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As Election Day looms, less than one week away, there are 10 measures on the ballot for the City of Los Angeles, not including West Hollywood’s controversial Measure A that would grant anyone the right to put up a tall wall billboard.
A high profile issue is Measure L, which will benefit libraries by calling for an increase to amount the city is required to dedicate annually from its general fund to the library department. Incumbent candidate Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District, is a “big yes” on L.
“L is for libraries and LaBonge,” the councilmember said.
Both Tomas O’Grady and Stephen Box, each running to represent the 4th District, support L as well, as does Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Controller Wendy Greuel, all 15 councilmembers, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, and former mayor Richard Riordan.
Authored by Councilmember Bernard Parks, 8th District, Measure L seeks to change the city charter to guarantee the library department a higher percentage of property tax revenue, reversing the devastating cuts of recent years and restoring library hours and days of operation to seven days a week.
“Libraries democratize access to information, allowing all residents, no matter what their age, where they live, or how much money they make an equal opportunity to learn and enrich their education,“ Parks said. “Our libraries today are much more than a place to check out books, they run afterschool programs, provide meeting space for community groups and allow thousands access to the global resources of the Internet.”
Proposition M seeks to impose a tax on marijuana collectives of $50 per $1,000 of gross receipts. Proposition M is opposed by LaBonge, O’Grady and Box.
“Let us decide once and for all, are these clinics serving folks needing medicine, and if so, then why would we tax them?” O’Grady said. “If it’s something else, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, that’s an insult to the people that need help.”
“This is a cry for litigation,” Box said. “We cannot come up with a better way to keep the city attorney busy.”
“We don’t tax medicine,” LaBonge said.
Charter Amendment G deals with the fire and police pension plans. It provides sworn fire, police, and harbor department employees, who are hired on or after July 1, 2011, the pension benefits provided in the fire and police pension plan Tier 6. It also modifies provisions of the pension plans in order to facilitate compliance with state and federal laws.
Box, LaBonge and O’Grady support Amendment G.
“It’s taking a step in the right direction to sustain a pension,” O’Grady said.
Although in favor of Measure G, but not a huge fan, Box pointed out that the city is in the middle of a hiring freeze.
“It’s immediate impact will be felt five years from now,” Box said. “It has an impact on people we’re not hiring.”
Amendment H calls for campaign and fundraising restrictions. It limits campaign contributions and fundraising by bidders on certain city contracts, requiring increased disclosure for bidders, and provides for bans on future contracts for violators.
O’Grady endorses Amendment H and stresses that the current method of running for election, if you are not the incumbent, is unfair.
“I resent that somebody bidding on something for the city can bid and be looked at fairly,” O’Grady said. “Lets bring honesty back to politics. It will be an honor some day to compete with someone on a level playing field.”
LaBonge and Box are also in favor of Amendment H.
“When I declared my candidacy, I challenged the other candidates to participate in voluntary campaign reform,” Box said. “Of course I didn’t hear back from anyone. I’m abiding by good principals already but elections should be funded by real people.”
Measure I establishes an office of public accountability for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) overseen by an executive director appointed by a citizens committee and confirmed by the council and mayor for a five-year term to provide public independent analysis of department actions as they relate to water and electricity rates.
Box, LaBonge and O’Grady are in favor of Measure I.
Measure J also deals with the DWP and would require the department to submit to the city council by March 31 each year a preliminary budget for the ensuing fiscal year, which runs July 1 through June 30.
Amendment N seeks to revoke two unconstitutional city charter provisions on campaign finance, both of which were invalidated by recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The Los Angeles Times referred to N as “N-for-No-good-reason,” “because it’s hard to justify this measure being on the ballot.”
However, Box, LaBonge and O’Grady support Amendment N.
Proposition O seeks to impose a tax on oil producing businesses of $1.44 per barrel of oil produced in the City of Los Angeles. City officials estimate it would raise $4 million from local producers.
Box, LaBonge and O’Grady support the proposition.
Box pointed out that Proposition O only raises taxes on oil producers by 1.8 percent, while Proposition M seeks to levy a five percent tax on marijuana collectives.
“While we’re trying to balance the budget on the backs of the people that live here, an industry that is experiencing record-breaking profits has been ignored,” Box said. “This is a minimum and fair amount for oil companies to pay.”
Amendment P seeks to establish an emergency account within the city’s reserve fund to be accessed only if the city council determines by a two-thirds vote that there is an urgent economic necessity. The money, if used, will have to be replenished in the subsequent fiscal year except in the event of a catastrophe.
“We should be saving for a rainy day,” O’Grady said about Amendment P.
Box and LaBonge are also in favor of Amendment P.
“It ensures budgetary responsibility,” Box said. “The city council is once again leaving it to the people to make good policies.”
Amendment Q is a housekeeping measure supported by Box and LaBonge and opposed by O’Grady. It seeks to (1) expand the automatic civil service exemptions to include Deputy Chiefs of Fire; (2) limit the number of qualified applicants testing for civil service positions to an adequate number to prevent examinations of unnecessarily large candidate pools; (3) eliminate the requirement for certifying all eligible candidates for appointment to a civil service position when the candidates’ scores are not reachable or when no hiring is taking place; (4) clarify and standardize the probationary period for police officers to accurately reflect its application to sworn officers from the Airport, Harbor and General Services Departments; (5) increase the length of emergency appointments to no longer than one year; and (6) extend the amount of time retirees may work from 90 to 120 days without increasing pension benefits.
“This is a cry for help and makes me wonder shouldn’t we go through this process at city hall.”
“This would eliminate charter provisions that would be open to all qualified candidates,” O’Grady said.
In West Hollywood, Measure A would allow anyone to put up outdoor advertising known as tall walls without city approval.
The billboard tax in Measure A is illegal under California law,” Councilmember Jeffrey Prang said. “Even the measure’s author knows that the tax will never be implemented. Measure A takes away the city’s ability to regulate supergraphic tall walls before they get final permits. This means that no one is checking to see if they are safe, built correctly or not lit so brightly that they will endanger drivers and glare into your homes and businesses.”
Those opposed to Measure A include the West Hollywood Democratic Club, the Log Cabin Republican Club, the three incumbent Councilmembers running for re-election, as well as Congressman Henry Waxman and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District.
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