Well, it’s that time again. I’ve received a sample ballot, but it’s an odd year, meaning an odd election:
- First, our city councilcritter for District 12, Mitch Englander, decided to quit his city council job to go work for Oak View Group, an entertainment and sports facilities company. He was the only Republican on the council, and still had two years left on his term. This means we’ve got a special election to fill his slot, with almost as many candidates running as there are announced Democrats running for President in 2020.
- Second, the LA Unified School District ended a teachers strike by making concessions to the teachers union. It then discovered that it didn’t have enough money to pay for those concessions, even though the state funding for education is the highest it has been in years. So they’ve put a parcel tax on the ballot. The net result is a special election, but there’s also a legal challenge meaning the election might not mean anything. The issue is whether the district improperly altered the ballot language without a public hearing and vote by the Board of Education.
There’s was another special election mid-May to fill a vacant LAUSD board seat. What that wasn’t combined with the parcel tax election, I have no idea.
So we have a situation where Council District 12 has two issues on the ballot (for which we’ve gotten voluminous mail — I’ve never gotten this much for a city council election before), and the rest of the city just has the parcel tax. Talk about a recipe for low turnout (and due to business travel, I’ll be voting absentee ballot).
Still, a sample ballot is a ballot, and calls for a ballot analysis. This may be LA County’s last election using ink-a-vote, unless we have something in November. In 2020, LA County is transitioning from polling places to vote centers, which will be open for 11 days, and voters will be able to vote at any center in LA County. How successful it will be is unknown, but hey, what can go wrong during the most critical Presidential election in this nation’s history.
On to the ballot analysis….
🏙 LA City Council District 12 Special Election
Note upfront: Any campaign literature I have received from candidates to date has gone into the recycle bin. I have also not spoken to anyone going door to door.
Jeff Daar (D) is an attorney who has practiced law since 1982 and is a principal of the law firm of Daar & Newman. His expertise includes strategic planning, state and federal litigation, dispute resolution, and international transactions and disputes. He has a law degree from UC Davis, and lives in Northridge. He was a city commissioner in L.A. under three different mayors (including serving on the airport commission), and now serves as the Valley Industry and Commerce Association chair of international trade.
His platform includes addressing neighborhood safety by advocating for increasing neighborhood patrols; addressing homelessness by creating safe parking areas, addressing the shortage of temporary and permanent housing, and improving access to mental health and social services; helping business by restructuring the city’s gross receipts tax, and working to bring new job-creating businesses to the district; addressing the built environment by prioritizing funding to resurface streets, fill potholes, repair sidewalks, trim trees, and keep our parks and other public places clean and safe; promoting open spaces; and having strong ethical values.
Although he has more specifics than most, he has nothing addressing transportation in the North Valley, nor the environmental cleanups from Aliso Canyon or Santa Susana.
I could not find any endorsements for this election .
I could not find any negative indications online about him. In light of the specifics that he does have, he gets added to the short list of possibilities.
[✗] Charles Sean Dinse (FB)
Charles Sean Dinse (NPP) is (or was) the LAPD Topanga Division Senior Lead Officer responsible for the East portion of Woodland Hills in the southwest corner of the San Fernando Valley. He lives in Canoga Park. He is a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department who has served as a patrol officer, gang investigator, training officer, and 10 years as a Senior Lead Officer with a month-long assignment in Skid Row. He has an unspecified degree from CSU Northridge.
Naturally, his positions are strong on crime, working to address the gangs in the community, separating homelessness from mental illness, and drugs in the schools. He also wants to address issues such as the Santa Susana Field Lab, Aliso Canyon Gas Leak and Sunshine Canyon Land Fill. He doesn’t have a lot of information on his page on his approach, but he does have the following line, which gives me a very hard-line feeling: “Rules, regulations and laws were established to maintain the fabric of our society and protect the safety of the greater public.”
Although I like his mention of the environmental concerns, I don’t see anything on his page addressing some of the pressing concerns in the district: attracting business, addressing the increasing homeless issues, working to increase public transportation to the northern ends of the district that are not well served. I get the law and order sense, and not much more.
