By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Challenging Burke is Guy Mato, a former Sheriff’s deputy who was put up by the deputies’ union over their anger at Burke’s opposition to an early retirement bonus for law enforcement. It’s good that Burke doesn’t get a free ride, and one thumb up to Mato for getting involved. But he offers little in the way of ideas or experience to fix the county’s problems.
Don Knabe represents the 4th District, which covers wealthy South Bay cities, continues around the Palos Verdes Peninsula to Long Beach, and then shoots northeast into middlebrow communities like Artesia and Diamond Bar. He was first elected to the board in 1996, but that’s a little deceptive, because he previously served for years as chief of staff to the prior supervisor. Knabe, a moderate Republican, is opposed by physician Jayendra Arvindlal Shah and Joann Hillary McDermott, a business consultant. Neither has mounted a serious campaign.
A conservative Republican, Mike Antonovich presses almost every week for penalties against undocumented immigrants and works behind the scenes to aid developers of the county’s remaining open lands in his sprawling 5th District, stretching from the west San Fernando Valley up over the mountains and into the desert. He campaigns for the private sector to take on much of the county’s work. But guess what? The entire board is now looking to the private sector to bail it out of its problems. And while most of his colleagues were all too eager to allow problems in the child-welfare system to surpass anything found in Dickens, Antonovich was loudly arguing for a closer look and better protections for children. That’s not enough to support him.
His opponent, Lynne Plambeck, runs a recycling firm and worked hard trying to save that celebrated 400-year-old oak that Antonovich helped developers remove. She brings some needed environmental activism to the race. By the time Antonovich finally leaves, and the growing Democratic Party presence in 5th District communities like Burbank and Glendale makes it possible to elect an environment-friendly supervisor, Plambeck may be a player. But not now. You want your county supervisors to know the size of their budget, the number of their employees and the shape of their bureaucracy before taking their seats, and Plambeck so far has not done her homework beyond her own environmental issues.
State Ballot Measures
PROPOSITION 55 YES
This measure would allow the state to issue $12.3 billion of general-obligation bonds for construction and renovation of K-12 school facilities ($10 billion) and higher-education facilities ($2.3 billion). The need is real, and much of this money would go to Los Angeles–area schools.
The L.A. Times, which normally supports school bonds, opposes this measure because of concerns that the state is taking on too much debt during a time of fiscal crisis. Servicing the new debt, the paper argues, could deepen already painful cuts to necessary programs, including education. That’s a possible scenario, but these bonds are long-term debt, paid off gradually over 20 to 30 years. Their short-term effect is not excessive. Moreover, the bonds could be issued gradually if the state’s budget proves to be especially dire.
It takes a long time to build or repair a school, and a student’s childhood is a decidedly finite thing.
PROPOSITION 56 YES
The key provision of this initiative would lower the threshold for passing the state budget from a two-thirds majority to 55 percent. Only three states require more than a majority vote to pass a budget. The result in California has been late budgets, legislative gridlock and a budget held hostage by a small minority of lawmakers — conservative Republicans in recent years — who can assert disproportionate influence to get what they want. For better or worse, Gray Davis might still be in office if Prop. 56 had been in place. Instead, to get his two-thirds majority he had to make separate deals with Dems and Repubs that together helped throw the budget out of whack. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be an ironic beneficiary if this measure passes, but the citizenry will benefit as well.
Prop. 56 also would establish a mechanism for creating a budget reserve, but its provisions are weaker and inferior to those in Prop. 58, which also is on the ballot. In addition, Prop. 56 would dock pay from elected officials for every day they’re late passing a budget — a great selling point for voters, perhaps, but a provision with more flash than substance. And, finally, the initiative would require the publication and Internet posting of budget-related information. Hard to see a downside to that, though we suspect that, for most consumers, the budget novella would make for rather dry reading.
PROPOSITION 57 YES
This so-called Economic Recovery Bond Act merits our grudging support, in large measure because voters must pass both Prop. 57 and Prop. 58 — which we like better — for either measure to take effect. Prop. 57 allows the state to issue up to $15 billion in bonds to buy off most of this year’s budget deficit and some of next year’s. It doesn’t in any way solve the state’s problem of spending more than it takes in. In fact, the proposition is merely a one-time fix that postpones painful budget cuts and/or tax increases — though not for long. July of this year will still prove a day of reckoning whether or not this measure passes. And tax revenues of future years would have to be siphoned to retire these bonds.