Category Archives: Tax Policy and Issues

Articles, information, and editorials on Tax Policy issues.

The means to adequately fund public safety services, national defense, and other vital services depends on a strong economy, which necessarily depends on an economy that is not overly burdened and constrained by excessive taxes and government regulations and restrictions on business and economic activity.

Excessive taxes infringe on individual liberty; harm the economy by taking money out of the private sector, preventing and discouraging production, economic activity, and investment, and causes a net loss of jobs because government spends taxpayer money less efficiently than that money would have been spent in the private sector had it not been taxed out of the private sector.

Is Marie Fellhauer Endangering Proposition 13? – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

Is Marie Fellhauer Endangering Proposition 13?

Marie Fellhauer and Dave Atkinson are campaigning as conservatives, but the facts prove otherwise. Fellhauer and Atkinson even endorsed Scott Houston for Water Board Director after he ran as a self-described Progressive (ultra-liberal) for Democratic Party County Central Committee, and after he lobbied City Council to enact Measure P (to outsource our local fire department to L.A. County) directly into law without letting us vote on it.

Marie Fellhauer, Dave Atkinson, and Bill Fisher have repeatedly blamed El Segundo’s financial problems on Proposition 13 and the lower percentage of property taxes coming back to El Segundo compared to other cities. However, El Segundo has higher property values than most California cities, which helps compensate for that. Also, roughly three-fourths of the land area in El Segundo is commercial or industrial, producing significantly more tax revenue and costing significantly less for City services than residential property.

Fellhauer claims she will get the state legislature to increase the percentage of property taxes coming back to El Segundo. However, she fails to identify which cities will volunteer to give up some of their percentage so El Segundo can have more.

Fellhauer may be playing with fire and opening up a Pandora’s Box by encouraging the state legislature to change Proposition 13. One possible outcome might be weakening or eliminating Proposition 13 altogether and going back to the days when homeowners, especially the elderly, were taxed out of their homes by greedy tax-and-spend politicians and government employee unions.

– Mike Robbins


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Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) honors former El Segundo City Councilman Mike Robbins

October 1, 2014

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), founded by California Proposition 13 sponsor Howard Jarvis, has honored former El Segundo City Councilman Mike Robbins as a “Hometown Hero” for leading the successful campaign to defeat Measure A in the April 8, 2014 El Segundo General Municipal Election. Measure A had ELEVEN tax hikes in one ballot measure!

Here is the article in their official statewide newsletter, Taxing Times, Vol. 40, Issue 3 for Fall 2014:


HOMETOWN HEROES

HJTA was very pleased to receive the following update from former El Segundo councilman Mike Robbins after local Election Day, April 8. Here are excerpts:

We had a great victory in El Segundo last night! The citizens and taxpayers won, and the city-employee unions with lots of campaign money and a significant conflict of interest lost – AGAIN!

Thank you to everyone who helped.

El Segundo Measure A, ELEVEN TAX HIKES IN ONE MEASURE, taxing RESIDENTS and BUSINESSES, lost by 57% NO to 43% YES, despite the “Yes on A” campaign spending a whopping $33,129.87 in small-town El Segundo, including $17,500 from four city-employee unions – $5,000 from the fire union, $5,000 from the police union, $5,000 from the city employees’ union, and $2,500 from the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council in Sacramento (supervisory and professional employees’ union) at a cost of $25.74 per vote.

Measure A would have created new taxes on residents for electricity, water, gas, and all forms of “communications services,” including landline telephones, cell phones, Internet, cable TV, and satellite, to pay for excessive compensation and pensions for city employees. Firefighters and police are paid $150,000 to more than $380,000 each in total compensation per year.

I, together with two other former El Segundo City Council members, and two other long-term city residents, co-authored and submitted an argument against Measure A and a rebuttal to the argument for Measure A, and I authored and distributed two one-page double-sided campaign flyers on Saturday, April 5, and a third on Sunday, April 6.

The HJTA hat is off to Mike and other active El Segundo taxpayers who made this victory possible.

( Continue reading … )


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Posted in California, Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo News, Elections, Firefighter Union Corruption, Letters to the Editor, Measure P - Firefighters Union Initiative, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Marie Fellhauer Endangering Proposition 13? – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

Gouging Hotels – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Kip Haggerty

Gouging Hotels

To my dismay, I see the City Council has come back to us yet again with the immoral proposition of gouging hotel customers for the crime of not being us. The argument in favor is based on the bromide “every one else is doing it.” Anything higher than the sales tax rate is just plain wrong and I hope we have the collective wisdom to vote it down again. Instead of gouging visitors, we could always vote out the incumbents to keep any one from accumulating two terms and their associated health insurance for life benefit. This could save substantial funds for lifetime health care insurance of “retired” council members.

