Vote Michael Rivera for City Council
–By Michael Rivera
Hello fellow citizens,
I am a 44-year resident of the Central Coast — 16 in Paso Robles and 28 in the Santa Maria Valley. My wife and I have been married for 46 years and have three adult children and five grandchildren. I have served on numerous governmental boards and commissions over my career, including the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Commission (Chairman), Guadalupe Planning Commission, and the Mayor’s Housing Task Force in Santa Maria. I also have extensive experience in the private sector and with nonprofit organizations, including serving as Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of the Santa Barbara County Private Industry Council. My opponent has declared in a recent publication that I have no experience, but my record demonstrates that I have lengthy experience in both city and county government.
I am running for Paso Robles City Council because our City is at a crossroads. Meeting the needs of our citizens, not those of the “special interests,” is my top priority. We can do better with effective planning and development, improved policies on housing and jobs, and the fostering of education for our young people. My experience in business, as well as county and city government, provides me with a unique perspective as to what policies work concerning our City’s development. I ask for your vote so we can chart a course together for the future of our families and the future of Paso Robles.
As I have said, the City of Paso Robles is at an important junction. Decisions we make today will affect the quality of life for generations to come. Our city streets are deteriorating, but the city government has no plan to tackle this problem. Issues such as ongoing growth and development, and ensuring a vibrant local economy that provides good jobs, need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. Our school district and its fiscal health need to be assured for the education of our children. Public safety is always a priority and, with the state implementation of SB 54 (Sanctuary State), we must be sure that we are doing everything in our power to protect and defend our citizens and visitors. The needs of special interests groups should never come before those of our City and local citizens.
These are some of the reasons why I am running for the Paso Robles City Council, and I need your vote so I can “fight” for you.
Roads and Local Infrastructure
Roads are not maintained because of the outright theft of billions of dollars by the State of California from local governments in order to build a Bullet Train to Nowhere, billions of dollars that could have funded local programs.
What have we done as a City to object? Have we addressed this directly to the State in the form of any communications? Have we asked our State Assemblyman and State Senator to meet with us and voice our needs in Sacramento and to object to the bullet train and other ineffective programs? The answer to this is no and maybe. We have local government bodies in the form of SLOCOG at the county level and the Association of Governments at the state level, but they have done a poor job in supporting local governments. My opponent has done little to advocate for us and push back. He has been weak, but I assure you I will fight for you and Paso Robles.
Their solution is higher taxes. The increase in our gas tax is outrageous, but city leaders and my opponent have been silent. Their solution is increasing your sales tax by 1/2% with Measure K-18. This regressive tax puts working families, people on fixed incomes, and young workers under increased financial pressure. My opponent supports this.
The City of Paso Robles is collecting a 2% tax and an additional 1% tax from our visitors who are staying at our hotels and vacation rentals. The City receives 10% which goes to our General Fund. Those same Hotel businesses have an 80% occupancy rate. We DO NOT have a demand problem for visitors to our lovely City. Our City passes through 1.5 million dollars a year to the “special interest nonprofit” of the Hotel Lobby in the form of “Travel Paso”. The Mayor sits on this Board of Directors and my opponent supports this. I will work to change this and make sure that all 13% of the TOT goes to our City for our needs, and I will not ask you to bear the burden of a 1/2 % sales tax. I will “fight” for you. We fund through our city budget the very successful Main Street Association and the Chamber of Commerce. Why isn’t the Chamber more proactive in promoting our City? Why did we increase their budget to hire a Business development position without asking about their performance and outcomes? I know what the performance and outcomes are for the Main Street Association. They have been outstanding. What does my opponent say about this? It appears that his solution is to build another wasteful bureaucracy and increase your taxes. Is this the type of leadership we need?
Planning and Development
The Beechwood Project and many other planned developments are changing us as a City very quickly. All the hotels and future planned developments are in the pipeline, and we have not revisited our General Plan since 2004. A lot has changed since then, and I have publicly stated that we need to take a long pause and examine this to see what our Citizens want. Growth is inevitable and current projects must go forward. However, how we grow and at what speed we grow are important questions. Do we want to look like Orange County or any other heavily impacted area in California? I think not. I will do everything in my power to “fight for you” and make sure the interests of our Citizens are first. Providing upwardly mobile employment opportunities for our local population should be a top priority as we move forward. Sadly, the interests of our own people appear to be ignored and the special interests seem to be before our Citizens. We are always told we are a City of 30,000. However, when we look at the true impacts to our City we are a City of 130,000. Why do I say this? We had 1.2 million visitors last year and accelerating. I repeat, we “DO NOT” have a demand problem for visitors. We do have a planning problem. Let’s take a deep breath and revisit our General Plan. Let’s make sure that the interests of local citizens are at the front of the line.
