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Metro Santa Cruz Endorsements

President of the United States

Bill Clinton's only political challenge comes from the right. Ultimately the Greens would like to change that. But there is a reason that progressives--some holding their noses--have united behind Bubba: The Republican alternative would throw California's 54 electoral votes to a party well-organized by the Ralph Reeds, Newt Gingrichs and Dan Lungrens of the world. Wresting the system away from what Ralph Nader calls "the corporate party with two heads" is noble and idealistic. But, in this election, progressives and moderates would be wiser to keep their eyes on the right-wing tide that has swept both houses of the U.S. Congress and California's state house. A sufficient number of protest votes could at worst contribute to an upset and at minimum strip Clinton of a sizable enough margin to allow him to stand up to extremist detractors and push some reformist initiatives. A close election will continue the status quo and legislative gridlock.

US House of Representatives, District 17

Sam Farr should be returned to Congress. The fax-spewing whirlwind worked hard to stay in touch with his community and gets no complaints from us. Special bonus for dropping by the local Republican Headquarters to say "howdy- do," only to be rebuffed as a subversive spy.

State Senate, District 15

Bruce McPherson is a Republican and a man of integrity whose votes are usually in tune with the needs of district voters. Democrat Rusty Areias carries a lot of questionable baggage, took substantial tobacco and big oil money as an Assemblymember and has shown his true colors by launching a ridiculous attack campaign trying to paint McPherson as an extremist. Our only real concern with McPherson is that the Republicans could control the Senate in 1998. We believe McPherson should make a commitment to vote against Senate Republican leader Rob Hurtt or anyone of his right-wing ilk.

State Assembly, District 27

Fred Keeley may be a politician all the way, but, unlike his opponent, Jim Davis, Keeley has experience and knows how to get things done in Sacramento. We think Keeley will do right by district voters.

County Supervisor, District 2

Paul Elerick supports slow growth and environmental preservation. In a time when chain stores and developments of identical homes and condos sully the landscape, we need supervisors who will be suspicious of large developments.

Santa Cruz City Council

Mike Rotkin proves he has the huevos to confront the downtown situation, presently masquerading as a "human rights" issue. The man's been fighting the good fight long enough to know what's right and fair, not what's politically correct.

Cynthia Mathews has been at the forefront of battles over women's rights, neighborhood and preservation issues for two decades, and her reasonable leadership wins her a nod from Metro Santa Cruz.

Cynthia Beiers has championed environmental concerns for more than 20 years, and her commitment to Greenbelt should return her to office.

Jane Walton appears dedicated to nailing down the Greenbelt and isn't afraid to take an action-oriented approach to downtown woes.

We know only four vacancies exist, but we wish to add a fifth possibility to the hopper:

Michael Hernandez has shown a pro-active approach to downtown problems and aversion to Terrace Point and promises to speak for Eastside Santa Cruz, which has not been fairly represented for years.

Capitola City Council

Tony Gualtieri has got a reputation for integrity and ethics--or, as one Capitola resident says, "he's a 'stand up' guy." Gualtieri also stands strong with his community against the Redtree Properties development along Soquel Creek.

Margaret Fabrizio has steered clear of scandals, seems responsive to the will of the people and keeps sending the Redtree gang back to the drawing boards.

Santa Cruz School Board

Matt Farrell has served on the school board the past four years, and there has been some real progress during his tenure. Santa Cruz High looks less like a war zone and enjoys a new face lift, sports programs got saved and, finally, smaller classes for the wee ones have become the norm. We want to see him keep up the good work.

Santa Cruz County Public Libraries 1/4 Cent Replacement Sales Tax

Vote Yes on Measure B

If you can read this, you can, in large part, thank your library. Let's make sure future generations can say the same.

Safe, Clean, Reliable Water Supply Act

Vote Yes on Proposition 204

This act will provide hundreds of millions of dollars for water habitat restoration in the Bay-Delta and Sacramento Valley, and ensure future water supplies for all Californians, including farmers. Environmentalists are wary of possible breaks for agribusiness, and opponents are right to oppose public subsidies for corporate polluters. Nonetheless, Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club and the California League of Conservation Voters agree that there is little time to hand-wring over who will pay for restoration when endangered species and their habitats hang in the balance. For our children and our children's children, natural resources need protection and rehabilitation efforts--now.

Youthful and Adult Offender Local Facilities Bond Act

Vote No on Proposition 205

Oh joy, just what California needs. Another $700 million bond measure to build youth and adult local facilities (read: jails). The proposition's supporters point toward the already overcrowded lockups that are only getting more packed in the wake of Three Strikes legislation. Supporters claim the majority of criminals serve only a fraction of their jail sentences as a result. But they fail to mention that Proposition 205 covers only the construction of local jails, the vast majority of whose inmates aren't rapists and killers, but drunken drivers, petty thieves and nonviolent drug offenders--hardly the rogue's gallery of hardened predators originally targeted by Three Strikes advocates. And despite the warnings about a new generation of youthful thugs, many of the teens who can't fit into existing facilities have committed the vicious crimes of running away from home or violating curfews.

