Oct. 12 2016 05:33 PM

CityBeat’s local endorsements for the November 8 election

Researching the candidates to endorse for political office, and which state propositions and local measures to support, was like studying for back-to-back-to-back SAT tests. You could say it was a welcome distraction from the tabloid-and-reality-TV-smeared presidential race—though that’s where we’ll start:

President of the United States: Hillary Clinton

Four more years of an Obama presidency? Yes, please, and make it a double. Let’s skip the jokes about avoiding having a U.S. president who’s the color of a circus peanut and seems lost or stuck in a world of teenage locker room banter and prep school putdowns of nonwhite males. Besides being the adult in the race with national and international political experience, Clinton represents a chance to move forward in a country that has made small but distinct strides forward on social issues like LGBTQ equality, and stand poised to get across the bridge on immigration, healthcare, gun control and other important topics. She’ll keep abortion legal, will work to bring diverse communities together and considers climate change a legitimate threat that needs to be recognized and dealt with. Undecideds: If you need one visual to force a decision, picture Trump getting ready to meet your sister while he pops Tic Tacs into his O-shaped mouth.

Unites States Senator: Kamala Harris

Would that all Senate races were like the one for the open seat vacated by Barbara Boxer—between two liberal Democrats. Though cautious in public, State Attorney General Harris articulates her ideas better than Orange County congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Extra points go to Harris for not “dabbing”—as Sanchez did—at the end of their only senatorial debate.

U.S. House of Representatives: Doug Applegate (49th District); Patrick Mallory (50th District); Juan Vargas (51st District); Scott Peters (52nd District); Susan Davis (53rd District)

Col. Applegate is a hard-nosed Democrat who has the first legitimate chance in a decade and a half to boot incumbent Republican Party lapdog Darrell Issa—the wealthiest member of Congress—from office; Mallory would be a welcome relief from vape-smoking and Trump-backing Duncan Hunter; Vargas, Peters and Davis are stalwart Democrats and deserve to be re-elected, despite the backing by Vargas and Peters of San Diego’s Measure C (the hotel tax grab to build a new stadium playpen for Dean Spanos and the Changers).

State Senate, 39th District: Toni Atkins

We’ve been fans of Atkins since her days on the San Diego City Council (2000-2008) and up to her recent time spent as Speaker of the state Assembly. It was a tumultuous path around Marty Block on the way from state assembly to state senate, but Atkins’ career record of standing tall and fighting for social justice issues such as homelessness and LGBTQ equality is spotless.

State Assembly: Todd Gloria
(78th District); Shirley Weber (79th District); Lorena Gonzalez (80th District)

Weber and Gonzalez (who asks that you not confuse her with Loretta Sanchez) are incumbents who should slide to reelection wins. Former “iMayor” Gloria is termed out of his San Diego City Council spot and should be a lock to take over the 78th District seat.

San Diego County Supervisor: Dave Roberts
(District 3)

Roberts has kept a low profile since beating Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar in the June primary (but not by a wide enough margin to avoid a runoff ). The incumbent Democrat will need every vote he can get to top 50 percent of the vote against his Republican challenger.

San Diego City Attorney: Mara Elliott

Elliott was the surprise top vote getter in a primary chock full of fellow Democrats. The city’s chief deputy city attorney made a good move recently by calling on the San Diego Police Department to analyze all previously untested rape kits they’ve collected from past cases. General election opponent Robert Hickey was the lone Republican who started off in this race and is not likely to build on his primary vote count.

San Diego City Council: Barbara Bry
(District 1); Georgette Gomez (District 9)

Business maven Bry nearly got enough votes to avoid a runoff election. Challenger Ray Ellis dropped out after a strong showing by her in the primary—nonetheless, remember to fill in Bry’s bubble.

In District 9, Georgette Gomez, who came in second in June, has stronger street cred and would seemingly represent working people on the city council over runoff opponent Ricardo Flores, the top vote getter in the primary and the hand-picked successor who seems cozier with the status quo.


