The county Board of Supervisors are wasting your time and money to settle a political score with organized labor. The unions sponsored a successful ballot measure back in June that imposes term limits on supervisors. As retribution, the supervisors voted to put Prop. A on the ballot, which bars future boards from requiring project labor agreements (PLAs) between contractors and unions on county-funded construction projects. We could spend a bunch of energy on the debate over PLAs— there are reasonable pros and cons—but Prop. A isn't really about PLAs. This measure is about four anti-labor politicians (Greg Cox voted no) attempting to impose their ideology on the people who'll replace them. Give future boards the freedom to craft their own policies. Vote no, no, no on Prop. A.
This is a response to a peculiar problem created by a peculiar former city attorney, Mike Aguirre, but we're not convinced that it's absolutely necessary.
Aguirre sacked a bunch of assistants and deputies after he took office, presumably because they weren't on board with his political crusade. Prop. B would require a city attorney to show good cause before firing an assistant or deputy city attorney. Proponents frame it as a way to make sure the City attorney's office retains enough institutional knowledge and competence to protect taxpayers.
We think Aguirre was an isolated case and prefer to allow incoming city attorneys to hire and fire people at will. We won't begrudge a yes vote—it'll likely pass by a wide margin because no one aside from Aguirre opposes it, but we're suggesting you vote no on Prop. B.
In 1998, voters allowed construction of a community in the northwest part of the city called Pacific Highlands Ranch, but in so doing, they barred the development from surpassing 1,900 homes until Caltrans finishes an interchange between Interstate 5 and Highway 56. That provision came at the request of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board, which was worried about traffic impacts.
Pacific Highlands doesn't have all the community amenities that were planned because those things—parks, bike trails, a rec center and such—are financed through developer fees, and the developers aren't paying any more fees because they can't build any more homes. The capper is that the freeway interchange will be delayed at least another eight years.
Well, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board is cool with eliminating the language about the interchange requirement, and so are we. Vote yes on Prop. C.
Supporters of Prop. D say that if you don't pay half a cent more for every dollar you spend on taxable items—for the next five years—the city of San Diego will have to lay off more than 100 cops, close down two police substations and reduce fire and paramedic protection, in addition to other cuts in citizen services.
That camp includes the City Council's six Democrats, Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders, Police Chief Bill Lansdowne, the unions representing the city's cops and firefighters and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Opponents say those people are lying to you. They say the mayor and City Council will never resort to such a severe public-safety budget massacre. They think rejecting Prop. D will force city leaders to extract enough money out of labor unions and outsource enough municipal services to the private sector to solve next year's budget deficit.
That crowd includes the City Council's two Republicans—Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer (two potential candidates for mayor in 2012)—the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the local Republican Party and various business associations around town.
We're not exactly excited about paying more in sales tax, and we said in August that we'd urge voters to reject Prop. D if the opponents offer up a viable plan to balance next year's budget, which is estimated to be $72 million short (more if you include what's owed to the retiree healthcare fund).
They have not done so. We've been listening closely to DeMaio and Faulconer, and all they've come up with are broad, vague calls for pension reform and outsourcing of city services. That assessment was backed up late last week by a story by Liam Dillon of voiceofsandiego.org reporting that Faulconer's plan is severely underdeveloped and quoting DeMaio as saying his detailed plan would be released after the election.
We can't wait till after the election for an alternative. The city has hacked away at the budget, streamlined bureaucracy, cut employee compensation and enacted certain pension reforms in the past few years, and we truly believe there's not much left to cut— certainly not $72 million worth. Yes, some additional pension reforms are necessary, but this mess will require both reform and new revenue. We don't have time to wait for all the reforms to bear fruit; we need the infusion of money now.
What this means is that every time you spend $20—and grocery purchases aren't affected—you'd have to kick in another dime. We think it's well worth it to maintain an adequate level of city services. Please vote yes on Prop. D.
Since we've endorsed two union-unfriendly candidates for the San Diego Unified School District's Board of Education, we'll even things out and support Prop. J, which would impose a new tax on property owners for five years and back-fill state funding lost to the recession. Owners of single-family homes would pay an additional $8.17 per month in property tax. Owners of multifamily buildings would pay an additional $5 per month per unit. Commercial- and industrial-property owners would pay $37.50 more every month. Punishing the teachers union by voting “No” might feel good, but, really, think of the children: Vote “Yes” on Prop. J.
Of course we're endorsing Prop. 19, the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and allow local governments to tax it. We believe that it'll boost California's economy, create new jobs and ease the budget crisis. We believe that it will strike a blow to cartels and lift a significant burden from our overtaxed justice system. And, yes, we also disclose that legalization will a) help CityBeat's bottom line—and consequently allow us to serve you better—and b) make our nights and weekends way more fun. For those who value personal liberty, yes on 19 is the only moral vote.
