California Proposition 13

This $15-billion bond to upgrade aging K-12, community college and state university buildings looks OK until you read it. For starters, interest paid over the next 35 years shoots the price tag up to $26 billion — and at a time when the state is projecting a $7-billion surplus, and as K-12 public school enrollment is plummeting to the extent that school consolidation may render some fixed-up campuses obsolete. The fine print also contains a sneaky provision allowing developers of high-density housing near public transit to withhold paying community impact fees that generate revenue for local schools.

Progressive voters turning out for the Democratic Presidential Primary may relish the idea of supporting a Prop 13 that, unlike the landmark 1978 property tax measure also called Prop 13, actually increases funding for schools, but we’re holding out for a better plan. Vote NO on Proposition 13.

L.A. County Measure R

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Civilian Review Board formed in the wake of revelations that deputy jail guards were routinely beating and sometimes torturing inmates, prompting the federal investigation that sent former Sheriff Lee Baca to prison. Measure R would give the review board subpoena power to investigate alleged abuses and fund a study of reducing jail populations by implementing mental health diversions. Vote YES on Measure R.

L.A. County Measure FD

This parcel tax of six cents per square foot of built-out space in unincorporated areas would raise $134 million per year, allowing the L.A. County Fire Department to hire more firefighters and paramedics and to upgrade firefighting and rescue equipment — including aircraft to combat conflagrations like the Woolsey fire. Vote YES on Measure FD.

L.A. County District Attorney

Welcome to La La Land, where becoming the county’s top prosecutor has candidates vying to convince voters they’ll be less tough on crime. The increasing public appetite for fairness in the criminal justice system is long overdue, but reform efforts cannot ignore state legislation that has all but eliminated consequences for property and quality of life crime without providing a clear path for rehabilitation.

Former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón offers compelling ideas for criminal justice reform bolstered by his past experience as a Los Angeles police officer, but he also leaves behind a mess in the City by the Bay — surging property crime and open drug use on a scale far beyond what we’re already seeing in the bleaker corners of Venice and Mar Vista.

Gascón has incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey defending her more moderate reform efforts while receiving heavy support from tough-on-crime police unions. Underdog candidate Rachel Rossi has worked as a public defender but never as a prosecutor; she’s also running to Lacey’s left, but without the kind of institutional knowledge bolstering Gascón. Lacey is the safer choice for moderates more comfortable with incremental reforms, but her refusal to prosecute the police officer who shot and killed unarmed Brendon Glenn near Venice Beach —
despite a police commission ruling against the officer, and then-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck practically calling on Lacey to take action — prevents an endorsement in this contest.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, former council member Jan Perry, state Sen. Holly Mitchell, Carson Mayor Albert Robles and three lower-profile candidates are vying to replace termed-out Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. The ability to muster an effective response to rampant homelessness — the greatest weakness of Los Angeles city leadership past and present — is a defining issue in this race. Mitchell, who has been both a conscientious and effective leader at the state level, promises to energize the county’s response to homelessness in ways that include expanding public-private partnerships and making necessary investments in mental health resources often overlooked in “housing-only” discussions. Vote for Holly Mitchell in District 2.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn faces a re-election bid challenge by Redondo Beach attorney Desiree T. Washington, who is sharply critical of the county’s response to homelessness and calls for “conservative and creative” solutions to that and other regional problems. But Washington hasn’t had the government experience or resources to fully flesh out such ideas, and she appears hung up on state policy positions that put her out of step with most Westside voters — namely reducing Sanctuary City immigration protections and relaxing state gun control laws.

Hahn has proven a very capable supervisor in her first term, and if she hasn’t made everyone in Marina del Rey happy that’s because she’s worked harder than most to strike a balance among the sometimes competing concerns of developers, business owners and residents. Vote for Janice Hahn in District 4.

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