Borenstein: Why Sheng Thao is not prepared to be Oakland’s mayor


As Councilwoman Sheng Thao campaigns to be the next mayor of Oakland, she should know the details, or at least the fundamentals, of the $850 million bond measure she and six of her council colleagues voted to put on the same election ballot.

But when asked about Measure U in our endorsement interview last week, she didn’t understand how the measure would work and grossly understated the tax property owners would be required to pay.

The encounter exemplifies why Thao is not ready to lead a city of 450,000 people that is confronting a 24% increase in homelessness over the last three years, homicides in 2021 that hit the highest level in 15 years, and inadequate police staffing. A city where, despite strong general fund tax revenues, leaders keep coming back to voters every election year for new tax hikes.

Thao is the candidate most labor unions and the city’s hard-left faction are trumpeting in the Nov. 8 election to replace Mayor Libby Schaaf, who has served the maximum two terms. Thao’s tenure on the council has been concerning. Most notably, she is among the council majority that has squeezed police funding and slow-walked Schaaf’s proposal to increase the number of training academies needed to speed up hiring of officers.

Like it or not, Thao’s position on law enforcement seems one of policy that is carefully politically calculated in a city that’s divided on the issue. In contrast, the discussion of the upcoming bond measure simply shows how uninformed she is.

Thao boasts that four years on the City Council and four prior years serving as policy director and then chief of staff for Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan have prepared her to be mayor. Yet, when asked about Measure U, Thao was clueless.

VIDEO: Oakland Mayoral Candidate Sheng Thao’s endorsement interview

CLICK HERE if you’re viewing on a mobile device.

She claimed the measure would cost property owners $198 a year; actually, for most homeowners the levy would be far more. She claimed the tax would be the same for all property owners; actually, it would vary depending on the assessed value. She claimed Measure U was merely an extension of an existing tax; actually, it’s a new tax piled on top of a similar old one.

She claimed it would be regressive, proportionately hurting those who could least afford it the most; actually, city officials chose Measure U’s tax method because it was the less-regressive option. And, echoing a deceptive talking point of Measure U supporters, she claimed it would not increase taxes. Wrong again.

Thao even seemed uncertain about how voter-approved bond measures work. Asked how they are usually paid off, she responded, “City revenue.” Nope. Voter-approved bond measures such as Measure U require property tax increases to pay off the debt.

Property tax basics

Thao wants to lead the Bay Area’s third-largest city. Voters deserve a mayor who understands the basics of taxes that city residents are being asked to pay. It should be bare-minimum knowledge to qualify for the job.

Here are the fundamentals that, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

      

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