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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Link to News Story: Carson Council Proposes Tax on Oil to Stop Fiscal Emergency (Random Lengths, 10/26-11/8/17)

Please see the latest issue of Random Lengths (Oct. 26-Nov. 8, '17) for my news article on the controversy surrounding Measure C, a new tax on oil refineries which the City of Carson is proposing to address a chronic fiscal emergency:

Should the above link be down, the content follows:

After finding Carson has a fiscal emergency for the second time in two years, the city council unanimously voted on Aug. 7 to propose a new tax on the city’s refineries. On Nov. 7 voters will be asked to vote on Measure C, the Oil Industry Business License Tax.

If passed the measure would impose a one-quarter-of-one-percent tax on the gross receipts of oil refineries in Carson, but it’s proving controversial. The city is presenting the proposed ordinance as necessary to raise an estimated $24 million for the general fund. The measure’s opponents are questioning the council’s motives.

Carson currently taxes its refineries based on the number of employees, which brings in about $5 million annually.

Names of all five council members appear in support of the measure in the city’s Voter Information Pamphlet. They argue the funds raised will be used to maintain and improve senior, youth, and gang diversion programs.

Their argument also claims, “Torrance and El Segundo receive $11 million each [from taxes on refineries] … but Carson receives only $5 million.”

Although Torrance and El Segundo do impose business license taxes on their refineries, neither city’s is based on gross receipts. 

Carson’s employee union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, supports the measure, according to representative Ana Meni. At a recent community meeting, she argued, if Measure C fails, “What programs do we cut?”

According to city staff, conducting the special election may cost the city $270,000. Opponents have sent out mailers charging the overall cost is closer to $400,000.

The larger amount includes what the city is spending on what it calls “information,” including the mailing of a special edition of the city’s official publication, the Carson Report. Described as an information guide, the mailing only presents the proponents’ side.

In response, some opponents, including Jan Schaefer of Carson Alliance 4 Truth, criticize the city’s “information” campaign. “The staff report actually said they couldn’t spend any money to promote it,” Schaefer said. “It seems they are promoting it.”

Proponents portray the opponents as representing big oil. Western States Petroleum Association is funding the opposition, including mailings and a website.

That website lists Local 675 United Steelworkers, which represents local refinery workers, as opposing the measure. David Campbell of Local 675 denied the union or the local had taken a position.

Matt Klink, campaign manager for the organized opposition, named Carson United to Stop Irresponsible Taxes, said the city council has been unable to balance the budget eight of the past eleven years.

“The measure was rushed onto the ballot. The council declared a fiscal emergency on Aug. 7 and put it on the Nov. ballot,” he said. “The city has a long history of budget deficits. Eight budgets have been unbalanced in the past eleven years.”

“The city has not been a responsible financial steward of taxpayers’ money,” he continued, offering, “They’ve spent $13 million in legal fees in the past four years,” as an example.

Klink also questioned the city’s claim the measure would generate $24 million. He said that figure is not taken from actual data, but from an analysis of a hypothetical refinery. Regardless of how much money the measure might raise, Klink added, “The council’s list of all the specific things funded, that’s just empty promises. It’s a general tax, and by law all [such] tax must go into the general fund.”

Link to proposed ordinance on Carson’s website:
Link to campaign against Measure C:


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