He was endorsed by the Mayor Pro Tem of Calabasas.
I’m not seeing anything that makes my gut want to add him to my short list, although I’m not seeing strong negatives either.
[✗] Jack Kayajian (FB)
Jack Kayajian (D) is an Administrative Coordinator / Outreach Specialist at the City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office. He has served and continues to serve on various committees and boards of local and regional organizations including the Center for Family and Health Education, the Armenian National Committee of America – San Fernando Valley North Chapter (ANCA-SFVN), and the Armenian General Benevolent Union Young Professionals Network LA (AGBU). He has been active at the lower level in city government for a long time. He is active in the Armenian community. He has an AA in Behavioral Sciences from Pierce, and a BA in Public Policy and Management from CSU Northridge. He lives in Sun Valley.
Taking a look at his issues page, what initially stands out are a lot of platitudes, and not a lot of specifics. He wants to improve the streets, improve government transparancy, make the schools better, make things better for business. His past experience in sanitation shows when he specifically talks about addressing the sanitation fees charged to small business. He has no specific plan on homelessness, but wants to address the interconnectedness of homelessness, mental health, and drug abuse. His environmental page talks about clean energy, but makes no mention of the environmental issues of Aliso Canyon, the Santa Susana Lab, or other industrial sites. There is no discussion of transit improvements for the north valley.
He is endorsed by the Armenian National Committee of America-North San Fernando Valley Chapter.
I’m not finding any negatives, but his lack of specifics makes me hesitant to put him on the short list.
[✗] Josh Yeager (FB)
Josh Yeager (NPP) is a resident of Chatsworth and member of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council. Yeager serves as secretary for the council’s Land Use Committee. He has a Bachelors in Political Science from UC San Diego. His bio notes something quite interesting: Josh has been working closely with Caltrans, the County of Los Angeles and the City of LA to convert a perpetual dumping site into a neighborhood circuit park. He’s the son of Steve Yeager, noted LA Dodger.
In a post he made on Medium on why he is running, he noted that he wants to fight for a renewed focus on public safety, improving our city services, safeguarding our quality of life, and effectively managing the homelessness crisis in the North Valley. His priorities page reflects that: increased transparency, promoting small business, improved community policing. He has a specific homelessness plan: a comprehensive treatment, temporary service and housing development in a remote area such as above the MTA bus maintenance lot on Nordhoff and Canoga. I’m not sure that’s the best location. He also advocates turning the Orange Line into light rail, advocating for option 1 of the North San Fernando Valley BRT Improvement. Those are well and good (and he wants to fill potholes too), but there’s no mention of the North Valley, and no mention of Aliso Canyon or the Santa Susana Labs.
There were no endorsements listed on the website.
Although he did have some specifics, they didn’t make sense, and the notion of putting the homeless in a remote area, above a bus depot, strikes me as just wrong, as well as being NIMBYism.
[✗] Frank Ferry (FB)
Frank Ferry (R) is the former mayor of Santa Clarita. He grew up in Granada Hills, and received a Bachelor of Arts in Governmental Communications at CSUN. He taught at Nobel Middle School, attended law school at night and passed The California Bar Exam in 1992. He now lives in West Hills.
He wants to be an advocate for the LAPD on council, but has this odd statement in his position on the subject: “there are candidates in 12th district that are far too political or lack the empathy to understand the serious issues affecting law enforcement.” His position on the homeless strikes me as FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Distrust): “Experts in the medical community are now predicting Los Angeles will experience Typhus as the result of increased homeless and the piling of their trash on the street and in our neighborhoods. This puts our communities, children and families at risk. Our law enforcement has their hands tied because the 9th Circuit Court has ruled that the homeless and their belongings cannot be touched if camped out on the sidewalk in front of your home or business. The Courts have gone too far! We must support our police officers and give them the ability to enforce laws intended to protect our community. We did not move to the North Valley and buy homes to have trash and filth piled high on our streets.” Excuse me?
He has a decent position on Aliso Canyon, noting: “If health standards are not met, the site must be shut down until safe standards are met.”
