Thursday, October 13, 2016

November 2016 Election Endorsements

You can REGISTER TO VOTE IN CALIFORNIA until October 24, 2016.

Your vote counts the most on the local level, so let’s get the Federal & State level races out of the way first:

President and Vice-President - Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka
I’m a Green in a deep Blue state that Hillary Clinton will easily win- plus every Green vote for President pushes us closer to 5% of the national vote, which would give the 2020 Green candidate federal FEC funding!
U.S. Senate – Kamala Harris
U.S. House of Representatives
District 13 – Barbara Lee
State Senate, District 9 - Sandre Swanson
State Assembly, District 15 - Tony Thurmond

State Propositions:

62 - End the Death Penalty – YES!
66 - Speed Up the Death Penalty – NO!
I’ve always been a strong supporter of abolishing the death penalty. 62 substitutes life without parole and ensures that no innocent person is executed in our state anymore. 66 “speeds up” what’s already a broken & discriminatory part of the criminal justice system; a sure-fire way to make sure that we execute innocent people. YES on 62, NO on 66!

65 - Carry-Out Bags Measure from the Plastics Industry - No
67 - Uphold the Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags - Yes
Another one where big business tries to confuse the voter in order to continue screwing up our world. NO on 65, YES on 67!

63 - Firearms, Ammunition Sales – Yes
I own a gun & am in favor of this. Every 4 years I have to pass a background check that says that I’m not a domestic abuser or otherwise legally unable to carry a gun.

64 - Marijuana Legalization - Yes
Way overdue, this taxes pot at both the grower and the retailer levels & allows local cities & counties to further regulate, tax, and/or ban recreational marijuana. It funnels funds into research & is flexible enough to be changed by the legislature when necessary.

52 - State Fees on Hospitals, Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds - Yes
53 - Revenue Bonds Requiring Statewide Voter Approval - No
54 - Legislature and Legislation, Allows Time to Read Bills - Yes
55 - Tax Extension on the Rich, for Education and Healthcare - Yes
56 - Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research - Yes
57 - Sentencing for Non-violent Crimes and Juvenile Criminal Proceedings - Yes
58 - Allows Bilingual Education - Yes
59 - Campaign Finance, Repeal Citizens United - Yes
60 - Adult Films, Condoms - No
61 - State Prescription Drug Purchases, Pricing Standards - Yes

Now to some of the key local campaigns!

First off, there are a host of local cities trying to strengthen or institute rent control for the 1st time in many years. This is a by-product of the awful affordability crisis we’re neck-deep in.

City of Alameda:
Measure L1 - NO
Measure M1 - YES

Measure L1
City Council’s Rent Control Measure- allows “no cause” evictions (evictions of ANY tenant, even if they haven’t done anything to violate their lease), restricts rent increases to 5% annually unless tenant & landlord agree to a higher increase, and- most crucially- can be rescinded by a majority vote of any future City Council.
Measure M1
Alameda Renters Coalition’s Rent Control Measure - forbids “no cause” evictions (so evictions are only for tenants who violate their lease, called “just cause” in other cities), restricts rent increases to Consumer Price Index, & mandates an elected Rent Board. Crucially, it’s a charter amendment, which means that it can only be rescinded by a vote of the people. This is what strong rent control cities like Berkeley have, which has protected it from the whim of elected officials.

City of Richmond:
Measure L - YES
Establishes an appointed Rent Board that will allow annual rent increases at 100% of the Consumer Price Index, establishes a way for tenants & landlords to petition for higher or lower rents, and establishes "just cause" evictions.

City of Oakland:
Oakland Measure JJ - YES
Just Cause Eviction and Rent Law Amendment
Makes Oakland’s rent control system more proactive & expands “just cause” eviction to thousands more units. Instead of the current situation, where a tenant must suspect that s/he is being overcharged, a landlord who wishes to raise rent more than the CPI in a year must request permission to do that from Oakland’s appointed Rent Board.

City of Berkeley:
Measure AA - Berkeley Rent Board Ordinance – YES
We (the Berkeley Rent Board) worked with the Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA) on this measure and the City Council placed it on the ballot on our behalf. It makes landlords who want to move into a unit wait until after the school year if there’s a child currently living there, lessening educational disruption. It also raises the financial assistance landlords have to offer tenants they evict for “no fault” causes from its original 1980s level to levels comparable to other local cities and includes a consumer-price index increase so any future hikes in this amount will follow inflation.

Alameda County:
BART, District 3 - Rebecca Saltzman
BART, District 7 - Lateefah Simon. Don’t vote for Mallett- he’s anti-labor.

County-wide Measures:
A1 - Alameda County Housing Bond – YES! We need affordable housing around the county. In this affordability emergency, please support this!
C1 - A.C. Transit Parcel Tax Extension – Yes
RR - BART Infrastructure Bond – Yes

Now on to Berkeley:

We have Ranked Choice Voting (aka Instant Runoff Voting) for Mayor & City Council races with more than 2 candidates. This means you can rank 1, 2, or 3 choices- you don’t have to fill all 3 slots. It means you can vote both strategically (“lesser evil voting”) AND for who you’d like to see win. Plus, by offering multiple choices to voters up front, it functions as a run-off election without the extra expense & depressed voter turnout of actual run-off elections.

If no one breaks 50% in the 1st round, then the least successful candidate is eliminated and anyone who voted for them 1st has their 2nd choice candidate get their vote. It continues eliminating the least successful candidate until someone gets a majority of votes.