– Kip Haggerty


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Posted in California, Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), El Segundo Measure B TOT Tax Hike, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gouging Hotels – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Kip Haggerty

Entitlement Versus Affordability – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by David Burns

Entitlement Versus Affordability

There’s been frequent talk about what El Segundo residents “deserve” when it comes to funding public safety services. The discussion should really be about what we can afford. Residents got what they deserved in past budgets that funded public safety services from 2000 through 2009. Police and Fire enjoyed annual pay raises in the range of 5% to 9+% annually from 2000 through 2009. They received a public benefit of enhanced pensions that saw city costs rise by ten’s of millions of dollars over a decade. By getting what our past City Council’s felt our public safety officials were entitled to or “deserved” nearly bankrupted our city. City Hall’s past culture of entitlement nearly cost us our independent fire department and paramedic ambulance services. El Segundo had a platinum spending culture, unfortunately, our budget couldn’t sustain such entitlements or costs.

That’s the hard lesson residents and elected officials must remember. The City Council has taken a lot of hits for maintaining fiscal responsibility and balanced budget accountability, resulting in a barrage of disrespect from the public safety unions displaying unprofessionalism by name calling and disrespecting city leadership. This must end.

The new City Council must remember the lessons of the past. If Measure B passes, we must look to the future of what El Segundo can afford. What El Segundo deserves is quality public safety services, living within our means, maintaining services that are affordable, and ensuring that public safety is provided with quality equipment, resources, and training.

– David Burns


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Posted in California, Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), El Segundo Measure B TOT Tax Hike, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Entitlement Versus Affordability – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by David Burns

Strange Election – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Marianne Fong

Strange Election

The police and fire unions are endorsing and campaigning for the three challenger candidates because they want incumbents Marie Fellhauer and Dave Atkinson off the City Council. This makes for a strange election, because Fellhauer and Atkinson should be off the City Council, and challengers Carol Pirsztuk and Don Brann should be elected. The unions usually endorse the worst tax-and-spend candidates.

We must judge the incumbent City Council candidates by their voting record, especially when they had a majority with Bill Fisher and ran amok, not by their campaign rhetoric, false accomplishments, and campaign promises.

Fellhauer and Atkinson have been tax-and-spend politicians. They voted for at least a dozen tax hikes, on residents and businesses, and fee increases, to pay for excessive police and fire union raises handed out by their allies Eric Busch and Bill Fisher.

They played a financial shell game to claim they balanced the City budget. They spent down the City’s Reserve Account, and borrowed large sums from the Equipment Replacement Fund, which is used to save up money over the years to pay for everything from new computers to new police cars and fire engines.

Fellhauer and Atkinson continued the Chevron Shakedown started by Busch and Fisher, and effectively extorted an additional $8.5 million average per year for 15 years from Chevron, without justification.

They are talking like conservatives, and padding their campaign literature, taking credit for accomplishments of the current fiscally conservative majority. Fellhauer is even quoting Ronald Reagan in this masquerade.

– Marianne Fong


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Posted in California, Doug Willmore's Great Chevron Shakedown, Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Strange Election – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Marianne Fong

The Notorious Measure B – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Edward Ryan

The Notorious Measure B

By now the USPS has brought us all a slick, full-color mailing which tells us to vote approval for the notorious Measure B. What a surprise: it is paid for by the cops’ and firemen’s PAC’s. Once again I urge my fellow residents to vote “No” and reject the 50% increase in the obnoxious TOT. We don’t need more taxes, we need fiscal responsibility. See you at the polls.

– Edward Ryan Continue reading

Posted in California, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Notorious Measure B – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Edward Ryan

Elect Brann and Pirsztuk – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

Elect Brann and Pirsztuk

I led the successful grassroots campaign against Measure P, the firefighters’ union initiative to hijack our fire department and contract with Los Angeles County for a significantly reduced level of service, all to lock-in and protect their excessive and unsustainable total annual compensation of $150,000 to more than $350,000 per year. I also led the successful grassroots campaign against the residential trash collection fees, because taxes already pay for that, and against Measure A, eleven tax hikes in one ballot measure, on residents and businesses.

City Council candidates Marie Fellhauer, Dave Atkinson, and Drew Boyles all publicly endorsed Measure A and were featured in campaign mailers supporting it. Candidates Don Brann and Carol Pirsztuk are fiscal conservatives who did not endorse or support Measure A.

