Puffing is a term used in marketing which is the expression of an exaggerated opinion-as opposed to a factual misrepresentation. An example of this might be a seller proclaiming "Always the low Price", "You're going to get a great deal" or "We give you the best value." Wary buyers are aware of such claims and live by the slogan Caveat emptor.

Taxpayers, too, are subject to similar claims as politicians of every stripe seek your vote and agencies of every type seek to reach a little further in your wallet. There is an old joke about politicians that goes like this:

"How can you tell when a politician is lying?" and the answer is, "His lips are moving."

In early September, the League of California Cities, an association of California city officials, will hold their annual convention. This year it will be in San Diego. There are a number of activities and sessions for elected officials and others. One particular item that caught our eye was the UNITING YOUR COMMUNITY AROUND LOCAL REVENUE NEEDS handout. Revenue Enhancement is in the new lexicon of public officials because using terms, such as tax or fee increases, is so upsetting to citizens.

Every agency we have reviewed is affiliated with one or more groups like the above and they all have annual conventions, as well as other meetings. Not well known is that ever more agencies are retaining the services of consultants to help them "educate" the public to the their way of thinking and to overcome anti-tax resistance from individuals and neutralize groups like, well, us! There is a growing cottage industry in the consulting area when it comes to convincing taxpayers to approve a spending increase. If an agency does hire a consultant to help bring home the bacon (the City of La Mesa and the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District are listed as clients of one such consultant) then the public is entitled to review the communications and plans connected with that effort. Where public funds are spent, public disclosure is required, if you request it!

Of course local cities are not the only agencies with financial challenges, nor the only ones engaging in such practices. Public agency nature is such that requests for increased funding for preservation (protection) of the status quo is more likely and often easier than performing cost or personnel cutting moves. It behooves the public to ask the tough questions and demand proof that other measures of efficient service delivery are implemented prior to a last resort of Revenue Enhancement.

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Comment by La Mesa Citizen Oversight Group on August 26, 2012 at 5:17pm

Pay a fee and you can become a partner with the League of California Cities and have increased access to our local elected officials.



Comment by David Stanley on August 26, 2012 at 2:51pm

Your piece, whilst somewhat educational, is more precisely a thin icing over a vast, costly and corrupt pastry I fear. Our neighborhoods, local villages, cities, states and our very nation is overrun by those who would gleefully take the money we can ill afford to further their particular political agendas then shamelessly stand and beg for more. Whilst we, each us, struggle to meet upward spiraling gas prices, food prices, never ending rising electrical prices the constant barrage of "Gimme" hammers at our existence. Late evening telephone calls soliciting "donations", back-to-back television solicitations, door-to-door solicitations, mounds of solicitations in the post! It never stops. "They" continue to hammer for our money our minds and our support for their dubious political positions and stands. Wealthy teacher's unions scream, beg and plead for more and more money even whilst their union leaders (read "thugs") drive the new cars and enjoy holidays with all expenses paid by members (red "teachers") and us (read ("suckers"). Our political leaders (read Tsars") scream hate, division and "Hope and Change" even with their hands in our pockets.

Whilst these hucksters wrangle for our money who educates our children? I mean educates not indoctrinates! Whilst the common thread is: "Fewer children per classroom for a better education" where do these dollars go? Why for pay raises, for bonuses, to support the ever growing unions all the while the "education" continues to fall by the boards in favor of Teacher's Unions.  While these hucksters constantly annoy us for money the politicians just somehow go from "one of us" to wealthy, mansion owning, good ole boy organizations that condescend to look down on us - THE MILK COWS.

Your term, "Revenue Enhancement" (read TAX!!!) is like the fees piled high on every account out there bearing no relation to services rendered. But, because they are not "Taxes", no worries. And, you've got nothing to say about it or them and can never contest them. Look at your phone or cable bill next time and try to figure out why all the Fees. Look at your water bills. Look at you government! How's that Hope and Change thing working for you? As Reagan said years ago, "Are you any better off now than you were four years ago?" Well, are you?

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