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The HMB Taxpayer Protection Act Initiative has Been Filed...


This afternoon a group of Half Moon Bay Residents filed the Taxpayer Protection Act Initiative at City Hall. This begins the lengthy process that will start with gathering signatures beginning in a couple of weeks, to the submission of them and the November election cycle itself.

A link to the actual Initiative Packet can be found here: Web Link

In case you don't want to read the whole legal document it can be summarized pretty easily: The act requires that before actually issuing Lease Revenue Bonds a supermajority of Councilmembers must vote in favor of the resolution issuing the bonds. (In other words a 4-1 majority approving the actual issuance of the bonds...) Other cities- like San Jose have voluntarily placed such restrictions on their own Councils as they have been burned by LRB's in the past and recognize that before such a bond measure is issued it needs to have a supermajority of support in the Council.

If you have any questions or concerns I'm pretty easy to find, although I will not be leading this particular effort.

Thank you,



Good job folks. The citizens need to do everything possible to retain the power of the vote.

Thanks for the effort

I applaud this move. We are fortunate to have an active citizenry. My only question, once passed how will the council majority circumvent it? Are there other bonds they could issue?

Hi George,

The short answer is no, there are not other bonds they could issue. If you read the act carefully you will see the definitions of what bonds are covered. Essentially any bond issue that doesn't receive the approval of the voters will be required to have no less than a 4-1 majority. (Actually the bar is set at 66 percent- in case the number of seats changes for some reason in the future.)

Since new and more creative financing schemes are constantly being invented we tried to craft it so that the City would have to meet the (not unreasonable) requirement of a supermajority for any bond issue that doesn't get voter approval. This will (in theory) protect against any new schemes that are invented in the future to try to overcome the will of the people.



One other question, didn't the library lease revenue bonds pass by a 4 - 1 majority? Even if wasn't a 4-1 vote, how would this relate back to that vote?

I should also note that the Act as proposed deliberately refrains from interfering with the City's ministerial right to issue debt, or in this case bonds. The City is still absolutely free to issue whatever kind of debt it can convince people to purchase, all that will be required to do so is either a vote of the people, or a supermajority of the Council.

It's actually a completely common-sense approach to the problem, one that is entirely equitable and fair, and one that does not place an undue burden on the Council or the City.



SOrry, we're going back and forth.

THey ahve not actually voted to issue the LRBs yet. THat will happen sometime net year, so teh ACt would affect the outcome of that vote specifically.

The vote in the last preliminary approval- to proceed with the project and look into lease revenue bonds was in fact 4-1, and who knows, when it comes to next year it might be again. One thing I do know is that Deborah Penrose was cajoled into her vote by Rick Kowalczyk's pleas for unity, and if I were a betting man I wouldn't bet on her doing the same thing the next time around.



Wow that was a lot of typos!! Need to get a new keyboard I think!!

Thanks. Go Get 'Em!

GREAT work David and group. This will serve the cities best interest for years to come. Thank you.

Thanks Justin, but this one really isn't me. I'm the only soul in our group who frequents TA, so I'm the one fronting it here, but it really was a group effort.



This is the perfect solution, it took 2 years extra, and who knows how much spending, but this is a right move.

Cut off their funding. Or don't.

At a minimum allow our vote to decide who is in charge here. It's either the incumbent majority, or the thousands of voters that elected Penrose and Ruddock amidst a maelstrom of opposition.

The voting bloc represented by those two is gaining momentum. Soon enough they will notice what the voters are saying or pay the price. I hope they can adjust to the new power structure...One that sees completely open and transparent government as the single check and balance we're willing to accept...

When is the election for the TPA, and is there a risk that the three might vote before then to issue the LRBs early, even though it will cost us unnecessary interest?

November is the goal and they can try.

Hi Uff,

Worm is correct on both counts, although if they were to try to pass them with a measure on the ballot for a November election- and the measure passed, then a recall wouldn't become an option, it would become obligatory- and they'd get crucified at the polls. (All of which they know...)

