Humorous new attack on Prop. 13

Humorous new attack on Prop. 13

LennyLenny Bruce was funnier

But Lenny Goldberg is pretty funny, too. Because he’s wasted 40 years attacking Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 property-tax limitation initiative.

The Times just ran a puff piece on him. There’s no hint that, in a state with an incredibly incompetent and wasteful government, what’s needed are not tax increases, but tax cuts.

But it’s funny because even Goldberg admits his success rate has been “pretty miserable.”

The tactic of Goldberg and others in recent years has been to push for a “split roll” tax, in which businesses would pay more than residences. Supposedly that would get homeowners on board. The pitch would be, “Those evil, thieving corporations — who only rip people off and waste the proceeds on mansions an vacations to Tahiti — need to pay more, so you don’t have to.”

But that hasn’t worked so far, nor is it likely to. Opposition forces, such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, named after Prop. 13’s main champion in 1978, are well organized. They warn homeowners that, once Prop. 13 is modified to tax business at higher rates, everybody else could be next. That small businesses also would pay the higher taxes, including through boosted rents. And the experience in other states shows a split roll just makes a complex tax code even more complex.

Big wins

According to the Times:

Goldberg has had some big wins — forcing Inc. to collect tax for online sales, among others — and smaller legislative successes, such as quashing a 2013 bill to overhaul the state’s telephone subsidy for low-income people.”

Some bad reporting there. Amazon out-maneuvered the state on the tax issue. It always was planning on putting huge warehouses here, which meant it would have to pay the state sales tax no matter what. But as the Times itself reported in 2011, Amazon cut a deal delaying its payments for a year.

As to the welfare known as free phones, the ObamaPhone program made state-level subsidies superfluous.

And here’s how the Times described Prop. 13:

“The change dramatically reshaped how state and local governments collected revenue — ‘hammered cities and local governments,’ Goldberg said.”

No mention of the grandmas who lost their homes because their property taxes were going through the roof.


And the belief that cites and other local governments were “hammered” is a massive myth. As Jon Coupal, president of the Jarvis group, has explained:

“Proposition 13 was placed on the ballot through a grass roots effort in 1978. Homeowners were seeing a doubling even tripling of their property taxes in just a few short years. When state government refused to take action to save their homes property owners rose up and qualified an initiative Proposition 13 to limit property taxes and guarantee the right to vote on any new local taxes.

“Anything that spoke of limiting taxes was viewed as a threat by politicians who regarded the ability to spend as the source of their power; public employee unions who considered the limits a threat to future pay increases; and powerful elements in the business community who feared that the Legislature would replace any loss in property tax revenue with tax hikes on businesses.

“This coalition waged a desperate vicious campaign to defeat Proposition 13 that included claims that were at wide variance from the truth. For example voters were told that if Proposition 13 passed police and fire departments would be unable to respond to emergency calls. And the measure would destroy education opponents warned.

“After Proposition 13 passed some of the campaign lies were immediately put to rest. For example public safety services continued to be adequately funded. Other falsehoods like the ones about education gradually morphed and became urban myths that were promoted by those who continued to resent Proposition 13 and the popular uprising it represented.

“So we continue to hear that Proposition 13 has decimated school funding which of course is not true. After adjusting for inflation California spends 30 percent more per pupil than we did prior to the passage of Proposition 13. The tax limiting measure is also blamed for robbing school districts of local control over finances and transferring this power to the state. Again not true. The way we now fund education is the result of a California Supreme Court decision that predates Proposition 13 by seven years. In the case of Serrano v. Priest the Court said that the property tax could not be used as the basis for funding local schools because a property tax based system resulted in communities with more valuable property being able to spend more per pupil than those with less expensive property. Still there are those who perpetuate the myth that as with many of our state’s problems it’s Proposition 13’s fault.”



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  1. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 30 December, 2014, 10:45

    Proposition 13 was put on the ballot by the Santa Monica Apartment Owners Association, of which Howard Jarvis was president. It’s primary purpose was to cut the property taxes on the apartment income properties owned by members of the association. The stories about Grandma losing her house to taxes were apocryphal at best, since the reason property taxes were rising was directly attributable to the rapid rise in housing values going on throughout the 70’s in California.

