Judges, LA County District Attorney and Propositions Galore!

There’s no denying this year’s ballot is overwhelming.
I urge everyone to take a deep breath, dig in, and get knowledgeable about the choices.
Most of all, I encourage you to VOTE!!!

I’ve recently received numerous requests for voting recommendations. It appears that most people are informed about the candidates and know who they prefer. However, they want information about the 25 California state propositions, 1 county measure, 3 judges and the LA County District Attorneys’ office that are all on our November 2020 ballot.
For those interested in my views, here they are:

For LA District Attorney Vote Yes for Jackie Lacey
Jackie Lacey assumed office in 2012 as the first woman and first African-American to serve as Los Angeles County District Attorney since the office was established in 1850. She has spent most of her professional life as a prosecutor, manager and executive in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Lacey’s top priority is keeping the streets of Los Angeles County safe from violent and dangerous criminals. She is committed to safeguarding our children from human sex traffickers, our seniors from financial elder abuse and our communities from environmental crimes that threaten our health and our livelihood.

George Gascón joined LAPD in his early 20’s, moving up from a patrol officer to assistant chief to Bill Bratton. In 2006, he became Chief of Police for Mesa PD and, in 2009, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom named him San Francisco’s Chief of Police. When Kamala Harris vacated her position as S.F District Attorney in 2011, Gov. Newsom appointed him to that position where he served until 2019 when he moved to LA to campaign for the position of LA County DA. Gascon’s top priority is to modernize LA’s criminal justice system. In contrast to Jackie Lacey, George Gascón has no hands-on experience as a prosecutor, manager or executive in the LA County DA’s office.

From the LA Times on Oct. 2, 2020:
More than $12 million has been pumped into November’s contentious Los Angeles County district attorney race, with donors lining up on opposing sides of a stark ideological divide between incumbent Jackie Lacey and challenger George Gascón. Lacey’s campaign is boosted primarily by law enforcement unions. On Gascón’s side, a set of wealthy advocates, mainly concentrated in the Bay Area, have contributed a majority of the funds. Spending in the race has intensified in recent weeks, with New York billionaire George Soros putting $1.5 million behind Gascón, helping to push him into the overall fundraising lead. Just days earlier, a pair of law enforcement unions contributed $1 million to support Lacey.

For LA County Superior Court, Vote Yes for:
Office No. 72 – Steve Morgan
Office No. 80 – David Berger
Office No. 162 – Scott Andrew Yang

State Propositions
My statement: Many of the propositions this year are complicated and written in ways that are non-transparent. A few lump multiple issues together. One thing is clear… most will increase residents’ personal tax burdens. I’m opposed to continually taking more income from tax-payers to fund endless programs with unknown outcomes. It’s important that we live within our means, both personally and in government.

• Prop. 14: Vote NO
Authorizes Bonds Continuing Stem Cell Research. Initiative Statute.
Prop 14 would issue $5.5 billion in bonds for a state stem cell research institute. In 2004, voters approved Proposition 71, which issued $3 billion in bonds to finance stem cell research. Times have changed and the original rationale — California doing what the feds wouldn’t — is no longer applicable. Additionally, private enterprise has taken a bigger interest and stepped up research in this field. It’s time for California’s stem-cell agency to continue its work as a self-sustaining non-profit or close down and allow federal grants and private business to push the industry forward.
Fiscal Impact if passed: Increased state costs to repay bonds estimated at about $260 million per year over approximately 30 years.

• Prop. 15: Vote NO
Increases Funding Sources for Public Schools, Community Colleges, and Local Government Services by Changing Tax Assessment of Commercial and Industrial Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment Statewide Property Tax Increase (Caution: Ballot Has a Deceptive Title…this is a massive 12-15 billion $ tax increase)
Prop 15 would repeal part of Prop 13 by amending the State Constitution to require commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value. In California, the proposal to assess taxes on commercial and industrial properties at market value, while continuing to assess taxes on residential properties based on the purchase price, is known as split roll. This is a direct attack on Proposition 13. Commercial property owners are already struggling ecconomically, and increasing their tax burden will lead to many forced sales and foreclosures in commercial zones.
Fiscal Impact: It is estimated that, upon full implementation, this ballot initiative would generate between $8 billion and $12.5 billion in revenue per year. That money comes from the increased taxes that will be collected from property owners. Those increases may also be passed on to businesses that lease space in the form of higher rents or increases in their “triple net” lease agreements.

