Measure L - Voter Guide Statements

Statements appearing in the official county voter information guide:


Argument Against Measure L


This proposal would endorse the practice of mixing funds collected for two different purposes, allowing them to be used for other purposes. Even though this is a long-standing practice in the case of gas service in Palo Alto, that doesn't make it a good idea.


Both basic fairness and economic efficiency depend on connecting the value provided by goods and services with the costs of providing them. The free market naturally sets prices according to supply and demand, and creates incentives for business managers to find more efficient ways to do things. Monopolies, on the other hand, create opportunities for diversion of funds and other sorts of corruption, and can more generally lead to inefficiencies in the long run, especially as technology evolves to make different methods more appropriate.


Understanding the following principles can help avoid these problems:


* Separation of Business and State


As with Separation of Church and State, a society is better off when not everything is dictated from one central authority.


* Governments are the Main Source of Monopolies


Whether through direct ownership and management (i.e., socialism) or through heavy regulation, more parts of our economy are now effectively monopolies than ever were in the days of the "robber barons".


* Transparent Accounting Helps Us Both as Consumers and Citizens


At the very least money paid by customers for a clearly-defined specific service should be used for that service. Diversion of funds can lead both to higher prices than necessary and failure to be prepared for future investments, e.g., in safety and expansion upgrades.


The gas utility is a monopoly. This kind of transfer of funds is the equivalent of a tax. Send a message to the city council that this is not the way things should be set up.


Vote No on Measure L.


Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure L


This measure is on the ballot because the city was not following state law, which requires that this kind of transfer be treated the same way as a tax, with respect to voter approval. The city didn't do that, fought against doing that in court, and lost.


That's why you have an opportunity now to Just Say No.


"Your gas rates will not increase"? That's a funny way of saying "your rates could have been lower, for years and years". Get the joke?


If gas is an "unhealthy" source of energy, what sense does it make to continue a system where the city relies on gas revenue to pay for "basic services"? Doesn't that create a conflict of interest for city officials? How can Palo Alto hope to be a "green" city if its police and libraries depend on sales of fossil fuels?


This is just one example of how the city shifts money around. A new police station paid for by the hotel tax? (Didn't work out very well when the pandemic hit. What happens to the libraries when natural gas gets phased out?)


That Palo Alto has been doing this for 70 years is no excuse. Women couldn't vote – until that changed. Disallowing same-sex marriage was considered obvious – until it wasn't.


Gas revenue should be spent on the expenses of providing gas service. Anything else is sloppy accounting.


You have the power to fix this.


Vote NO on Measure L.