By Dirty DeMaio / April 9, 2012
There’s been considerable attention paid recently to the secrecy around the hotelier vote to impose a new tax on the public. Those looking for the origin of the secret hotelier vote that apparently can’t be shared with the public can look back to October 10th last year, when the city council voted to make it secret. Thanks to a motion by Carl DeMaio, the city’s municipal code was altered specifically for this purpose:
61.2710(e) Since the Landowner-voters are entitled to a secret ballot, and since ballots are required to contain the names of each Landowner and the number of votes each Landowner is entitled to cast, and since the number of votes assigned to each Hotel may be considered to contain proprietary commercial information, the City Clerk shall protect the confidentiality of the ballots. No persons, other than the staff and consultants of the City who require access for the purposes of counting and canvassing the ballots, may have access to the ballots at any time unless by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
So of course the public doesn’t get to know. It seems Carl DeMaio (or his hotelier donors )wanted it that way. When he sat at council and called for this to be passed, DeMaio didn’t mention the part where the public would have no say in the decision or even the ability to know how the vote was conducted. It was just part of a package of changes to the municipal code to pave the way for hoteliers to operate free from public input or accountability.
And so when it came time in January for the council to allow hoteliers to vote on imposing the tax, it was after DeMaio had led the charge to ensure there would be no transparency or accountability for the vote. And again DeMaio jumped at the chance to push things along, so much so that other councilmembers had to “defer…to Mr. DeMaio’s eagerness.” The secrecy and lack of transparency was noted in the report from the City Attorney’s office, but it didn’t warrant mention during council debate. Indeed, DeMaio said he was satisfied with the accountability measures in the deal.
So not only has DeMaio been instrumental in pushing to let hoteliers tax the public without public input, in the process he was also spearheading changes to the law that specifically blocks transparency and prevents public accountability. Which leaves us one more time with DeMaio’s own question:
“What do you fear with public participation and public review and input? Why fear it?”