PROP 51 (Funding for K-12 school and community college facilities): NO

California’s K-12 schools and community colleges are in dire need of infrastructure improvements, but we don’t think this proposition adequately addresses the financial problem. The money would be delegated to schools on a first-come-first-served basis and likely favor wealthy districts with more staff. Plus, this proposition was written and sponsored by stakeholder construction companies prioritizing their own interests, and it could increase state debt.

PROP 52 (Federal Medi-Cal matching funds): YES

Since 2009, the state has taxed private hospitals everyday through the Hospital Quality Assurance Fee. This increases Medi-Cal payments, which sounds counterproductive, but it allows public and private hospitals to receive more federal funding. Even with the fee, public hospitals are still losing money. Making this fee permanent allows the system to continue and expand its care for the 13 million low-income Californians who rely on Medi-Cal for primary care and emergency room visits.

PROP 53 (Statewide voter approval on revenue bonds): NO

Although it sounds like a legitimate way to slow state spending, this prop is a no-go because all Californians would vote on local projects (like new toll roads or bridges) they probably know next to nothing about. This would be the large-scale version of San Diego County voting down the Barrio Logan Community Plan. Even though the California “WaterFix” project and the bullet train might be affected, few projects meet the $2 billion threshold.

PROP 54 (Online posting of legislation and proceedings): YES

This is a no-brainer. Prop 54 would put to rest the classic gut-and-amend move, where laws are discussed in meetings but then completely reworked to benefit special interests just before being put to a vote. Once rewritten, they often have nothing to do with the original version. Unless you want to encourage governmental corruption, let’s require that laws be posted online 72 hours before a vote for the legislators, public and press to review.

PROP 55 (Tax extension to fund education and healthcare): YES

This prop increases the income tax on the highest-paid individuals and couples, roughly the top 1.5 percent of taxpayers, and directs the money to K-12 schools, community colleges and health-care programs. It already exists thanks to Prop 30, but that expires in 2018. Prop 55 is good for an extension until 2030.

PROP 56 (Cigarette tax): YES

Unless you like yellow teeth, bad breath and black lungs, this is an easy choice. Maybe knowing that tobacco kills about 480,000 Americans every year is enough to convince you to up the tax on cigarettes. E-cigs, cigars and chewing tobacco aren’t exempt, either. Hiking tobacco taxes is a proven way to deter smoking habits, so guess which industry is against it.

PROP 57 (Criminal sentencing and parole proceedings) YES

Although opponents tout this as an “early release” for many criminals, that’s not the case. The prop would put prisoners before a parole board sooner, but that doesn’t mean anything unless they’ve earned it. It also gives nonviolent offenders the chance to reduce sentences by succeeding in rehabilitation programs. Non-violent crimes are not always peaceful; but these people are going to be released one day regardless, and the goal is for them to leave prison a better person than when they entered. The proposition also lets judges (not prosecutors) decide whether juveniles should be tried as adults.

PROP 58 (Multilingual education): YES

Under Prop 227, which was passed in 1998 and is still in effect today, non-native English speaking students must go through an unnecessarily difficult process to enroll in bilingual classes. This means 22 percent of California public school students are told to sink or swim in English-only classes. With growing globalization, it only makes sense to facilitate this process and encourage multilingual programs.

PROP 59 (Overturn Citizens United act advisory): YES

This is a statewide poll assessing California’s stance on Citizens United. The prop doesn’t actually do anything, except indicate whether voters want to overturn the Citizens United decision in the future. But since we don’t support corporations funneling money into campaigns, we stand by the California Democratic Party in voicing opposition to Citizens United in the hope that something is done in the future.

