They must be pretty desperate out there. Something happened to us that we thought we’d share:
Sunday afternoon, we got a call from a polling firm. The nice woman on the phone said she was calling from Nevada, and wanted to ask us some questions about current issues, and we said sure. It turned out to be more interesting than we expected.
After confirming our identity and that we were a property owner, she began asking her questions, all which which revolved around the Clean Water, Clean Beaches parcel tax idea that is up for a hearing with the County Board of Supervisors. We sat through the poll and answered the questions honestly (transparency: we’re absolutely against the tax), and it was rather disturbing.
We asked: who’s behind this survey? Who’s paying for it? The pollster did not know.
Here’s one thing that disturbed us: if you’ve received the designed-to-be-thrown-away notice, you’ll note that it has the exact dollar amount your particular property will be assessed if this measure is passed. The proposed fee is $54 per 5,000 square foot lot -- we have a larger lot, so our assessment is greater. The nice lady who was polling used our exact assessment amount when asking questions. What this says to us that somebody official participated in this poll -- like a government body with access to property records who could come up with our exact assessment.
How much of a follower are you?
We were probably three-quarters of the way through it when we decided to sit down and start taking notes. She gave some unattributed quotes in support of the measure, and asked if this would make us more likely or less likely to vote for it. Then she gave some unattributed quotes opposing the measure, including the following:
“Property owners, schools and businesses already pay flood control taxes and now they are being asked to fork over more money at a time when families are struggling, schools are hurting and businesses are fleeing the state.”
We recognized this as coming from a Dec. 5 press release opposing the measure from Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich (click here).
Toward the end of the call, she gave a list of people and organizations: if they supported the measure, would we be more likely to? The list as we transcribed it, with comments:
- LA County Flood Control District
- Tree People
- Julia Louis Dreyfus, actress and Heal the Bay board member
- LA County League of Conservation Voters
- Thousands of police officers and sheriff deputies of LA county
- The LA Area Chamber of Commerce
- Thousands of nurses in Los Angeles county
- Your mayor
- Los Angeles County Public Works Department,
- UCLA School of Public Health Professor and former Public Health Officer of the California
- Department of Health Services Dr. Richard Jackson.
- US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
- The Construction Industry Coalition of Water Quality
- LA Water Keeper
- Biologists who specialize in water quality and environmental research from USC and UCLA
- Your county supervisor
- Thousands of registered nurses in LA county [as opposed to thousands of nurses, period]
- Amigos de los Rios
- LA County Sheriff Lee Baca
- Los Angeles Times
- Sierra Club
- Coalition of aquarium scientists from the Aquarium of the Pacific, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Monterrey Bay Aquarium, and Scripps Institute.
- The LA County Department of Public Health
- Hundreds of beach lifeguards in LA County
Because if Julia Louis Dreyfus is behind it, by George, so are we!
The pollster also asked if we were more or less likely to support the measure if the school district opposed it. You see, if the measure passes, school districts would be required to pay the fee on their property -- thus taking the money out of the classroom and our children’s education, and putting it in the hands of water bureaucrats. Since the school districts are just swimming in money right now (cough), this sounds like a good thing ... to somebody. Not to us.
Our major problem with this proposal is twofold: one, we are already a high tax state where business and young people are fleeing for greener pastures, and we can’t see any justification for any new tax right now.
Two, there are no specific projects attached to this parcel tax -- just vague ideas. But what it WILL create is a big pot of money that will go to support the salaries and pensions of an entirely new water bureaucracy that will rain money and favors on consultants and local politicians as necessary. We all want clean water and beaches -- we want a robot and a jet pack, too, while we're at it -- but it would be nice to know exactly how they plan on turning this new, endless tax into clean water.
As property owners, we’re still paying for, among other things, PUSD’s Measure Y and TT funds that were stolen, lost, or mismanaged and will never be seen again. Hard to get enthusiastic when another government body says “Trust us.”
But if somebody’s paying a polling firm to take the civic temperature on this measure, there must be a lot at stake. Who's paying for this? And where is the money for the poll coming from?
Meanwhile, Back in Sierra Madre ...
Last August we exposed Mountain Views News columnist Hail Hamilton for a pretty egregious act of unaccredited misappropriation. Which is the polite term for the incivility known as plagiarism. We informed the purported owner of that paper, H. Susan Henderson, but nothing much was ever done about it. I personally was not surprised. You can access the article we posted explaining it all by clicking here.
In this weekend's issue of the Mountain Views News we discovered yet another article that Hail Hamilton misappropriated. Hail called the piece he claimed as his own "PPACA: A Big Step in the Right Direction." However, after a Google search we rather easily determined that a portion of it was taken without accreditation from an article written by a Randy Durbin titled, "Health Reform: A Impetus for Better Public Health Surveillance of Medicaid Populations." Here is a passage from Dr. Durbin's October 2012 article (click here):
The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is aimed primarily at decreasing the number of uninsured Americans and reducing the growth of health care costs. It provides a number of mechanisms—including mandates, subsidies and tax credits—to employers and individuals in order to increase the coverage rate. Additional reforms are aimed at improving health care outcomes and streamlining the delivery of health care. We are left to wonder if increased coverage will yield more data that are useful for tracking outcomes, especially in the context of public health surveillance. Will leveraging those claims data be a meaningful way to augment traditional survey-based public health surveillance activities?
Here is how much of that passage reads in Hail Hamilton's January 12, 2013 column (click here):
PPACA is aimed primarily at decreasing the number of uninsured Americans and reducing the overall costs of healthcare. It provides a number of mechanisms -- including mandates, subsidies, and tax credits -- to employers and individuals in order to increase the coverage rate. Additional reforms are aimed at improving healthcare outcomes and streamlining the delivery of health care.
Since Ms. Henderson rather proudly proclaims herself to be an advocate for local education, and runs unexpurgated publicity releases from the Pasadena Unified School District almost weekly as proof of that devotion, perhaps she would like to reflect upon how plagiarism of the kind revealed in her paper is not exactly the best example for youth? Particularly when she has been informed of it before and chose to do nothing?
Oh, and if you see Hail Hamilton around town, be sure to compliment him on the article cited above. And make a point of asking him who wrote it.
Bonus Coverage: Pasadena Star News "Edison broke rules in response to 2011 windstorm" (click here). Yes, we're all shocked.