Point/Counterpoint: Measure A - Fighting for Auburn’s future

Point/counterpoint: measure A
By: Kevin Hanley and Keith Nesbitt, guest columnists
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From now until Election Day on June 5, Auburn residents will have front-row seats in a replay of the David vs. Goliath story. The battle is about Measure A, “The Home Rule for Auburn Charter of 2012,” which will give Auburn residents more local control over how their city is run, save money for residents and business owners and permanently guarantee support for volunteers working on projects to improve the qualify of life in our small, historic town. Goliath is a Sacramento lobbyist group called the “California Alliance for Jobs,” which is funded by large corporations and unions. The author of the “Argument against Measure A,” which will be mailed to every Auburn voter in May, is the executive director of this Sacramento lobbyist group. The treasurer of “Preserve Auburn” is from Sacramento. The spokesman of “Preserve Auburn” is a professional campaign consultant who lives in Auburn (Note: The city in which the spokesman lives was changed to reflect his recent move to Auburn). To keep power in the hands of the pliable California Legislature, this Sacramento lobbyist group is about to unleash a $25,000 campaign to convince voters that the five people that they elected to the Auburn City Council are a bunch of crooks. Here’s the truth. For decades, Sacramento politicians have imposed expensive mandates on general law cities like Auburn and dictated how they spend your tax dollars. Like the frog in the boiling pot, the choice is to die slowly or jump out. So far, voters in 120 cities, including Roseville and Grass Valley, have taken advantage of the “home rule” provision of the California Constitution and become charter cities to maximize their local control. After a detailed 17-month analysis, the Auburn City Council voted 5-0 to support “The Home Rule For Auburn Charter of 2012” on the ballot for three practical reasons. First, Measure A would shift the power to solve local problems — from animal control to weed abatement — back into the hands of Auburn residents, who can hold members of the Auburn City Council accountable for their actions. For instance, Auburn is a flammable tinderbox and under threat every year from May until October. But state law forces the city to go through a time-consuming 90-day process to remove flammable wood fuels from properties that pose a danger to other residents and businesses. Measure A would give the Auburn City Council the option to craft an ordinance to take more timely action to prevent a catastrophic fire in Auburn. Secondly, Measure A will save homeowners, renters and business owners money by allowing the city to contract for sewer repairs using Placer County wage rates and local workers — Think Local First — rather than the artificially high wage rates set by Sacramento politicians and lobbyist groups. On July 12, 2010, city staff estimated that if Auburn had been a charter city before we contracted for the $4.38 million wastewater improvement project, that ratepayers would have saved $600,000 to $750,000. Given the fact that the city now faces $20 million in sewer repairs over the next six years, shouldn’t we ask Auburn voters to pass Measure A and help us try to save them over $2 million? Lastly, according to state law, on Jan. 1, 2017, the city will be prohibited from supporting volunteers unless they are paid the prevailing wage. Measure A will permanently exempt the city from this crazy state law so that Auburn volunteers can continue to work their magic. Gen. George S. Patton once said, “Better to fight for something than live for nothing.” Even though in the David vs. Goliath story, David was the underdog, we believe that we should fight for Auburn’s future. Keith Nesbitt is the mayor of Auburn. Kevin Hanley is the vice mayor of Auburn.