• Prop. 16: Vote NO
Allows Diversity as a Factor in Public Employment, Education, and Contracting Decisions. Legislative Constitutional Amendment Statewide Property Tax Increase (Caution: Ballot Has Deceptive Title…this would allow discrimination based on race in government decisions and hiring)
Prop 16 would allow government decision-making policies to discriminate by race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. A “no” vote opposes this constitutional amendment, thereby keeping intact Proposition 209 (1996), which stated that the government and public institutions cannot discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to persons on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, and public contracting. A “no” vote will keep discrimination illegal.
Fiscal Impact: No direct fiscal effect on state and local entities because the measure does not require any change to current policies or programs.

• Prop. 17: Vote NO
Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment Statewide Property Tax Increase
Prop 17 would amend California’s Constitution to grant felons the right to vote before completing the terms of their sentence including parole. A “no” vote will require that felons fully complete all terms of their sentence before being granted the privilege to vote.
Fiscal impact if passed: Increased annual county costs, estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars statewide, for voter registration and ballot materials. Increased one-time state costs, likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, to update voter registration cards and systems.

• Prop 18: Vote NO
Primary Voting For 17-Year-Olds Amendment
The California Constitution currently permits individuals who are at least 18 years old on the date of an election to vote in that election. Prop 18 would be a constitutional amendment to allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primary elections and special elections. Prop 18 would allow high school students to vote on tax increases which are often on the primary election ballots.
Fiscal Impact if passed: Increased costs for counties, estimated between several hundreds of thousands of dollars and $1 million every two years, to send and process voting materials to eligible registered 17-year-olds. Increased one-time costs to the state in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to update existing voter registration systems.

• Prop. 19: Vote NO
Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Amendment Statewide Property Tax Increase (Caution: Ballot Has Deceptive Title…this is a tax increase disguised as a tax relief measure)
Prop 19 is a confusing measure because it is three measures in one. The most concerning part of Prop 19 is that it would take away one of the best tools parents have to help their children—the right, enshrined in California’s Constitution since 1986, to pass their home and other property on without any increase in property taxes. Prop 19 eliminates that measure. The only exception is if the children move into the home within a year and make it their principal residence. Proposition 19 is a billion-dollar tax increase on families. The other two parts of the measure may have merit but voters should be given the opportunity to vote on each of the measures separately.
Fiscal Impact if passed: Local governments could gain tens of millions of dollars of property tax revenue per year. These gains could grow over time to a few hundred million dollars per year. This new state revenue would come from property tax reassessment on inherited property and most would be earmarked for fire protection.

• Prop. 20: Vote YES
Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative Statewide Property Tax Increase (Caution: Ballot Has Deceptive Title…this measure will support the police and hold criminals accountable)
Prop 20 would make changes to AB 109 (2011), Prop 47 (2014), and Prop 57 (2016)—three measures that were each intended to reduce the state’s prison inmate population. The goal of this measure is to better protect the public by closing loopholes in the laws mentioned above that allow convicted child molesters, sexual predators and others convicted of violent crimes to be released from prison early. Prop 20 also expands DNA collection to help solve rapes, murders and other serious crimes, and strengthens sanctions against habitual thieves who steal repeatedly.
Fiscal Impact if passed: Increased state and local correctional costs likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually, primarily related to increases in county jail populations and levels of community supervision. While their increased costs, the implementation of Prop 20 will result in increased safety when many violent crimes are reclassified from misdemeanors to felonies and a cost saving to businesses who are repeatedly robbed by criminals knowing that they will not be arrested or charged for shoplifting if the amount stolen is less than $950.