The City and School district must communicate and work together to show the public that the financial health of our School district is solid. The district has drawn down reserves to a slim 3% of its total budget. If there are any problems in the national, state and local economies, this may become very problematic. We should have a liaison between City government and the school district. This should be a Council member. I would volunteer. This would be healthy going forward to communicate City policies and maximize resources.
This is one of the most critical issues because of both actions and inactions stemming from state government and the federal government. SB 54, the Sanctuary State policy that gives criminal aliens “special” treatment and prohibits local officers from cooperating with federal officers, is a clear danger to our community. Other policy decisions and laws have put our Citizens at great risk. I tried very hard to have our City object in a very strong way, but the response was weak. Rather than submit a “friend of the court” brief that would have “not” put our City at any financial risk—a step taken by many other communities in California—our City sent a weak letter to the State. The Mayor took unilateral action, without the consent of the Council, and sent this letter, which he edited himself. The public was not permitted to see the contents prior to it being sent. I believe this is a violation of the public trust, and it should not have been tolerated by the rest of the City Council. My opponent failed to object to this and many other actions of the current mayor.
Police, fire and emergency services are our highest calling. All of our current elected officials swear an oath affirming this. Our mayor and my opponent have been weak on issues like SB 54 the “Sanctuary State Law” and other laws being forced on us by the State. Our own District attorney has said these laws have made us less safe. I agree with our District Attorney. Our Sheriff has also made it clear these laws at the state level have made his job more difficult. I and others successfully lobbied our City Council to take action. This action our City took, however, was very weak. Our inability to work with authorities at the federal level makes us all less safe. Criminal Aliens should not be given safe haven in our City. When it comes to this and other issues related to immigration, I will “fight for you” and do everything in my power to push back. I have only one vote so I need every one of you to stand with me.
We should have no tolerance for workers in our City working and living in the “shadows”. Everyone who works in our City regardless of Race or Ethnicity should be able to work in our City without fear of being “found out”. Anyone using falsified documents to work in the United States is committing a Felony. Lying on employment documents is just that because the individual swears under penalty of perjury they have a legal right to work in the United States. This is why I pushed hard and successfully, to have Paso Robles implement E-Verify, a voluntary program, to be used as part of our own Cities hiring practices. E-verify, a system the federal government has instituted that allows potential new hires to be vetted, with 98% accuracy, to make sure they have a legal right to work in the United States. It’s already used by the Federal Government for vetting of “all” workers who apply into the Federal System and contractors who hire for Federally Funded projects. We as a City should be “encouraging” our local businesses to do the same voluntarily. I know for a fact that ICE and the Department of Homeland security are doing regular audits of businesses on the Central Coast. If a business is caught using illegal workers the fines and penalties can be severe! Let’s avoid this by encouraging all our businesses to use E-Verify. Let’s make sure no one is operating in the “Shadows”.
Shutting down the jobs magnet will help us with public safety and give our Citizens confidence that our city government is working hard to make sure everyone has a legitimate right to work here and prevent the undermining of Citizens and Legal residents wages and benefits. Let all of us understand what the true value of labor is in our City. Because we are heavily slanted to the tourism industry it is going to be more important than ever that we protect Citizen and legal residents from being undermined. Wages and Benefits should be determined by making sure everyone is playing by the same rules. This will make a difference in our City and bring solidarity to our City. The division we see all around us must be stopped and we have the tools to do it by working together.
We should continue to work with our Fire and Police unions to make sure that the tools they need to keep us safe are always available to them. We also need to work with them to ensure that our commitment to their retirement benefits is met. Our recent work on retirement with our unions is a great first step, and we can do more moving forward.
In closing, I want to say to the Citizens of Paso Robles, “Let us chart a course for the future together.”
