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It's Time to Stop Digging - Vote No On A

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When you are in a hole, you're supposed to stop digging. Unfortunately, it feels like those who are pushing the proposed Auburn Charter (Measure A) are digging a tunnel to nowhere - and sticking taxpayers with the bill. Just about everyone agrees that Auburn has worked well for more than 125 years as a General Law City. It is in better financial condition than most other cities - and just about every Charter City - in California. So how did we get here? The true origins of Measure A lie with a national lobbying group called Associated Builders and Contractors, or ABC. Over the past several years, ABC has been unsuccessfully lobbying for similar proposals all over California because it supports their special interest agenda. The aspiring State Assemblyman who wrote Measure A confirmed as much when he included ABC materials in official city council reports, Op-Eds, and other communications to try and manufacture a crisis that doesn't exist. It still doesn't. That hasn't stopped Measure A's proponents from going to great lengths and sparing no taxpayer expense in an effort to keep voters from learning the facts, risks, and potentially disastrous consequences that this proposal could invite to our community. Last summer, and in spite of the warnings of Auburn's own city attorney about the multitude of problems that have come to other charter cities, city politicians rejected repeated requests to form an independent citizens group to vet the virtually unchecked new powers Measure A would give them. These powers include the ability to pay themselves more, give away taxpayer funds, impose "hidden taxes" through higher fines and penalties, award lucrative city contracts to well-connected cronies, and usurp existing laws that support public safety and prevent backroom deal making...among many, many others. Indeed, the decision to prevent more thorough public review before rushing Measure A to the ballot was "a desperate cry for more scrutiny," as former Auburn Mayor Hank Gonzales put it. That scrutiny came in the form of a group of local residents, former City Mayors and Placer County's leading taxpayer advocate exposing Measure A's many loopholes and the problems similar proposals have brought to other communities - not the least of which have been a mountain of costly lawsuits, cronyism, corruption, inferior public works, and even bankruptcy. Unable to dispute these facts on the merits, pro-charter politicians took the extra step of proving the point by spending almost $30,000 taxpayer dollars (and counting) on a lawsuit designed to keep Measure A's loopholes and potential pitfalls from public view. In rejecting the City's frivolous case, a Placer County Superior Court Judge affirmed the facts at the heart of the argument against Measure A. The City's top elections official even came out publicly against the lawsuit filed in his name, while pointing out that the Yes on A campaign is relying on both undocumented and misleading claims about sewer repairs. Most recently, we learned that city politicians have approved spending even more of our tax dollars to hire the-law firm that is linked to the most notorious case of charter city corruption in history - in the now infamous Charter City of Bell. The irony is that no matter what happens to Measure A on June 5, Auburn taxpayers will now be in the position of helping to subsidize this firm's defense against the malpractice lawsuit it now faces as a result of the Bell scandal. You just can't make this stuff up. Ultimately, that leaves a twofold question before voters on June 5. First, do the undocumented claims about the benefits of Measure A outweigh the well-documented risks? Have those waging a campaign of provably false assertions, taxpayer-financed litigation and even personal attacks on charter opponents made the case for more giving themselves even more power? In a word, NO. The fact is that there is no good reason to make Auburn more like the financially crippled charter cities San Francisco, Vallejo, Stockton, Folsom, or Sacramento. Bottom line - it's time to stop digging. Learn the facts for yourself at preserveauburn.com, and please Vote No on Measure A. BUD PISAREK, Auburn Former Auburn Mayor