So here we are just days away from America’s General election. And while some are under the impression that we are only going to the ballot to elect a president, the reality is, there are a number of statewide propositions, local city measures, and various candidates that will also be on our ballots. Frankly, chances are, it’s these issues and candidates that will have much more of a direct impact on our lives, so it’s critical that we go into our polling location informed. Looking for familiar names or names that sound “Black” isn’t going to cut it.

By the same token, I am not a fan of endorsements. As I have said on many occasions, endorsements are basically the assumption that we, the voters, aren’t smart enough to do our research, and need someone who looks like us to tell us what to do. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

To that end, as I always do, I will be going over the ballot over the next couple of days and breaking down the propositions, measurers, and candidate’s who are on them. While my particular focus is Los Angeles County, there are a couple of candidate’s and issues outside of Los Angeles that I will also touch on.

Today, we look at local measures for the City of Los Angeles.

Proposition A Gang & Youth Violence Prevention, After-School & Job Training Programs — City of Los Angeles (Parcel Tax – Two-Thirds Majority Approval Required)

To address gang violence through prevention and job training programs; preventing students from dropping out of school; funding supervised after-school programs, tutoring/mentoring, vocational/apprenticeship programs, expanded graffiti removal; requiring Controller audits, citizen oversight; funding proven programs; shall the City of Los Angeles levy an annual $36 gang prevention tax, with discounts for low-income seniors, on each real property parcel?

The Situation
The Los Angeles Police Department estimates there are 400 gangs and 38,000 gang members within the City of Los Angeles. Gang violence results in loss of life and negatively affects living conditions in many parts of the City.

Some of the causes of the growth of gang violence across the City are the lack of job and training opportunities and other healthy productive options for youth. Currently, the City cannot adequately fund programs and activities that help young people develop employment skills and provide positive alternatives to gangs that are necessary to end gang violence.

The Proposal
The City would levy an annual $36 special tax on each real property parcel to fund gang prevention, intervention, after-school and job training programs. These funds would be placed in a new Special Tax Fund to be used only for the specific purposes stated in the measure. Purposes include programs and activities that are proven to be successful to address gang violence as well as evaluations and audits to ensure that funds are used effectively.

A Yes Vote Means
You want to allow the City to levy an annual $36 special tax on each real property parcel for programs that address gang violence.

A No Vote Means
You do not want to allow the City to levy an annual $36 special tax on each real property parcel for programs that address gang violence.

So this proposition is basically asking for an additional $36 from every home owner in the City of Los Angeles for gang and youth violence prevention programs. My position is that if $36 will help keep someone’s child from joining a gang—what took so long?

VOTE YES

Proposition B Update of Low Rent Housing Authorization — City of Los Angeles (Ordinance – Majority Approval Required)

Shall existing voter-approved authorization for low rent housing be revised to remove impediments to federal and state funding and requirements not compatible with current housing needs, and authorize the development, construction or acquisition of low rent housing by public entities in the City of Los Angeles, maintaining the previously authorized voter-approved level of 3,500 units per Council District, subject to availability of funding and all City development requirements?

The Situation
There is a great need in the City of Los Angeles for affordable housing for low income households. The State Constitution requires voter approval to authorize the City to provide public assistance for the development, construction or acquisition of certain categories of low rent (affordable) housing.

City voters approved five propositions between 1973 and 1980 that provided authority for the City to support up to 3,500 units of affordable housing in each of the 15 City Council Districts.

The current authority contains conditions that limit the City’s ability to access State and Federal funding, and are incompatible with modern housing development needs, making it difficult for the City to increase the supply of voter approved affordable housing.

The Proposal
Current authority would be revised to meet today’s funding requirements and housing needs. The City would continue to be able to develop up to the 3,500 authorized units of affordable housing per Council District, less the number already developed as of November 4, 2008. Assistance for authorized units would be subject to availability of funding and all City development requirements.

A Yes Vote Means
You want to revise City authority to continue to assist the development, construction or acquisition of certain categories of affordable housing and meet State requirements.

A No Vote Means
You do not want to revise City authority to continue to assist the development, construction or acquisition of certain categories of affordable housing and meet State requirements.

Given the cost of living in Los Angeles, anything that can be done to ensure that there is affordable housing available is pretty much a good thing.

VOTE YES

Measure J Community College Classroom Repair, Public Safety, Nursing & Job Training — Los Angeles Community College District (School Bond – 55% Approval Required)

To prepare students for jobs by improving classrooms, laboratories, equipment; train nurses, police, firefighters, paramedics; increase apprenticeship training opportunities; repair electrical wiring, plumbing, fire alarms; improve earthquake safety, energy efficiency to reduce costs; acquire/improve real property; shall Los Angeles Community College District issue $3.5 billion in bonds at legal interest rates, requiring public review, oversight, audits, no money for administrators’ salaries and no tax rate increase?

Approval of Measure J would authorize the Los Angeles Community College District (“District”) to issue $3,500,000,000 in general obligation bonds.

Funds received from the sale of the bonds would be used for the specific projects certified by the Board of Trustees of the District (“Board”), including the acquisition or lease of land and/or facilities, improving and repairing security and infrastructure conditions, expanding education to meet needs of the community, acquiring furnishings and equipment for all modernization, renovation, improvement and new construction projects, installing and/or upgrading emergency lighting, fire alarm and security systems, making improvements to roadways, walkways, grounds, parking lot structures, entrances, transportation, making accessibility improvements, constructing energy infrastructure improvements, upgrading technology systems, constructing and installing signage, modernizing and constructing new restrooms, relocating and acquiring temporary facilities during construction, and demolishing temporary or obsolete facilities. No bond proceeds may be used for administrator or teacher salaries, or other operating expenses of the District.

