Despite the seemingly endless election coverage, little attention has been paid to what is perhaps St. Helena’s most time-sensitive initiative on the local ballot: MEASURE TM. Here’s an analysis that I hope my fellow St. Helena voters will find helpful on Election Day:

yes-on-tmAbout MEASURE TM:

MEASURE TM would levy a 1% sales tax to be used to fund the development and construction of a city-owned Time Machine. This Time Machine would allow St. Helena locals to collectively travel back to a happier, simpler time before the tourists came, before certain hiring, compensation, contractual, zoning and permit commitments were made, and before we ever agreed to become an incorporated city within the county of Napa. The tax would apply to all purchases made within the city limits, construed as including: V Sattui, Meadowood, and Dean & Deluca because, seriously, we’ve got to have some source of tax revenue here. It applies to purchases of all prescription, non-prescription, legal and illegal drugs, to groceries, fireworks and pantyhose, and to otherwise tax-free swap-a-doo’s of cases of cabernet exchanged by winking locals gainfully employed in the wine industry (and you know who you are).

Argument In Favor of MEASURE TM:

St. Helena faces serious problems that only a working Time Machine can solve. We must seize this opportunity for a municipal “do-over” to ensure that we never again grant anyone a permit to do anything, ever. We can then buy up all the available houses and rent them exclusively to (a) people we like and (b) people who work here, which we admit comprise two very different groups. We can design a more classic City Hall that won’t soon resemble the set from a re-run episode of Starsky & Hutch shot on location in Glendale during a particularly dusty summer. We will interview people who bequeathed land to the city to confirm their future wishes, and we will remember to write down what they tell us (and where we put the piece of paper we wrote it on). Plus — if we travel back 100 years — we can elect a precocious teenage Alan Galbraith to start negotiating savvy water contracts, flood control grants, and favorable easements on our behalf. Sure, we will miss our cellphones and laptops for a while, but the ability to afford our water bills, fix potholes and borrow library books in the new millennium will more than compensate. Vote Yes on MEASURE TM.

Argument In Opposition to MEASURE TM:

Let’s get real – the chance of our actually developing this Time Machine is about as likely as our achieving consensus on a General Plan, extending the Vine Trail through St. Helena, or identifying the meat inside the pot stickers at Golden Harvest. We all know that Mr. Peabody has been working on his invention of a WABAC machine since 1960, but neither he, nor Sherman, nor H.G. Wells, nor any Shark Tank contestant, nor that guy who invented the super-sucking-vacuum, have brought such a product to market. A 1% sales tax will disproportionately impact certain already disadvantaged locals, although those who are purchasing large amounts of prescription or non-prescription and illegal drugs won’t care as much. We urge our neighbors not to dwell in the past but to instead embrace change, both societal and technological, with the possible exception of those new chipped credit cards. And we fear the risk posed by certain members of our community (and you know who you are), who might set the dial for the year 1950, then sabotage our Time Machine and strand us all there, in an effort to make time stand still forever and consign St. Helena to the modern-day equivalent of Brigadoon. Vote No on MEASURE TM.

In related legislation, a group of locals is gathering signatures to add MEASURE B2F to the 2018 ballot. MEASURE B2F would levy a .50% sales tax to fund construction of a DeLorean, with Flux Capacitor, for travelling back to the future. They can’t wait to find out how it all turns out for the citizens of our timeless city of St. Helena.

– Laura Rafaty,,
(for another blast from the past, read the author’s Up the Valley column on Donald Trump from 2011 in the Star: Up the Valley: I Like Mike).

Published in the St Helena Star Newspaper, October 26, 2016