By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Vouchers are at best a sideshow to meaningful school reform, and a very costly one at that; they are the fool’s gold of education reform. Vote No on Proposition 38.
Proposition 39: Yes
This measure addresses one of the singular inequities in California law — andthe scandalous overcrowding of California’s K-12 classrooms. Currently, it requires a two-thirds super-majority of voters to authorize a school bond. This statute has long been on the books, but it only really became a problem with the passage of Proposition 13, which eliminated the property tax as the chief source of funding school construction and upgrades.
The theoretical problem here is that one voter opposed to a school bond is made the equal of two voters favoring it — something that would have displeased the founders mightily, since they generally opposed super-majority requirements and mandated a simple majority even for a declaration of war. The practical problem is that it makes it a great deal harder to build new schools, and with public school enrollment booming, the state will need to construct 500 new schools and 20,000 new classrooms in the next 10 years. Mind you, a majority of voters support school bonds in about 90 percent of elections, but many of these fail to meet the two-thirds threshold.
In this year’s March primary, where turnout was disproportionately Republican, an initiative to reduce the requirement from two-thirds to a simple majority failed by a 51-to-49 percent margin. Proposition 39 on November’s ballot reduces the margin from two-thirds to 55 percent. It’s painful even to contemplate what state classrooms will look like a decade from now if Prop. 39 isn’t passed. Vote Yes on Proposition 39.
Proposition A: Yes
In March’s blanket primary, many hundreds of candidates ran for federal, state and local office in L.A. County, virtually none of them unopposed. There were three exceptions to this rule: Yvonne Burke, Don Knabe and Mike Antonovich. None of the three county supervisors on the ballot had any opposition.
It’s easy to understand why. With the population of L.A. County now just under 10 million people, each of the five supervisorial districts comprises almost 2 million people. They’re massive — larger than all but three American cities, larger than all but three California counties. They’re unbelievably expensive to run in. Incumbent supervisors have a vast advantage in fund-raising, as they’re able to collect checks from, among others, concerns that do business with the county.
With all potential challengers scared off, L.A.’s county supervisors have become an utterly unaccountable level of government. They don’t really have to stand for election anymore. That’s one reason why they felt so little pressure to settle the MTA strike. You can’t vote against a supe when there’s no other name on the ballot.
Proposition A is an incomplete but nonetheless substantial solution to this problem. It expands the number of supervisors in L.A. County from five to nine — nearly halving the size of the districts, making them less expensive to run in. We’d like to see many more districts. Proposition A is just a beginning down that path, but half a step is better than none.
LOS ANGELES CITY SPECIAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION
Proposition F: Yes
This measure authorizes two city bonds totaling $532.6 million, one to build 19 new fire/paramedic stations, the other to build and expand eight animal shelters. The Weekly is opposed to fires, medical emergencies and the destruction of animals because there’s not enough kennel space. Vote Yes on Proposition F.
SANTA MONICA CITY SPECIAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION
Proposition KK: No
There have been more loathsome initiatives than Prop. KK — 1994’s immigrant-bashing Prop. 187 comes to mind — but surely none more fraudulent. This measure purports to establish a living wage in the city of Santa Monica, though it is actually written expressly and solely to keep Santa Monica from adopting a real living wage.
Earlier this year, the Santa Monica City Council was considering a proposal to establish a living wage for the largest of the city’s beachfront-area employers. In practice, that meant the city’s beachfront hotels — Loews, Shutters and Casa del Mar chief among them — which charge the highest room rates in the county, have the lowest vacancy rates, and on average pay their housekeepers, waiters and kitchen staffs a princely $14,000 and change per year.
The hotels desperately want to derail such a proposal, but their polling found widespread support for the idea among voters, as well as on the council. So they cooked up Prop. KK, which establishes a living wage for the city’s low-wage contract workers — of whom there are only a handful. (One survey puts the number as low as 62.) Crucially, the measure also prohibits the council from enacting any other living-wage ordinance — like, for instance, one that would apply to the more than 1,200 workers employed at poverty-wages in the hotels. And to date, the KK campaign has spent nearly $900,000 (all but $600 from seven beachfront hotels) on a campaign that would seem for all the world to be one that favors the living wage, that uses the rhetoric and arguments of genuine living-wage supporters. It has been denounced by the living-wage movements in the 50 cities that have adopted real ordinances; Santa Monica’s real living-wage movement is working furiously against it, but has only a fraction of the hotels’ money.