He has no positions regarding transit in the North Valley. He does not list any endorsements on his site.
He has also been filling the valley with signs, which is visual pollution.
His attitudes towards the homeless bothers me, as well as his attitudes towards the courts. There’s just something that strikes me as off. He’s not for me.
[✗] Brandon Saario (FB)
Brandon Saario (R) advertises himself as the Conservative Republican for the San Fernando Valley. He went to Vintage Elementary in North Hills, Nobel Middle School in Northridge, and Granada Hills High School. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in History, with an emphasis in American and Western History, from CSU Northridge, and currently works in the entertainment industry and is starting a small business as a personal trainer and fitness consultant.
In terms of issues, his top issue is public safety and getting more resources for the police. He also wants (and he emphasizes) no new taxes. His positions on the homeless is to “enforce our laws and advocate for new policies that combat criminal transients and aggressive panhandlers.” He wants new policies for the homeless who are suffering from mental illnesses and those who are a danger to the community and themselves, and wants to make sure our resources are going to homeless families, especially with children, disabled, elderly, Vets, and those down on their luck who want a “hand up” and not a “hand out”. Sound familiar? He wants to end LA’s Sanctuary City policy. He does not want over development.
He has the endorsement of the Daily News. His media page cites Breitbart and Red State. He’s endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Association, the Southern California Republican Men and Women, and the Hispanic Republicans. He was also endorsed by the Yes on 6 campaign — the folks who were against SB1. In my book, that’s being against transportation improvements.
I find it odd that the best candidate the Republicans would endorse is a personal trainer, especially given the other Republicans in the race, such as a former Mayor. It is particularly interesting that the Republicans didn’t endorse John Lee, who is Republican and the heir apparent. But that’s likely because their endorsement of Saario is sacrificial — as a Republican endorsement in this district will sink a candidate like a stone. However, a hidden Republican, like Lee, could make it to the General Election, and a less obvious Republican, like Ferry, could end up running against him.
In any case, his values and attitudes do not align with mine.
[✗] Navraj Singh
Navraj Singh, who previously ran as a Republican, does not have a website or Facebook page. According to LAist, he is a small business owner who ran for the city council’s District 12 seat once before, in 2011. Singh served in the Indian military, then became a restauranteur after immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 27. In addition to his bid for City Council, he previously ran for U.S. Congress.
Looking at my past ballot analyses: When he ran for Congress in 2016, I noted: ” Navraj Singh (R) is running again, after running into ethics violations with his last campaign. He thinks we are in the worst economy in years, and views the ACA as socialistic.”
If he can’t be bothered to have a web site with his positions in this day and age, I can’t be bothered to take him seriously.
ETA: I just got a mailer from him. He does now have a website (now linked), but his mailer wrties: “I am devoting my entire candidacy and service to ending sanctuary city insanity in LA”. Sorry. That’s not the job of my city councilcritter. I want to see other positions. Next.
[✓] Annie Eunwoo Cho (FB)
Annie Cho (D) is a 30-year resident of North Hills and Porter Ranch. She worked for the late Senator Alan Cranston and State Assembly President Pro Tempore Mike Roos in Constituent Services. She also worked as the Director of Public Relations for Channel 18 KSCI, and was founder and President of Jin Woo Communications Group, a full-service public relations firm specializing in reaching diverse Asian Pacific American communities. She is currently a realtor at Pinnacle Estate Properties. She has a BA in Political Science from CSU Los Angeles.
In terms of issues, she wants to tackle the homeless crisis, by addressing the cost of housing through rental subsidies, reasonable limits on rent increases and evictions, and more guaranteed low-income housing units. She also wants to end the unnecessary seizing and destroying homeless people’s property, focus on the decriminalization of homelessness, and prioritize mental health diversion programs and wrap-around services. Those are good answers. She wants to address the problems at Aliso Canyon, Sunshine Canyon and Santa Susana, as well as improving the emergency preparedness and response systems. She talks about improving public transportation, but doesn’t give specifics.
She has no endorsements that I could find.
I like her positions in a number of areas, so she’s on the short list.
