VC Reporter Endorsements

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Tis the season to vote

Along with every election season comes its fair share of
controversy. This is the time where everyone seems to be seeing only in
colors of red and blue, and one’s political colleague becomes his or
her foe. This election is no different.

Partisan infighting seemed to be the name of the game this time
around. Republicans Geoff Dean and Dennis Carpenter divided their
department in the race for sheriff. In the primary race for 35th
Assembly district, the battle ensued between Democrats Das Williams and
Susan Jordan over offshore oil drilling. In the race for the
nonpartisan Ventura County district 2 Supervisor seat, the Ventura
County Republican Party did a smear campaign on moderate Republican
incumbent Linda Parks.

The propositions on the state ballot also had some major issues.
Whether corporate sponsored or well intentioned to create  balance in
our electoral system, the proof is in the fine print. We encourage
readers to look past the propaganda and see what is really in store.

Doing these endorsements, for the most part, was no easy task. We
know there are some good people running in various races. We also know
that the some propositions, pass or fail, may backfire when it comes to
progressive change. Overall, the decisions made to endorse or not to,
came with much thought and debate, with the hopes that our endorsements
would lead to the sort of leadership we need in our community and the
kind of change we need in our state. Don’t forget to vote June 8.

Proposition 13: Limits on property tax assessment

In 1978, 65 percent of registered voters in California passed the
People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation, which lowered property
taxes by rolling back property values to their 1975 value and limited
annual increases in assessed value of real property to an inflation
factor, not to exceed 2 percent per year. It also prohibited
reassessment of a new base-year value except upon change in ownership
or completion of new construction. However, the proposition did not
stipulate that government-mandated improvements, which automatically
increased property values, would not equal higher taxes.

Proposition 13 is on the ballot again to set the record straight.
While Prop. 13 is still in full effect, this additional language closes
the loophole to prevent policymakers and tax collectors from gouging
property owners with higher reassessed values because of such
improvements, specifically seismic retrofitting. This one’s easy. It’s
just semantics.

Vote yes on Proposition 13.

Proposition 14: Increases right to participate in primary elections

On paper, Proposition 14 looks good — and we don’t just mean in the
simplified, more streamlined way candidates running for public office
would appear on voter ballots. Developing a primary system that cuts to
the chase and allows residents of any party affiliation to vote for
whomever they want, gives people more choice in who they nominate.

The system proposed by Prop. 14 calls for the top two vote getters
in a primary election to be placed on general ballots, regardless of
their party affiliation.

But there are too many side effects to Prop. 14 for us to endorse
it, not the least of which is an exclusion of political parties from
the electoral process.

We’re all for nonpartisan campaigns, but in a primary election,
Democrats need to stand behind Democrats, Republicans behind
Republicans, and so forth, to guarantee that the chosen candidate for a
particular party gets a spot on a general election ballot. Sometimes,
tradition is good, and we mean in the tried-and-true sense.

With Prop. 14, the top two vote getters nominated in a primary could
be from the same party, excluding other party nominees and their
viewpoints. Come November, Democrats, Independents and so forth may not
show up to the polls because nobody from their party made the final

During primary election season, Democrats and Republicans need to
stand firm on important issues relevant to their parties’ philosophies.
But with Prop. 14, party lines will become blurred on the campaign
trail. Politicians will begin assuming moderate voices and flip-flop
tactics to appease all sides.

Other parties that hardly ever gain traction on general ballots,
such as the Independent and Green parties, could be left out altogether
if they can’t make it through primaries.

At best, the “open primary” system becomes a convoluted mess of
candidates who differ in no way. At worst, we’ll see the dissolution of
political parties. While the state, or the country, for that matter,
may be a better place without partisan lines, people are creatures of
habit, and we don’t believe the majority of the voting public is ready
to set aside its political parties.

It’s no surprise why Democratic and Republican central committees,
on this rare occasion, are both against Prop. 14, which is a bad idea
all around for politicians, political parties and voters with a voice.

Vote no on Prop. 14.

Proposition 15: California Fair Elections Act

One of the good things about pilot programs is that they’re
experimental; they can be canceled if they’re not working out. It’s
even better when the program puts to the test public financing for
political campaigns obviously meant to be public.

That’s why Proposition 15 works: it would temporarily raise lobbyist
fees (from $12.50 to $350) during the next two races for secretary of
state. Judging by the overall success of the program, and how much
money is raised, those funds could eventually be used to finance
campaigns for offices statewide.

Politics is already marred by private special interest money, and
Prop. 15 targets lobbyists that control that money.

Testing the waters of public financing gives more people with no
corporate financing the chance to run for public office with public
funds to stand on. It’s not called the Fair Elections Act for nothing.

Vote yes on Prop. 15.

Proposition 16: “The PG&E initiative”

Even though Pacific Gas and Electric doesn’t serve Ventura County,
we still encourage our readers to vote down Proposition 16, a
manipulative ballot measure that could ultimately, over time, allow
PG&E to set up shop statewide and monopolize the energy market.

Supporters of Prop. 16 would like us to believe the “Taxpayers Right
to Vote” means just that — that the passage of Prop. 16 empowers
residents to vote for the formation of their own community choice
aggregators (CCA, or independent electrical service providers). Sounds
like an easy, neat idea until considering that the two-thirds vote
needed to start a CCA is downright impossible to obtain electorally.

Of course, PG&E has spent $43 million to ensure burial of this
piece of information in the spin of its campaign, because it believes
Ventura County voters are gullible enough to pass Prop. 16 with a
simple majority without reading the fine print.

The “Taxpayers’ Right to be Conned and Manipulated” is a better
title for Prop. 16 because it tries to fool ecologically aware
residents, who care about SOAR initiatives, greenbelts, open space,
less oil drilling and more energy efficiency, into handing over power
to a major conglomerate. And that’s where Prop. 16 works at its basest
level — by trying to convince voters that it’s a ballot measure with
the best environmental interests in mind.

Vote no on Prop. 16.

Proposition 17: Reward/penalty for history of continuous insurance

Proposition 17 is like the sibling of Proposition 16 because it
tries to confuse voters — in this case, motorists — into thinking that
the millions of dollars spent by the measure’s main bigwig corporate
sponsor is all in the spirit of saving consumers some of their own
hard-earned money.

Prop. 17 seems attractive on the surface, tempting motorists with
the idea that they can switch to another auto insurance carrier and
still maintain their “persistency discount” for being a longtime

The main benefit, they say? With Prop. 17, people can seek out
cheaper insurance rates elsewhere and still have their persistency
discount. But enormous surcharges — up to $1,000 per motorist — that
companies like Mercury Insurance, its primary sponsor, and others would
be allowed to hand down to their customers through Prop. 17, cancel
out its perceived benefits.

Those opposed to Prop. 17, including groups like Consumer Watchdog,
project that the surcharges will leave more motorists, especially
low-income residents, driving on the road uninsured. No $250 courtesy
discount can compensate for that. The measure is a metaphorical lemon
with a flat tire on ballots next week.

Vote no on Prop. 17.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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