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Wysocky, Sawyer spar over Measure P



One of the more spirited exchanges of the Santa Rosa City Council’s recent budget debate centered on whether the Measure P sales

Gary Wysocky (PD FILE, 2011)

tax should be allowed to expire in 2019.

Councilman Gary Wysocky has been quick to remind his colleagues that the quarter-percent sales tax passed in 2010 to support city services lasts for just eight years. He argues that the council needs to work harder to prepare for the day that annual revenue, currently $7 million, evaporates.

But Councilman John Sawyer pointed out that it is also possible voters could decide to reauthorize Measure P.

Wysocky’s eyes widened at the suggestion, and he accused Sawyer of angling to extend the tax and avoid the tough decisions necessary to “get our house in order.”

“To already think of it, Councilman Sawyer, as an out when it was just a temporary measure, I mean, that’s not doing our jobs,” Wysocky said.

Sawyer responded that he was just noting that reauthorization is a possibility, but Wysocky pressed on. “If you’re in favor of more taxes, that’s fine,” he said.

An exasperated Sawyer sought to set Wysocky straight.

“I am not in favor of more taxes. This would be an existing tax and this would be a reauthorization of an existing tax, not another tax.”

After the meeting Wysocky said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing from across the dais.

“In less than a year of Measure P revenues, he’s talking about extending the temporary tax increase? It’s astonishing to me,” Wysocky said.

Sawyer said later he spoke up because he is tired of Wysocky characterizing Measure P as something that must disappear. Yes, it is as temporary measure, but it’s also a popular one and who’s to say voters wouldn’t support something like it again should it be necessary, he said.

“He makes it sound like it has to go away,” Sawyer said.

The city is planning to do without Measure P once it expires, Sawyer said. It is wise to “leave the door open” to conversations about reauthorization, “but I’m certainly not banking on it.”

25 Responses to “Wysocky, Sawyer spar over Measure P”

  1. Missy says:

    Vote for Joanne Sanders over Sawyer. That is all. Sawyer could NOT run his business either.

  2. Taxpayer says:

    Sawyer has no intention of letting measure P expire.

  3. Wysocky's team spirit says:

    Just a reminder: Wysocky was elected in 2008 and immediately appointed Michael Allen to the Planning Commission to help him get free publicity on the cable system and create an instant “resume” for the Assembly race they bought knew Allen was announcing a few weeks later. At the time Allen was the President of the North Bay Labor Council which was busy creating huge deficits for the City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma. Next, Wysocky appointed Lisa Maldonado, Executive Director of the North Bay Labor Council, to a city commission to fulfill the pledge he signed in exchange for their endorsement of his campaign.

    So Wysocky is 100% for union interests when they endorse him but he’ll switch positions faster than Mitt Romney when a union backs “the other side.”

    It’s all posturing and spins when it comes to Wysocky’s positions. Look at what he does, not what he says.

  4. bill says:

    without Wysocky we would have a bigot fest..and for what reason? so the few winerys of substantial wealth can control the politics. yet they still use the Mexicans to harvest their grapes? this is bigotry at its best..

  5. bill says:

    the cost of public safety is disproportionate to the overall budget.. and its proponents are from that background. we need a group without the influence of public safety to manage the budget

  6. bill says:

    We have the cops in control of the budget and they eat up most of it. Do we need to send kids to jail for smoking pot? What else is their rationale? Do we need to send Mexicans to jail for not having a USA driving license? do we need Mexicans to serve our low paying jobs? What we do not need is cops. we need to balance our budget

  7. bill says:

    just understand that Wysocky is for the people and the rest are for government spending….

  8. Scott P says:

    Who are the idiot citizens that vote for these taxes on the premise that “it’s only temporary”.

    Wysocky is right. Sawyer is a perfect example of a two faced politician.

  9. steve humphrey says:

    Wow. Did someone switch the Kool Aid jars down at City Hall?

  10. Kirstin says:

    At this last city council meeting as at many others, I have agreed with Mr. Wysocky on financial matters. He is the council member most willing to look squarely at our situation and the one who wants to get down to brass tacks and not avoid and postpone the problems. I hope others on this present council and the one that will be elected this year will join him instead of doing the minimum they can to get by for the moment.

    But since Clay Mitchell mentioned it, I’ll note that I do wish Gary Wysocky would look at SMART again and would realize that it is not going to ease 101 traffic or reduce emissions, and that it is going to end up costing more than twice what was “promised” on Measure Q. As a politician with a growing reputation for hard-headed fiscal analysis, shouldn’t he extend that analytical acumen to SMART which does affect us all in financial and other ways?

  11. Ben Standish says:

    Well played, Gary!

  12. RICHARD says:

    Thank you Councilman Gary Wysocky.

    A war of words erupted between Santa Rosa’s mayor [ Susan Gorin ] and the city’s police union Wednesday over the group’s endorsements of her rivals and the revelation of a private agreement to tackle the rising costs of public pension benefits. – http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2010/09/cities/santa-rosa-mayor-police-union-spar/

    Santa Rosa firefighters union picks side in council race – http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2010/09/cities/santa-rosa-firefighters-union-picks-side-in-council-race/

    We now know how that “… private agreement to tackle the rising costs of public pension benefits.” worked out for the police and fire.

  13. Jason Brown says:

    I cannot be counted on as one of those who generally supports Wysocky, but this time he is right. What is the city council plan for Measure P?

    More taxes?? Well, we have been down that road many times before and look at the results. Mounting debt, more spending and nothing to show for it except the kid’s credit card is maxed out and the taxpayers say enough is enough.

    Time for some adult thinking at city hall. Unfortunately the kids still control the purse stings.

