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Measure P Advocates Claiming Victory, But Legal Challenges Not Over

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Fresno Building Healthy Communities says the effort to invest in city parks has been a long time coming, in fact, nearly a decade of work to raise public awareness. Youth advocates worked to highlight the disparity between conditions in the northern parts of Fresno, and the southern parts of Fresno, where facilities were in major need of repair. 

That’s why President and CEO Sandra Celedon praised Thursday’s appellate court ruling to overturn the need for a two-thirds majority for passage.

“A democracy is about counting on the voice of people and the power of people. And the people have prevailed,” she says.

The organization put its support behind bringing Measure P to the ballot in 2018. A majority of voters, 52%, backed a three-eighths cent sales tax in Fresno to go towards funding park improvements, job training and after school programs. 

On the other side of the legal fight is the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Director of Legal Affairs Timothy Bittle says the firm has never taken a position on whether Measure P is good policy or bad policy. It got involved because it believes that all special taxes should require a two-thirds vote for passage.

“We’re very concerned that if this decision is upheld, politicians are going to hijack the people’s power of initiative and that we will never again see a special tax proposed by a city council or a county board of supervisors acting in their capacity as a governing body, that all future special tax proposals by the government will take the form of an initiative,” he says.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association does plan to petition the California supreme court for review. The deadline is Jan. 26.

 

Soreath Hok is a multimedia journalist with 16 years of experience in radio, television and digital production. At KVPR she covers local government, politics and other local news.