I would be honored to serve as your representative on the Paso Robles City Council, and I need your vote to do so. I will always look out for the interests of our Citizens first. I will be a servant of the people who have elected me. No matter where I have served before, it has stemmed from a desire to serve the people. My wife and I have been very blessed living here in Paso Robles, and now I want to give back and serve our community.
I pledge to you that I will serve one term and then evaluate my service with input from you, the Citizens of our City. If you tell me that I am doing a good job, I will run once more (God willing), after which I will retire.
These are my positions and my goals, and I will do everything I can to deliver for you, the Voters.
Service – Performing the following always (Pro Bono)
Santa Maria Parks and Recreation Commission
Chairman and Commission Member
As Chair oversaw the completion of the 5 Million Dollar youth Center providing youth in the City of Santa Maria recreation and educational resources working with the School District and Community College
Oversaw the Study which set the course for how the City of Santa Maria’s Park system would be used to provide the most efficient use of our park resources for the lowest cost. Making sure that Families would have the proper covering on playground equipment as well as picnic areas throughout the City for our Families and many other choices for our families and youth recreation choices
Lobbied successfully, as a parks commissioner, to have the City and School District to work together to complete two Gymnasiums at two local Junior High Schools. Combining Financial resources through grants, Fesler Junior High and El Camino Junior High were able to complete thelong-awaitedd and needed gymnasiums. This provided the City two more facilities that allowed our community additional recreation resources. This agreement is still in effect and successful
Founded along with my wife Lindia the Santa Maria Valley Striders a youth running club which allowed children 8 to 12 years old the opportunity to run cross country in a competitive environment at the Local and National level. We provided this program at no cost to the youth participating and with out regard to their financial status. We also sponsored many running events such as the Fields to the Fair Run, the Elks parade 5K run and other events providing fund raising opportunity and additional fun family centered activities
These along with many other accomplishments gives me a clear understanding how working together we can accomplish great things for our City here in Paso Robles.
City of Guadalupe Planning Commissioner
Lobbied successfully LAFCO and the City Council in Guadalupe to Annex 220 acres of property which was not in the AG preserve. This annexation is now being used as this is being written to provide a planned and beautiful development for housing and shopping. I am truly proud of this and wish the City of Guadalupe all success.
Santa Barbara County Private Industry Council
Chairman, Chief Financial Officer and Board Member
We took this once dysfunctional Federally Mandated organization from a 3 million dollar per year underperforming operation to an 11 million dollar per year successful operation. We provided 1000s of people employment and training services which was our Charter. It was then replaced by Federal legislation to the Workforce Investment Board after my departure.
During my time on the PIC we funded the Guadalupe Educational and Technology alliance. This alliance with the Guadalupe School District and Hancock Community College was the first Computer Lab for the students in Guadalupe as well as the community at large. I was the project manager (Pro Bono) and successfully lobbied the PIC Board for the Funding. Working with the City of Guadalupe we completed this very successful project in co-operation with the representatives from the Community colleges and local community members who gave and volunteered their services to complete this project.
During my service on the PIC I also lobbied successfully our board to provide. Grants to the then fledgling California Space Alliance. This was an effort to create commercial space flight out of Vandenberg Air Force Base. I ran into one of their original board members in Lompoc where he told me about their effort and said they had little money and were running out of steam. I asked him to come and speak to the PIC as we had money and wanted to create more employment opportunities for the People of the County. This effort grew to a statewide organization headed up by their executive Director Andrea Seastrand. We now have Commercial Space launches at Vandenberg on a regular basis. It’s amazing what a little “seed” money can grow into. I am so proud of this and the economic engine this effort by so many people has created for our region.
My service on the PIC gave me a great understanding of how Government must be more creative and efficient when using taxpayer money. We must as Paso Robles do the same.
Californians for Population Stabilization
As secretary and Board Member I am proud of my service on CAPS. We have provided educational and statistical data on how the immigration policies of the United States effect our environment, Federal, State and Local budgets our law enforcement and legal system and so much more. We have worked to educate officials, academics and the public about common sense changes needed to improve our immigration policies. As a “Non-Partisan 501 c3 we take positions which are designed to protect the American People and Legal residents from harmful actions by our Federal and State Government and work toward educating the public on the serious environmental and Human impacts of those polices. I would invite you to the CAPS website at www.capsweb.org for more information if you’re interested.