[✓] Carlos Amador (FB)
Carlos Amador (D) is a long-time human rights and civil rights advocate. He’s a former undocumented immigrant who become a U.S. citizen, and is a graduated from UCLA with a Masters in Social Work. He is a community organizer, and have led advocacy campaigns at the local, state, and federal level. He joined in solidarity supporting local efforts to protect Muslim members from federal programs that profile and surveil the community. He is a board member of the Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council, and a board member of the ACLU of Southern California. He lives in Granada Hills.
His focus is on affordable housing and local environmental issues. He wants to sponsor a ban on developer money flowing into the campaign coffers of elected officials. He wants to work to ban oil drilling across the city in order to protect the health and safety of our communities. He wants to maximize the resources available by Measure HHH, JJJ, and coordinate county resources and elevate cutting edge solutions in a localized way. He wants to bring transportation infrastructure to the North West San Fernando Valley. He wants to protect immigrants.
He has a fair number of endorsements.
I like his positions, and in many ways I think he is in tune with the under-represented constituencies in the valley (as opposed to the “white flight” constituency). He’s on the list.
[✗] Scott Abrams (FB)
Scott Abrams (D) is a senior aide to U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman. He’s a graduate of UCLA. He lives in West Hills. Not much more information is on his website.
On his issues page, he talks a lot about what he has done with Congressman Sherman. He does not present specific ideas on what he proposes to do.
Although he is clearly a member of the tribe, his lack of specifics combined with the large number of endorsements makes me think this is more of a stepping stone, then working for the district. His focus isn’t local, but national.
[✗] Raji Rab
Raji Rab (D) is a perennial candidate around these parts. He’s run for Congress many times. In 2016, I noted that he has the basic Democratic positions, but doesn’t distinguish himself enough from Sherman to make it worth the change. In 2018, I noted that he “does not know how to design a web page, or to hire a web page designer.” I also noted that this fellow’s experience for office is: “seasoned aviator, an educator and an entrepreneur”. To be more precise, “I got my commercial pilot license from Laverne California, owned a flight school, an airline and operated a computer infrastructure facility.” Not quite the experience for the halls of Washington. I’ve done some googling, and I can’t find his educational experience anywhere.
I tried reading through his positions, and couldn’t quite figure out what he was advocating.
He’s another candidate that has been plastering his signs everywhere. He has no endorsements.
I think there are far stronger candidates.
John Lee (R) is the heir apparent to the seat, having served as Chief of Staff to Englander, who was Chief of Staff to Greig Smith, who was … He is active in the community and attended Prairie Street Elementary, Robert Frost Middle School, Granada Hills High School, and California State University, Northridge. I think he lives in Porter Ranch.
Surprisingly, although there is a lot on what Lee has done working for others, he doesn’t have any issues or positions on his website.
He has loads of endorsements.
Searching did uncover accusations of sexual harrassment against him.
Given the lack of issue statements, and the potential accusations, he’s not on the list. I also think we need to stop this tradition of Chiefs of Staff moving up.
[✓] Loraine Lundquist (FB)
Loraine Lundquist (D) lives in Northridge, and has a Ph.D. in physics from UC Berkeley, and served as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences and a research scientist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She is currently a Faculty Associate at the Institute for Sustainability at CSUN. She organized community opposition to the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility when it blew out in 2015, and is the Northridge East Neighborhood Council’s 2nd Vice President.
Her positions include making LA a leader in the green economy, and wants to move rapidly toward Hal Harvey’s four zeroes: zero net energy buildings, zero waste manufacturing, zero carbon electric grid, and zero emissions transportation. We also need to radically transform the way we view water stewardship and our agricultural systems so that we grow our food in a sustainable way. She doesn’t have many details on addressing homelessness, other than providing permanent supportive housing for the homeless to clean up our streets and save taxpayer money. With respect to transit, she want to start by making public transit frequent, fast, and more accessible, and redesign our transit corridors so that buses do not share the right of way with cars, and bikes have dedicated lanes where their riders will be safe. She wants to shut down Aliso Canyon.
