Making Democracy Work

VOTER-October-2012

Special Election Issue

Ballot Measure Pros and Cons

Come hear a neutral review of the eleven California propositions and
three local measures on the November ballot
Presented by LWVO leaders Kathleen Cha and Mary Bergan
Tuesday, October 9, 6:00-7:30 PM
Oakland City Hall, Officer John Hege Hearing Room

The public is welcome; tell your friends and neighbors!

Renew Your Membership

Many members of LWVO are working hard to inspire, educate, and inform voters and potential voters throughout the city. If you have not already done so, please support their efforts by renewing your membership today. If the date on your address label still says 6/30/2012 your renewal is three months overdue. Please continue to support the League's efforts to Make Democracy Work. If you have misplaced your renewal form you can use the form on page 7 of the paper VOTER, or sign up on the LWVO website -- --using PayPal.

President's Message

By Katherine Gavzy

The speakers at our September kick-off meeting on money in politics, Bob Gammon of the East Bay Express and Helen Hutchison of the State League, reminded us that informed and aware voters are the best weapon against distortions and misleading information and the corrupting influence of secret money. Which of course led me to think: well, that's why we are here, that is what League is about! All the dedication and amazing energy and competence that our LWVO volunteers are putting into the candidate forums, the ballot measure pros and cons presentations, voter registration and other voter service activities will be successful if they result in building informed and aware voters.

What else can we all do to advance the League mission? A few simple things:

Show up - Voter Service events and programs are announced on the LWVO website and Facebook; come to the next candidate forum and BRING A FRIEND. One member told me that she brought a neighbor to the program on money in politics. Her neighbor was so impressed with the work of the League that she joined LWVO.

Renew your membership - We are an all volunteer organization that can do nothing without a strong and growing membership. We need everyone. The list of members who have just not yet gotten around to renewing is much longer than it should be; I know most of you have every intention of doing so. We are about to begin the laborious process of calling every person with a reminder. Please save us this chore and renew today - it's easy if you use PayPal on our website.

Contribute if you can - One of our proudest achievements, the Oakland Easy Voter Guide, will be distributed this week as an insert in the East Bay Express, reaching 20,000 people everywhere in Oakland. The Spanish and Chinese versions of the Guide reach underserved communities. We have had to dig into our savings to pay for the Guide two years in a row, and we cannot keep doing that. If you want the Oakland Easy Voter Guide to continue, please send whatever you can to the League office. Your contribution will help build a city of informed and aware voters.

A final word about this Special Election Issue of the VOTER: it is important to keep our two League functions, voter education and advocacy, separate and distinct. When we present the neutral ballot measure pros and cons to the public, we do not talk about our own positions. But due to space constraints, this VOTER mailed to members and friends includes both. Be assured that the pros and cons analyses of the measures are in no way influenced by League positions.

Come to a Hot Topics discussion

Urban Farming and Community Gardens
As LWVUS begins its update study on agriculture, LWVO will take a look at the agriculture going on right in our city, its promise and successes.

Monday, October 22

This Hot Topics in October has been cancelled because of the presidential candidate debate that evening. Thjs subject wil be presented some time in 2013.

Do you have an idea for a future Hot Topics discussion? Contact marybergan@aol.com

Helpful Websites

Smart Voter -The Smart Voter website - http://www.smartvoter.org - is an easy way to access all your election information. Merely by entering your address you can see a complete personalized ballot, candidate profiles, ballot measure explanations and information on your polling place. It includes links to additional sources, including:

▪ Easy Voter Guide -The League of Women Voters of California publishes an Easy Voter Guide containing a list of all the candidates and state ballot measures with basic information on each. The Guide is available through public libraries, from the League of Women Voters, and available for download at http://www.easyvoter.org. It is available in five languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.

CAvotes.org - League of Women Voters of California Education Fund website- to find unbiased information on ballot measures and other issues. Our general fund website - www.lwvc.org - has advocacy information, including recommendations on ballot measures.

