Is this better informing the electorate, or a corrupt waste of taxpayer dollars?
The election code requires that an independent analysis of ballot initiatives be commissioned to better inform voters and the Board of Supervisors on the impact of the measure. There are law firms that do these kinds of analyses, and it is the duty of the county to select a competent and unbiased firm and provide sufficient time to complete the task. Instead, the County chose a firm that promotes its service to developers in Napa and had agency in keeping the initiative off the ballot in the previous year. The directions to the firm were biased or the Board of Supervisors is inclined to accept a biased, non-compliant with the Election Code section 9111 requirement, and inflammatory report as 'objective'.
The voting public should be concerned at this bias and voice their concern to the Board of Supervisors. Robert Perlmutter, attorney at Shute, Mihaly, & Weinberger, LLP, representing the sponsors of the initiative, sent a formal protest to the Board of Supervisors. He writes:
"The Report prepared by Miller Starr is not a fair assessment of the Initiative’s effects. Rather, it is fundamentally misleading and biased. The Report reads as if it were prepared for an opponent of the Initiative who asked its lawyers to prepare a comprehensive catalogue of every conceivable ground—no matter how flimsy—for challenging the Initiative in court. Indeed, it is a stretch to call the Miller Starr Report a “9111 report” at all. It does not, for instance, ever identify the seven specific impacts and effects that the Legislature itemized as appropriate for consideration in a 9111 Report. Nor does it even purport to set forth an unbiased analysis of the impact of implementing the Initiative. And it contains no discussion of how and to what degree the Initiative will further its stated goals of ensuring long-term protections for Napa County’s oak woodlands, streams, and wetlands that are so essential to the County’s future."