The KNOCK endorsement of Lundquist notes: Lundquist is a founding member of the West Valley Neighborhood Alliance on Homelessness, whose goal is to educate area residents on the benefits of housing-first policies, and help the district site affordable housing.
She has the endorsement of the LA Times and a large number of groups, including the DSA.
She’s a bit light on some of her positions, but does have the smarts. She’s on the short list.
[✓] Stella T. Maloyan (FB)
Stella Maloyan (D) came to the US from Iran before the revolution, and obtained her degrees at CSUN (BA Political Science, MA Public Administration). She was development director at LAANE, and was a commissioner on the LA Tourism Board. She has been a board member to the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the Program for Torture Victims (PTVLA). She lives in Porter Ranch.
In terms of issues, she wants to work to close the gender pay gap and stand up against sexual harassment in the workplace. She wants to partner with our neighborhoods, homeless advocates, and public safety leaders to build transitional housing and fund the services needed to help homeless residents get back on their feet. She wants to provide more resources for firefighters. Her transportions goals include more first and last mile solutions. She wants to close Aliso Canyon, protect immigrants, and increase jobs in the area.
She has no endorsements.
Her positions seem reasonable, so she’s also on the list.
[✗] Jay Beeber
Jay Beeber (NPP) is a film producer best known for working against red light cameras. He is the Executive Director of Safer Streets L.A., a public policy and research organization dedicated to the adoption of scientifically sound and sensible traffic and transportation practices. Jay is the VP and Land Use Committee Chair of the North Hills West Neighborhood Council. He has a BS in Science from the University of Michigan. [Science? No other subspecialty?] He lives in North Hills.
Looking at his positions brings the NPP into question: he wants to eliminate the 10% utility tax and 8% rate transfer to the general fund from the DWP. He wants to strengthen and enforce our conservatorship laws and focus resources on mental health and substance abuse treatment. He wants to close Aliso Canyon and address Sunshine Landfill. But other than that… no specifics.
He’s endorsed by Howard Jarvis. He has KFI raising money for him. His campaign address is in Roseville, CA. Roseville? That ain’t the valley, folks.
He’s not the right guy for this.
Looking at the short list gives Jeff Daar (FB), Annie Eunwoo Cho (FB), Carlos Amador (FB), Loraine Lundquist (FB), and Stella T. Maloyan (FB). All seem to have good ideas, in tune with where I believe the district to be — or at least where I want the district to go. But I need to decide between them.
Let’s start with where the endorsements have fallen. The vast bulk of the Democratic endorsements have gone to Scott Abrams (FB), Loraine Lundquist (FB), and John Lee (FB), the heir apparent, with a few to Carlos Amador (FB). I’ve eliminated Lee, because I think this trend of anointing the previous councilcritter’s Chief of Staff to replace him has gone on too long. I’ve also already eliminated Abrams — his website was far too light on specific plans, and he too is anointed in a sense, as being our Congressman’s Constituent Services lead. That leaves Lundquist and Amador, with Lundquist having the coveted LA Times endorsement. But if you read the endorsement, there’s not a strong reason why. She breaks the tradition of anointing the Chief of Staff. So would Amador, Cho, Daar, and Maloyan. She brings fresh new ideas. So would Amador, Cho, Daar, and Maloyan. She’s on the local neighborhood council, but so is Amador. So here’s the key question I have: Why? There are loads of folks endorsing Lundquist, but no one is saying why she’s better than specific other candidates. There’s no comparison to Daar, Cho, Amador, and Maloyan. No comparison of the strengths and weaknesses. This makes me very suspicious.
I looked at the LA Ethics Commission page on funding, but most of the donations were small. This isn’t like propositions where there are PACs with large corporate or developer funding. I did find a funding report from April on Lee’s webpage, that shows (for the candidates I care about) that Maloyan raised $101,611.00; Daar raised $98,557.00, with $34,800 in personal loans; Lundquist raised $85,893.00, with $34,800 in personal loans; Cho raised $55,417.35; and Amador raised $24,529.00. Of the candidates I don’t care about, Lee was the money frontrunner with $185,640.00 raised, and Abrams was second with $129,783.00 plus a $25,000 loan. For the other Republicans (as Lee is Republican), Ferry had $13,860.00 with a $202,000 loan; Saario had no funds, but loads of endorsements. Lee and Abrams are no surprise, as they are the most politically connected. Note that these candidates can get up to $151,000 in matching funds, although Ferry is not participating in that program. On the Democratic side, when matching funds come in, Lundquist is in the fundraising lead.