California Fair Political Practices Commission - Access this site - http://www.fppc.ca.gov - and click on 2012 Election Spending to find out about major campaign donations to ballot measure campaigns.

California Secretary of State - Access this site - http://www.ss.ca.gov - and choose Disclosure Requirements under Campaign and Lobbying Information to learn about reporting and disclosure obligations for candidates and campaign committees under the Political Reform Act. Click on Elections and Voter Information for more useful information.

Cal-Access - Cal-Access provides links to various areas of financial information about candidates, campaigns state-wide and by state Senate and Assembly campaigns. Access this site - http://www.cal-access.ss.ca.gov - to read the financial reports of campaign committees.

Flackcheck.org and Factcheck.org - Look at misleading ads, and fact check the ads you see.

votersedge.org/california/ballot-measures - an easy, graphic way to see the money behind the campaigns, sponsored by maplight.org.

NonProfitVote.org - a great resource with lots of information, including a "how to" guide for voter engagement activities for nonprofit organizations.

California Budget Project (cbp.org) - useful unbiased information on budget-related ballot measures.

VOTER SERVICE

Get the Latest Info
Because our list of forums and Pros and Cons presentations is growing and changing, be sure to keep checking for updated information at
www.SmartVoter.org,
www.facebook.com/lwvoak
www.lwvoakland.org

Local Ballot Measures - Neutral Pros and Cons

Alameda County Measure A1                                                               Parcel Tax
OAKLAND ZOO HUMANE ANIMAL CARE/EDUCATION PROTECTION MEASURE

Requires 2/3 vote to pass.

The Way It Is Now
The Oakland Zoo's funding comes mostly from entrance fees and sales of food and gifts. Almost 9% of the money comes from public support -- the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Park District. This is less than the 35% average level of public support for zoos nationwide.
The zoo has had support for capital improvements from a variety of tax measures (all bonds) over the years. Oakland has recently reduced its funding of the zoo significantly.
The zoo presents educational programs to students from all over Alameda County and the Bay Area.
What Proposition A1 Would Do
A parcel tax would be added to property taxes in Alameda County: $12 annually for residential parcels and $72 for commercial. This tax would go on for 25 years and would raise about $6 million annually. Proceeds would be used to repair existing facilities, for educational programs, and for animal care. Spending would be monitored by a public oversight committee.
Supporters Say
The Oakland Zoo is an important public resource. Additional funding will allow the zoo to maintain affordable entrance fees and continue education programs.
Opponents Say
The zoo already has multiple sources of public funds. We can't afford higher taxes.

Alameda County Measure B1                                                               Sales Tax
TRANSPORTATION SALES TAX FOR ALAMEDA COUNTY

Requires a 2/3 vote to pass.

The Question
Should the voters of Alameda County approve a 1/2 cent sales tax increase that will be extended in perpetuity to help fund transportation projects and programs in the county?
The Way It Is Now
In 1986 and 2000 Alameda County voters approved Measure B, a 1/2 cent sales tax dedicated to transportation that is currently due to expire in 2022. The tax has funded improvements for transit, streets and roads, highways and freeways, and bicyclists and pedestrians. Funding from state and federal sources has since declined, and the economic downturn has reduced tax revenues. As a result, transit services have been cut, fares have increased and roadway maintenance has been deferred.
Fiscal Effects
If this measure is approved, Alameda County voters would continue to pay the current cent sales tax plus an additional cent tax. The resulting 1cent tax will raise almost $7.8 billion for transportation purposes between 2013 and 2043.
What this Measure Would Do
More than three-fourths of the revenues would pay for improvements in three categories: transit, including paratransit; local streets and roads; and bicycle and pedestrian projects. Smaller amounts would go to freeways, transit-oriented development, freight transportation, and a student transit pass program. Updates to the spending plans will be submitted for voter approval by 2043 and every 20 years afterward.
Supporters Say
Transportation sales taxes are critical to maintaining and upgrading our transportation infrastructure and services. These needs will go on forever. An independent watchdog committee will monitor expenditures.
Opponents Say
Sales taxes are regressive because low-income households pay a larger share of their income in sales taxes than do higher-income households. The tax would be extended in perpetuity with no opportunity for voters to renew or end it.
A Yes Vote means: Alameda County taxpayers would pay an additional half-percent on all taxable purchases to fund transportation projects.
A No Vote means: No change in the current sales tax. It would expire in 2022.

OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT MEASURE J
                    School Facilities Bond Act of 2012

Requires 55% vote to pass

The Way It Is Now
School districts may sell bonds only to fund construction, upgrading, repair and furnishing of facilities. The bonds are repaid by property taxes based on the assessed value of each property. In 2006 the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) won passage of Measure B, which authorized it to issue $435 million in bonds. Those funds are fully allocated to projects that are in progress or completed. Expenditures are reviewed by a citizens oversight committee.
The new OUSD strategic plan includes a master plan for school facilities. OUSD estimates its facilities needs to be over a billion dollars.
What Measure J Would Do
Measure J would authorize OUSD to issue up to $475 million in bonds to fund facilities projects listed in the full text of the measure, and to qualify the district to apply for state matching funds. Bonds will be issued in four series over six years beginning in 2013. They will be repaid from a new property tax. Expenditures will be monitored by a citizens oversight committee and audited annually.
Fiscal Effects
Beginning no earlier than the 2013-14 fiscal year, property owners would be taxed based on assessed value. The tax rate may range from $39 per $100,000 of assessed value at first up to no more than $60 per $100,000 when the last bonds are issued.
Supporters Say
Upgrading Oakland schools is necessary to meet the goal of every child's having a safe school and a well-functioning classroom. Oakland school facilities are very old and need repairs. Science labs, classrooms and technology will also be upgraded. Measure J will qualify OUSD for matching funds that would otherwise go to other school districts.
No opposition argument has been put forward.

The League of Women Voters RECOMMENDATIONS State and Local Ballot Measures

PROP 30 Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act                                                               YES
Proposition 30 begins to move California toward financial stability and adequate funding for all the services we want from our government; we can't continue to cut vital public services like schools and public safety. This measure will provide some much needed income from a temporary increase in income tax rates for the wealthy and a modest temporary sales tax increase. The plan is a part of a balanced approach to eliminating our deficit that includes $8 billion in cuts, $6 billion in new revenues, and $2.5 billion in loans, deferrals, etc., this year. Proposition 30 also guarantees a stable source of funding for counties to pay for their new public safety responsibilities such as housing low-level prisoners and providing substance abuse treatment.

PROP 31 Government Performance and Accountability Act                                                               NO
Proposition 31 is based on good intentions and has some pieces that, taken alone, the League could support. However, Prop 31 has several significant flaws. There are questions about whether or not the provisions allow local governments to suspend state environmental requirements. What is clear is that there will be significant legal uncertainty, and years of litigation. In addition, the measure prescribes the specific manner of state and local government budgeting and puts this process into the state constitution. Prop 31 has other questionable provisions, such as establishing a significant shift of power over appropriations to the governor at times of fiscal emergency.

PROP 32 Special Exemptions Act                                                                                                NO
This measure is not the campaign finance reform measure its proponents say it is. Proposition 32 promises "political reform" but is really designed by special interests to help themselves and harm their opponents. It looks like a campaign finance reform measure but unfairly targets one set of large campaign donors while giving other donors unlimited power. Its ban on payroll deductions for political giving will affect unions but not corporations, and even the restriction it places on contributions to candidates by corporations is full of loophole exemptions. It does not fix the problem of money in politics; Super PACs and independent expenditure committees will continue to spend without limitation.

