Given Santa Rosa’s dire financial situation, why isn’t the city going for a tax measure on the June 8 ballot?

Here’s one explanation: Two of the area’s most respected political consultants told city officials last month that they didn’t stand a chance of success.
We’ve recently learned that Mayor Susan Gorin invited political consultants Herb Williams and Terry Price – polar opposites on most political issues – to meet with her, City Councilwoman Jane Bender, Interim City Manager Wayne Goldberg and others to talk about the likelihood of success of a local tax measure.

Their answer (in brief): Fuhgeddaboudit18blogart

“(Williams) and I agreed on most everything in terms of our perception of where the voters are,” said Price of the Feb. 22 meeting. “It’s a changed landscape out there. . . . A lot of (the discussion) was looking into the crystal ball and looking at what people would support.”

And when they might support it. They left the door open for the possibility of a successful ballot measure in November – depending on what the city agrees the message would be.

But for now, they agreed that the public was unlikely even to support using city funds to pay for a survey.

“Two things occurred,” said Williams of the meeting. “One, (Price) and I agreed on everything, and that was scary. And, two, we agreed we wouldn’t use this as a campaign issue. . . . This is a time that we have to transcend politics. I thought it was very brassy of (Gorin) to get us all in the same room together. They got a series of messages from us that went something like this:  If you spend public money doing a survey you could have saved a job.”

Price said it was the first time he and Williams had ever sat down together or engaged in that kind of a forum, and he was surprised how much they agreed –  for once. “We’re exact opposites on most things,” he said.

Final caveat: In order for a tax measure to have a chance of success in November, the consultants suggested that the City Council needs to come out with a more unified voice than residents have been hearing of late.

That may be a challenge, particularly in the middle of a City Council election in the fall. But if Williams and Price can come to agreement on something, anything is possible.

– Paul Gullixson