Since I’m running for mayor, I reckon it’s probably pretty important that I give you some sort of idea as to what I want to accomplish, should I be voted in. So in this post, I’ll tell you about a few of the things I’d like to do. There are more than these, of course, but I’ve gotta start somewhere.
Please note that not only does my Standard Disclaimer apply, but also that as just one member of a council of seven, my election as mayor doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be able to get any of this stuff done; I’ve still only got one vote. Still, this is what I’m going to attempt:
Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure. Not the most exciting topic, generally, but our aging pipes, streets, sidewalks, and other physical bits of the city are going to be consuming a great deal of our local tax revenue for the foreseeable future, just to keep services at the same level they are now. As this is one of the rock-bottom basic things a city needs to provide, I’ll be prioritizing catching up with desperately needed maintenance over other uses of municipal funds.
Quarterly Town Hall Meetings. If you’ve been to a City Council meeting, you may have seen the formal and somewhat off-putting procedure used for citizens to address the Council. While some of that formality is necessary to keep things from devolving into a filibustering contest, there’s no reason we can’t also have occasional informal meetings, where citizens can get some real dialogue in with the mayor, councilors, and staff. There wouldn’t be any set agenda, so you wouldn’t be limited to comments about a specific topic. Instead, you could ask us about any topic you like.
Fiber to Every Property. Don’t get me wrong; this will be a huge, expensive investment, and it’s not something that’s going to get done in six months. However, it’s an investment that I think we’d be foolish not to make. I would go so far as to predict a noticeable uptick in local entrepreneurial activity — and a concomitant increase in employment and municipal revenue — should we manage to make this happen.
City Code Reform. Most of our ordinances are fine, but we’ve got at least a few laws on the books that are outdated, obsolete, or unconstitutional. I’d like to do a full overhaul of the code to ensure that our ordinances are both reasonable and necessary.
Volunteer Constabulary. Many forms of crime-fighting require trained, uniformed police officers, and if you want untrained volunteers to do that sort of thing, you can end up with some very bad outcomes (e.g. vigilantism). However, there are some tasks currently being done by uniformed officers that could just as easily be done by volunteers… which frees up those uniformed officers to do the stuff that we need uniformed officers to do. This can be a legal minefield, so it’s going to take a lot of work to make sure we do it right. Still, if we’re careful, we should be able to come up with a way to help our small police force be more effective, even in the absence of increased revenue.
As always, I’m happy to answer questions about these topics and any other you may want to bring up . After all, just because I haven’t mentioned a position on a given topic doesn’t mean I don’t have one, so if there’s an issue you’d like me to address, please let me know in the comments below!
Hi Jake…I’m interested in those local laws you mentioned that are outdated, obsolete, and I’m especially curious about those CG laws that are unconstitutional. Could you perhaps point me to said laws? Thanks!
Off the top of my head, one of the ordinances with more obvious Constitutional problems is the one about flag-burning. Aha, here it is! 9.24.110, titled “Abuse of venerated objects.” It reads:
The trouble, of course, comes with that “national or state flag” part. It’s no longer a matter of question that the freedoms described in the First Amendment allow people to do pretty much whatever they want to a flag (so long as they own the flag in question, of course).
Then there’s 9.16.030, which prohibits any possession of marijuana and has thus been rendered thoroughly obsolete by recent events.
I also seem to remember that somewhere in chapter 3.8 of our development code we have some rules about signage on private property that are unconstitutional because they turn on the content of the signs instead of their size or material or some other “content-neutral” criterion.
I suspect there are more, but those are the ones I’ve noted and can remember at the moment.
The municipal code can be found at:
The development code can be found at:
Hi Jake, I had a couple of questions following last night’s mayoral forum (great job btw). 1. I thought I heard Councilor Fleck say that Cottage Grove was not able to levy taxes on alcohol and tobacco. Is this true? If so, why not? I am aware of the “sin” taxes at the State level (as I’m sure you’re aware, the State excise tax on hard alcohol is astronomical, at near $23/gal), but not locally. My support of and stance regarding the marijuana tax is being challenged if there is no other “sin” taxes in CG; I love it when my positions are challenged. 2. Let’s say hypothetically the citizenry votes in the pot tax, can the City remove said tax in the future either by Council vote and/or citizen vote? Thanks for reading this, and you have my well wishes and my support throughout the election.
1. This is true, because state law preempts localities from taxing alcohol or cigarettes. Marijuana would be our only municipal “sin tax.” I’m against sin taxes in general, because they’re just a dressed-up way of saying, “Hey, guys, have you noticed that there are fewer people who [insert “sin” here] than don’t [insert “sin” here]? That means we have more votes than they do! Let’s vote to make them pay for some stuff that we want to have, and don’t want to pay for!” That’s how we got the business payroll tax for LTD, and I think that’s a horrible funding mechanism. But it’s easy, because you’re appealing to the baser instincts of the public (“screw those other guys; I want free stuff!”). I think that, as public officials, we have a moral imperative to resist that.
2. The actual text of the measure says that the Council may impose a tax of up to 3%, the amount to be determined by resolution. That means that if the voters vote it in, then the Council has to decide whether to set the tax at the full 3% or at something lower than that… it could even be lowered to 0%, as far as I can tell. (That disclaimer I keep talking about applies especially here, when I’m talking about what lawyers might say we can or can’t do.)
So it seems the last legs my pro-marijuana tax position has to stand on are: 1. Even if we go in for the full 3%, the new tax would be 20%, which is 5% lower than it is now, and, as you know, people will pay it, even if some grumble about it. And 2. There is a lot of local rumbling about pot tax revenue trickling back down from the State, and as I’m sure you also know, that’s not happening as promised in Measure 91’s infancy. The local pot tax would be a great way to bridge the social gap between people like me, who work in the industry, and use marijuana, and those who still think marijuana turns you into a raving lunatic when you use it (see: the piano/closet scene in “Reefer Madness”). It might also act as a coolant to the aforementioned “Where’s that State pot money?” heat. Thoughts?
Finally, surely municipalities such as us are receiving some of that exorbitant liquor tax money from the State; I don’t have to tell you about the high alcohol consumption in our town.
Anyway, thanks again for helping me hone my thoughts for the upcoming Council Candidates’ Forum, and for keeping me informed in general.