The Riehl World: Say It Ain’t So, Farrah

by Richard J. Riehl on February 9, 2012

FarrahtealWouldn’t it be nice if grocery stores and gas stations would sign pledges to stop taxing us with higher prices until they cut their business expenses an equal amount? They could protect their profits by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in their operations. We customers could help them find the waste to prove they don’t have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem.

Sound familiar? That’s the thinking behind a local political activist group that’s asking state office holders and candidates to sign its Promise to California Taxpayers pledge. Signers must promise to vote against all tax increases, amendments to Proposition 13 and increased taxpayer contributions to public employee pension plans.

I was disappointed to learn that Carlsbad City Council member and candidate for the 76th District seat in the California Assembly, Farrah Douglas, was one of the first five signers.

Follow the jump for the rest.Gary Gonsalves, North County’s Grover Norquist wannabe and co-founder of Stop Taxing Us, claims his group has created “a tool to clearly facilitate communication between elected officials and California taxpayers.” STU Director Brian Brady puts it more bluntly. He says the pledge helps office seekers to “articulate clearly that raising taxes is something they will never, ever do.”

Brady claims the pledge is “absolutely voluntary.” But Gonsalves promises to post the names and photographs of signers and non-signers alike on the STU website, together with video recordings of the signing or the refusal to sign, some of which may be unannounced to the interviewee.

That sounds more like coercion than facilitation to me. If you don’t sign the pledge, there will be consequences. If you do sign it, you will be agreeing to place the interests of this small activist group above those of your politically diverse constituency.

I emailed Douglas and Sherry Hodges, the first signer of the pledge and a Douglas GOP opponent in the primary, to ask why they signed it. To her credit, Douglas responded promptly. To this date Hodges hasn’t replied to my request.

When I asked Douglas if she would check with STU before voting on tax bills, she assured me, “I will be a true representative of my district’s best interests and study each bill carefully and vote for what’s best for my constituents, not what’s best for me politically. I will make my own decisions without being swayed by lobbyists. I will not vote like a robot.” She said she’d support reform that incorporates more fairness in the tax code.

I’ve always been impressed by Farrah Douglas, and her work on the City Council has only confirmed my opinion. She’s especially responsive to her constituents and does, indeed, do her homework on the issues. She has the courage to raise questions when it would be easier to fall in line, especially in her work on getting the Alga Norte park project moving forward.

Her campaign website identifies wasteful government spending and higher taxes as major issues facing California. Fair enough. But if she’s elected, I’m hoping she will continue to be guided in her votes by her promise of independent decision-making on behalf of all her constituents rather than by a much less than voluntary promise to a single-issue activist group.

Contact Richard Riehl at

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