I support Don Bran for City Council because he is intelligent and fiscally conservative, has no hidden agenda, he listens, and if he makes a mistake, he learns and corrects it. Likewise, I support Carol Pirsztuk.

Brann voted, together with Fellhauer’s allies and supporters Eric Busch and Bill Fisher, to hire the disastrous City Manager Doug Willmore. Willmore cost our city millions of dollars. He wanted to effectively mortgage City Hall for 10.3 million dollars to pay for the 11.25% to 32.3% in raises Busch and Fisher gave to the already overpaid firefighters and police during the Great Recession. Brann realized his mistake and corrected it before leaving City Council, by voting with Carl Jacobson and Suzanne Fuentes to fire Willmore.

– Mike Robbins


Related Article:

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) honors former El Segundo City Councilman Mike Robbins

October 1, 2014

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), founded by California Proposition 13 sponsor Howard Jarvis, has honored former El Segundo City Councilman Mike Robbins as a “Hometown Hero” for leading the successful campaign to defeat Measure A in the April 8, 2014 El Segundo General Municipal Election. Measure A had ELEVEN tax hikes in one ballot measure!

Here is the article in their official statewide newsletter, Taxing Times, Vol. 40, Issue 3 for Fall 2014:


HOMETOWN HEROES

HJTA was very pleased to receive the following update from former El Segundo councilman Mike Robbins after local Election Day, April 8. Here are excerpts:

We had a great victory in El Segundo last night! The citizens and taxpayers won, and the city-employee unions with lots of campaign money and a significant conflict of interest lost – AGAIN!

Thank you to everyone who helped.

El Segundo Measure A, ELEVEN TAX HIKES IN ONE MEASURE, taxing RESIDENTS and BUSINESSES, lost by 57% NO to 43% YES, despite the “Yes on A” campaign spending a whopping $33,129.87 in small-town El Segundo, including $17,500 from four city-employee unions – $5,000 from the fire union, $5,000 from the police union, $5,000 from the city employees’ union, and $2,500 from the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council in Sacramento (supervisory and professional employees’ union) at a cost of $25.74 per vote.

Measure A would have created new taxes on residents for electricity, water, gas, and all forms of “communications services,” including landline telephones, cell phones, Internet, cable TV, and satellite, to pay for excessive compensation and pensions for city employees. Firefighters and police are paid $150,000 to more than $380,000 each in total compensation per year.

I, together with two other former El Segundo City Council members, and two other long-term city residents, co-authored and submitted an argument against Measure A and a rebuttal to the argument for Measure A, and I authored and distributed two one-page double-sided campaign flyers on Saturday, April 5, and a third on Sunday, April 6.

The HJTA hat is off to Mike and other active El Segundo taxpayers who made this victory possible.

( Continue reading … )


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Posted in California, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), El Segundo Measure B TOT Tax Hike, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Measure A - 5 New Taxes and 6 Tax Inceases, Measure P - Firefighters Union Initiative, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Elect Brann and Pirsztuk – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

Doesn’t Agree With Officers’ Statements – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Loretta Frye

Doesn’t Agree With Officers’ Statements

As a resident of this community for many years, I am having a difficult time understanding the statements emanating from the ES Police Officers, or the wife of one of the officers, regarding contract negotiations. She accused the Council of being focused on “money, money, money” and suggested the group is “hell bent on bringing down the police department.” However, neither she nor any of the officers have mentioned the unfunded pension liability of $106 million owed to PERS, and that to eliminate it would cost each household in the City of El Segundo $44,000 dollars. Or that the officers last contract required them to pay 3% of the pension costs, that other officers previously to her husbands hiring had paid in 9%.

Other cities are experiencing the same problem with unfunded pension liability, (example Torrance owes $300 million), and five cities within the state have declared bankruptcy, because they were unable to make any pension payments to PERS, and this affects everyone within the retirement system.

No one speaks about the healthcare benefits, which the city pays from the time of his hire, until the day he leaves this world. It is not known if these funds are also unfunded.

The City Council is not trying to destroy the police department or put the public safety at risk, and I feel that such statements are inflammatory, and the attack on Council member Fellhauer or any other is uncalled for.

– Loretta Frye


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Posted in California, Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Doesn’t Agree With Officers’ Statements – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Loretta Frye

Police Union Fundraiser Mailer – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

Police Union Fundraiser Mailer

The police officers’ “association” (union) sent out their annual union fundraiser mailer, exploiting murders of police officers elsewhere to solicit money from residents and businesses. Giving them money is absurd for many reasons. If you already gave them money, try to get it back.

