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
Proposition 68 — NO
Voting “no” on this prop is like shooting bullets into a corpse, as its wealthy backers have already given up their campaign. But kill it again, just to make sure. While parading as a fair-share measure that would increase state levies on Indian casinos, Prop. 68 would, in reality, expand legalized gambling statewide (something we hardly need if you count up the 50-odd casinos already sopping up loose change). By breaking the Indian monopoly on Nevada-style gambling, Prop. 68 would allow some 30,000 slot machines to be installed in racetracks and card clubs. No wonder the measure was backed by Churchill Downs, which owns our local Hollywood Park, and by card-club operators such as Larry Flynt. This is a no-brainer. Discard this losing hand.
Proposition 69 — NO
This ballot initiative would establish a DNA database to solve crimes, but it goes too far. It would require authorities to obtain samples from anyone arrested for a potential felony, making perpetual suspects even of people who are never convicted of or even charged with wrongdoing. Such an approach is ripe for abuse, especially given that minorities endure higher arrest rates for such offenses as Driving While Black. Or how about a person arrested at a war protest? Does anyone really want to give John Ashcroft such easy access to this information? And once you’re in this database, Prop. 69 makes it difficult to get out. California already requires those convicted of serious felonies to provide DNA samples. That takes things far enough.
Proposition 70 — NO
Don’t be suckered a third time. In 1998 and 2000, California voters responded overwhelmingly to Indian pleas to legalize casino gambling. Voters thought they were giving back a fair measure of justice to the tribes. What flourished instead was a runaway, unregulated and largely untaxed multibillion-dollar industry that, in turn, birthed a powerful political lobby. A bipartisan coalition led by the Governator has finally brought some order and reason to the mess by negotiating new and mutually beneficial agreements with leading tribes. They get controlled expansion. The state and local communities get some revenue and some oversight roles. Prop. 70, financed primarily by the fabulously wealthy and anti-union Agua Caliente tribe, would overturn those agreements and impose a 99-year period of virtually unfettered and unregulated Indian gambling expansion. It’s a deceitful and noxious measure that requires an unflinching “no” vote.
Proposition 71 — YES
You have to like a ballot measure that so openly thumbs its nose at the opportunistic morality of the Bush administration. So what if Bush places a chokehold on stem-cell research? We’ll fund it in California instead, through the $3 billion in bonds promised by Prop. 71.
We consider Prop. 71 a good investment that fills a research gap created by Bush’s intransigence. Ironically, Prop. 71 is a better deal for California because Bush is making stem-cell research so difficult elsewhere. In the end, research funded by Prop. 71 could save lives by leading to medical breakthroughs. It also could make California a world leader on the business side of stem-cell research. This effort is that rare example of state funding that also could lead to state royalties and thousands of new jobs. Of course, Prop. 71 is still a gamble. The breakthroughs may not happen or may happen elsewhere. And one day we may read about how for-profit firms turned this funding source to greedy ends. But the potential upside justifies the risk.
Proposition 72 — YES
This initiative is a referendum on a landmark health-care reform passed last year and signed into law by Gray Davis during his waning days as governor. It’s perhaps the penultimate achievement of state Senate leader John Burton (D–San Francisco). Burton, who has long championed the less fortunate, faces the end of his Senate career because of term limits.
Prop. 72 would require large and medium-size companies to contribute to their employees’ health insurance. These employers could choose either to provide health insurance or to pay into a state fund for that same purpose. Companies with 200 or more employees would have to comply by 2006. Smaller firms with 50 or more employees have until 2007.
A “yes” vote ratifies this law; a “no” vote would nullify it. The measure deserves a resounding “yes.”
County Measure A: Public Safety, Emergency Response and Crime Prevention — YES
Sheriff Lee Baca can’t seem to keep his jail inmates from killing each other. Mayor Jim Hahn can’t seem to hire the 300 more cops he keeps promising. The federal government can’t seem to give the LAPD the resources it needs for terrorism response. Should we bail them out by imposing an additional half-cent sales tax on almost everything we buy in the county? Yeah, we guess so. An oversight committee will make sure the money is spent properly. So will we. You should too.
L.A. City Measure O — YES
According to a 1996 EPA inventory of watersheds and sources, 40 percent of the nation’s water bodies fall short of EPA standards for water quality, and a leading source of the pollution comes from storm water pouring down concrete culverts, flushing garbage, fertilizer, motor oil, feces and countless other foreign substances into rivers, lakes and estuaries. The effect of that pollution on our coastal waters has been known for decades, causing illness in surfers and swimmers and rendering some local fish too toxic to eat. Measure O, a clean-water initiative put forward by the Los Angeles City Council last July, will help to address the region’s water-quality crisis by allocating $500 million in bond money for projects to redirect the city’s storm water from concrete drains to parks and greenbelts. The measure requires a citizens’ oversight committee and regular audits to make sure the money is well spent on water-quality projects — some of which may yield side benefits over time, such as drought relief, better flood control and a greener, more livable city. A “yes” on O is the obvious right choice: It needs a two-thirds majority to pass. But even if it fails, the EPA is on a judicial schedule to clean up L.A.’s water, and the city will eventually face stiff fines and litigation if we continue to allow our storm water to recklessly pollute our coasts.
Judge of the Superior Court
Office 18 Mildred Escobedo
Office 29 Gus Gomez
Office 52 Laura F. Priver
Office 53 Daniel Zeke Zeidler
Office 69 Donna Groman