Claremont Insider: Did I Say That?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Did I Say That?

Judy and Diann Employ The Big Lie

Judy Wright and Diann Ring wrote last week that as "members of the city council who passed the Benefit Assessment District [Landscaping and Lighting District, or LLD] in 1990, we specifically did not include a sunset clause. We repeatedly and specifically said that we believed that this assessment would be permanent." [emphasis added]

We challenge Wright and Ring to show us even one example of their alleged "repeated and specific" statement. They won't find any in the Claremont city council minutes 0f 1989-1990. A detailed review of the minutes of 5 months of city council meetings preceding the adoption of the LLD in March 1990 finds NO statement even approaching the one they allege they made.

Instead, we find Judy Wright bringing up the "sunset clause" idea repeatedly.

At the November 28, 1989 meeting, the first where Council met with the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee (CFAC), that committee recommended a "sunset clause" for the LLD. CFAC Chairman Dennis Smith stated that "a long-term extension of the assessment district was not considered appropriate." He went on to say, "a sunset recommendation was included to meet the need to restudy the budget without having the burden of additional expenses."

The minutes then go on to describe Judy Wright's position: "Mrs. Wright said if the decision were to proceed, she would favor a sunset clause."

Two months later, at the council meeting of Jan 23, 1990, where the resolution declaring the intention to order formation of the assessment district was adopted, Judy Wright made the following amendment,
"Mrs. Wright requested the resolution be amended to include, 'It is the city council's intention not to continue this assessment district beyond June 30, 1995, without first holding a protest hearing.'"

Even Dick Newton (now perhaps deceased, depending on the veracity of Wright and Ring) implied strongly that the Council on March 9, 1990 intended the LLD to end:
Mr. Newton agreed with Mr. McCready and suggested staff prepare a memo adopting the intentions for the assessment so that as long as it existed..." [emphasis added]

And nearly three years later, on December 12, 1992, when looking for a carrot to entice the community into the utility tax, Judy Wright said that she "thought a utility tax was fair and should replace the lighting and landscaping district."

On February 9, 1993, Judy Wright said that "she agreed the LLD assessment should be folded into the utility tax." Further down the page, the minutes of that meeting state, "Mrs. Wright would support sunset of the LLD with the implementation of a utility tax because she considered the tax more equitable."

Now Judy Wright and Diann Ring are not stupid people. But they must think the current council and citizens of Claremont are. Why would they lie about this history? Or is it a case of selective memory?

Normally the Insider would applaud this discussion of sunseting an assessment district, but with Wright and Ring, the truth seems to be an adaptable tool, to be shaped by the circumstances at hand, used for tactical advantage, and then discarded for another more convenient truth.

In second grade, there is a phrase for it:

Liar, Liar,
Pants on Fire!