I think we can eliminate Daar from the shortlist, but of the four remaining, I cannot see why all the endorsements and money is going to Lundquist over Cho, Amador, and Maloyan. There’s something behind the scenes that I need to figure out.
Thinking more on this, I believe the logic is as follows: The last thing that people want is two Republicans (essentially Lee and Ferry or Lee and Saario) in the General Election in August. They don’t want an anointed successor, which would also give it to the Republicans. They don’t want someone who is likely treating this as a stepping stone to State or Federal office, who is Abrams. So who is the best funded of the remaining crew who can win? The answer is Lundquist or Maloyan, with Lundquist raising more thanks to the personal loan. That makes Lundquist the most likely candidate to win, although any of the the Lundquist / Cho / Amador / Maloyan would be acceptable. And so, endorsements roll in to create a gigantic snowball.
The question is: Do I want to go with it?
The question is: Do I want to end up with a choice of Lee and Ferry? I have a feeling that there may be similar questions come the 2020 Democratic Primary. I think any of Lundquist / Cho / Amador / Maloyan would make a great council critter: they have good positions, and they are fresh ideas for the position. So it boils down to this: Who can, in this large field, come in first or second? Who can, in the general election, come out on top?
🏫 LA Unified School District Special Election
Measure EE: Quality Teacher, class size reduction, and local school safety measure.
Measure EE would authorize the Board of Education to levy a qualified special tax of $0.16 per square foot of improvements per year on each parcel of taxable real property which is wholly or partially within the District. If approved, the Tax will be levied annually beginning in the 2019/2020 fiscal year, and continue for a period of 12 years. Tax proceeds would, per the measure, be used for: lowering class sizes; providing school nursing, library, and counseling services and other health and human services for student support; providing instructional programs, school resources, and materials; retaining and attracting teachers and school employees; and providing necessary administrative services. They could not be used for purchasing school lots, building or modernizing schools, funding legal settlements and liabilities, and operating schools outside the boundaries of the District. There would be an annual independent audit of the funds and funded projects. Funds would be allocated to Local Charter Schools shall be based on their in-district average daily attendance. Any property otherwise exempt from ad valorem property taxes in a tax year shall also be exempt from the Tax in the same year. Other exemptions are for owners who are 65 years or over; who receive supplemental security income for a disability, regardless of age; or who receive social security disability insurance benefits, regardless of age, and whose annual income does not exceed 250 percent of the 2012 federal poverty guidelines, may apply for Tax exemption.
(Summary condensed from Ballotpedia)
The Yes on EE (FB) camp claims that EE is a critical part of the solution to the public education funding crisis that was highlighted by the recent teachers strike in the Los Angeles area, and that the measure will lower class sizes and provide needed resources for local schools, and pay salaries to retain and attract quality teachers and student support staff. There are lots of education and building/construction organizations behind the measure, as well as UTLA and the Los Angeles Times. The Times claims the measure is needed because California routinely underfunds its public schools. When the cost of living is factored in, California consistently ranks among the bottom 10 states in per-pupil expenditures. They note that although the state has increased their funding, the district faces an annual structural budget deficit that has raised the specter of bankruptcy in the next few years. There are far too few counselors and nurses in the schools, class sizes are large, buildings and grounds often aren’t kept up, and school libraries are often shuttered. None of this is a recipe for improved learning, better test scores or higher rates of college attendance in a district overwhelmingly made up of low-income students of color.
The Times notes the concerns about the measure: “including how effectively the district will spend the new money, whether the proposed oversight mechanisms are strict enough, and even about which structures will be taxed at the proposed rate of 16 cents per square foot.”. They note how it was rushed to ballot, as well as the fact that a parcel tax such as this is the only way the District can raise funds.
