Community Members Speak Out Against Proposed Jail Tax

For Immediate Release – 7/30/12

Challenge Board of Supervisors’ Funding Priorities

Press Contact: Emily Harris 510-435-1176

Redwood City—San Mateo County’s Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday morning on whether or not to adopt a resolution to send a half-cent sales tax increase to local voters on the November 6 ballot.  Community members are challenging a provision that will allow the Board to retain full discretion over where the projected $60 million annual income will be spent. 

“Let’s take a look at where the Supervisors ‘full discretion’ has already taken us,” says Bernadette Rabuy, member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget.  “In the last several years, the Board of Supervisors cut $70 million to local services and approved a new $150 million jail that will cost the county $30 million a year to run. And now they’re trying to pass on the costs of that jail through this tax because they know if they said outright it was for the new jail costs, no one would vote for it.  They can call it anything they want, but until they cancel the jail, this is a jail tax.“

Of the $80 million that San Mateo County increased its budget this year, $44.2 million is earmarked for the new jail.  Residents from throughout the County have been speaking out against the new jail since it was proposed, and a report released last week by San Mateo County’s Civil Grand Jury has added to the mounting controversy around Sheriff Munks’ claims that the jail is necessary.   The report shows that 76% of people in San Mateo’s jail are awaiting trial, and strongly recommends that San Mateo follow the path of many other California counties by reducing the number of pre-trial detainees who are held in jail.  

“Sheriff Munks is so invested in justifying his new shiny jail that he is willfully and recklessly avoiding all expert opinions on how to safely reduce the jail population,” says Manuel La Fontaine of All of Us or None a leading voice against the jail expansion.  La Fontaine continues “Munks is choosing to keep his jails overcrowded, and that choice is robbing the county of desperately needed resources.”

Community members from throughout the county will participate in a townhall to stop the new jail in East Palo Alto on August 25th.


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