Don't believe the scare tactics from the opposition. Marijuana is no more a gateway drug than miniskirts are a pathway to prostitution. Our officials are quite capable of writing laws to regulate marijuana and prosecute irresponsible behavior. The prevalence of medical-marijuana collectives have had no major negative impact on San Diego, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to get you into church. People: Jesus loves the tokers, too. We'd like you to vote yes on Prop. 19.
Props. 20 and 27
In 2008, voters narrowly passed Prop. 11, which created an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to redraw the district lines for the state Legislature and the Board of Equalization. Before it's even really been given a chance, Prop. 27 aims to dissolve the commission and retuthe power to elected politicians. A vote for 27 is a vote for gerrymandering. Shame on the San Diego Democratic Party for endorsing it. We join the election reformers at Common Cause as well as the San Diego Republican Party in backing Prop. 20, which would expand the commission's authority to include congressional districts. Vote yes on Prop. 20 and no on Prop. 27.
Prop. 21 would raise the vehicle-license surcharge by $18, which would generate $500 million in new revenue per year. Fifteen percent of those funds would go toward protecting wildlife and oceans. The rest would be used to keep state parks open and functioning. As loud as we're going to groan the next time we renew our registration if Prop. 21 passes, we'll be cheering when we roll into parks with better facilities—and when we don't have to pay at the gate. Prop. 21 also eliminates the day fees for California vehicles, which means folks who visit parks more than a couple times a year will save a ton of money. We urge you to vote yes on Prop. 21.
Prop. 22, 25 and 26
Quick: What do California, Rhode Island and Arkansas have in common? They're the only places where a state budget has to get the support of more than 66 percent of lawmakers before it can pass.
In elections, be they contests between candidates, initiatives on a ballot or floor votes in a legislative chamber, two-thirds of the votes is a devastating landslide. In California, Democrats have a sizable advantage in the state Legislature. But even though California voters have seen fit to put more Democrats in office than Republicans, the Democrats can't get anything done, simply because they number less than 67 percent. The real power shifts to members of the minority party, a few of whom can extort pretty much whatever they want in exchange for their votes. And it takes a while; Californians long ago gave up on having a budget by the June 30 deadline. An agreement on the current-year budget wasn't reached until last Friday.
Californians love to become enraged over political gridlock, but we also love creating it. We don't want to give the party in power any actual power, and we tend to like our legislative and executive branches controlled by competing parties. And we won't let anyone raise taxes without a two-thirds vote, meaning that when tax receipts are down, the only options are borrowing, shell games and service cuts. How can we expect anything different from what we're getting?
Prop. 25, funded largely by unions, would let the Legislature pass a budget with a simple majority vote (there's controversy over whether it does an end-run around the super-majority requirement for raising taxes) and force lawmakers to forfeit all pay, permanently, for every day they fail to produce a budget after June 15 of each year. Business groups and large corporations are financing the opposition. Prop. 26, on the other hand, would add new fees and levies to the list of things that require a two-thirds majority. And Prop. 22 would bar the state from dipping into funds that would otherwise be spent by local governments, which might become unnecessary with passage of Prop. 25.
Look, you send people to Sacramento to represent you. Why must you bind their hands? Let them do what they believe is right (or what the lobbyists who fund their campaigns tell them to do), and if you don't like the result, try the other party next time. Stop the madness: Vote “No” on Prop. 22, “Yes” on Prop. 25 and “No” on Prop. 26.
Prop. 23 would halt the implementation of AB 32—the California law that seeks to roll back greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Proponents of Prop. 23 (Big Oil has kicked down the most cash) argue that AB 32 will drive up energy costs and disproportionately effect low-income households and small businesses. They say the law's clean-energy-focused mandates should be suspended until the state's unemployment rate is below 5.5 percent for at least one year.
The thing is, that's happened only three times in the last 40 years (says the state's Legislative Analyst's Office), which means that Prop. 23 would put AB 32 on hold indefinitely. We just can't find clear evidence that AB 32 will be as costly as Yes on 23 suggests. More compelling are the arguments coming from the No on 23 side that point to the economic benefits of the state's burgeoning clean-tech sector and the health benefits that'll come with cleaner air, especially for low-income people of color, who often live in the most polluted parts of town. We urge a big ol' “No” on Prop. 23.
In 2008 and 2009, Democrats in the state Legislature made a deal with Republicans: Support the state budget and, come 2011, businesses will get three new tax breaks. Prop. 24, spearheaded by the California Teachers Association, says those tax breaks would mean a $1.3 billion hit to the general fund and should be repealed.
Surprisingly, the usually left-leaning editorial writers at the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle are urging a “No” vote on Prop. 24, arguing that more revenue means more spending and that ballot measures aren't the right way to change tax policies. If the California budget were fiscally sound, we might agree—but it's not. Education and social services are suffering mightily and now's not the time to cut general-fund revenue. As Robert Reich, the former labor secretary and current professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, has pointed out, the tax breaks aren't going to help mom-and-pop small businesses; they're going to benefit big corporations that tend to sit on profits rather than reinvest in the workforce. Please say “Yes” to Prop. 24.