Credit: Zaidee Stavely/EdSource

Children’s advocates in Alameda County and the city of Sacramento are waiting on hundreds of thousands of votes from Tuesday’s election still uncounted, which could determine the fate of measures to provide more child care to low-income children.

In Alameda County, proponents of Measure C are proclaiming victory, after the measure got approval from 61 percent of voters. The measure would add a half percent sales tax on local purchases — 50 cents for every $100 — to raise an estimated $30 million a year for pediatric health care and an estimated $120 million a year for improving child care workers’ wages and increasing the number of subsidized child care and preschool slots for low-income children.

“We’re celebrating. We are definitely celebrating,” said Clarissa Doutherd, director of Parent Voices Oakland, a parent-led advocacy group that is one of the organizations backing Measure C. “There are thousands of parents and children that are now going to be benefiting from affordable, accessible child care and pediatric health care services.”

It is unclear whether Measure C will go into effect right away. If the measure falls short of a two-thirds majority, Alameda County may choose to wait to begin collecting the new sales tax until legal challenges involving other local tax initiatives are resolved, said county supervisor Wilma Chan. There are five lawsuits in California regarding whether citizen initiatives require a simple majority or a two-thirds vote.

A California law requires a two-thirds vote for local governments to raise taxes for a specific purpose, like child care. However, San Francisco and Oakland officials have argued in court that only a simple majority is needed if a tax measure was put on the ballot by voters, and not by the local government. A San Francisco Superior Court judge agreed that citizen initiatives only require a simple majority vote, while judges in Fresno and Alameda counties have both said they need a two-thirds majority. All the cases have been appealed.

Looking at all of the votes cast in Alameda County, only 163,000 votes have been counted, while an estimated 250,000 votes are still uncounted, according to the county registrar of voters. Most of those uncounted ballots are mail-in ballots that were either postmarked or turned in at a polling place on election day. Proponents of Measure C are hoping that some of those uncounted votes will be in favor of Measure C and will push the yes votes up to two-thirds.

A senior staff attorney for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said the organization may take Alameda County to court over the measure if it does not reach a two-thirds majority.

“It is possible we will litigate. Measure C did not get sufficient voter approval to pass. It should have gotten two-thirds,” said Laura Dougherty, senior staff attorney for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “There are currently five cases on this issue in the courts, four in the Bay Area and one in Fresno. At least one, if not all of them, will end up in the California Supreme Court. We really won’t have an answer to this issue until one or all of the cases get to the Supreme Court.”

A separate measure in Sacramento County, Measure G, only requires a simple majority to win, but fell short on election night, with 46 percent of voters approving it. Proponents of the measure hope uncounted votes will push it over the 50 percent mark.

Measure G would dedicate 2.5 percent of the city’s unrestricted revenues for the next 12 years to a “children’s fund” to pay for early childhood education programs, summer and after-school programs, job training and alcohol and drug use prevention, among other services for children and young people under 25 years old, prioritizing those “most impacted by poverty, trauma and violence.” The measure was opposed by the current mayor and two retired mayors, who argued that it could force the city to stop funding other programs.

A local measure in the small city of Emeryville, near Oakland, passed easily with 71 percent voter approval, much more than the two-thirds needed. Measure F will add a quarter percent sales tax to local purchases to raise an estimated $2 million every year for affordable child care and preschool, in addition to police, fire and emergency services.

All three measures were hailed by Margaret Brodkin, director of Funding the Next Generation, an advocacy organization that offers guidance for local communities seeking to fund children’s services.

“This is a fairly new thing, to get people who are advocates for kids into the political arena and playing hard ball with other groups that are much more used to this kind of political undertaking,” Brodkin said. “To me, it is very inspiring that people are trying to do it and coming very close, and in fact may win.”

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  1. Richard Michael 909-378-5401 1 year ago1 year ago

    Notice that the Sacramento establishment was against Measure G. Since it was an initiative, the city council got to approve the ballot statement. It complies with AB-195. Since it's a charter amendment, the tax provisions of AB-195 do not apply. Critically, for comparison with Measures C and F in Alameda County, it does not use language that advocates for its passage. That's explicitly prohibited by AB-195 as well as California Supreme Court case law. NOTE: IT … Read More

    Notice that the Sacramento establishment was against Measure G. Since it was an initiative, the city council got to approve the ballot statement. It complies with AB-195. Since it’s a charter amendment, the tax provisions of AB-195 do not apply. Critically, for comparison with Measures C and F in Alameda County, it does not use language that advocates for its passage. That’s explicitly prohibited by AB-195 as well as California Supreme Court case law.

    NOTE: IT DID NOT PASS. Honest ballots that comply with AB-195 have their downside. The City of Sacramento had no problem with making the ballot statement comply when the measure was against its interests.

    G: Shall the measure amending the Sacramento City Charter to (1) require that 2.5% of the city’s unrestricted revenues be set aside in a newly-established Sacramento Children’s Fund, for 12 consecutive fiscal years beginning in 2021-2022, to be spent only on qualifying youth and child services; (2) require that the 2.5% be in addition to that which was expended on eligible youth and children services in fiscal year 2019-2020: and (3) establish a Fund Planning and Oversight Commission, be adopted?

    Now look at Alameda County Measures C and F. C was also an initiative, but it was a new tax. What local governing body wouldn’t be in favor of a NEW tax? Notice how differently the ballot statement was written for both Measures C and F which involved new taxes.

    AB-195 says the statement shall be printed on the ballot as “Shall the measure … be adopted?” No title. No front loading selling points. Compare to Sacramento Measure G.

    C: Alameda County Care for Kids. To improve critical early health and education for Alameda County children by: protecting local children’s healthcare safety net and Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center; and increasing access to high quality, affordable childcare and preschool to improve kindergarten readiness, school success and high school graduation rates; shall a County of Alameda ordinance enacting a 20-year half-percent sales tax providing approximately $150,000,000 annually with citizens’ oversight and mandatory annual audits be adopted?

    F: To maintain health communities and improve quality of life in Emeryville, shall a measure to protect the safety of local residents, reduce property crimes/auto burglaries, improve fire protection services, and provide a nurturing environment for pre-K/early childhood education for working families by levying a quarter-cent sales tax, raising approximately $2 million annually, until ended by voter, with independent oversight and audits, exclusively for public safety and child development in Emeryville, be adopted?

    While Sacramento’s Measure G, would not be subject to an election contest under Elections Code 16100, both of Alameda’s Measures C and F would be subject to contest as an “offense against the elective franchise” with the grounds being both penal provision Elections Code 18002 and, more specifically, Elections Code 18401. All it would take is a voter in Emeryville to contest both measures in a single election contest special proceeding.

    Alameda County and Emeryville cheated by using partial, argumentative, and prejudicial language on the ballot to get their measures to pass. It’s electioneering on the ballot, using public moneys, a felony under Penal Code 424(a).

    Committing crimes “for the kids,” if the money ever actually is spent for those purposes, is still a crime.

    When will EdSource’s biased coverage in its Elections category cease? Fensterwald, Harrington, Jones, Lambert, I’m talking to you too. Legitimate journalists provide facts that should inform, not just favor personal or ideological preferences. Your site says your material is not influenced by outside interests. I guess that means that you’re letting your own personal biases peek through.

    Will you ever report on the massive cheating on the ballot in school bond elections since 1984? Some of you may be too young to remember the last time local voters had an honest ballot. It’s never too late to learn.