Wednesday, February 23, 2011

LA Municipal Election March 2011

March 8, 2011 is Election Day in Los Angeles County. There are no “major” offices being elected – a number of school boards and colleges will elect representatives as will all even City Council districts. There are also a number of Ballot Measures in Los Angeles and West Hollywood. Many have inquired my thinking on some of these items – either to concur or to make sure they vote the exact opposite! Here is my thinking. Please do vote…democracy works only when we all participate.


LOS ANGELES


City Council District #2 – If I lived here I would vote for Paul Krekorian, the incumbent. He courageously voted against the 4.5% DWP rate increase sought by the Mayor last year.

City Council District #4 – There isn’t a clear candidate to choose from here with the incumbent Tom LaBonge having served the city for decades. If I lived here I would vote for Stephen Box as he has put forward a budget plan for the city that recognizes the different economy that now exists.

City Council District #6 – If I lived here I would vote for Rich Goodman a young man who has energetic ideas for the city.

City Council District #8 – If I lived here I would vote for Bernard C. Parks, the incumbent. Parks (also the former Police Chief) has been a lonely but passionate and articulate voice of financial discipline and responsibility.

City Council District #10 – If I lived here I would vote for Austin Dragon. He has put forward a number of common sense realizable plans for the city and it is time for new blood in this district.

City Council District #12 – If I lived here I would vote for Armineh Chelebian, one of four candidates seeking a soon to be vacated seat. A fiscal conservative she is an accountant by trade and has ably served the district on many commissions and for 7 years as a school board member.

City Council District #14 – If I lived here I would want more candidates! The four choices here are less than exciting, but I’d opt for Rudy Martinez as the best of the lot.
Measure G – Reduces retirement benefits to newly hired police officers and firefighters. It’s nowhere near enough – but it’s a good first effort. I voted YES.


Measure H – Bans bidders for city contracts larger than $100,000 from contributing to candidates for city office. This is very sloppy “campaign finance reform.” I voted NO.


Measure I – Create a position of "ratepayer advocate," whose office would monitor the DWP's accounts. A nice concept but we need less bureaucracy not more – there is expense associated with this, complicates an already complicated process…a nice wish that one position could fix things, but it won’t. I voted NO.


Measure J – Adds a provision to the City Charter requiring the DWP to coordinate its budgeting process with the city's. These are separate legal units and should be budgeted and run separately. One of the big problems is that the city takes the reserves that the DWP builds up for capital projects and uses the funds to cover budget shortfalls – voting yes on this makes that process even easier. I voted NO.


Measure M – Imposes a gross receipts tax on hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries. These businesses already pay city and state business income taxes and fees. Singling out this industry for additional taxes is not fair no matter one’s thinking on drugs. I voted NO.


Measure N – Removes from the City Charter rules on campaign contributions and candidates' spending that are unconstitutional. The Charter requires voter approval for any changes. These sections have been deemed unconstitutional and therefore shouldn’t be in the document. I voted YES.

Measure O – Creates an oil extraction tax. Oil companies already pay city and state business income taxes and fees. Singling out this industry for additional taxes is not fair no matter one’s thinking on the oil companies. I voted NO.


Measure P – Amend the City Charter to create a reserve account. While it would be nice not to have to codify into law something fiscally prudent and long overdue, this is the way things have to be done. I voted YES.


Measure Q – Changes to the process of testing for civil service jobs. Applying for a government job is a huge process and effort – simplifying and streamlining is welcome, even if this is a very small step towards it. I voted YES.


WEST HOLLYWOOD


Three (3) City Council seats are to be filled in this election and there are 10 candidates. All of the candidates generally follow a similar political philosophy which tends to be liberal Democratic. My own political leanings are more conservative that this so I see most of the candidates in the same hue. Out of the 10 incumbents Abbe Land and John Heilman would get my vote as would newcomer John D’Amico instead of incumbent Lindsay Horbath who has been an embarrassment during this campaign.

Measure A – Changes the tax structure on billboard companies from $1.44 per $1,000 in revenue to 7% of gross revenues, a 50% increase. The Measure also amends the city’s zoning ordinance to allow many more billboards, tall walls and other usage. Put forward by a billboard company it’s basically a bribe: a self-imposed tax in order to dramatically grow their business. West Hollywood is home to Sunset Strip, Santa Monica Blvd and Melrose Ave – it’s a vibrant city. More billboards won’t dramatically change the city and it’s a much better way to generate revenue than increasing parking fees. I'd vote YES.

























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