July 12, 2016
Contact: Kevin Dayton, (916) 439-2159

Monterey Peninsula Taxpayers Association Criticizes Park District for Its Publicly-Funded Notice to Voters Promoting Tax Increase

Did the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District Cross the Line to Violate Election Laws?

The Board of Directors of the Monterey Peninsula Taxpayers Association is criticizing the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District for a taxpayer-funded public “Notice of Upcoming Election to Preserve Open Space Funding.” The notice was mailed to “local voters” within the district and arrived in mailboxes on July 8 and 9.

“Public agencies need to keep their constituents informed about how public funds are managed and spent for the public good,” said Kevin Dayton, a board member of the Monterey Peninsula Taxpayers Association. “But this mailer isn’t about public accountability. It skirts the edge of state election law to promote a property tax on the November 2016 ballot.”

Some aspects of the mailer initially criticized by the Taxpayers Association:

  1. “Voters” received it rather than “residents,” thus betraying the purpose of the mailer as an attempt to influence votes. (In contrast, the Spring/Summer 2016 “Let’s Go Outdoors” activities guide for the Regional Park District was mailed to “Residential Customer.”)
  2. Extensive rhetoric in the mailer listed potential benefits of the property tax without including any fair and impartial analysis about the purpose of the tax or the fiscal impact of the tax.
  3. A “Sample Ballot” graphic provokes a recipient of the mailer to think about a choice of voting within the context of a list of potential benefits. Possible reasons to fill in the “NO” box are not provided or even acknowledged.
  4. The Association has been unable to identify when and how the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District board of directors authorized this mailer. Because the mailer was apparently planned and developed behind closed doors, the public was not able to provide input about mailer content or the appropriateness of spending public funds on the mailer.

On July 11, the Monterey Peninsula Taxpayers Association submitted a request to the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District for public records to see how the Regional Park District used public funds to develop and provide this mailer to the public. “We anticipate obtaining information explicitly revealing the partisan political nature of this taxpayer-funded mailer,” Dayton said.

To arrange for interviews with top leadership of the Monterey Peninsula Taxpayers Association, contact board member Kevin Dayton, based in Monterey, at (916) 439-2159.