    Reply this comment
    • calditz
      calditz 1 January, 2015, 09:55

      You are likely too young to remember that a lot of “grandmas” as well as grandpas, young homeowners and every stripe of person living in apartments was getting hammered. The stories are not, I repeat, not apocryphal. I was a young homeowner with a small house in Northridge. While my house was appreciating that meant absolutely nothing if you couldn’t or wouldn’t sell it. However, my property taxes went from about $1300 a year to over $4000 in about 4 years (roughly 1971 when I bought the house to 1976 or so as the pre-Prop 13 people were really getting organized). This happened to everyone on the street I lived on and lots of them got behind Prop 13 because they were in fear of losing their homes to the crushing tax burden – in many cases the property tax payment was getting close to or exceeded the house payment. It may not seem like much to you but that increase from about $110 a month to over $330 was killer in a bad aerospace job market. Talk to any homeowner or apartment dweller with a clue at the time and I doubt you’ll find anyone (except low information voters) that wasn’t for Prop 13.

      Reply this comment
      • susan
        susan 1 January, 2015, 10:14

        I send money all the time to support prop 13, I am in my 70’s and my comments were the reason this state is in trouble is the lack of budget and management, not prop 13.

        Reply this comment
    • Phil LaRoe
      Phil LaRoe 1 January, 2015, 11:10

      My father was one of those grampas who would have lost his home due to tax increases, and that home would not still be in the family had prop 13 not passed. I am tired of California polititions trying to tell the public that they don’t know anyone who would have been forced out of their home due to the rapid increase in taxes. If that is true, they do not know any middle income individuals who live in desirable neighborhoods in California. If I had not inherited my father’s tax base the taxes alone would have been 32% of my total income. The fact that the property value increased from the $42,000 my father paid for the property in 1976 to its current value of near 1,500,000 does not do a thing for me if I want to remain in the home. Prop 13 is doing exactly what it was designed to do, allow moderate income individuals remain in their family homes.

      Reply this comment
    • JBro
      JBro 2 January, 2015, 08:52

      As mentioned already, rising property values mean nothing to Grandma if she doesn’t want to sell her house. In the meantime, her property taxes shot up. So yes, people lost their homes due to property tax increases before Prop 13, despite your rather weak attempt at revising history, troll.

      Reply this comment
      • Watchfuleye2
        Watchfuleye2 3 January, 2015, 10:19

        Well said jBRO!
        Skippingdog’s name should be SlumDog! Because that is what he is promoting for everyone! The reason he is “Skipping” is probably because he benefits from excess taxes! A fricking IDIOT and EXTORTIONIST!

        Reply this comment
  2. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 30 December, 2014, 10:47

    When you are pondering what ever happened to the Golden State of Pat Brown, the infrastructure projects, the fine schools, and the colleges and universities that were open to all at minimal cost, you need look no further than Proposition 13.

    Reply this comment
  3. John Seiler
    John Seiler Author 30 December, 2014, 15:29

    “When you are pondering what ever happened to the Golden State of Pat Brown, the infrastructure projects, the fine schools, and the colleges and universities that were open to all at minimal cost” — you need look no further than the pension spiking of 1999-2001.

    Reply this comment
    • Skippingdog
      Skippingdog 30 December, 2014, 16:51

      Even you know your claim doesn’t hold water, John. Our schools, universities, roads, bridges, and budget infrastructure was frayed well before 1999. It had been held together by the same internet bubble that led to overfunded pension plans at the time, but everyone paying attention in California has been able to see the fiscal rot transform our state since Prop 13 was implemented.

      Reply this comment
    • crapola
      crapola 1 January, 2015, 12:26

      Actually John Seller, you need look no further than the over spending of our democrat leadership. What ever happened to that money from gaming that was supposed to go into education? What about all those bonds that were voted in by a small majority, that is supposed to go to fix schools and pay teachers raises? Sneaky politicians are always figuring ways to gouge more money out of property owners, and all other taxpayers who pay higher rents due to bonds and such. Many people lost their homes due to exorbitant hikes in property taxes before prop 13, and not JUSt grandmas and grandpas. Where there is a will, there is a way and politicians always find it.

      Reply this comment
  4. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 30 December, 2014, 16:14

    Doomers…..pensions are the cause of all State problems.

    Have at it!

    Reply this comment
    • Bill Gore
      Bill Gore 30 December, 2014, 20:42

      Grownups are having a serious discussion, trailer knob,run outside and play with teddy.

