Ashbaugh and Carpenter debate Measure Y
May 16, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
The San Luis Obispo Property and Business Owner’s Association hosted a panel discussion on Measure Y renewal Thursday that featured opposing views expressed by councilmen John Ashbaugh and Dan Carpenter.
Ashbaugh said the city has properly handled the taxpayers’ half-cent sales tax dollars and that voters deserve the right to choose whether or not to renew Measure Y.
“We have done a reasonable job of spending the money and telling you where it went,” Ashbaugh said. “I’d like to let the voters sort it out.”
Carpenter said the Measure Y money went primarily to employee salaries and benefits. He said the voters should replace the current council majority with fiscally accountable people.
“I implore you to give me some leaders on council, so I can do the right thing,” Carpenter said.
Ashbaugh countered that the city spent 60 percent of Measure Y dollars on the Capital Outlay Fund, which includes capital improvement projects as well as routine maintenance. He touted the current skate park project, funded in part by Measure Y money, as an example of city sales tax dollars going to a desired project. The world-class skate park will draw people from all over the state and the country, Ashbaugh said.
Measure Y critic Steve Barasch also participated on the panel and agreed largely with Carpenter. He said the city did not deliver the capital improvement projects that it promised voters and that San Luis Obispo now has a negative net worth.
City Public Works Director Darryl Grisby and a co-owner of Café Roma restaurant, Marco Rizzo, formed the rest of the panel.
Grigsby took issue with comments made by both panelists and audience members about the costs of city employees’ pensions. He said many public employees come from poor backgrounds or have left the private sector where they were receiving much lower pay.
“There are human beings involved, and they’re not going to go off to some bloated retirement that everyone else is paying for,” Grigsby said.
Grigsby also defended the city’s use of Measure Y dollars, saying taxpayers got more than their money’s worth.
Rizzo, who hosted the panel at Café Roma, said it was unclear where the Measure Y money went.
A third member of the city council, Kathy Smith, watched the panel discussion from the audience. Smith is the swing vote on Measure Y renewal and is currently leaning toward putting it on the November ballot.
The Brown Act precluded Smith from participating on the panel.
The council will vote Tuesday whether or not to place Measure Y renewal on the ballot.