As required by law, the Board has adopted a list of the specific school facilities projects to be funded by the sale of the bonds which takes into consideration the safety, class size reduction and information technology needs. The Board will conduct annual independent financial and performance audits to ensure that funds received from the sale of the bonds will have been expended on the specific projects listed. The Board will appoint a Citizen’s Oversight Committee to insure the District’s compliance with authorized expenditure of bond revenues. If the bonds are approved by the electorate, the existing Citizens’ Oversight Committee of the District will be appointed as the new Citizens’ Oversight Committee.

The bonds would be issued for a term not to exceed forty (40) years, and would be issued at an interest rate that does not exceed the legal maximum rate, presently at 12% per annum, and would be repaid by a property tax levied upon real property located within the District.

This Measure requires a fifty-five percent (55%) vote for passage.

The short and sweet of it is that Measure J would make homeowners in the Los Angeles Community College District pay for $3.5 billion in bonds to pay for community college classroom repairs, public safety, and job training programs.

VOTE YES

Measure Q Safe, Healthy Neighborhood Schools — Los Angeles Unified School District (School Bond – 55% Approval Required)

To improve student health, safety and educational quality, shall the Los Angeles Unified School District: continue repair/upgrade of aging/deteriorating classrooms, restrooms; upgrade fire/earthquake safety; reduce asbestos, lead paint, air pollution, water quality hazards; build/upgrade specialized classrooms students need to meet job/college requirements; improve classroom Internet access by issuing $7 billion in bonds, at legal interest rates; with guaranteed annual audits, citizens’ oversight, no increase in maximum tax rate?

Background:
LAUSD has embarked on an effort to house all of its students in neighborhood, conventional calendar schools financed by general obligation bonds. Since 1997 the voters have authorized the district 3 times to sell general obligation bonds in total worth $13 billion dollars. Prior to the measure passed in 1997, there was a 34-year gap from the last bond issue. With this money the district has managed to sharply reduce the number of students being bussed to less crowded schools and decreased the number of schools operating on a year round schedule as well as upgrade many of the older schools in the district.

The Measure
Measure Q would authorize the district to raise $7 billion from the sale of General Obligation bonds. Pursuant to Proposition 39 this would require a 55% yes vote in the upcoming election. All expenditures of monies received from the sale of these bonds would be subject to the accountability of a strong, independent citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee in compliance with Prop 39. The projects to be undertaken with funds from the sale of these bonds will be used to upgrade and update earthquake and fire safety, repair and upgrade aging and deteriorating classrooms and restroom, and remove asbestos and lead paint hazards. It will also to used to build science labs and other specialized classrooms. Also there is money available in matching funds from previous state bond measures.

Supporters Say:

  • Measure Q will create greener, healthier learning environments for our kids by replacing outdated polluting busses, improving air quality in schools near high traffic areas, installing energy efficient technology, and increasing use of renewable energy
  • Measure Q will give more students access to the Internet and up-todate classroom technology.
  • Measure Q will create small schools that give students personal attention from their teachers and foster innovation, reform, and academic success.

Opponents Say:

  • Measure Q puts the burden of $7 billion in bonds on local taxpayers to build more schools, when we have shut down existing schools, and enrollment is dropping.
  • LAUSD had already received $19.3 billion in bond money in the last 10 years. They still have 19 projects still underway for from those bonds. We don’t need new bonds.
  • The amount of the bond measure went from $3.2 billion to $7 billion just in the last minute before the board voted to put the measure on the ballot. More time is needed to fully determine the priorities for spending this money.

The Question
Should the LAUSD be authorized to sell $7 billion in General Obligation Bonds for the continued work to repair/upgrade aging/deteriorating classrooms, restrooms; upgrade fire/earthquake safety; reduce asbestos, lead paint, aid pollution water quality hazards; and build/upgrade specialized classrooms students need to meet job/college requirements?

A ‘Yes’ vote says the Los Angeles Unified School District should be allowed to sell $7 billion in General Obligation bonds, spending to be accountable to a Citizens’ Oversight Committee.

A ‘No’ vote says that the Los Angeles Unified School District cannot sell any additional bonds not authorized by previous bond measures.

I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way…when we stop having children, thus creating the need to find more and more money to upgrade and repair our schools, then I’ll consider looking the other way at measures like this one. And one final note, can we please start the repairs at Dorsey High School? Have you seen their restrooms and classrooms lately?

VOTE YES

Measure R Traffic Relief – Rail Extensions – Reduce Foreign Oil Dependence — Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Sales Tax Increase – Two-Thirds Majority Approval Required)

To:

  • Synchronize traffic signals;
  • Repair potholes;
  • Extend light rail with airport connections;
  • Improve freeway traffic flow (5, 10, 14, 60, 101, 110, 138, 210, 405, 605, 710);
  • Keep senior / student / disabled fares low;
  • Provide clean-fuel buses;
  • Expand subway / Metrolink / bus service;
  • Dedicate millions for community traffic relief;

Shall Los Angeles County’s sales tax increase one-half cent for 30 years with independent audits, public review of expenditures, all locally controlled?

Look—Assuming the sales tax increase goes for what this measure calls for, I’m all for anything that will make driving in Los Angeles an enjoyable experience, because currently it’s not. A little suggestion—start on Wilshire Blvd. where one trip in either direction will send you into the repair shop needing a wheel alignment.

VOTE YES

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