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Aged Oil Pump on Colorado Prairie with Mountain Hills in the Background. Oil Industry Theme.Update: The Monterey County Weekly has now included a mention of the following article in Monday’s online version of Squid Fry. This is good.

Update No. 2: KSBW on Tuesday interviewed Assessor Steve Vagnini and reported his finding that the oil industry’s tax bill this year would be about $5 million and would range in upcoming years between $2 million and $5 million, so the Partisan takes back the jab it sent in TV’s direction. 


It takes some effort to get me riled up these days. I used to be rather easily irritated but I’m older and calmer now. I get more sleep. But the local press corps has managed to push my buttons, simply by ignoring me.

It isn’t a big deal, except that it kind of is. In a Partisan post a week ago, I wrote about how the oil industry keeps advertising about how Measure Z, the anti-fracking measure on the November ballot, will shut down the oil industry and wipe out $8 million in annual property taxes to various Monterey County government agencies.

However, I dutifully reported, it turns out the low price of oil these days means that the industry’s property tax bill this year is actually less than $5 million, according to Monterey County Assessor Steve Vagnini, whose office is in charge of determining that amount. It will go up when oil prices go back up. Maybe next year. Maybe later.

Now Vagnini’s “south of $5 million” pronouncement is not some assertion, some exaggeration by the environmentalist types who created Measure Z. This is from the office that actually sets the figures. It’s based on real numbers, not anyone’s speculation.

The truth is that Measure Z will not rise or fall on the amount of property taxes potentially at stake. Backers of the measure will tell you that the tax issue is nothing but a scare tactic anyway because passage of the measure won’t put anyone out of business.

Even so, I was kind of proud of my little scoop. I lean in favor Measure Z largely because I don’t trust the oil industry. Its outdated claim about paying $8 million a year in property taxes helps illustrate why.

But, unfortunately for voters and other truth seekers, my little scoop has been ignored by the titans of the local press corps. Even though I emailed it to them the same day I posted it on this blog. Even though several other practitioners of the journalistic arts subscribe to the Partisan and some probably look at it from time to time. Out of pity if nothing else.

I didn’t expect my scooplet to make it onto anyone’s front page but I did kinda hope it would be deemed worthy of a mention in the next Squid Fry column in the Weekly. Some fairly thin material makes it there some weeks. But no.

I also figured the Herald would mention it the next time it wrote about the measure in a big way. But no. Sunday’s paper contained an otherwise well done Page 1 story about the pros and cons of Measure Z but it simply repeated the $8 million figure, attributed to an out of date report from the Auditor’s Office, without mentioning the fresh report from  the assessor. Same thing with the paper’s anti-Z editorial.

I held out less hope for the electronic media. I was pretty sure they would just skip along collecting all that money for the oil industry commercials repeating the fib about the $8 million tax bill and wouldn’t set the record straight unless and until there was money to be made.

Where I come from, things like this matter, but I guess I’m just old and in the way now. And, well, what’s $3 million anyway? Heck, the oil industry executives have spent considerably more than that just on those helpful commercials. And they’ll probably plow the tax savings right back into the community. Right?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • gin October 23, 2016, 6:03 pm

    “Its outdated CLAIM about paying $8 million a year in property taxes….”

    The oil industry also has been known to CLAIM it provides “thousands of jobs” in Monterey County as if those “thousands of jobs” are in the oil fields of San Ardo and are at risk of being lost when in fact those “thousands of jobs” are the cashiers sitting in all those self-serve stations and will NOT be lost due to “Z”

    The oil industry’s claims all seem to be (shall we be politically correct and say) “truth-challenged”

  • Andrew Allison October 23, 2016, 6:10 pm

    Why on earth, given the incredibly biased reporting on the current election campaign, by the (aptly named) Partisan as well as the MSM, would you expect any better?

  • Karl Pallastrini October 23, 2016, 6:13 pm

    Royal…could it be that the Weekly (and possibly the Herald although not likely) are “vetting” the information you have presented from the County Assessors office? You know that we live largely in a go-along get-along society. The brush for Measure Z may be rather broad, but when you are talking about water in Monterey County all bets are off. Big money has controlled just about every political outcome in this county for years. And throw in the lettuce curtain, and NIMBY comes into play. Heck, it’s south county we are talking about. Does anyone actually live there? Anyone else find it interesting that the disappearing fire engine in the Chevron TV commercials list only the San Ardo Fire station as an endorsement, yet the commercial states that “Monterey County” will be at risk. The county is bigger than San Ardo…but Chevron and Aero suggest that the vanishing fire truck is heading down your street. Yes…Ocean Avenue, Alvarado Street, Lighthouse avenue, Fremont and Del Monte, the Village in Carmel Valley and the Coast Highway through Big Sur, Main street in Salinas et.al. Keep your fingers on the keyboard Royal. As a scribe…you know that your mission continues to be: tell it like it is.

