On Monday, March 9, Ed Herrera and 10 other Chula Vista residents were on the front steps of Chula Vista City Hall, chanting “No Way on Prop A!” Fifty of their fellow community members sat comfortably inside council chambers and participated in a forum led by councilmember Rudy Ramirez. Both the forum and protest pertained to the May 5 ballot measure that would raise the city’s sales tax by 1 percent.
At the meeting (cosponsored by the Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association and Ramirez), residents were encouraged to express their opinions on the mail-in ballot that will be sent out on April 5.
The format of the meeting consisted of a four-person panel that included Patricia Aguilar from community activist group Crossroads II; Theresa Acerro, member of the Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association; Jim Sandoval, Chula Vista city manager; and National City mayor Ron Morrison.
At the beginning of the meeting, Ramirez stated the intent of the meeting. As he read from a sheet of paper and as residents entered council chambers, the shouts from Herrera and his fellow demonstrators could be heard. “The purpose of this meeting is informational only (“No way on Prop”…). It is intended, simply, to provide the public with an objective, fair, and impartial presentation of the relevant information relating to Prop A (“No way on”…) in response to the community’s request and need for information (“...Prop A!”). It should be perfectly clear that during the meeting, no city official or employee is advocating for or against or attempting to promote a political viewpoint.”
After Ramirez finished his introduction, an older male in attendance commented on the four-person panel. “This seems like it’s going to be a very biased panel if you don’t have any opposition to it.”
“Anyone that’s opposed to it is welcome to state their view. That will be acceptable. You’re going to be provided all the time you want,” responded Ramirez as he stepped away from the front of the room. “I’m going to take off my jacket. It’s already getting a little warm.”
Following the introduction by Ramirez, city manager Jim Sandoval explained what the benefits of the tax — which the city estimates will cost each citizen of Chula Vista 24 cents per day — might afford the citizenry. Those benefits include suspending plans to layoff an additional 112 city employees, preventing the closures of libraries and recreational centers, and saving police and fire personnel from any layoffs.
But, for 22-year old Herrera, who is leading the charge against Prop A, the tax is poorly timed and will adversely affect the lower-income citizens of Chula Vista. “My main concern is basically we cannot afford an increase to cost of living, especially with the state already coming down with additional sales-tax increases.”
As for the community forums sponsored by Ramirez, Herrera feels they are biased and one-sided. “Councilmember Ramirez and the proponents of the measure are utilizing taxpayer dollars by using council chambers. This is a concerted effort to support Prop A in the guise of a community meeting.”
For more on Prop A, go to the next community forum, hosted by councilmember Pamela Bensoussan, at council chambers on Thursday, March 12, at 4 p.m. For more on the opposition to Prop A, see cleanupchulavistacityhall.com.