SLY UPDATE: No opposition view to sales tax will appear in sample ballot

July 28, 2013 

    alternate text Judy Sly
    Title: Editor of the Opinions pages
    Coverage areas: Local politics and government
    Bio: Judy Sly joined The Bee staff in 1973 and has worked in a variety of reporting and editing roles since then. She grew up on a farm in Oregon and graduated from the University of Oregon.
    Recent columns written by Judy
    On Twitter: @judysly

MONDAY UPDATE: I just learned that there is no opportunity for someone opposing Measure X, the proposed 1 percent sales tax increase, to get their view on the sample ballot. Modesto City Clerk Stephanie Lopez explained that typically there is a statement from proponents and a statement from opponents and that those citizens (who signed the respective arguments) get an opportunity to rebut each other's statements. But because there was no opposition statement submitted by the July 23 deadline, no one can come in now and submit a rebuttal. These are the rules under the election code, Lopez said.

Had there been an opposition statement submitted, then both sides would have had until this Friday to submit their rebuttals.

A further comment from Judy: The lack of a ballot argument against Measure X doesn't mean there won't be opposition or even organization. But obviously no one collected their thoughts in time to get a statement together for the sample ballot. That's too bad.

Who is lining up behind Modesto's 1-percent sales tax increase?

The names that will appear on the sample ballot argument in favor are well- known: retired Modesto Police Chief Mike Harden; former Modesto school trustee and UC Regent Odessa Johnson; businessman John Garcia; retired fire Battalion Chief Ken Bryant; and former Mayor Carol Whiteside.

No one submitted a ballot argument against Measure X — the label it has been given for the Nov. 5 ballot. The deadline to submit a rebuttal is Friday.

Even though this is being touted as a general tax increase — so it only requires a simple majority for approval — the pro argument rests heavily on the promise of providing more police protection, with a tip of the hat to funding programs to attract new businesses and create jobs.

Measure X proponents have claimed a website — — but it wasn't active by Friday night.

• • •

Modesto's other ballot proposal is Measure V, the advisory vote on providing sewer service to the airport district. Mayor Garrad Marsh signed the ballot argument in favor; there is no opposing view. In 2011, there was a similar proposal to extend service to the Rouse-Colorado neighborhood, and no one submitted an argument either way. It passed anyway.

• • •

In many places, it's hard to find people to fill elected posts. That's not the case in the Sylvan Union School District, which has a flare-up now and then but is generally known for excellence and stability. The latter is evident again in this election. Terms of three of the five trustees are up and they are all seeking re-election. Cyndi Lindsey has served since 1989 and may be the longest-serving trustee in Stanislaus County; George Rawe joined the board in 1997 and Terriann Zeek in 2000.

Contrast that to neighboring Riverbank, where so far no one has started the paperwork to run for a school board that is often in conflict.

• • •

There are just 100 days until the Nov. 5 election, which is important if you are a candidate eager to put up signs. Modesto allows signs up 120 days before an election and the first ones I saw were posted by Bill Zoslocki, running for the City Council in District 4.

Unincorporated areas of Stanislaus County and several cities don't allow signs up until 90 days before the election. Candidates should check on what applies in their jurisdiction.

• • •

Stanislaus County supervisors have plenty of laws and policies to follow. In fact, they have their attorney sitting right up there on the dais with them to keep them on track during their Tuesday meetings.

But the supervisors have imposed one behavior on themselves, informally but consistently. The five county supervisors have a dress code — shirts, ties and sports or suit jackets during the meetings.

I hadn't noticed it until I was in a casual conversation with another elected official this past week. But I confirmed it with Terry Withrow, the newest supervisor, and Jim DeMartini, one of the veterans. When they are in public session, with citizens in front of them and the video camera rolling, supervisors leave on their jackets. Withrow says he took his off during his first meeting after being elected and a staff aide gently informed him of the protocol.

In other public settings, the supervisors are more casual.

The supervisors and Modesto City Council share a meeting room at Tenth Street Place. Visit the same chamber later on a Tuesday, when the council meets, and you'll see Stephanie Burnside typically in a suit, one or two of the men in a tie and maybe a jacket and the rest in open dress shirts, except John Gunderson, whose signature attire is an Hawaiian shirt.

Does it matter? Maybe not, but I think the supervisors send a message about their businesslike approach with their businesslike appearance.

Sly is editor of the Opinions pages. Email, call (209) 578-2317 or follow on Twitter @judysly.

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