    Measure P monies have been and will continue to be spent on projects not considered by the voters when P was approved. All of this nonsense needs to stop and if P is unworkable, simple tell the voters the truth and repeal it.

  14. bill says:

    Sawyer is failing to address the real issue which Wysocky pointed out. Get the fiscal house in order and stopped gouging the citizens for your failure to censure public safety expense and lessened services to the public.

  15. Clay Mitchell says:

    I listened to Mr. Wysocky on The Drive this afternoon talking about this- he was railing against the high sales tax rate, and the need for “structural change” and substantial reductions in spending.

    Ironically, no mention of the fiscal folly represented by his apparently unwaivering support for the SMART project.

    Usually when you are in a hole, you stop digging.

    So I guess the question is- were his statements criticizing over-taxation (including his pointing out the “regressive” nature of sales tax) designed to score political points, or does he really truly stand behind his statements? If so, let’s “restructure” the transportation landscape to remove an unnecessary burden on the local taxpayer- a regressive sales tax that takes a heavy toll on the working poor so that local politicians can have their name on the plaque, and their preferred “sustainable” developers can reap the benefits of heavily subsidized projects.

    Take that one back to the people- as Mr. Wysocky pointed out, the economy crashed in 2008, and we need to make some tough choices. I’m guessing that Mr. Wysocky is willing to put all the convenient cards on the table… but not the inconvenient ones.

  16. John T says:

    Take a close look at all the “public safety” unions supporting Sawyer for County Sups.

    Of course Sawyer is for extending Measure P. He’s just another public safety lapdog.

    Wysocky is just taking shots at Sawyer for his buddy Susan Gorin.

  17. Not A Chance says:

    Lets see… who should we side with on matters involving money? The failed businessman John Sawyer or the successful CPA Wysocky… hrmmmm. Dare I call this a no brainer?

    When a tax increase is voted in by the people as a temporary measure you don’t try to make it a permanent staple just because they authorized it once, it has to go one of two ways 1.) Send the PERMANENT increase (rather than another “extension”) back to the people or 2.) you must have the spine as an elected politician to legislate a tax increase yourself. If Sawyer wants a permanent tax increase that matches the funds that measure P created, then propose a tax increase and make the council actually cast a vote rather than let Olivares, Bartley, Ours and Mr. Sawyer get their tax increases without having to be on record as supporters. The four aforementioned council members want to have their cake and eat it too. Thats not leading.

    Sawyer has never proposed anything that would take actual guts.

  18. Money Grubber says:

    Can anyone tell us what Sawyer was doing for employment before he was elected.

    And I’m not speaking of just recent years.

    What was his employment overall?

    Did he have ANY job skills other than running his mouth?

  19. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    As someone who already pays a lot in taxes, I would say it SHOULDN’T EXPIRE. At least as long as the economy is hurting and people need the local services.

    But what do I know. I’m just a liberal who believes in public services and helping people.

  20. Brian Brazoot says:

    Wysocky wants to prepare for a significant budget shortfall that may await the city of Santa Rosa in just seven years.

    Sawyer wants to split hairs about whether re-upping an expiring tax is really considered a new tax. You know, ’cause calling them new taxes is so…unpopular. Oh, and there’s that county-wide election coming up that Sawyer wants to win, too.

    Which one has vision for serving a community and which one is a just another political hack?

  21. Big Jim says:

    What does Sawyer not understand about the concept of TEMPORARY? Just because taxpayers were willing to dig deep in a crisis, does not mean they are in favor of perpetual extra support for the government, especially when it is clear that instead of funding city services, such as the elderly center, city pools and howarth park, the city has directed all the money to fund the bloated public safety salaries and pensions. I for one did not vote for a permanent tax, that’s why it was titled temporary. I am constantly shocked at how much tax I pay on purchases and will expect it to go down when these TEMPORARY taxes expire. Re-authorizing a temporary tax IS a tax increase.
    Councilman Sawyer, make the tough cuts now, before the problem gets worse.
    Councilman Wysocky, thank you for having the taxpayer’s back on the city council, the majority only seem to care about thier public safety backers.

  22. Kirstin says:

    Mr. Sawyer surprised me also. Measure P is a temporary tax. Yes, it can be placed on the ballot again and extended should the voters agree. However, the understanding when P was passed originally was that it was temporary to allow the city to make adjustments in the budget, presumably to begin living within its means. Now, Mr. Sawyer’s comment implied (at least to me) that he viewed the P revenue level as something that could, even should (?), be made permanent. He said he is not for more taxes, but he is willing to suggest extending a temporary tax apparently, and I don’t see much distinction when either option represents more tax burden than would otherwise be the case. I don’t want to encourage that because I do think there are still areas in which Santa Rosa must tighten the budget rather than ask for more revenue.

    Which is not to say that I am necessarily opposed to levying “new” taxes under all circumstances. I think I could support a slight sales tax increase for a limited period for the express and sole purpose of getting our roads back up to par. I would support that rather than an extension of Meas. P., I believe.

  23. Jim Bennett says:

    Sometimes for a moment I want to be proud of Wysocky for having a spine and standing for some fiscal responsibility.

    Then I remember he’s an ICLEI adherant progressive change agent.

    As such it often strikes me as political pandering.

    Regardless of motivation.

    When (if) they do good, it should be acknowledged.

    IMHO, he done good. This time.

  24. Hunter says:

    Good for you, Gary. The taxpayers need someone who’s on their side.

  25. GAJ says:

    I’m happy to see at least someone, Wysocky, is trying to instill a sense of financial discipline amongst the other members.

    They should base budgets on the tax expiring as promised.