    • Royal Calkins October 23, 2016, 6:37 pm

      Karl: I think the only vetting necessary would be a call to the assessor, and he’s a pretty available fellow.
      Andrew: Yeah, we’re pretty sneaky. Good thing you’re around to keep us on our toes.

  • ryan October 23, 2016, 8:35 pm

    keep shouting anyway. those of us at the bottom of the dry hole appreciate hearing a well-researched truth 🙂

    • Jane Haines October 25, 2016, 1:27 am

      I agree. Thank you Royal.

  • bill leone October 23, 2016, 9:28 pm

    Yes, Royal, I have been seriously disappointed in the Weekly myself. You would think they would take the opportunity to be the only source of Truth, Justice & the American Way in Monterey County; that is fill an obvious unmet need, like being the only bagel shop between SF & LA. However, it takes Courage to speak Truth to Power, & the only true investigative journalist who has met that description to date is David Schmaltz, when he wrote his well-researched expose’ on Brian Bathroom. I promised not to spell Weekly with an A after reading his article, & I’m hoping David will write another journalistic gem Before I break that promise.

    Regarding the commenters who do not appreciate your Eternal Vigilance: Denial is a handy defense mechanism, when you’ve allowed GOP propaganda to convince you to vote against your own interests.

  • Ed Mitchell October 23, 2016, 9:28 pm

    All three hardcopy newspapers in this county has had the opportunity to comment on the magnitude and inaccuracy of the TV and radio ads by Cheveron & Aera. Not a peep. They could have had a fact check on claims by both Yes Protect our water and by the pro-Frackers. Nope, not a peep. They could have commented about the Mayor of Salinas in an ad claiming his and other cities would lose tax money from San Ardo while Salinas receives ZERO dollars from San Ardo. And newspapers wonder why they are losing readers both hardcopy an digital readers.

    Thank you Royal for addressing the $8 million dollar BS from the pro-Frackers who will say anything to try and get voters to give them a free pass to enter the Salad Bowl of America.

    The lack of elected officials and state watchdogs failing to protect the water, jobs, and citizens of this county was some of the main reasons why the co-founders of Yes on Measure Z brought the initiative before the public. Hopefully, a majority will vote Yes on Measure Z.

    • Patrick James October 25, 2016, 2:24 pm

      Just wanted to chime in and say that I (early) voted YES on Measure Z. Whether the claim of a “loss of thousands of jobs” were true or not, if fracking wastewater gets into the Aquifer it could spell doom for the entire AG industry on the Central Coast. And that accounts for tens of thousands of jobs, and an integral food source that won’t be so easily replaced. That is simply not a risk we should be taking with companies who routinely refuse to even tell us what chemicals they’re using in their fracking mixture.

  • Mari Lynch October 24, 2016, 11:35 pm

    Thank you, Royal, for catching what other media missed. This only reinforces my decision to vote YES on Measure Z.

  • bill leone October 25, 2016, 3:51 pm

    The problem with The Weekly (& other) journalists going to sleep at the wheel, is that politicians like Dave Potter, Ralph Rubio & other Conservatives in Democratic clothing will destroy our quality of life in
    Monterey, as well as the social, environmental & economic quality of life for the entire country.

    Therefore, Royal you have a perfect right to be riled up.

  • Frank Lambert October 27, 2016, 4:38 am

    Royal, here’s an addition to the other reasons why the voters should vote YES on Measure Z. Click on the globalresearch.ca article.

  • bill leone October 27, 2016, 11:33 am

    I say, don’t you think the Weekly deserves some stiff competition?

  • Jane Haines October 28, 2016, 10:02 am

    Updates nos. 1 and 2 are good news. Re no. 2, I hope KSBW pointed out the variance between oil industry’s claim and Vagnini’s calculation.

  • Mari Lynch November 1, 2016, 8:22 pm

    I’m glad Frank shared that Yale study (http://www.globalresearch.ca/fracking-linked-to-cancer-causing-chemicals-increases-risk-of-childhood-leukemia/5553192). Note also that Environment America’s fall 2016 report “Dangerous and Close: Fracking Puts the Nation’s Most Vulnerable People at Risk” found more than 650,000 kindergarten through 12th grade children in nine states attend school within one mile of a fracked oil or gas well. http://environmentamerica.org/sites/environment/files/reports/EA_dangerous_scrn.pdf

    At the 9/23/14 Monterey County Board of Supervisors meeting, the many people who didn’t stay for the Q&A that followed the presentation and public comments missed remarks from Jason Marshall of the California Department of Conservation such as the following:
    –There are 700 chemicals used in fracking, and while some of these “are under your kitchen sink,” others are known carcinogens.
    –Regarding how close to schools fracking can be done, Marshall indicated that California’s SB4 leaves the matter to local jurisdiction. (For many of us, that fact is added evidence that it makes sense for Monterey County voters to act locally–by banning fracking in our county.)