Veterans' Bond Act

Vote Yes on Proposition 206

This prop allows the Cal-Vet program to continue loaning veterans money to buy homes or farms.

Attorneys Fees, Right to Negotiate, Frivolous Lawsuits

Vote No on Proposition 207

On first read, Proposition 207 looks like an effort by lawyers to stiffen penalties on colleagues who file frivolous lawsuits. It does take a step in this direction. But 207 hides its needle in a haystack: It also makes it nearly impossible for the Legislature to put caps on attorneys' fees. Any such caps would require a vote by the electorate. Draconian caps on attorney fees could indeed reduce consumers' ability to fight back. Trial lawyers are pushing this measure, but there's no legislative effort afoot to cap these fees. The lawyers' lobby already has plenty of power--it doesn't need help from voters.

Campaign Contributions and Spending Limits, Restricts Lobbyists

Vote Yes on Proposition 208

Prop 208 sets voluntary campaign contribution limits, including a ceiling of 25 percent from political parties. There is a cap on the amount of political contributions that can be made by any single donor in one election, and a ban on fundraising in non-election years. Also, a spending limit restricts campaign outlay to no more than $1 per resident of the district. The Achilles heel of 208 lies in its creation of "small contributor committees," groups meant to allow like-minded individuals to act collectively, but likely to be co-opted by many of the same forces the other provisions of the initiative are seeking to rein in. Still, it should stand up in court and that's a good start down that long road toward truly meaningful campaign finance reform.

Prohibition Against Discrimination or Preferential Treatment by State and Other Public Entities

Vote No on Proposition 209

The so-called "California Civil Rights Initiative" makes no specific mention of "affirmative action," but Proposition 209 will undeniably dismantle the efforts of public agencies and schools to diversify their workforces through programs aimed at increasing the pools of qualified women and minority applicants. Quotas are not the issue here; the U.S. Supreme Court ruled them illegal a decade or so ago, except when imposed by courts to correct extreme problems. Californians should ask whether 209 is voter-mandated social policy or election-year politics--i.e., Pete Wilson and the Republicans milking racial tensions for electoral popularity. Given that workplaces and schools don't yet come close to reflecting the diversity of the state, Proposition 209 is the ballot equivalent of a temper tantrum by those lacking both patience and pride.

Minimum-Wage Increase

Vote Yes on Proposition 210

For people who work or have worked for minimum wage, choosing which hole to punch is simple. For the hard-core economists, and those who employ minimum wagers, a battle is forthcoming. A higher minimum wage will most benefit families with the least: low-income and lower middle-class families, especially one-income households, women, and minorities. The top three minimum-wage jobs are retail, grocery and fast food. At the current rate, the multitude of burger-flippers and hourly laborers can compete with inflation. A "yes" vote would push the french-frier rate to $5 an hour on March 1, 1997, and to $5.75 an hour on March 1, 1998. Raising the minimum wage is an effective, popular, easy-to-understand, non-bureaucratic policy to help families. The modest boost will generate concrete income gains for precisely those families who need it most.

Attorney-Client Fee Arrangements, Securities Fraud, Lawsuits

Vote No on Proposition 211

Proposition 211 will make it easier for shareholders to file class-action lawsuits against firms after stock prices drop. Shareholders' lawyers charge that some companies fraudulently inflate their stock prices through earnings projections, product announcements and the like. The suits have had their heaviest impact on the tech industry, with its volatile stocks and optimistic forecasts. Supporters of 211 portray it as a sort of widows-and-orphans protection act, which is silly. Anyone with a grain of sense knows that investing in technology stocks with high upsides is riskier than passbook savings accounts. Stockbrokers and mutual-fund managers who fail to warn their clients of this, incidentally, are unaffected by this proposition. Despite recent changes in federal law, when fraud occurs, shareholders can still sue company officials when they can prove they based investment decisions on bad company-supplied information. Proposition 211 would make it easier for shareholders to recover in those situations. But it ensures that payback in unfair ways. If, for example, company officials are broke, an outside accounting firm could have to pay the full settlement even if it was found to be only 10 percent responsible.

Campaign Contributions and Spending Limits, Repeals Gift and Honoraria Limits, Restricts Lobbyists

Vote No on Proposition 212

Proponents of 212 have railed at great length against the flaws found in Proposition 208. But their own measure contains crucial lapses as well--the most obvious a repeal of the state law that currently restricts gifts and honoraria to elected officials. Assuming that the Legislature would then be honor-bound to enact tougher limits is uncharacteristically wishful thinking. There also is the "poison pill" clause of 212, which says that if both measures pass, but 212 has more votes, "the provisions of this measure shall prevail in their entirety, and the provision of the other measure or measures shall be null and void in their entirety."

