BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
March 8 is Pasadena’s and Los Angeles’ Primary Election Day. As I wrote in my ealier piece, turnout is critical. Unfortunately, in Burbank’s primary election, held February 22, the numbers were low for Armenian turnout. This is EXACTLY what must NOT happen. Please get out and vote, regardless of whom you support. And, in this round, most of the offices have incumbents running and the ANC seems to be largely silent from an endorsement perspective.
Glendale’s election is a month away, and endorsements for those positions are coming soon I understand. But in Los Angeles, there is only one endorsement, for the 12th Council district, for Mitch Englander (this is the race in which Armine Chelebian is also a candidate, but Englander is overwhelmingly expected to win). I guess Paul Krekorian in the 2nd LA Council district is such a no-brainer that a formal endorsement was not issued. In Pasadena, where another Armenian, Khatchik Chahinian, is running in the 4th Council District, no endorsement has been issued either.
Besides the candidates, the March 8 election also holds ten ballot measures for City of LA residents. Since these are often poorly covered, I’ve given them a quick review and have my recommendations below. Remember, these are for the City of Los Angeles only. Don’t look for them if you live anywhere else.
Measure G— Vote No. This reduces pension benefits for newly hired police and firefighters. It is an attempt to address the City’s budget problems. Unfortunately, it does so upon the backs of young recruits instead of improving revenue sources and keeping a more equitable pension system in place. There are other aspects of public safety retiree pensions that need adjustment, not this.
Measure H— Vote Yes. This is another small step forward in reducing the influence of money in elections. It bars people bidding for contracts from the City from making contributions to campaigns. It also helps strengthen the fund from which candidates receive public matching funds if they agree to certain limits.
Measure I— Vote Yes. This enhances the public’s oversight of LA’s massive DWP (Department of Water and Power).
Measure J— Vote Yes. This measure also addresses DWP issues by regularizing the process of transferring moneys to the City’s general fund. Last year, clashes and power plays broke out over this process because of other considerations, hampering the city’s budgeting process.
Measure L— Vote No. While the cause this ballot measure serves is very worthy, enshrining a percentage of the budget to be allocated to one area of government or another (in this case the much beaten-up libraries) in the City Charter is not a good idea. It reduces the Council’s ability to act deliberatively. Things like this on California’s state level currently hamper the legislature’s ability to govern in Sacramento.
Measure M— Vote Yes. This taxes medical marijuana. You’ll recall I’d supported the recent statewide marijuana legalization measure, partly to benefit from taxing its use. This is the same idea put into practice. While there are some legal hindrances, it’s better to have this measure in place than not.
Measure N— Vote Yes. This just aligns LA’s campaign finance rules with recent (wrongheaded) U.S. Supreme Court decisions. It’s unfortunate, but unavoidable, cleanup of the Charter’s language.
Measure O—Vote Yes. This measure introduces a tax on those who pump oil within the City limits. This is the public’s wealth, yet we get no benefit from it. Charging for the extraction, just as is done for mining and other extractive industries, is only good, common sense, public policy.
Measure P— Vote Yes. This measure institutes another good common sense idea— having an emergency fund the City can tap when in trouble. Actually, three such reserves would be established, each for somewhat different uses/circumstances.
Measure Q— Vote Yes. This measure, while hard to swallow and not well crafted, is worthwhile. It allows the City’s Personnel Department to establish limits on the number of people who may apply for jobs (which involves testing- written or in the form of an interview). At first glance, it may seem unreasonable to set such caps. But, under current circumstances, so many people apply, and all must be taken, that expenses are incurred in processing them when few even have a chance of ever getting on lists with their “grades”, much less being hired since the City is largely living by a hiring freeze. If passed, this measure should be rounded out with clear, pre-established parameters by Personnel so everyone knows what to expect ahead of time when applying.
Please vote on March 8 for all the positions and propositions in your jurisdiction(s).