‘False and Misleading’ Cost Estimates on Measure K ‘Sabotaged the Democratic Process’, Says Proponent in Letter to the Editor
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To the Board of Supervisors, the County Administrative Office, and representatives of the local media:Earlier this week I learned that a local union refused an endorsement of Measure K due to the misinformation from the County pertaining to the projected costs of Measure K. This is a very unfortunate situation as
false and misleading cost “estimates” which were allowed to be presented on County letterhead have effectively undermined the quality of public discourse
and in doing so, whether by negligence or design, has sabotaged the democratic process. If a union’s endorsement process was misled by the misinformation, there must be voters who are submitting their mail-in ballots as I type who have incorporated that misinformation into their voting decisions despite the corrective follow-up stories in the Times Standard and our campaign’s efforts to correct the record.
This is a very serious matter and the County Administrative Office and the Board of Supervisors have done voters a huge disservice. I understand that the County has terminated the employee who authored the report. I am sorry for this development and I can only guess at the reasons, but the timing is hard to disregard as coincidence. The author is not the only one who should take some responsibility. The numbers were presented to the Board of Supervisors and only one Supervisor asked questions which were intended to ascertain their basis. The questions went pretty much unanswered and the numbers were presented to the public and media as if they were based on fact. The author subsequently admitted to the Times Standard that the figures were arbitrary, but the damage to the discussion of the merits of Measure K had been done.
Again, in early September The County Administrative Office, acting on request of the Board of Supervisors, issued a report on projected costs of Measure K which contained estimates outrageously high and completely lacking in supportive details. Usually such an analysis includes discussion of offsets, but apparently Measure K is the only Measure or Proposition in history with huge costs and absolutely no savings.
I personally first learned that the costs would be on the BOS agenda on Labor Day afternoon, the day before the meeting of the presentation. But we on the Yes on Measure K Committee were unable to adjust our work schedules on such short notice. Unfortunately, we had not anticipated such a one-sided analysis or we would have been checking the agendas posted online every Friday. I was in a supermarket when a friend sent me a link to the report, which had already been posted on an online forum. One Supervisor contacted me and, in a scramble, I came up with some questions he could ask – questions which were not really answered.
The report was made with wild estimates of the staff hour costs for the Sheriff’s Office taking up nearly half of the projected costs – $85,000 to $130,000 to “track and monitor.” As one of the authors of the Measure I was extremely confused. I would later read in the Times Standard report that the Sheriff reported that he would be required to “track and report” all ICE activities in the County. I later viewed the video of the BOS meeting where the Sheriff said that he might have to dedicate one or two deputies to handle that requirement. I am assuming that the Sheriff is confusing the Measure K provisions with something else because there is no such requirement in Measure K.
The following is what is required of the Sheriff’s Office.
“By no later than July 1, 2019, the Sheriff and Juvenile Probation Officer shall each provide to the Board of Supervisors a written report stating the number of detentions that were solely based on civil immigration detainers (if any) during the first six months following the effective date of this Chapter, and detailing the rationale behind each of those civil immigration detainers. Thereafter, the Sheriff and Juvenile Probation Officer shall each submit a written report to the Board of Supervisors, by January 1st and July 1st of each year, addressing the following issues for the time period covered by the report:
(a) a description of all communications received from the Federal agency charged with enforcement of the Federal immigration law, including but not limited to the number of civil immigration detainers, notification requests, or other types of communications.
(b) a description of any communications the Department made to the Federal agency charged with enforcement of the Federal immigration law, including but not limited to any Department’s responses to inquires as described herein.”
That’s it. He has to log communications to and from ICE and type up semi-annual reports on them. $130,000?
We have already submitted writings to the various local print media and on radio with more detailed responses to the report. The author of the report subsequently admitted to the Times Standard that he pulled his figures out of the air with some vague “baseline.” I am not going to go through each item on the report. We in the Measure K campaign have done that in various forums. It would have been nice to have spent more time discussing immigration policy and the merits of the measure itself, but we have been forced to spend much of our time responding to the report.
At the BOS hearing, County Counsel stated that some of their cost projections were based upon anticipated lawsuits for those wrongfully deported (Measure K excludes any new basis for actions for monetary damages- something County Counsel neglected to mention) or disgruntled employees following discipline for somehow failing to respect the very basic provisions of the Measure. Nothing was mentioned of Measure K’s assurance that the County would avoid lawsuits with parents over child custody. Or wrongful detention lawsuits.
And nothing was mentioned of savings in avoiding the training necessary for federal/local joint legal task forces.
But the problem with the report is even more fundamental in its very structure. I am told that the County Administrative Office is working on revised more accurate report. I hope it provides details rather than vague categories of “training” or “tracking and reporting” which led to supervisors making statements during the meeting and to the media talking about all the “training” which would be needed to help 2000 county employees learn how to not call ICE. Or speak to a supervisor before calling ICE. For the vast majority of County employees, if they have read this paragraph they are now adequately “trained.”
In the aftermath of the report, the campaign consulted the Asian Law Caucus for understanding. We presented the report, the media coverage, and the text of the Measure itself. They, like us, were shocked at the magnitude of the misinformation, and they explained how a ballot measure analysis should be analyzed for cost. You don’t just throw a bunch of vague general categories into a list of the departments and assign arbitrary numbers to each. What you do is dissect the actual proposed ordinance to isolate each of the tasks the Measure would require County government to perform. And then you list the costs associated with each task, perhaps consulting each department or agency involved. This way you do not have a report which makes it to the media with made up tasks and requirements and you have presented something which could actually be analyzed so a reader knows what the numbers mean, or at least have a reasonable understanding of them. I have attached their analysis to this email. Please let me know if you cannot access it.
I am not representing the Asian Law Caucus as unbiased. They support the goals of the Sanctuary Movement. I am not asking you to accept their analysis without skepticism, although I believe they are accurate and that the actual costs of Measure K would be minimal. But I challenge the County to project different costs for each listed requirement/government task under Measure K. Perhaps there are hidden costs in the form of state requirements which are triggered by elements of Measure K? If so, please be specific and thorough so that voters can be informed rather than manipulated, even inadvertently. I will give everyone involved in the report the benefit of the doubt that the falsities were unintentional, but it sure felt like a cluster expletive so I hope they will learn from the experience.
And I urge the local media to dig a little deeper. Again, the Times Standard has published a couple of articles which have corrected most of the record for anyone reading them, but this was a clear case of misinformation making it half way around the world before the truth could get its sneakers on. I don’t know that the damage can be undone as many people have already voted. But I am hoping that the County will endeavor from this point on to be specific and detailed in analysis, and more balanced in its considerations, when involving itself in an election campaign even indirectly.
Thank you for considering my words. Please do not hesitate to contact the Yes on Measure K campaign if you have further questions.
Eric V. Kirk
Click to see the analysis provided: