For the third and last time, I am sending my recommendations for next Tuesday’s election. Many people have already voted. As of yesterday, Richmond voters had requested and been sent 19,328 absentee ballots, and 6,432 had been returned.
My local recommendations:
- Mayor: Gayle McLaughlin
- City Council: Rogers, Booze, Beckles
- Measure U: No
- Measure V: Yes
- Measure M: Yes
- School Board: Ramsey, Kronenberg and Miles
Following are my more detailed recommendations for the November 2 ballot:
LOCAL OFFICES AND ISSUES
- City of Richmond Measure U (Point Molate Casino): No. Even if you think the Point Molate project proposed by Upstream is a good idea, Upstream has so dramatically exaggerated and misrepresented the nature of the project and its impacts (good and bad) that they can no longer be trusted. They have refused to make changes in the Land Development Agreement that protect the residents of Richmond, the environment and the historic buildings of Winehaven. Upstream needs to be sent a message of “no confidence” by the voters of Richmond. See http://www.cfspm.org.
- City of Richmond Measure V: (Tax Medicinal Marijuana): Yes. Regardless of how you feel about medicinal marijuana being sold in Richmond it has already been approved by the City Council, this measure will at least provide substantial new funding for police, streets and parks.
- West Contra Costa Unified School District Governing Board: Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg and Audrey Miles. Despite 28% budget cuts from the state, these three incumbents and Superintendent Bruce Harter have increased test scores, increased attendance, reduced expulsions, increased the number of college applications and admissions to selective colleges, maintained a full 180-day school year and preserved small class sizes to make classes manageable for teachers and students . In addition, they have continued to push forward on the largest per capita school reconstruction program in California, rehabilitating or reconstructing almost all the schools in the District. Ramsey and Kronenberg are responsible for the award-winning innovative Ivy League Connection Program – recognized with the prestigious 2010 Magna Award from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) (awarded to only 15 of the 15,000 school districts in the US)
- West Contra Costa Unified School District Measure M (Local Funding for Schools): Yes. Measure M provides funding for restoring critical programs such as art and music and Maintaining manageable class sizes. It provides funding the state cannot take away, costing the average homeowner a little over a quarter a day. It provides for an independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee monitor the use of all Measure M funds, and an exemption to those 65 and older who own a home in the district. Click here for more information.
- Alameda- Contra Costa Transit District Director at Large: Joel B. Young
- Contra Costa Transportation Authority Measure to Repair and Maintain Local Streets: Yes. If you want better streets, vote for this.
- Contra Costa District Attorney: Mark Peterson. While both candidates are technically qualified, O’Malley hasn’t worked as prosecutor for a decade. I also have a soft spot for Peterson because he serves on the Concord City Council Click here for more information.
CALIFORNIA BALLOT PROPOSITIONS (In addition to your Official Voter Information Guide, http://www.californiapropositions.org/ is a good source of information about the initiatives.
- Proposition 19 (Legalize Marijuana). No. SB 1449, introduced by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco and signed into law September 30, 2010, by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger already decriminalizes typical use of marijuana. “Medical marijuana” is already widely available to anyone who wants it. This is one of those things that anybody could argue both ways, and the best debater would probably win. The money saving aspect may be a myth. With the exception of some people with difficult health challenges, no one really needs marijuana, and it is proven that marijuana smoke contains the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. I have consistently voted for measures to discourage tobacco use and to limit exposure of others to tobacco smoke. I see no reason to trade one carcinogen for another or to encourage public smoking of anything. Click here for one argument on why to reject Proposition 19.
- Proposition 20 (Redistricting): No. This proposition is backed by the California Chamber of Commerce and other big business interests. Proposition 27 is a competing initiative. From the Sacramento Bee: “While [supporters of Proposition 20] are right to say that many congressional districts are drawn for purely partisan purposes and unfairly protect incumbents, reform needs to happen on the national level, not just in a single state. California's interests could be harmed if it alone undertook an experiment in reforming how congressional districts are drawn. Imprudently mapped districts could leave the state with far less seniority in Congress than it now enjoys, giving the state less clout over appropriations and legislation."
- Proposition 21 (State Park Funding: Yes. California's state parks are falling apart because of decades of chronic underfunding. Budget cuts are causing them to fall severely behind in needed maintenance and repairs—a backlog of more than $1 billion already exists. Twice in the past two years, state parks were on the brink of closure. Only a last‐minute budget reprieve kept them open, however because of budget cuts, nearly 150 state parks have been shut down part‐time or suffered deep service reductions. California's parks are becoming less available to the public and are at serious risk of irreversible damage. It's clear that the powers that be in Sacramento aren't riding to the rescue for state parks. In response, we're taking our case to the people.
- Proposition 22 (Prohibits State raids on local funds) Yes. Richmond has lost tens of millions of dollars from raids to balance the state budget. With the measure’s passage, local funds for public safety, emergency response, and other local government services would be protected from state interference, meaning local taxpayer dollars would go toward cities, counties, and redevelopment agencies that count on the revenues from locally derived taxes to fund such local services. Local transportation funds would also be protected by this measure.
- Proposition 23 (Suspends implementation of AB 32): No. This pernicious attempt by two Texas oil companies to protect their own interests could kill California’s economic recovery and prospects for leadership in the future green economy. Both gubernatorial candidates oppose it (the only thing they agree one) and Governor Schwarzenegger, a strong supporter of AB 32, has criticized oil companies for getting involved in the campaign to finance this measure. The governor argues that AB 32 will not kill jobs, as it will create green jobs for the state. In a statement, the governor announced: “This initiative sponsored by greedy Texas oil companies would cripple California's fastest growing economic sector, reverse our renewable energy policy and decimate our environmental progress for the benefit of these oil companies' profit margins. I will not allow this to happen on my watch." Click here for more information.
- Proposition 24 (Closes Tax Loopholes):Yes. These tax breaks primarily benefit larger, multi-state businesses, and appear to have gone primarily to very large, profitable businesses. They are intended to encourage those businesses to create more jobs in the private sector, but there is no requirement for either the businesses that claim them or any state agencies to show whether that actually happened. At a time when state and local governments are cutting needed services and the employees who provide them, we believe California cannot afford to continue to give out tax breaks without knowing whether there has been any significant value to the public as a result.
- Proposition 25 (Majority vote to pass budget): Yes. Simple Majority Vote for Budget. This measure would change the vote required for the Legislature to pass a budget from the current two-thirds to a simple majority. Majority rule is a fundamental principle of democracy. Proposition 25 will reduce the stranglehold the minority now exercises over the budget process. Legislators will forfeit salary if they fail to meet the deadline for passing a budget.
- Proposition 26: "Polluter Protection." No. This measure would change the definitions of taxes and therefore require a two-thirds vote on many more government revenue decisions at both state and local levels. Payments by those who cause harm to the environment or public health are currently defined as regulatory fees. Such fees would become much harder to enact, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill instead of those who pollute or create a public nuisance. Decisions on revenue measures should be made by a simple majority vote.
- Proposition 27: Eliminates State Commission on Redistricting. No. This would kill the major redistricting reform voters just approved in 2008 and return the authority for redistricting State Senate and Assembly districts to the Legislature. It would take us back to the days when bizarrely shaped districts were drawn to keep incumbents safely in office. Keep the redistricting power with the voters and the voter-approved independent Citizens Redistricting commission.
- Governor: Jerry Brown
- Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom
- Secretary of State: Debra Bowen
- Controller: John Chiang
- Treasurer: Bill Lockyer
- Attorney General: Kamala D. Harris
- Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
- State Board of Equalization: Betty T. Yee
- United States Senator: Barbara Boxer