      Reply this comment
  5. desmond
    desmond 30 December, 2014, 19:09

    The discussion is about prop 13, Old man. You care about pensions, the rest of us know you will be going the final exit.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 30 December, 2014, 21:21

    Who cares what the subject may be…..none of this means anything in a one party government.

    Ab32 is better at extracting revenue from everyone……..poor….doomers….libertards…Need money for pensions…UC System…Spanish as a first language…..bullet train…..Doomer diversity sensitivity education…ACA Medi-Cal expansion…..

    Big numbers but we can do it!

    Reply this comment
  7. desmond
    desmond 31 December, 2014, 02:30

    You are correct,you should not care. You will be gone soon.

    Reply this comment
  8. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 31 December, 2014, 12:33

    Desi………your insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

    Accept you’re ruled for go reason.

    You like it.

    Reply this comment
  9. desmond
    desmond 31 December, 2014, 18:04

    Don’t forget to change the “Attends”, before the last cup of eggnog in 2014.

    Reply this comment
  10. susan
    susan 1 January, 2015, 09:54

    750 billion in unfunded pensions, crazy trains, lots of convention parting, taxing
    corporations so much that they leave cal.and so much more. We should be pumping oil and attracting companies to come here instead of chasing them out. We need a new Governor that can lead this great state back to where Reagan had it in the black. Stop throwing good money after bad. Police chiefs and others collecting close to a million a year in pensions.

    Reply this comment
  11. s
    s 1 January, 2015, 11:03

    Ending prop 13 would put many farmers and ranchers out of business. We have a less than average income and live on our ranch. Would that be considered commercial?

    Reply this comment
  12. John Fodor
    John Fodor 1 January, 2015, 12:49

    Cal Watchdog is doing a great job.
    When I can, I’ve donated before; and will donate again
    The problem is I get an average of over 60 requests for
    donations to different groups every week; political and charitable.
    All urgently requesting additional funds. It’s impossible to
    donate to every request; So one has to be pretty selective.

    Reply this comment
  13. robert hansen
    robert hansen 1 January, 2015, 14:09

    If your a property owner in CA and you don’t support Prop.13 your an idiot.

    Reply this comment
  14. Watchfuleye2
    Watchfuleye2 1 January, 2015, 14:14

    I simply can not believe the ignorance of these people that continue to espouse raising taxes every year ad infinitum!
    After having worked my entire life, being a member of a union, working in the private sector, working for a governmental entity, and also owning my own company to see the fallacy these tax raisers adhere to.
    While in the union I witnessed the misuse of funds, the money donated to Demorats to pursue corrupt union official desires in conflict with so many of the rank and file that were not paid attention to.
    While working in the government employ witnessing the total waste of taxpayer money, the lax execution of duties with disregard to accomplishing anything by employees and their disdain for people in the private sector busting their butts to scratch out a living without the security of KNOWING they’d have a job the following week, made me sick. Together with contracts out to “friendly consultants” that were certainly going to kickback funds to politicians and those that would benefit from awarding contracts to the consultants, and contractors that were “qualified” to perform or provide “proper” supplies, and equipment. Contracts that I might add were set up just so these consultants, suppliers, and equipment providers were the only ones that could qualify for the contracts by making them fit their criterion. Then also not making these same contractors accountable for what they supplied, and when these services or supplies failed were paid more to “make it right”, when that should have been part of the stipulation of the contract to begin with. The many employees that were only there to collect a check at the end of the month without earning their pay as is standard in private employ or you don’t hold that job for long. Essentially thinking they were “entitled” to that check without providing the valued service. Governmental unions with these same people providing dues to the unions so they could “influence” politicians for raises, pensions, and benefits that far out weigh those obtained in the private sector, which in my estimation was a definite conflict of interest. Who then spoke for the private tax payer? I did, even wrote expressing these concerns to the union reps only to be ignored, poo pooed, and of course to have attempted to besmearch my reputation because of an alternate consideration and concern.
    Consider also in 70% of fire departments in the U.S. are by volunteer firemen that don’t get paid, and those in California as well some other states that continue to cry for more money, higher pension benefits, more medical allowance while in many cases sitting around the firehouse, working out on community bought workout equipment in first class surroundings. One union crying that the employees of that union got this amount of raise in their package, now we should receive parity and get raises that spreads to the next union entity, teachers, fire departments, police and it just keeps on going, something that is, and will strangle the economy and we become another Greece and Italy. Figure it out people, it won’t last forever, and the crash will come. Tax and spend, tax and spend, and there won’t be a private sector to support all these guilded high paid government jobs.
    Did I mention I was self employed? Yes I did, and paid union wages as well, when you see that an employee makes X amount of dollars, the actual cost paid into the coffers to pay that employees salary, health coverage, and pension benefits was approximately 2X the employees salary. Try to keep a business going with that while our illegal aliens are taking jobs away from the legal ones. Wonder why so many contractors continue to hire and pay for the illegals? Thank your DemoRAT, union backed but not for long politician! They are killing the golden goose, along with the continued low information voter backing them the politician looking for the higher taxes!
    I believe we should follow Reagan’s example, lower taxes, make it easier for people to live, create more jobs and stay in business that allows for much more money to flow in that helps to solve the problem. If you read this whole thing, thank you.

