Let's start over and develop a measure all Claremonters can support
Measure SC needed a perfect storm for the bond to pass. In the end, the skies remained clear and the police station bond fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for passing. It’s important to note a clear majority of 58.59 percent of voters approved the bond. That’s a big number—just not big enough.
Given the bond’s murky future, I still hold out hope Claremont can rebound and finance the station our police seriously need. To do this, the City of Trees needs to shake those limbs and change how (and who) will lead us through a successful campaign in the future.
Let’s face it, we Americans can have trouble working together. Our political process is a mess. People won’t hesitate to point fingers, or get angry hearing opposing views. And this has trickled to Claremont as city and college leadership continue to lay goose eggs in getting this important legislation passed. It’s like we are laying down railroad tracks to get moving, but there are huge gaps in the track keeping us from getting there.
I’m convinced one main reason Measure SC did not pass was due to the financing method, made worse by the low contribution from the Claremont Colleges. Residents already tired of taxation and with a desire to be fair, felt they not only had a GO bond to pay, but also a large portion of the college contribution. I cannot tell you all how many times I heard, “Why should I pay for the bond when the Colleges won’t pay their fair share?”
Although a parcel tax has a downside like any financing plan, it’s seen as more fair since it’s based off of property ownership. Under this plan the Colleges would pay $4.2 million, a figure much closer to the contribution they should be making. The parcel tax equation is also an accurate way to determine how much the Colleges should pay.
It’s clear the Claremont College Services (formerly the Claremont University Consortium) cannot be counted on as a major player to support a police station bond. CEO Stig Lanesskog based their contribution on the number of actual police calls from the Colleges—an equation so flawed, some voters (myself among them) simply shook their heads in disbelief.
Making matters worse, the Colleges never budged from their initial $750,000 contribution, a figure first discussed over a year ago. Clearly flexibility and compromise took a back seat. In the end, it was obvious Mr. Lanesskog had no intention of changing the amount.
Next time around the city should work around Claremont College Services and go directly to each college president for contributions. I believe there’s a good chance they would respond to secure a much higher donation to go toward lowering overall taxpayer obligations.
It’s also unrealistic to think Claremont will approve a bond needing a two-thirds majority. That’s a really high bar and one that’s impossible to reach given the financing issues. Passing a bond with a 55 percent majority—like what is needed for school bonds—seems more doable, and something Claremont voters proved was possible with Measure SC.
Finally, the COURIER has written before about city leadership and the need to bring in new blood with new ideas and personalities. We need leadership that sees pitfalls ahead of time, while being flexible enough to change course when its necessary.
Claremont needs a city council that when seeing the equation below, could change course with a more equitable form of financing. And that includes strong support from the Claremont Colleges!
GO bond + $750,000 + 2/3 majority = MEASURE FAILS