Winning Hearts and Minds
Posted in Redevelopment

As we noted in yesterday's post, Vote on Redevelopment Agencies' Future Uncertain, the Governor's deadline of March 10th is slipping away.  How far can it slip?  Some believe that a vote on his budget proposal could slip all the way into the third week of March, unless a few Republicans break ranks before then.  Thus far, at least publicly, Republican opposition to both the tax extension and abolition of redevelopment remains unabated.  Among the demands in the now infamous March 7th open letter to the Governor from five key Republican senators is "Save but reform Redevelopment Agencies and Enterprise Zones."

In the mean time, both sides continue to battle for public support.

On Monday the State Controller, John Chiang, issued a report summarizing his review of 18 redevelopment agencies.  As you may remember from one of our previous posts, when he announced the review back in January he questioned "whether the RDAs are the engines of local economic job growth or are simply scams providing windfalls to political cronies at the expense of public services." Chiang's report cites numerous violations and is particularly critical of the agencies for inadequate record-keeping and reporting.  The report also found no clear methodology or data to measure job growth.  He concluded that The lack of accountability and transparency is a breeding ground for waste, abuse, and impropriety.  

Advocates of redevelopment were quick to respond.  Some downplayed the findings.  Harry Mavrogenes, Executive Director of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, was quoted as saying that the report had little to criticize about his agency.  "I just don't think there were any major findings at all."  John Shirey, Executive Director of the California Redevelopment Association, took a harder view, accusing the Controller of issuing "a politically motivated campaign piece to support those who want to abolish redevelopment."

In a bit of good news for supporters of redevelopment, a Probolsky Research poll of likely California voters was just released showing fairly broad public support for redevelopment.  In a poll of 753 voters, conducted between February 21 and 24, 59% of those surveyed believe that redevelopment agencies are a good idea and 63% said that Prop 22 should not be changed to allow the state to take local funds.

Finally, in an 11th hour push, this week the League of California Cities and a coalition of local government leaders, business, labor and community groups announced a grass-roots campaign to try to stop the state Legislature from voting on Brown's proposal.  The My Vote Counts campaign is running statewide radio ads calling the Governor's proposal a "scheme" that will "put thousands more out of work."  Not to be outdone, the California Professional Firefighters and the California School Employees Association announced that it will air radio ads supporting Brown's proposal.  The ad says it's time to end taxpayer subsidies for developers.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

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