    Reply this comment
    • Concerned Senior Citizen
      Concerned Senior Citizen 4 January, 2015, 21:32

      I did read the entire statement and agree with it, except for the mis-spelling of Democrat. God bless Prop 13. As regards the split roll idea, I can’t support it because that will remove businesses from the pro-13 coalition and then we will eventually lose 13. I don’t like the current arrangement vis-à-vis transfer of commercial property at old rates by including an old owner in the new company(thus reducing the overall ratio of commercial to total prop tax collections in the past 40 years) I will tolerate that to keep the Prop 13 coalition intact.

      Also, the public pension spiking nonsense has to stop! We, the taxpaying people, will have to pay for this eventually…unless the State and local governments can declare bankruptcy…local governments can but not the State. Perhaps the People’s Republic of California will get a loan from Uncle Sam, who gets its money from the People’s Republic of China. When California eventually goes to the feds for a loan, I hope the other 49 States say no!

      Reply this comment
  15. Larry
    Larry 1 January, 2015, 15:35

    The arguments are clear – both sides are wrong or there would be a discussion rather than arguments. The fact that the state spends more money than it takes in is simple. Reorganize the spending. It should be clear to everyone that the state cannot give each individual what that individual wants. Spend for the majority. I lived in several states in my time and it is clear – the politicians in CA know how to spend other peoples money. It takes more than spending money to be a real government. The state is currently taxing business out of the state. Split the Prop 13 roll and the entire burden will be borne by the average citizen.

    Reply this comment
  16. Robert Fitch
    Robert Fitch 1 January, 2015, 16:47

    Uhhh SkipDog….so infrastructure, schools, fine colleges, community colleges, highway maintenance, etc.’s decline is because of Prop.13??? The waste, fraud and abuse, the bloated salaries of university administration, the excessive salaries of local school administrators, the wasteful union jobs in public works, not to mention enviromental regulations, sky-rocketing liability and health insurance policies for public agencies, i could go on. I was a public employee, i have seen what goes on first hand, haven’t you heard CalTrans has a new work truck for 2015 ???? it sleeps eight!!!!

    Reply this comment
    • SkippingDog
      SkippingDog 2 January, 2015, 11:20

      If you lived in California before Proposition 13, it was a much different and better place. The declines in infrastructure, schools, etc. all began after Prop 13 was implemented, primarily to benefit commercial property interests.

      Your claims to have been a public employee are suspicious, at best. While human nature is the same in both public and private employment spheres, the claims of vast waste and incompetence in public agencies are cartoonish exaggerations drawn from generally isolated instances of malfeasance.

      The most restrictive environmental regulations in California were passed by the people’s initiative process after the Santa Barbara oil spill and LA basin air quality that used to make people’s lungs ache when they took a breath. Most public agencies are self-insured for liability coverage, and participate in a catastrophic loss pool for large judgements that may come their way, so you clearly don’t have much grasp on that topic either. Health insurance policies have risen in cost for both public and private agencies over the past two or three decades, paralleling the growth of high-tech medicine to treat ailments that would have been life threatening or life altering in previous years. Health insurance rates are also set and charged by private companies.

