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    Editorial

    Yes on Prop 77, And...


    (Nov. 7, 2005, updated w/ responses) -- LBReport.com urges a Yes vote on Proposition 77. In our opinion, it is the most important measure on the Nov. 8 ballot.

    Prop 77 restores some semblance of democracy to a hopelessly corrupted electoral process. Voters are supposed to choose their representatives, but in California political parties choose their voters by carving out "safe" voting districts that effectively perpetuate their power. This status quo is an affront to democracy.

    Prop 77 is supported by groups ranging from Common Cause to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association...and is an appropriate response to the outrageous gerrymander inflicted on CA -- and LB -- which (among other things) erased our 38th Congressional district and wiped out LB Congressman Stephen Horn.

    Partisan Sacramento manipulators shoved 80% of LB into a Carson-area district, a "safe" seat for Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D, Carson-LB) who delivers pork for the Ports that helps poison the air breathed by her constituents. This simultaneously neutered the voting power of LB's contiguous ELB voting area, relegating it and Belmont Shore to a small part of a sprawling OC-PV district occupied by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R., HB-LB-PV), whom we like (although we think he's terribly wrong on LNG in LB).

    Prop 77 lets an independent body of retired judges draw sensible district lines. It's worked in other states and those who defend the status quo simply have no credibility in our eyes. We urge a strong Yes vote on Prop 77.

    Props 74, 75 and 76 are supported by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association...but LBReport.com recommends a Yes vote only on Props 74 and 75. We recommend a "No" vote on Prop 76 for reasons explained below, stemming from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's self-demolishing LB appearance last week in support of the measure.

    The Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) hasn't taken an official position on Prop 77, but has joined in an alliance of groups seeking to defeat Prop 77. In so doing, it has in our opinion taken a position inimical to democracy and shown why Prop 75 is justified. Prop 75 prevents public employee unions from spending their members' dues to advocate political views that their members may not share. We are not persuaded by the claim that union members can simply opt out because in our view, the possibility of retaliation is chilling and too strong.

    Prop 74, which establishes a longer probationary period for new teachers, is a closer call...but we intend to send a message against the six LB City Council members who thought it was smart to propagandize against Props 74 (as well as 75 and 76) at the Nov. 1 Council meeting. Thanks to their advocacy, we intend to vote Yes on Prop 74.

    As for Prop 76 ("live within our means" budget measure, lets Governor to cut spending), we had intended to vote "Yes" on Prop 76...but we now intend to vote "No." This is a direct result of what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at a Nov. 3 LB rally in support of Props 74, 75 and 76...at which he explained what he has in mind if Prop 76 passes.

    "I'm happy to be here today at the Port of Long Beach and I love visiting ports because I like seeing the ships coming in and out and to see the cranes moving around and the containers being loaded and unloaded from ships and to see the movement of goods that power the world economy," Governor Schwarzenegger said, adding that "for California to continue to compete in the world economy, I think it is very important that we do our infrastructure and we build, such as this port represents here." Later in his remarks, he indicated that Prop 76 would help build new infrastructure to (among other things) increase Port capacity.

    Significant words, coming from a Governor who won public office on a pledge that breathing clean air was a right -- a right -- and then vetoed a bill (supported by the AQMD and the LB City Council but opposed by the Port of LB) to keep port-related airborne toxics from worsening with growth. The Governor's veto message said the bill didn't actually reduce pollution (true)...but a year later, the Governor hasn't produced his own plan to reduce the net level of air pollution from the Ports of LB and L.A. that will result from the growth he advocates under Prop 76.

    In view of the foregoing, it is simply against the interests of LB residents to support Prop 76, which the Governor says he views as a way to grow the Ports...with nothing in place to ensure this doesn't make matters worse for LB residents. This comes just days days after the CA Air Resources Board released a draft study indicating Port related operations have produced an increased cancer risk where the Governor spoke and across the city where we live and work.

    When the election is over, we sincerely hope Governor Schwarzenegger will take a hard look at the bad advice he has been given by political advisors seriously out of touch with LB, L.A. and Inland Empire voters on this subject. It needn't and shouldn't be so.

    LBReport.com's recommendations are:

    Prop 74: Yes
    Prop 75: Yes
    Prop 76: No
    Prop 77: Yes

    If you'd like to respond to our editorial via email, click here. We'll post the best responses. Click reload or refresh on your browser for updated text.

    And then vote on Nov. 8. On election night, LBReport.com will report the statewide results live via the internet starting shortly after 8:00 p.m.

    Responses

    I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry over your Prop. 77 editorial, due the numerous omissions, mischaracterizations and flat out misinformation contained in the piece.

    First of all, Prop. 77, UNLIKE in other states, would do NOTHING to improve election competitiveness (which is the primary reason given by proponents of Prop. 77 for the need for such an initiative) in congressional and state legislative districts. States such as Arizona and Washington have competitiveness requirements for their redistricting procedures. Prop. 77 does not!

    The fact that, under Prop. 77, district lines would be drawn by 'retired' judges should be no comfort to California citizens. A RETIRED judge can be just as partisan as a state legislator.

    This hair-brained idea does nothing to improve our redistricting situation, it merely shifts redistricting from a publicly accountable elected legislature, to an unaccountable politically-appointed group of judges, whose agenda no Californian would be privy to.

    Also, by the tone of your editorial, you clearly favor giving one party an advantage over the other, particularly when that one party can't win legitimately at the polls. It would appear that your view is: "if you can't win in this system, just change the rules until you do."

    I am all for making our congresional and state legislative districts more competitive, but Prop. 77 ISN'T the way to do this. You should look at the redistricting ballot initiatives in Ohio and Florida, they are worthy of attention. BOTH, unlike Prop. 77, require that competitiveness be a part of all redistricting plans.

    Unlike you, I am not so quick to change our state's constitution merely to increase one party's elected representation. That's an unseemly way to gain power.

    Also, I want to clear up a couple of statements you made regarding Reps. Millender-McDonald and Rohrabacher and the ports.

    First, you attack Millender-McDonald by claiming that she "delivers pork for the Ports that helps poison the air breathed by her constituents," yet you give Rorabacher (who you say "we like") a pass on endangering Long Beach citizens, despite the fact that HE and not Millender-McDonald supports a dangerous LNG site in the middle of the ports.

    Let me remind you, the ports are in Rorabacher's district, NOT Millender-McDonald's district. If anybody is "delivering pork for the Ports that help poison the air breathed by constituents, it is Rohrabacher, not Millender-McDonald.

    Last I checked, Millender-McDonald, as a member of the House Transportation Committee and even during her time in the State Assembly, has repeatedly secured funding to REDUCE traffic conjestion in and around the ports (thus actually affecting a reduction in automotive and truck pollutants in the Long Beach area). The Alameda Corridor and the improvements to I-710 are just a couple of examples of her work.

    In contrast, Rohrabacher has worked to expand the ports' operations (thus INCREASING the level of diesel emissions in our air thanks to increased shipping operations).

    I would spend less time pontificating on the merits of increasing one party's representation through backroom jerrymandering by "retired judges", and more time on examining which of our elected officials are REALLY serving the public's trust.

    Vote No on Prop. 77. Voter frustration should be no excuse for passing bad laws. While Prop. 77's intent may be good, its reality is terribly flawed.

    Dan Duquette
    Long Beach

    Love LBReport.com....

    However in response to your editorial, I am voting NO! As far as I am concerned it's a power grab by the Republicans.

    Joe Valles

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