• Prop 21: Vote NO
Local Rent Control Initiative
In 2016, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office issued a report that found that expanding rent control “likely would discourage new construction” by limiting the profitability of new rental housing. Prop 21 would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act which allows housing providers to raise the rent on a vacant unit to market value after a tenant moves out. The same law also bans rent control on units constructed after February 1995 and on single-family homes and condos.
Fiscal Impact if passed: Overall, a potential reduction in state and local revenues in the high tens of millions of dollars per year over time. Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or more.

• Prop 22: Vote YES
App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative Statewide Property Tax Increase (Caution: Ballot Has Deceptive Title…this measure would allow Uber, Lyft and other app-based services to continue to operate in California)
Prop 22 would allow app-based rideshare and delivery companies (Uber, Lyft, Door Dash and others) to hire drivers as independent contractors. Drivers could decide when, where, and how much to work but would not get standard benefits and protections that brick and mortar businesses must provide to employees. Prop 22 is in response to Assembly Bill 5 (2019) which forced the re-classification of rideshare and delivery drivers from independent contractors to employees. If this measure fails to pass, AB 5 will stay in effect, resulting in significantly increased costs to ride-share and delivery businesses who would likely pass those increased costs on to their customers or, potentially, will no longer provide services in California.
Fiscal Impact if passed: Minor increases in state income taxes paid by rideshare and delivery company drivers and investors.

• Prop 23: Vote NO
Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative
Prop 23 would require chronic dialysis clinics to: have an on-site physician while patients are being treated; report data on dialysis-related infections; obtain consent from the state health department before closing a clinic; and not discriminate against patients based on the source of payment for care.
The California American Nurses Association, the California Medical Association, and patient advocates strongly urge NO on 23 because the increased costs of compliance would likely force many community dialysis clinics to shut down—threatening the lives of 80,000 California patients who need dialysis to survive.
Fiscal impact if passed: Increased state and local government costs likely in the low tens of millions of dollars annually.

• Prop 24 Vote NO
Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative
This measure would expand the state’s consumer data privacy laws and would create a costly new bureaucracy, the Privacy Protection Agency, to enforce the data privacy laws. The state’s Department of Justice currently oversees and enforces existing consumer data privacy laws that businesses are required to follow.
Fiscal Impact if passed: Increased state costs of at least $10 million annually for a new state agency to oversee and enforce consumer privacy laws. Increased state costs, not likely to exceed the low millions of dollars annually, for increased court and Department of Justice enforcement workload. Some or all of these costs would be paid by penalties collected for violations of consumer privacy laws. Unknown impact on state and local tax revenues due to economic effects resulting from new requirements on businesses to protect consumer data.

• Prop 25 Vote NO
Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum Statewide Property Tax Increase (Caution: Ballot Has Deceptive Title…should we change cash bail system to an “honor system”?)
In 2018, the governor signed SB 10 which made California the first state in the U.S. to end the use of cash bail for all detained suspects awaiting trials. Instead, release would be based on their assessed risk of committing another crime or not appearing in court if released. No one would be charged fees as a condition of release. A “no” vote will undo SB10 and return the state to a cash bail system.
Fiscal Impact: Increased state and local costs possibly in the mid-hundreds of millions of dollars annually for a new process for releasing people from jail prior to trial. Unclear whether some of the increased state costs would be offset by local funds currently spent on this type of workload. Decreased county jail costs possibly in the high tens of millions of dollars annually.

• LA County Measure J Vote NO
Budget Allocation for Alternatives to Incarceration Charter Amendment Statewide Property Tax Increase (Caution: Ballot Has Deceptive Title…this LA County measure would move approximately $150 million from the public safety budget to social service programs)
In August of 2020, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to place this measure on the November ballot. It would amend the county’s charter to designate at least 10% of its locally generated, unrestricted revenue be taken from public safety (police, district attorney and probation services) and redirected to community investment initiatives (housing, youth development, mental health care). Board Chair Kathryn Barger cast the “no” vote, citing concerns that the measure was rushed and that enshrining it in the county’s charter would “handcuff future boards”. The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board wrote: “Ballot-box budgeting of the sort the supervisors propose is a bad idea and poor substitute for careful study, deliberation and decision making.”
Fiscal Impact: Unknown