PROP 60 (Condoms in porn): NO

We’re all for safe sex. But this proposition is a front by “activist” Michael Weinstein, who’s trying to drive the pornography business out of California. The porn industry is against Prop 60 because performers already undergo frequent testing—otherwise nobody would hire them. If passed, any Californian could cry wolf if they didn’t see condoms used in an adult video (even though the law wouldn’t require the condoms to be visible). As a result, performers and producers would be called into court where their privacy would be compromised.

PROP 61 (State prescription drug prices): NO

First, matching the Veterans Administration’s lowest-paid prescriptions requires knowing what those prices are, which are sometimes confidential and could be inaccessible. The measure doesn’t require drug manufacturers to comply either, enabling them to refuse to sell certain drugs to the state. And to salvage profits, they could increase VA prescription prices, anyway. Plus, these price cuts only apply to 25 percent of Medi-Cal patients.

PROP 62 (Repealing the death penalty): YES

Capital punishment is broken beyond repair; the state has failed to execute anyone in 10 years. Taxpayers shouldn’t waste tens of millions on this system with the hope that it deters criminals. Keeping them locked up for the rest of their lives is equally effective in keeping them off the streets, but at a fraction of the cost.

PROP 63 (Restrictions on firearm and ammunition possession): YES

This is common sense. Everybody should undergo a background check before buying ammunition, and those purchases should be tracked by the Department of Justice. Nobody should be sold large-capacity ammunition magazines.

And anyone who steals a gun shouldn’t be allowed to have one. While this could be costly, it’s money well spent.

PROP 64 (Legalization of recreational marijuana): YES

State-governed regulation of marijuana will increase safety by decreasing business in the streets. Plus, the state will make more than one billion dollars annually and save tens of millions on criminal justice costs. It’s about time California lit up (if you’re 21 and over).

PROP 65 (Directing bag proceeds to environmental fund): NO

This is a misleading prop put on the ballot by the plastics industry. The environmental fund is a vague proposal that would create a bureaucracy to regulate a small amount of money. Plus, grocers need the 10-cent cost tacked onto paper bag purchases so they can afford to supply the bags.

PROP 66 (Reforming the death penalty): NO

While we would be willing to make valid repairs to the death penalty, this is an expensive, empty promise. Speeding up a complex system should render hesitation, and the proposed timeline is unrealistic. Also, there’s no clear path to obtaining lethal injection drugs right now. These changes aren’t worth the chances of executing an innocent person.

PROP 67 (Plastic bag ban): YES

The City of San Diego, and other cities around the state, have already implemented single-use plastic bag bans on their own, so the measure will have relatively no impact on us. But, eliminating plastic bags in the state will impact California’s environment as a whole. Just don’t listen to the plastics industry, which is trying to tell you otherwise.


MEASURE A (SANDAG transportation tax): NO

This is a proposal to raise the sales tax by half a cent over the next 40 years and direct that money ($18.2 billion) to transportation and infrastructure (public transit, highway improvements, open-space preservation, pedestrian and biking projects). It’s nearly a good plan—supported by moderates but opposed by leftleaning progressives, including a Quality of Life Coalition of environmentalists and labor groups who believe Measure A doesn’t do enough to sustain the region over the long haul or provide enough guarantees for project laborers. A two-thirds vote is required for passage.

MEASURE B (Lilac Hills development): NO

Developer Accretive Investments has been trying for 10 years to get the permitting required to build a 1,700-home development in Valley Center in a location zoned for 110 houses. The plan was questioned by the county, which had sought to get Accretive Developments to help build a new school and fire station, and improve roads. None of that is tied to Measure B, and its passage would set a bad precedent for developers who want to get around traditional zoning disputes.


MEASURE C (Chargers Stadium): NO

The wealthy Spanos family, owners of the San Diego Chargers (valued at over $2 billion), wants the city of San Diego to raise its hotel room tax from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent to collect more than a billion dollars that would go toward construction of an East Village stadium structure that would include annexed convention center space. Do we know exactly what this stadium would look like or how the financing responsibility would shake out? We do not. It’s time to put an end to corporate welfare for NFL owners, especially one with a long track record of lies and broken promises. Requires a twothirds vote for passage.