Below I’ve listed my personal ranked choices.

Mayor – #1- Jesse Arreguin #2- Kriss Worthington. Don’t vote for Capitelli.
I’ve worked closely with Arreguin, Capitelli, & Worthington on various legislation. All 3 are intelligent & driven, but while Capitelli is a close ally of outgoing Mayor Bates & the “Bates Machine”, Arreguin has been a pragmatic progressive voice on the Council since replacing the late Dona Spring in 2008. Worthington is a common sense progressive activist who’s weathered a lot of City Council storms over the past 20 years. That said, this race is really between Arreguin & Capitelli, so I’ll concentrate on those 2 in this writeup.

Arreguin recognized the affordable housing crisis as the emergency it has been for the last decade LONG before Mayor Bates & Capitelli. Arreguin’s position (and mine) has been that it is almost criminally negligent that the city’s newest construction has been- for the most part- luxury & market rate housing with mere pittances paid into our affordable housing fund. Instead of maximizing the amount that developers have to pay, Capitelli discounted their fee from $28,000 to $20,000 in order to “encourage” them to build. The Council *just* raised the fee from $20,000 to $34,000 under intense public pressure, but under an Arreguin administration such a discount wouldn’t happen again. Under a Capitelli administration I’m not so sure.

I am 100% positive that Mayor Arreguin will work with the Council & the staff to strongly encourage a mix of various levels of affordable family-sized housing, with market rate being the exception rather than the rule. Considering that even uniformed personnel (police & fire) & Berkeley teachers cannot afford to rent or buy in Berkeley (let alone service workers and minimum wage earners), development must include options for many different economic levels. Berkeley’s African-American
has dropped from 20% to 8% over the past 20 years, while rents have skyrocketed 60% over the past 6 years. A vote for Arreguin is a vote for cultural, community, and economic diversity!

Rent Board – Christina Murphy, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisberg
and Igor Tregub are the CALI SLATE! (Christina-Alejandro-Leah-Igor)
Vote for all 4!
I’m really impressed with Christina Murphy’s drive and activism and Leah Simon-Weisberg’s knowledge & legal expertise and look forward to working with them on the Rent Board. I’ve worked closely with both Alejandro Soto-Vigil (he’s an incumbent) & Igor Tregub (he’s a former Rent Board member) and expect to welcome both back to the Board next month!

There are 2 BPOA-funded candidates running against them- one an incumbent. I urge everyone to vote the CALI slate instead!

City Council, District 3 – #1- Ben Bartlett. Don’t vote for Matthews.

City Council, District 5 – #1- Sophie Hahn. Don’t vote for Murphy.
Both Hahn & Murphy have land use experience, but Hahn is a close ally of Jesse Arreguin and would use her 7 years of Zoning Board experience to augment his efforts to expand affordability for all of Berkeley.

City Council, District 6 – #1- Fred Dodsworth. Don’t vote for Wengraf.

Berkeley Measures:

U1 - Berkeley Rental Unit Business License Tax, City Sponsored - YES!
DD - Berkeley Rental Unit Business License Tax, Big Landlord Initiative – NO!
U1 was put on the ballot UNANIMOUSLY by the Berkeley City Council in order to raise much needed funds for non-profit affordable housing & homeless services. Sensing that they couldn’t win by just opposing U1, the BPOA paid signature gatherers $60,000 to put DD on the ballot to confuse things. If you live in Berkeley, you’ve received many full color mailings from DD. Check out the donors printed at the bottom of each mailing- they’re all huge landlords and their LLCs.

It’s big money trying to muddy the waters. U1 would increase the existing tax on rents less than 2% from the current 1.08%. This sliver of skyrocketing rents that they don’t want to give back to the community would mean between $3 million & $5 million PER YEAR for affordable housing and homeless prevention services with U1. DD only raises the tax 4/10ths of a percent to 1.5% and raises $1.4 million/year.

I could talk a lot about U1 & why it’s good and why DD is bad, but here is a comparison of the 2 measures.
More information here.

W1 - Berkeley Citizens Redistricting Commission – Yes
Depoliticizes the redistricting of City Council districts.

X1 - Berkeley Public Campaign Financing – Yes
This common sense measure will allow candidates with a wide range of support to run and stay competitive with well-off politically-connected insiders. As a candidate who has raised tens of thousands of dollars over 4 campaigns (3 of which were successful), I 100% endorse this. I’d rather be campaigning than fundraising.

BB - Berkeley Minimum Wage - City Sponsored - No
CC - Berkeley Minimum Wage – Labor-backed Citizens’ Initiative – No
After the original version of CC was scuttled in part by Capitelli & the competing BB was placed on the ballot, both sides in the $15/hour minimum wage debate came to an agreement in August that split the difference on when the $15/hour minimum wage goes into effect. The City Council passed an ordinance mandating $15/hour in 2018. BB’s $15 happens in 2019 while CC’s happens in 2017. The 2 campaigns put joint “Please Vote NO on BB & CC” arguments in the ballot book.

E1 - Berkeley Public Schools Educational Excellence Act of 2016 – Yes
T1 - Berkeley Infrastructure and Facilities Bond – Yes
V1 - Berkeley GANN Appropriation Limit Override– Yes
Y1 - Berkeley Youth Voting – Yes
Z1 - Berkeley Low Income Housing Authorization – Yes

Here are some resources that I found very useful in making these recommendations. Dig in and vote smart!
Green Party of Alameda County
East Bay Express
SEIU California