Gang-tax measure approved for ballot

first_imgHahn authored the proposal, which is designed to bring in some $40 million a year to fund gang-prevention and -intervention programs. Chick this week renewed her opposition to placing the measure before voters so soon, saying she wants to finish a $500,000 audit of gang programs and develop a blueprint for officials to determine which programs to fund in the future. “I want us to be able to go to the voters and say this is what we’re doing right,” Chick said. “I don’t think we are ready to go to the voters in February and ask them to part with their hard-earned tax dollars when we don’t know what we will be recommending.” Chick’s audit follows a critical report by civil-rights attorney Connie Rice that questioned the effectiveness of the gang programs. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has made gang issues a priority and has budgeted $198 million this year for anti-gang programs. The Los Angeles City Council moved Friday to ask voters in February to approve a $30 parcel tax on every city property owner to raise funds to fight gangs. In a 12-0 vote without comment, the council instructed the City Attorney’s Office to craft language for a ballot measure on the plan. The move comes despite public opposition this week from City Controller Laura Chick, who has vowed to fight the measure if the council sends it to voters before her audit of city gang programs is completed. “I think February is the time to do it and I hope we can convince the controller to support us,” Councilwoman Janice Hahn said after the vote. Villaraigosa has said he hopes to work with Chick and the council to develop an agreement on when to ask voters to weigh a parcel tax. Hahn said she wants to assure Chick there will be guarantees in the measure in determining how money is spent. “Even if voters approve this in February, we won’t get a single dollar until next November,” Hahn said. “That gives us plenty of time to vet the audit and determine how the money should be spent.” An oversight committee will be created to determine how money is allocated and Hahn said she wants the panel to include an appointee from the Controller’s Office. “I can assure her and the public that not one dollar will be spent until the oversight committee approves it and it’s for programs we know will work,” Hahn said. “And I think the timing is right now. The two biggest problems in the city are gangs and traffic. “We can’t arrest our way out of the problem. We need to do more to stop young people from joining gangs and get those who are in gangs out of them. But Chick said she is suspicious of a proposed citizens oversight committee. “They haven’t proven to be terribly effective,” Chick said. “The only way they really work is if they have staff and a requirement for outside auditing.” Hahn said she has conducted her own polls that show 68 percent of voters would support the measure. The measure would require the support of two-thirds of voters to take effect. [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more