December 5, 2003January 18, 2004Meeting Report

January 9, 2004

Wayne Luney
Irene Hickman: Sacramento County's Colorful and Controversial Assessor

There was a fairly small turnout for this meeting. However, the question and answer session was quite lively. The following is Wayne's summary of his subject.

Irene Hickman was an osteopath who ran for Sacramento County Assessor in 1966 and served one term. She was quite outspoken and controversial.

She believed in the Georgist1 idea of taxing the free market rental value of land instead of improvements to real property. She did what she could to keep land assessments current (this was before Proposition 13), as land had typically been under-assessed compared with buildings. She tried to assess real property at 100% of market value, as the California Constitution then required, but was told not to by the California Supreme Court. Apparently if a law is consistently ignored over time it becomes illegal to obey it!

She was a new-age type, believed in reincarnation, and said so publicly. There was an attempt to recall her in 1968, but it failed. She was defeated for re-election in 1970, moved out of state in the 1970s and died in late 2002 in Missouri.

1 According to the philosophy of Henry George.

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