By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Love freeways? You’ll see more of them in California if Proposition 1B passes. In L.A. County, the MTA will be required to earmark at least $1 billion of the bond proceeds for rail. After that, all bets are off.
The measure would also dedicate around $3.2 billion in so-called “goods movement” — think 20-foot containers — at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Not coincidentally, Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a bill that would have required shipping lines — the ones getting rich off global trade — to pony up a $30 fee for every container that moves through the harbors. In other words, the governor shifted the cost of global trade from the shipping lines making a profit to the residents who are already suffering with the diesel congestion at the port — the largest single source of air pollution in the county.
Mysteriously, State Route 99 comes in for a special mention: $1 billion for that fabled roadway. So if you love Bakersfield — or, as we like to call it, the gateway to Fresno — then Proposition 1B is the measure for you. (DZ)
PROPOSITION 1C: HOUSING AND EMERGENCY SHELTER TRUST FUND ACT OF
This $2.85 billion bond measure would provide shelters for battered women and their kids, along with housing for farm workers and low-income senior citizens, plus homeowner assistance for vets, the disabled and needy working families; it also funds apartment repairs and accessibility for families and the handicapped. Prop. 1C is a vulnerable measure because, compared to some other ballot initiatives, it benefits the fewest — and least influential — Californians. It also will only help a fraction of the state’s estimated 360,000 people who are homeless on any given night. It’s still an important first step, however, to repairing the state’s human infrastructure and ending our shrugging acceptance of the sight of people sleeping on sidewalks, and of mothers and children living in cars. There is no more urgent time to do this than now, when rising rents are making decent apartments unaffordable to many, and while homeownership has simply become an ether dream for the majority in some counties. The official arguments against Prop. 1C are surprisingly vague and ideologically coded harangues against “new government,” “politicians” and “illegal immigrants.” The opposition’s answer to California’s housing crisis is a disingenuous plea to reduce taxes, environmental safeguards and consumer regulations. (Steven Mikulan)
PROPOSITION 1D: PUBLIC EDUCATION FACILITIES BOND ACT OF 2006
Weird. Another school-bond measure. Don’t these come up all the time? Two years ago we voted for Measure R, a $3.87 billion bond measure for L.A. Unified. On the same ballot, voters considered (and narrowly passed) a statewide bond, Proposition 55, that set California debt back $12.3 billion.
This time, it’s a $10.5 billion bond, Proposition 1D, that will fund construction and modernization projects statewide. A good chunk of the money would go to California’s community colleges, a critical and sorely underfunded component of the state’s education infrastructure. About 2.5 million Californians attend one of the state’s 109 two-year colleges. Prop. 1D backers say the new measure is needed because Prop. 55 funds are months away from running out. 1D would also provide matching funds for bond measures passed in local districts.
“Schools, schools,” they tell us, “we need to fund schools.” So year after year, education advocates, unions, and politicians tell us to pass another huge bond measure, while consistently avoiding the topic that could truly help ensure parity and adequate funding for public education — reforming Proposition 13. Tragically, as long as people remain greedy and self-serving, that’s unlikely to ever happen. So, more bonds, more debt, and continued disparity in the education system between poor districts and rich districts. (Daniel Hernandez)
PROPOSITION 1E: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND FLOOD PREVENTION BOND ACT OF 2006
It would have been nice if the state legislature had had the cojones to pay up front for this project to create flood-control systems and rebuild levees in the Sacramento and Central valleys — that way the $4.09 billion bond measure wouldn’t top out at $8 billion 30 years from now. Still, the renovation of the state’s flood-prone riverbanks and deltas can’t wait. Not unlike pre-Katrina Louisiana, some of California’s principal levees are a century old and show signs of dangerous erosion. This isn’t a Northern California problem because in the event of an earthquake or major storm surge, and the resulting levee breach, Southern California would suddenly find itself without the drinking and irrigation water that flows down through the San Joaquin Valley. Prop. 1E enjoys a rare love nest of support from both the state Chamber of Commerce and organized labor, since this massive project will protect business infrastructure and increase property values, while creating many construction jobs. For the rest of us, passage means clean water — we’ll raise a glass to that. (SM)
PROPOSITION 83: SEX OFFENDERS
Punishment, Residence Restrictions and Monitoring. Initiative Statute.
Sexual predators on TV cop shows are neatly dispatched by gunfire or rooftop falls. In real life they do time and are released into anxious communities. This ballot initiative would expand both the definition of sexual misconduct and the penalties for it. More important, it would forbid registered sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of any school or park, and require them to wear Global Positioning System bracelets for the rest of their lives. The initiative betrays both a blind faith in the use of technology and pre-emptive punishment to control aberrant behavior, and in the NIMBY impulse to wish away undesirables into a phantom gulag of nomadic Americans. A similar program in Iowa has resulted in many registered sex offenders going underground, making their tracking by law enforcement more difficult than before. One predictable result of Prop. 83’s passage is that it will push offenders outside of congested cities and to less affluent rural communities. In California, the initiative would actually require the offenders (only a fraction of whom are now classified as predators) to pay for their own monitoring, increasing the likelihood that offenders will simply go off the grid. (SM)
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