PROP 34 SAFE California Act                                                                                                YES
The SAFE California Act will replace the death penalty in California with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Convicted killers will stay in prison for the rest of their lives, eliminating the possibility of executing an innocent person in California. This will save over $100 million every year--because the court and incarceration costs are so much higher for prisoners at risk for a death penalty. $100 million of these savings will be allocated over the next four years to pay for increased investigation of unsolved rape and murder cases. Convicted killers will be required to work and pay restitution into a victims' compensation fund.

PROP 40 Referendum on Redistricting                                                                                                YES
We strongly urge a "YES" vote on this referendum on the state Senate maps drawn by the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The question on a referendum is not intuitive; it asks if you want to retain the new law, or in this case, the maps drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. So vote YES to affirm the maps drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission, YES--in support of the Commission, YES--to validate the open, transparent process, YES--to retain fair districts.
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A Note Concerning Earmarking of Revenues Adequate revenue to provide for the public good is critically needed. The League supports Prop 30 on this ballot as the best way to provide some relief from the endless cutting of vital government services. We see some merit in the following two measures, Props 38 and 39, but have taken a neutral position on them because of their earmarking of revenues. The League does not like earmarking because it limits the flexibility of the legislature to allocate money in response to current needs. We support maximum flexibility for our elected officials who are looking at the budget as a total, and not just the needs of one special interest.
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PROP 38 Tax for Education and Early Childhood Programs                                                               NEUTRAL
We are neutral on Our Children, Our Future, the measure supported by the California State PTA and activist Molly Munger. It provides significant funding for education and early childhood programs. In addition, for the first four years, this measure provides money to help the other underfunded government services. However, in the longer term, it earmarks essentially all the new money for education and early childhood programs. These programs definitely deserve to be adequately funded, but so do all of the government programs we support, from mental health programs to the court system to childcare.

PROP 39 Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses                                                               NEUTRAL
This measure will close a tax loophole for multistate businesses, generating revenues of about $1 billion per year--a good thing. However, it earmarks about half the new revenue for the first five years, so that portion can only be used for energy efficiency and alternative energy projects. We are neutral on this proposition because we believe new revenue for the state should be available for all of the programs funded by state revenue--schools, law enforcement, health care, jobs programs, the judiciary system.
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The League has not studied the issues in the following measures, and so has no recommendation on Proposition 33 (Auto Insurance Rates), Proposition 35 (Human Trafficking), Proposition 36 (Three Strikes Reform), and Proposition 37 (Genetically Engineered Foods).
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Measure J Oakland School Facilities Bond 2012                                                               YES
This measure provides money that will be spent on upgrading existing buildings, not on faculty or administration. Many of the school properties in Oakland are quite old and in need of rehabilitation. Authorizing the bonds now will make Oakland eligible for matching funds from the state government. A citizens oversight committee will monitor expenditures.

Measure A1 Oakland Zoo Humane Animal Care/Education Protection Measure                                                               NEUTRAL
Although we agree that the zoo needs additional funding for education, this may not be the best time economically for additional taxes in view of the State's critical needs. It should be noted that this measure's funding and the projects covered have nothing to do with the planned expansion of the zoo.

Measure B1 Transportation Sales Tax for Alameda County                                                               NEUTRAL
The League has been a strong proponent of regionally coordinated land use and transportation planning. The projects under this measure represent a major step in this direction. However the proposed tax is not an acceptable form of public financing because the sales tax is in perpetuity (has no sunset clause) and because it does not provide a mechanism for voters to evaluate the effectiveness of projects before re-approving them.

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Membership in the League of Women Voters of Oakland is a bargain and a statement. A bargain because you will have access to valuable information and insights via the VOTER newsletters and LWV Web sites, through membership not only in LWVO but also in LWV Bay Area, LWV California and LWVUS, and via a variety of events and dialogues with key leaders throughout the year.

Your statement as a League member will be that you are committed to providing non-biased, well-researched information to voters, and that the issues your League follows are those that affect every area in Oakland: schools, public safety, local government, parks, our economy, and more.


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