      Reply this comment
      • Concerned Senior Citizen
        Concerned Senior Citizen 4 January, 2015, 21:56

        I think California was growing rapidly in the 1950’s and 1960’s, thus tax collections were expanding rapidly and expenditures for infrastructure were also expanding as a result. Student K-12 enrollment peaked in 1968-69 as I recall, so I presume the big boom in California started to slow in the 1970’s. Prop 13 was not and is not the cause of infrastructure decline. That is due to low prioritization of infrastructure maintenance relative to other “needs”(infrastructure doesn’t lobby politicians for maintenance dollars and does not vote).
        As regards the air, I do not know how much it cost all of us, and will continue to cost us, for the cleaner air in LA but I am comfortable paying it. I do have concerns about going much further with air improvements … e.g. the bans on small engines in Central Valley farming lands. I do support requiring locomotives to shutdown if parked for more than an hour…no idling all night. Same with big trucks. It seems like some of the solutions for a 1% improvement in air quality are going to cost way to much.

        Reply this comment
  17. Robert Fitch
    Robert Fitch 2 January, 2015, 12:41

    Wow Skiping Dog….you are so smart i don’t know where to begin….Fiirst my resume, owner of a private Landscape Maitenance business for 15 years, i have been a Certified Pest Control Applicator with the State of Ca.for over 30yrs., my cliental icluded many of the rich and famous, including Ron Burke, your boy Bill Clinton’s best friend!. After selling my business before the blower ban took effect, i worked in L.A. as a supervisor for a landscape firm, interacting directly and often with billionare Eli Broad, Hockey Great Wayne Gretzky, Movie Producer John Landis (his home was Rock Hudson’s), Ed McMahn,KABC Radio President Biil and Joey Summers,and many more.
    My civil service came after moving to the Santa Cruz mountians, 4 years Grounds Specialists at our local community College, and 13 yrs. as the Lead Gardener for the County of San Mateo, interactig with major media during the Scott Peterson with the Mark Geragos,Gloria Allred,etc making sure grounds were acceptable for all the media coverage. Perhaps in your response you can give me some of your qualifications to be such an expert on Gov’t employment.
    During my time with these public agencies, i witnessed employees not working at all during there shifts, never leaving the break room, day after day, and more generally, an extreme waste of taxpayers money on a daily basis, based on the power of unions that enabled employees to work in an extremly inefficient manner. Not to mention the inflated salaries, and benefits, including my salary equivalent to someone with a Masters Degree, and the salaries of those that worked “downtown” where in the 200 K club.If i had time, i could site many more example’s, but i think the ball is in your court,to prove me a lier.
    I grew up in L.A., i played outside until my lungs hurt, the air is much cleaner now thanks to cleaner air standards, but the E.P.A. regulations today are a huge cost to Gov’t and private business.(Keeping track and filling out a report of the amount of cubic yards of tree trimmings chipped for example),as well as the work methods required around “enviromentaly sensitive sites”. Yes most agencies are self insured, but that does’t negate the cost involved, which is paid with our taxes.
    When puplic employees and teacher unions florished in the first term of Governer “Moon Beam” Brown that is when things fell apart, not to mention the influx of illegals drain our system. The E.P.A. and Air Quality Districts as well as Gov’t have become monsters, wasting the peoples money in insane ways. Perhaps you could just pay more taxes yourself,if you feel they need more money, for me i am TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY,like in the Tea Party.
    Your ignorance or unwillingness to acknowledge the influence of the unions and “Big Government” in this state in astounding.
    P.S. I am a former Democrat, Sierra Club, A.C.L.U member…..but one day i saw the light (or the big lie).

    Reply this comment
  18. Robert Fitch
    Robert Fitch 2 January, 2015, 12:48

    Sorry for al the typo’s in my previous post …i’m in a hurry. I need to go out and cut down a few Redwoods in my front yard. I have 70 on my property and a few have to go.

    Reply this comment
  19. Skippingdog
    Skippingdog 2 January, 2015, 20:02

    You certainly have impressive lawn cutting credentials, Robert. It’s clear that you also picked up a penchant for gratuitous name dropping from your wealthy clients, but that doesn’t provide any more support for your claims. If you really were the chief law mowerist for San Mateo, why weren’t you properly managing those people to make sure they weren’t sitting around the break room?

    Your multiple claims simply don’t add up. Even in San Mateo County, there wouldn’t have been very many people making $200k salaries, outside of the CAO and possibly a few others. If your salary as the Chauncy Gardner of San Mateo County was the equivalent of someone with a MSW in Social Services, it more likely indicates that they were being underpaid for their education.

    Very little of your post passes the smell test. It’s far more likely you’re just another paid troll working for one of the Astroturf tea party groups or HJTA. Don’t try to peddle your nonsense here.

    Reply this comment

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