Dr. Gene Dorio: Measure H: Waste not, want not

Dr. Gene Dorio

With the narrow uncertified passage of Measure H, we must be prepared for the increase in sales tax monies that might soon be swept into Los Angeles County coffers for those who are homeless.

Many in Santa Clarita were against the tax hike, and despite the fact I voted for the measure, doubts still linger in my mind about the ability to appropriately allocate funding for this worthy cause without the usual government waste.

Homelessness will only worsen in the next decade. The American economic system is survival of the fittest, but because of inequities, many who could have avoided being homeless were catapulted onto the street.

Certainly for some, drug abuse and mental illness contributed to their downfall. But others developed physical illness and had inadequate health insurance, lost jobs when companies went overseas, or suffered family and marital issues.

The Signal recently personalized those on the street in articles depicting how close many of our friends and neighbors may be to this dehumanizing situation.

For the next 10 years, it is estimated $355 million will be collected annually through the quarter-cent sales tax hike to help the homeless. Whether you support Measure H or not, it is time to step forward to insure Santa Clarita obtains our fair portion, but also confirm there is no waste.

The Santa Clarita City Council has created an ad hoc committee, the two members of which are Mayor Cameron Smyth and Councilwoman Marsha McLean. Will there be other shareholders, how will they be chosen, and when will they meet?

How much information will be revealed to the public and will community voices allowed to be heard? These decisions should not be made behind closed doors.

On the county level within the ordinance of Measure H, a Citizens’ Homelessness Initiative Oversight Advisory Board has been created. It will be composed of five unpaid members under the auspices of the Board of Supervisors, each representing his or her district, and will meet twice a year.

Twice a year to make accountable $355 million? Please! I can already see an enormous rubber-stamp signing-off of these monies.

This is a setup for those “no” voters afraid oversight and accountability will be non-existent. For those who voted “yes,” this is a time to assure down the line the “I told you so” voice against government waste can be avoided.

Let the “yes” and “no” voters now unite and hold both local and countywide government accountable for the spending of homeless funds.

Without adequate financial and practical oversight of Measure H, it may ultimately be detrimental to those whom it is intended to serve.


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