Perhaps they will try to do what they did last time (It wouldn't surprise me a bit) by stealing our initiative, and drafting another one- the HMB Taxpayer Protection and Performance Act, or something close enough to sow confusion. This act would say the opposite of ours- that the Council is well within its rights to issue LRBs with a simple majority etc.

Given how Measures E and F went, (and the fact that Measure E was funded entirely by just two people- Alifano and Kowalczyk, one of whom is no longer here pretty much as a result) I'd like to think that they will be smart enough not to pursue that course- but who knows what will happen. Right now the City Attorney will be tearing the package apart to try to find something, anything, he can use to toss it back to us. If that doesn't happen then I'm sure there will be a plan B, but we'll have to wait and see how that turns out...

Didn't the LRB have a 4 to 1 majority?

Hi DCE, what I was getting at was, what's to stop them from approving the LRBs with a 3-2 majority well before any measure hits the polls? They could conceivably vote for it next month, right? Or are there protective laws etc?

Also I was happily surprised that the more general issue of Lease Revenue Bonds is being floated rather than the cost of the library itself. It makes sense to decouple them and is the right thing to do for the future.

Finally, there may be more people willing to financially support an alternate library measure than there were for the City's bridge measure but it doesn't scare me. Most people want a vote before the City commits each of us to so much debt and will probably not want to give up the opportunity for a 4-1 super majority requirement, or requiring a direct vote of the people.

Hi samiam- please see my response above for the details on the vote from February and the implications going forward. If that doesn't answer your question then try me again and I'll do my best.

Hi Uff- I know that's what you were suggesting in your question, and the short answer is: There is nothing to prevent them from doing that, and there is no law I am aware of that would prevent them from doing so. (But as I said above- that would really be career suicide for them if they were to do it, although as Mr. Condotti will happily tell you "Don't get your legal advice on Talkabout!!")

I've asked the two Deborahs to try to agendize a discussion that would see the Council adopt the rule and ordnance as written in the initiative, thereby saving us all a lot of grief in the process. I don't hold much hope that they (the majority) will do this, but it would be a huge step forward for all of us. (And it would mirror what San Jose did- albeit without the threat of an initiative hanging over their heads. The SJC Council just recognized that this was a really good idea and adopted it themselves.)



Ah, so if even the San Jose Sidewalk gang can see it's the right move, so should our Council.


One other thing Uff that you brought up- the decoupling of this initiative from the library itself.

That's an important one to look at because we're not against a new/improved library at all. (Even though I am sure this will devolve into a battle of "anti-library people" against "pro-library" people.)

Lease Revenue Bonds were a financing gimmick invented in the 1980's when California couldn't get the people to pass General Obligation bonds to pay for new prisons. The State wanted to build new prisons, so they worked with Wall Street to come up with this scheme.

That's fine at the State level (actually it sort of sucks) but the State can afford the huge liabilities that come with LRB's when they implode, whereas HMB may well be sunk by the LRB issue if anything changes in the future.

So this really isn't about a library, or the cost of the library at all. It's about using a form of financing that was invented solely as a means of getting around the voters of the municipality, and our desire as a community to simply insure that if this is going to happen it be more than a 3-2 majority of the Council that makes it happen.

Not remotely unreasonable, and definitively not about a library- it's about our fiscal future. Nothing more and nothing less.



Exactly. It's not about the library, it's about an honest and open process.

One quick note, and an important one too.

The City Attorney is going to take what we submitted (Link above) and craft his own Ballot Title and Summary. If you want to know how the City is going to deal with this initiative that Title and Summary will be key. I believe he has 15 days to do so, and as soon as I have it I will post it here.

What I can say is the Summary that was provided for the Main Street Bridge Preservation Act last year was as far from what we submitted as it was possible to get- without completely misrepresenting the actual initiative.

If Mr. Condotti translates that which you can read at the link faithfully then we'll have a good idea that the City will play fair on this. If he doesn't, then we will likely be looking at a fiasco very similar to the Measure E Measure F charade.

Either way I'll post the Summary as soon as I have it- in a couple of weeks. And either way people are watching- which is a good thing I think...



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