First, the non-deductible contributions go to their union. The police and fire unions spent more than $10,000 in their labor contract campaign for 11 half-page newspaper ads, two city-wide mailers, and mobile billboards driven around town with falsehoods attacking our city council for doing their job to protect our city from bankruptcy.

Second, the police and fire unions contributed $10,000 to Measure A in 2014. Measure A was eleven tax hikes in one measure, on residents and businesses, to pay for big past and future police and fire compensation and pension increases.

Third, the unions don’t need our donations. Police and firefighters are paid far more than nearly all El Segundo residents. Their total compensation has been about $150,000 to $385,000 each per year, with three to six million dollar pensions, due to union campaigning to elect city councilmembers who give the biggest pay and pension increases – and raise our taxes and fees to pay for it.

And fourth, the union solicitation is corrupt. It uses realistic-looking fake ESPD police badges, and many residents believe they will get faster and better service or avoid a ticket if they pay off the union and put the union’s police badge decal on their window.

– Mike Robbins Continue reading

Posted in Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Measure A - 5 New Taxes and 6 Tax Inceases, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Police Union Fundraiser Mailer – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

Union Offers and Counter-Offers – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

Union Offers and Counter-Offers

The police and firefighter “associations” (unions) spent more than $10,000 in their dishonest labor contract campaign since 5/28/15, including 11 half-page newspaper ads, two city-wide mailers, and mobile billboards driven around town, attacking Mayor Suzanne Fuentes
and our City Council for doing their job to protect our city from bankruptcy.

The unions claimed (7/30/15 ad) “We don’t want raises. We just want to stop the cuts.” False. The Police Union Contract Offers and Counter- Offers finally posted on the City website shows they want 9% in general pay raises (3% per year for 3 years), including retroactive raises, in addition to automatic 5% annual step raises, periodic longevity raises, and various special compensation raises hidden in their union contract. They want the City to pay most of the CalPERS Pension Employee Contribution, in addition to the full Employer Contribution. They want taxpayers to fund nearly all of their three to six million-dollar pensions and their healthcare. And they want to work only three days per week.

There’s no budget surplus as the unions claimed. The City must replenish the Reserve Fund, repay money borrowed from the Equipment Replacement Fund, and fund the backlog of tens of millions of dollars in deferred infrastructure maintenance.

Police and firefighter total compensation has been about $150,000 to $385,000 each per year, due to union campaigning to elect City Councilmembers. The unions are not being mistreated. It is they who are mistreating us with their Culture of Entitlement, Ingratitude, and Corruption.

– Mike Robbins


The police and fire union labor contract negotiation offers and counter-offers, released by the City of El Segundo after reluctant and delayed permission of the unions, will be provided here as soon as time permits.


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Posted in California, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Union Offers and Counter-Offers – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

EDD and Me – by Heidi Maerker, CEO of Herald Publications

EDD and Me

Dear Readers,

I usually don’t share my opinion in Herald Publications newspapers, but I think this is important, especially to other small business owners.

A few months ago, I received a letter notifying me that Employment Development Department (EDD) wanted to conduct an audit. EDD is part of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and handles the audit and collection of payroll taxes and maintains employment records for California workers.

I had just been audited by State Fund and wasn’t too concerned. Turns out it wasn’t a routine audit. EDD was on a mission to reclassify my independent contractors as employees, which they did. I went from having five part-time employees to over 25 employees and I was fined $13,000. EDD did not discuss their findings with me or ask me any questions related to my Independent Contractors. They reclassified everyone I issued a 1099 in the past three years, regardless of the circumstances. I was stunned and didn’t know where to turn.

I had to hire attorneys to represent me and I reached out to anyone I could think of to help. I contacted my newspaper association California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA), Congresswoman Maxine Waters office, Senator Ben Allen’s office, Assembly Member Autumn Burke’s office, Supervisor Don Knabe’s office and El Segundo Mayor Suzanne Fuentes. Only Mayor Fuentes took action.

Mayor Fuentes reached out and connected me to Assembly Member David Hadley’s office. These two elected officials stepped up and actively helped me. Sarah Wilfong, of Assembly Member Hadley’s office, regularly reached out to me and monitored what was happening, contacted EDD on my behalf and I felt supported 100%.

EDD had made factual and procedural errors … Continue reading

Posted in California, El Segundo, El Segundo News, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Tax Policy and Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on EDD and Me – by Heidi Maerker, CEO of Herald Publications