Pasadena Mayor Touts 0.75 Percent Sales Tax Hike
By Terry Miller
While the main event was inside the gymnasium at Marshal Fundamental Tuesday night in Pasadena, scores of activists held a peaceful vigil outside the entrance of the State of the City event in Pasadena Tuesday night.
Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence organized two events this week as follow-ups to last Monday’s mobilization of 200 people at the Pasadena City Council meeting, which protested the police violence of the highly publicized beating of Christopher Ballew, as well as the shooting deaths of several other young Pasadena men like Leroy Barnes in 2009 – and more recently, the death of Kendrec McDade in 2012.
In an ironic twist of fate, the attorney (who is representing Chris Ballew) -John Burton- told Altadena town council Tuesday night that his daughter was pulled over last Thursday by Pasadena officers. His daughter, Toni Gene Burton, who is also part African American, just happened to be stopped by police last Thursday evening, across the street from the original incident where Ballew was beaten. She was pulled out of the car, frisked and checked for gang tattoos without provocation, again by Pasadena Police in Altadena. Attorney Burton said he didn’t know the names of the officers involved in that incident, “but I’m sure it was the same unit,” he said.
The candlelight vigil that preceded Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek’s 3rd annual State of the City address was followed last night by a demonstration at council chambers during the public safety meeting – demanding the police reform they presented to the City Council last Monday.
Members of CICOPP, ACLU, POP!, NAACP, and San Gabriel Valley Progressive Alliance held candles and spoke briefly about the uneasy relationship they feel the Pasadena Police Department is generating, particularly with African Americans.
Prior to his prepared remarks, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek told Pasadena Independent that although the crowd seemed friendly prior to his state of the city address Tuesday evening “they may not be so happy after my speech.”
“Unless we increase our revenue, we must make material reductions in City services, including public safety,” Tornek told the attentive audience.
Tornek was perhaps referring to his proposal that he would be asking the City Council to approve a ballot measure for a .75 cent per dollar sales tax increase on the November 2018 ballot.
Tornek said that the tax would generate $21 million annually and “allow us to avoid cutting services too deeply and will also generate capital funds for reinvestment in critical facilities such as fire stations.”
Tornek also proposed that one-third of the proposed tax be shared with the Pasadena Unified School District.
Pasadena resident Jose Luis Correa asked the mayor “with the city needing more tax revenue, why does the city not allow recreational Marijuana shops to open up in Pasadena?” His answer was that the city council is taking a “let’s wait and see attitude” on how it works in other cities, and see what is done right and what is doing wrong … to learn from other cities’ mistakes. Tornek does not think that the tax revenue will be as much as people think it will be, but said the city council will revisit the recreational marijuana shops issue in the coming year.
At one point, Tornek’s speech was disrupted by Black Lives Matter members and Jasmine Abdullah. Mayor Tornek advised Abdulla that she was disrupting the proceedings and could face arrest and jail. Richards, who is no stranger to being confrontational, and aware of her arrest record, left the gym.
For the text of Mayor Tornek’s speech: