LWV tackles ballot issues
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By Jud Snyder  September 28, 2012 12:00 am

The League of Women Voters in Sonoma County sent its advocacy committee to Rohnert Park’s City Hall on Sept. 24. for a public forum. About 15 to 20 people showed up at 7 p.m. to hear the five speakers and then had questions of their own. It was a relatively small turnout, but it was competing with Monday Night Football.

The LWV has always been non-partisan. They endorse issues and not candidates or political parties. At this forum, they focused on five controversial ballot measures on the November ballot – Propositions 30, 31, 32, 34 and 40.

First up was Chip Atkin (yes, the LWV accepts male members), who noted Prop. 30 had competition on the ballot with Prop. 38 also qualified. Atkin pointed out the shortcomings of Prop. 38, recommended a no vote on it, and then explained what Prop. 30 was all about, where a yes vote is LWV’s choice.

It’s labeled as Governor Jerry Brown’s partial answer to California’s staggering multi-billion dollar debt. It raise taxes on upper income taxpayers for seven years and a more modest tax raise for four years on middle family incomes. If it loses, the state faces large cuts in financing for schools.

Shirley Johnson-Foell said Prop. 31, concerning government reform, “Is poorly written and contradictory.” LWV’s stance is there are questions about whether local governments can suspend state environmental requirements with Prop. 31, and there’ll be years of significant legal uncertainty and litigation. They recommend a no vote here.

Lisa Maldonado explained the reasons why the LWV is against Prop. 32.

“Backers for 32 are corporations who are against unions sending money to candidates,” she said.

Her claim is the ballot measure will limit union contribution but won’t touch corporate contributions. It doesn’t fix the problem of money in politics. Super-PACS and expenditure committees will continue to spend without limitations.  They recommend a No vote.

Ana Zamora and the LWV are ardent supporters of Prop. 34. It would wipe out the death penalty and replace it with life in prison with no chance of parole. “There are 729 prisoners on death row now costing the state $100 million a year. Yet, only 32 have been executed in the last 13 years,” she said. “The state could save over $100 million every year because the court and incarceration costs are much higher with prisoners on death row.”  They recommend a Yes vote.

Alice Richardson and the LWV are also in favor of Prop. 40, an attempt to wipe out the current redistricting rules now in force. “A small group, not the Republicans, claim the redistricting rules are illegal. Their case was rejected by the state Supreme Court, but they’re on the ballot.” A Yes vote here is recommended.

Richardson was also moderator at the forum. “There’s been lots of passion here and also a lot of information,” she said when they adjourned shortly before 9 p.m. “I remind people, democracy is not a spectator sport.”

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