MEASURE D (The Citizen’s Plan): NO

This seemingly well-intentioned but somewhat convoluted plan would raise the city’s hotel tax and clear the way for the possibility of a downtown or Mission Valley stadium, while placing roadblocks in the way of a contiguous convention center expansion. The measure aims to allow the city to sell Qualcomm Stadium land to local universities and create parkland in Mission Valley. There are solid ideas here, but a waterfront convention center expansion is a good business move. A two-thirds vote is required for passage, but that threshold may be argued in court.

MEASURE E (Removing city officials): YES

You could call this the Bob Filner Measure. Passage would cause the mayor, city attorney and city councilmembers to lose their posts if convicted of a felony or found liable for fraud. Measure E also includes a new process to remove city officials convicted of misdemeanors; and it requires a city attorney candidate have practiced law in California for 10 years.

MEASURE F (Deputy city attorney probationary term): YES

Not the most pressing issue on this huge ballot. Nonetheless, it makes sense and could eliminate politically based firings by reducing the probationary period for deputy city attorneys from two years to one.

MEASURE G (Citizens’ Review Board on Police Practices): YES

Changes are necessary on police oversight and passage of Measure G should be followed up with even more policy tweaks that add more teeth. As written, this measure changes the group’s name to the Community Review Board on Police Practices and gives the panel the authority to investigate officer-involved shootings, as well as grant the city council oversight of the board, rather than just the mayor having that authority.

MEASURE H (Purchasing and contracting process): NO

Little has been made of this measure, backed by city staff. It calls for public contracts to be awarded according to rules adopted by the city council. However, it eliminates the requirement for the city to advertise some contracts in a local newspaper, at about a $50,000 per year savings. No to less disclosure.

MEASURE I (San Diego High’s Balboa Park lease): YES

Schools aren’t supposed to be built on parkland, but San Diego High School sits within the boundary of Balboa Park. The school’s 50- year lease expires in 2024. A yes vote extends the lease and allows the high school to remain in place. Some park conservationists oppose extending the lease, but a majority of the city council and San Diego Unified School District administrators realize there’s nowhere else in the downtown area where a school could be relocated.

MEASURE J (Mission Bay Park and parks funding): NO

Balboa Park and other regional parks do need monetary support, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan to pull even more funds from Mission Bay Park commercial leases and spread the money around seems to require more scrutiny.

MEASURE K (General election runoffs): YES

As San Diego election law now stands, any candidate who gets more than 50 percent of the vote in a June primary election wins outright and doesn’t continue on to a November general election. That doesn’t align with state and federal elections, where the top two candidates must compete in a runoff no matter what the vote count. Proponents of Measure K want to get local elections in alignment with state and federal races, and point to the fact that more people vote in November elections than in June elections— and the more citizens that compete in the process the better it is for a democracy.

MEASURE L (Initiatives and referendums in general elections): YES

This is a companion issue to Measure K, and the same argument stands that it’s better to have initiatives and referendums in front of the electorate when more people are participating in the process. Passage would put all such items on November general election ballots, unless the city council votes to put them up in June primaries.

MEASURE M (Raising affordable housing unit caps): YES

Affordable housing is a priority. Measure M raises the cap so an additional 38,680 housing units involving public agencies can be built for low-income citizens. The current limit is 3,247.

MEASURE N (Taxing marijuana): YES

Measure N’s call for a 5-percent local tax on recreational-use marijuana is contingent on the passage of state Proposition 64, which would legalize the drug beyond just medicinal use. The state would also tax recreationaluse pot, but the local tax advocated for in Measure N could raise $22 million per year. The tax—which is moot if Prop 64 fails— is a good idea as long as the city council shows restraint in the future and doesn’t tax the city’s legitimate cannabis dispensaries out of business.


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