plan does not do enough to build new sidewalks, improve public transit or fight climate change.

Click here to read the full article at the Fresno Bee

Comments

  1. Let me see. Inside council will oversee this issue.

    Government is not supposed to campaign for elections items.

    The now compromised Fresno Council is only following the illegal activity of Caltrans that set the standard for criminal activity. Clatrans ran ad’s against the proposed repeal of the 6% gasoline tax.

    You know the same tax Slick stated he was taking $6 Billion (yes a billion) for bike paths.

    The Fresno Council is now a “made” criminal council.

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