The Times has also done an exploration of why the state funds don’t help as much: Most districts receive a combination of local, state and federal dollars. California, more than other states, relies on statewide tax revenues to pay for education — a framework cemented in 1978 when Proposition 13 capped local property taxes and schools turned to an ever-growing subsidy from Sacramento. But at the same time, a few important things have complicated the flow of dollars to the classroom. One is the rapid growth in expenses for special education. More children are qualifying for additional services, particularly those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Even preschool-age kids are entitled to services funded by existing school budgets. The state government’s special education expenses are projected to rise 21% next year, according to the governor’s new budget. The impact on local dollars is even bigger — those funds pay for 61% of special education expenses, according to a legislative analysis. School districts are being squeezed, too, by the rising costs of employee healthcare and pensions.
Things get worse when one sees Charters cherry picking the students, leaving the more expensive students to educate (low income, special needs) to the LAUSD. That sucks up a greater percentage of funds.
So what about the No on EE (FB) campaign? The main opponents are realtors, chambers of commerce, business organizations, apartment owners — in other words: those whose businesses will be gored by this tax. Their main arguments appear to be that there is no requirement that revenue be spent in the classroom or on our kids, and the ultimate cost of the tax.
The first argument — that it isn’t being spent in the classroom — appears to be a bit disingenous. The services it does support — lowering class sizes; providing school nursing, library, and counseling services and other health and human services for student support; providing instructional programs, school resources, and materials; retaining and attracting teachers and school employees — are not directly in the classroom but do benefit students: they provide better and happier teachers, better support, libraries, counseling, and such. The “in the classroom” appears to be a way of saying “we don’t like this tax”.
But their real agenda becomes clear in their screed against UTLA, where they talk about it eliminating Prop 13’s protections for small business owners, businesses, and some homeowners. Businesses do not want to pay taxes; folks like Trump and Amazon and Apple have made this clear. Yet they want the benefits of the taxes: better educated students, the better schools that bring better customers. They just want someone other than their business to pay it. They are part of the community, yet don’t want to support the community.
There another reason why businesses don’t like this. Organizations like the Chamber of Commerce might have been neutral if this was a standard parcel tax, charging every property owner in the district the same dollar amount. But this is a parcel tax based on the square footage of buildings on a property – an approach that would substantially shift the tax burden from homeowners to commercial properties, large apartment buildings and industrial sites with large buildings. Often, these are the same folks that have been using business trusts and ownership games to keep their properties at the lower assessment rates.
I’m one of those folks that is against Prop 13 these days. I feel that businesses have exploited its provisions to avoid paying taxes, hurting the communities they are in. Most of those who benefited originally are now seniors, and only a select subset of the best off can afford to pass their benefits to kids. As a result, those trying to enter in the housing market have a tougher time because of the high property taxes that could be much much lower if all valuations were equal and current. We could have lower taxes for all, instead of just for some, without Prop 13. So that argument about it impacting business doesn’t sway me: I’m in the generation that gets not one whit of benefit from Prop 13.
How much would this cost me? Our house is something like 2281 sq ft (but that includes the garage), giving a tax of $365 per annum. Our taxes are very high, and there is less deductability than before. Combine this with Trump’s tax cuts (which cut my take home pay and increased my taxes, and this is an ouch).
But other than hatred of UTLA and hatred of taxes, there’s not a good argument against on the “No” side.
In the end, the question is a basic one — and like the CD 16 primary, a fundamental one for the nation: Do I focus on the impact on me, and the impact on the wealthy, and vote “No?” Do I focus on what is better for society, and provide for a local increase in funding to make things better for kids, and vote “Yes?”
But then there’s the other aspect: If this passes, and rents and housing costs go up because of it, that will make it harder on the homeless families and the low income families that would end up benefitting from the taxes. Yes, those who are near poverty level that own houses are exempted, but that provides no protections to renters — and most low income families rent as oppose to own.
Then, of course, there’s the legal challenge that might make this null and void, or partially null and void, if it succeeds.
So where is the balance: the needs of students vs the needs of homeowners, renters, and businesses? What is the right thing to do?