by Quentin Kopp
Even though my First Amendment rights have been lost on city elections as an Ethics Commission member (and now vice-chairman following retired Golden Gate University School of Law dean and Chief Deputy Public Defender Peter Keane’s resignation after a vote double-cross by the current chairman), I still retain such right regarding state and federal elections. A savant once observed: “It’s useless to try to hold some people to anything they say while they’re madly in love, drunk or running for office,” and, don’t forget: “Everybody makes mistakes. That’s why we keep having political elections.”
Unlike the local ballot, there are only five state ballot measures. Proposition 68 authorizes $4 billion of general obligation bonds for state and local parks, so-called climate adaptation projects, natural resources, water quality and flood protection projects, while reallocating $100 million of unused general obligation bonds for the same purposes. I’ll vote against it because only $1.3 billion is actually specified to improve parks in an unequal geographical manner, it lacks sufficient funding for critical deferred park maintenance, and relies upon a state department which bamboozled citizens in 2012 with a threatened closure of 70 parks, for which there was sufficient money to operate. Interest costs will double the $4 billion cost of the parks’ bond.
I will, however, vote for Proposition 69, which shouldn’t be necessary, but requires the expenditure of gasoline taxes for transportation projects. I don’t believe in utilizing the gas tax, a user fee, for public transit or bicycle lanes (bicyclists pay nothing for roads built by motorists); my vote represents a compromise to preclude more misapplication of gasoline tax revenue.
Proposition 70 deals with the so-called “cap-and-trade” program, and constitutes an arcane procedural issue and mandates a two-third majority legislative approval for spending cap-and-trade revenues. It shouldn’t be in the state constitution, and it authorizes more than $730 million for a high-speed rail project, which isn’t even electrified high speed and violates 2008’s Proposition 1A. Even the League of Women Voters opposes it. So does the California League of Conservation Voters and Coalition for Clean Air. Reject it.
Proposition 71 is a procedural constitutional change respecting a later effective date for voter-approved ballot measures. I’ll support it.
Proposition 72 amends the California Constitution to allow the legislature to exclude the value of a new rainwater capture system from a property’s taxable value.
There’s no argument against it in the Voter Information Guide and no vote against submitting it to voters by the legislature.
Now, let’s get to candidates, starting with the U.S. Senate. My candidate is a Los Angeles civil rights lawyer and friend, Pat Harris. Friendship is thicker than water.
For governor, I’ll vote for Republican John Cox. (Maybe someone can explain why neither Newsom nor Villaraigosa nor Chiang are in the Voter Information Guide!) I’ll support Libertarian Tim Ferreira for lieutenant governor, not the socialist Gayle McLaughlin; Democrat Alex Padilla for reelection as secretary of state; Democrat Betty Yee for reelection as controller; and Democrat Vivek Viswanathan for treasurer.
I’m an early endorser of Republican Steven Bailey, a fellow retired Superior Court judge from El Dorado County, for attorney general and fellow independent Steve Poizner for insurance commissioner.
Finally, I endorse taxpayer advocate Mark Burns for the Board of Equalization, an entity which should have been abolished 20 years ago in favor of a California tax court; and Marshall Tuck of Novato for superintendent of public instruction.
Staying with state issues, beware of Assemblyman David Chiu’s Assembly Bill-3037. It wrong-headedly restores redevelopment agencies under the guise of solving California’s housing needs. Even renowned California musician David Crosby understands redevelopment enables big government to seize private property and deliver it to wealthy, city government favorites at prices as low as a dollar per parcel.
San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Commission foolishly eliminated a now-deceased San Francisco redevelopment agency’s chief executive’s name from a downtown plaza because of what redevelopment did to the Western Addition and South of Market. During its heyday, redevelopment was used to foster golf courses, automobile rows, at least one country club and hotels and restaurants by big shots under the rubric of replacing “blight.” Blight was in the beholder’s eyes, namely, city councils, or in our case as a city and county, the SF Board of Supervisors.
Crosby observed last month, “the little guy doesn’t stand much of a chance” under redevelopment. Governor Jerry Brown should be proud of his abolition of redevelopment. He mustn’t allow its rebirth under AB-3037.
Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco supervisor and state senator, retired judge and current member of the SF Ethics Commission.