Here's what I found quickly (about Earle from Bellflower):
"The Shopkeepers Whirl with Earle
In the town of Bellflower, just another middle-income community in the sprawl between downtown Los Angeles and Orange County, James Earle Christo was the proprietor of a tuxedo rental shop with the motto "Whirl with Earle."[41
] At first, Christo's tax protest activity led him to speak of the unresponsiveness of government, to suspect a conspiracy of powerful politicians and businesses, and to argue that big business should be taxed.
Beginning his tax-fighting career in 1959
, Christo and the Taxpayers Association of Bellflower successfully blocked the imposition of a property tax in the town and then opposed spending tax money on a new city
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hall and other urban redevelopment projects. In 1965
, Christo helped to form the United Organizations and was elected to a number of leadership positions through the years. Christo saw taxpayers as victims of a conspiracy of the powerful. "Forces" in Sacramento, for example, were blocking an initiative campaign to limit property taxes:
These so called "forces" must remain anonymous. . . . We cannot name names because we do not know exactly who is behind the technical roadblocks being thrown up to keep this Jarvis Amendment off the ballot. . . . Powerful groups such as the oil, insurance, banks and certain categories of privileged landowners are, of course, behind the scenes calling the shots for the people who are trying to keep our amendment off the ballot.
The businesses leading this alleged conspiracy were precisely the ones that Christo wanted to tax in order to pay for the homeowners' tax relief. Banks, according to Christo, were "notorious tax dodgers which, quite legally, shift most of their taxes to the shoulders of little people." Christo argued that if a bank owned a mortgage amounting to 80 percent of the value of a home, the bank should pay 80 percent of the property tax bill. When Christo was president of the United Organizations, he advocated such a plan, which would thereby "cut down the burden of the little 'homeowner' who actually owns [only] an equity or part interest."[43
Christo condemned the $11 million worth of tax advantages accorded to insurance companies. "The big insurance companies are permitted to deduct all local taxes on their main office buildings from the total owed to the state. While these deductions are permitted year after year, great political fanfare is made of the fact that homeowners receive only a measly $750 exemption off their total assessed valuation." Christo also forcefully advocated a $2 billion tax on oil companies in order to balance property tax cuts for homeowners. Christo's proposals received the support of the board of directors of the United Organizations, which publicized them with the slogan, "Tax big oi1."[44
With all of the militant talk about taxing business, the United Organizations obtained only limited support from businesses between 1966
and 1971. The UO's first initiative drive in 1968
to abolish all property taxes entirely smacked of extremist ideology and was too drastic for community business leaders. "We never got support from realtors until Prop. 13 came along. [Question: Support for abolishing the property tax? Christo:] No, we never got their support on that."[45
] In 1971, Christo lamented, "Many real estate dealers, I am sorry to say, seem to oppose us even though a 50percent cut in property revenues would certainly boom the real estate and home market."[46
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Later in the 1970s, the United Organizations and Christo began to take a different approach to tax reduction. Christo concluded that
all previous petitions that were sent out, were sent out in behalf of the homeowner, and in doing so you alienated the businesses away from you. . . . [B]usiness is not going to stand still and allow [itself] to take the burden of homeowners' savings on their shoulders. . . . By also including business on a [tax limit of] one percent of market value—sure we did it because small mom and pop businesses supported us. See, I made a couple of radio speeches and directed us to small businesses. I expected the mamma and papa stores to support us one hundred percent. They did.
[Question: What about 137 Do you think it would have failed if you didn't include business? Christo:] Yeah, I think so, yes. Business would have lined up against us.
Christo and other United Organizations leaders had come to agree not to increase taxes on business but rather to lower them. This stand helped to increase support from community business leaders, especially those who deal with the land. Forging the alliance with the landed business community was Howard Jarvis's major contribution."
Darn. No mention of his trailer.