Limitation on Recovery to Felons, Uninsured Motorists, Drunk Drivers

Vote No on Proposition 213

On the surface, this proposition--riding the wave of the criminal law reform craze--seems harmless enough. It would make it unlawful to sue for injuries or damages resulting during the commission of a crime, stopping uninsured motorists, drunken drivers and felons from suing because they were hurt when fleeing the scene of a crime. Proponents argue that "illegal behavior should not be rewarded." Opponents, however, point out convincingly that it's a cleverly disguised effort by the insurance industry to slip "no-fault" auto insurance through the back door, since it would prohibit an uninsured driver or DUI felon from suing other drivers for such "non-economic" losses as pain and suffering. The courts already can deny felons the right to recover damages for their crimes.

Health Care, Consumer Protection

Vote No on Proposition 214

Health Care, Consumer Protection, Taxes on Corporate Restructuring

Vote No on Proposition 216

These two propositions were born from essentially the same initiative, an attempt to rein in some of the more egregious excesses of managed care. Both 214 and 216 want to ban financial incentives to doctors who delay or deny medical care, ban treatment denials without a second opinion and prevent gag orders. The more moderate proposition, 214, also would require adequate staffing in hospitals and nursing homes and would prevent HMOs from firing health-care workers without just cause. But 216 wants to go further by creating a consumer watchdog panel, making it easier for patients to sue and even going so far as taxing HMO executives on their stock options gained from successful downsizing efforts. Something needs to stop this stampede toward "cost containment," which has surgically amputated patient care from the Hippocratic Oath. Both of these propositions suffer from nebulous wording, unclear consequences and, with 216, creating a watchdog agency where three already exist. Metro Santa Cruz recommends sending the well-intentioned framers back to the drawing board.

Medical Use of Marijuana

Vote Yes on Proposition 215

Opponents of 215 are probably correct when they say passage of this proposition will make it easier to get marijuana. That's the whole point. With the recommendation of a licensed physician, medical marijuana users will be able to grow a small amount of marijuana on their property. "Growing their own" will save cash-depleted and long-suffering cancer, AIDS and glaucoma patients money and red tape. And patients will be able to self-medicate with less chance of getting arrested and hauled off to jail. A wide spectrum of people, young and old, liberal and conservative, use marijuana for cancer treatments and relief of asthma and pain--with negligible side effects. Current regulations make access to medical marijuana by doctors and patients, even for research, outrageously difficult. Cancer doctors and the California Nurses Association support this measure. Both physicians and their patients should have access to medicine which can help.

Top Income Tax Brackets, Reinstatement, Revenues to Local Agencies

Vote Yes on Proposition 217

The School and Community Investment Initiative, dubbed the "Soak the Rich" Initiative by its critics, would reinstate the 10 percent and 11 percent tax rate on the state's highest-income taxpayers that expired in 1995. Despite noises to the contrary, approximately half the money would go to schools, the other half to local government. Under the measure, an individual would pay 10 percent on taxable earnings between $115,000 and $230,000. Taxable earnings over $230,000 would be taxed at the 11 percent rate. A married couple would trip over the 10 percent line if their taxable income ranged between $230,000 and $460,000. If they exceeded $460,000, they'd pay 11 percent. Although 80 percent of small businesses pay personal taxes rather than corporate taxes, not all calculate their tax liabilities in the top brackets. Only a fraction of small businesses will be hurt by this proposition. But the shoe will come down hard on wealthy individuals. The infusion of new money won't buy us into the middle ranks of the nation's per-pupil spending (we're now in 42nd place), but it will boost the state a notch or two. Schools need all the help they can get.

Voter Approval for Local Government Taxes, Limitations on Fees, Assessments and Charges

Vote No on Proposition 218

Just forget for a moment that Prop 218 will slash more than $100 million a year from fire and police protection, libraries and schools--virtually every local government service, according to the legislative analyst. At first glance, Prop 218 seems to be furthering democracy by requiring a vote for all of these taxes, including the "hidden" ones. In fact, it's a frighteningly anti-democratic measure. Proponents of 218 portray local politicians as devious demons who will find any way to raise money. What they seem to have forgotten is that these are the same people that the voters elected to provide services to fulfill the public's needs. We'd prefer an initiative that prohibited a vote on local tax increases. Prop 218 requires holding an endless series of special elections, costing several million a year. It demands that even public agencies like schools pay property taxes, a seemingly vengeful act by the Jarvis school-haters that will only create more red tape and further impoverish schools.

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From the October 31-November 6, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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