You may have seen The West Wing’s reunion video (tinyurl.com/9os3vhl) talking about the importance of voting on candidates and nonpartisan issues aside from the presidential and congressional races this November. It’s an important point. The Los Angeles chapters of the California Democratic and Republican Parties have endorsements you can find on their websites—L.A. Republicans at lagop.org and L.A. County Democrats, chaired by openly gay Eric Bauman, at lacdp.org.
L.A. DISTRICT ATTORNEY
One of the supposedly nonpartisan races is for L.A. County District Attorney. Democrats have endorsed Jackie Lacey, and the Republicans Alan Jackson.
Reporters and bloggers are already scoping out the ton of PAC money for TV and radio ad campaigns designed more to confuse than enlighten some of the more controversial ballot initiatives. Politico reported that the Koch brothers have already kicked in $4 million to pass Prop. 32. And Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs, blogging at the Huffington Post on Sept. 17, wrote: “The Koch Brothers and Karl Rove recently joined the Lincoln Club, Charlie Munger Jr. and a few other billionaires to buy passage of Prop. 32 in California this November. If Prop. 32 passes, 3 million members of labor unions will no longer have the ability to participate in politics. Why? Because Prop. 32 tells the lie that it would get money out of politics in California when what it really does is get worker money out of politics and double down on the ability for corporations and the wealthy to buy their own private legislation. ... We in California can put a stop to this. We can say no to the Koch brothers/Karl Rove/RomneyBain and show them that people power can still beat corporate money. We can also tell them that the eighth largest economy in the world is not up for bid to the highest bidder.” (For more on “No on Prop. 32,” go to stopspecialexemptions.org.)
Another initiative getting a lot of attention from anti-tax groups is Gov. Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30, a sales and income tax increase initiative that Ballotpedia.org describes as “a merger of two previously competing initiatives; the ‘Millionaire's Tax’ and Brown's first tax increase proposal.”
The summary of the initiative, which is supported by openly gay Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, reads, "Increases taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and sales taxes by .25 cents for four years, to fund schools. Guarantees public safety realignment funding. Fiscal Impact: Increased state tax revenues through 2018–19, averaging about $6 billion annually over the next few years. Revenues available for funding state budget. In 2012–13, planned spending reductions, primarily to education programs, would not occur."
Bullet points provided in the ballot include: “If this proposition is passed in November 2012, the income tax will apply retroactively to all income earned or received since the first of the year (1 January, 2012); based on California Franchise Tax Board data for 2009, the additional income tax is imposed on the top three percent of California taxpayers; estimated revenue from Proposition 30 varies from Jerry Brown's $9 billion estimate to the $6.8 billion estimated by the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office (LAO).”
Another ballot initiative drawing attention in law enforcement circles is Prop. 34—the Safe California measure (safecalifornia.org) that would repeal the death penalty and replace it with life without parole. While largely associated with the ACLU, the movement to stop the death penalty gained national attention in 2000 when Illinois Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium because the system was "so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare,” he told reporters. ”Until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois is truly guilty, until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate."
Elected officials in California have not been so courageous—mostly because of the 1986 recall of California Chief Justice Rose Bird, an avid death penalty opponent. Her recall enabled newly re-elected Gov. George Deukmejian to appoint three conservative associate justices. But cases such as that of Frank Carrillo and Troy Davis have shone a bright light on the injustice in the justice system. Carrillo, who was sentenced at age 16, was found innocent two years ago after spending 20 years in prison. He was released a year ago.
“Two years ago, both Troy and I were in prison for murder, even though the case against both of us had fallen completely apart. Six witnesses against me had recanted their testimony, and seven of the nine witnesses against him had recanted their testimony,” Carrillo wrote in the Huffington Post. “But one year ago, I had been set free, and Troy had been put to death. The only real difference between me and Troy is that I had a fair judge who listened to the evidence and saw that my conviction was based on false eyewitness testimony; in Georgia, Troy did not have that.”
Meanwhile, Howard Mintz wrote in the Mercury News, L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley “has been heading the charge, moving in recent months to sidestep legal obstacles that have put executions on hold for nearly seven years and [to] secure execution dates for condemned killers Mitchell Sims and Tiequon Cox."
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe is also trying to rush the execution of Robert Green Fairbank, convicted of murdering a San Francisco woman in 1985, according to Mintz.
Below are the endorsements for statewide propositions from the L.A. County Democratic Party. The L.A. GOP has not posted endorsements as Frontiers goes to press.
Prop. 30 – YES – Protects funding for schools and local public safety
Prop. 31 – NO – Locks California into permanent underfunding of education, health and other vital services
Prop. 32 – NO – Creates special exemptions for billionaires and Super PACs allowing them to buy elections
Prop. 33 – NO – Auto insurance rate hike
Prop. 34 – YES – Repeals death penalty and replaces with life without parole
Prop. 35 – YES – Increases penalties for human trafficking
Prop. 36 – YES – Reforms “Three Strikes” law
Prop. 37 – YES – Labeling of genetically engineered foods
Prop. 38 – NO – Munger initiative
Prop. 39 – YES – Adjusts taxes for multi-state corporations to fund clean energy programs
Prop. 40 – YES – Referendum on state Senate district boundaries