Open Letter on the November 6 California General Election – Los Angeles

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Dear Friend,

The midterm elections are taking place as we continue to see the dire effects of the Trump presidency, supported by a Congress and judiciary that are equally against the working-class majority, especially its most vulnerable members. Once again, we also see the limitations of voting under a two-party system in which both the Democrats and Republicans are creatures of capitalism beholden to their corporate sponsors. Nevertheless, the elections give Californians the opportunity to stave off a few attacks and support a couple of positive measures that could help to stem the reactionary tide.

Nationally, the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings exposed the sexism that is absolutely baked into the capitalist system, while the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling further weakens the labor movement’s power. Business makes scandalous profits while food and gas prices rise, housing becomes scarcer, and good jobs disappear. In Los Angeles, the homelessness crisis worsens, and working families and people of color are pushed out, while luxury hotels, condos and business developments are welcomed with open arms.

But there’s plenty to be optimistic about. Working people are fighting for the change they wish to see in the world.

During the Kavanaugh hearings, outraged women and their supporters took to the streets and shook the elite old boy’s network to its rotten core. (Meanwhile, the Democrats tut-tutted over Kavanaugh’s misogyny but refused to mount a political challenge to his whole reactionary agenda.) Masses of protesters shut down the white supremacists in Washington, D.C., and held sit-ins to stop ICE raids and detentions. Last spring’s wildcat strike by West Virginia teachers encouraged others to take to the picket line.  Today, United Teachers of Los Angeles stands on the verge of a strike demanding not only well-deserved raises, but smaller classes, more nurses, librarians, counselors, social workers and psychologists, and teacher control over how many and which standardized tests their students take. Unions representing Disney workers recently won minimum wages starting at $15 per hour.

The resistance is brewing!

Unfortunately, the electoral process itself stifles real voices for workers, as only the top two primary candidates, those with the largest campaign war chests, appear on the ballot for the general election. That’s why we also see no anti-capitalist candidates on the ballot for statewide office that we can recommend.

Please see our voting recommendations below. If you would like to discuss any of our positions, or you want to get involved in building a movement that can truly take power for working people and bring about socialism, please contact me (323-732-6416, fspla@earthlink.net) or visit our organizing center at 2122 W. Jefferson Blvd. in Los Angeles.

In solidarity,

Karla Alegria
Los Angeles FSP Organizer

Freedom Socialist Party Voting Recommendations

Statewide Ballot Measures

NO to bonds for funding necessities. NO to pitting needed services against each other.

Propositions 1, 3 and 4 are general obligation bonds. These bonds place new burdens on taxpayers to fund projects that the general fund should already be paying for. California is the fifth largest economy in the world and can afford to pay for these necessities. Instead of taxing the poor and working class, make the corporations pay.

Proposition 1 (Bond to provide veterans’ housing)—Vote NO
Proposition 1 says it aims to help veterans and some farmworkers by funding $4 billion for housing and “housing-related” programs, an important goal. But it will end up costing nearly $6 billion in tax dollars to pay this money back, with a large portion going to pay private developers and banks who’ll profit from the construction and/or sale of these projects.

Proposition 2 (Uses Mental Health Services Act revenue for housing)—Vote NO
This measure allows the state to issue bonds in the amount of $2 billion. But the funds will be paid back with money previously authorized by voters in 2004 for mental health services. It will end up costing nearly $6 billion to pay off! While the mentally ill need housing, this cynically pits housing against mental health services, and steals voter-approved funds to move them from one pot to another. We agree with those from the National Alliance on Mental Illness in opposing Prop 2!

Proposition 3 (Bond for water pipelines and watershed conservation)—Vote NO
This initiative authorizes $8.87 billion in spending on water pipelines and basic environmental conservation. With interest, the cost would be more like $17 billion! Benefitting are the banks that loan the money. Water pipelines and basic environmental plans should be maintained without going into debt. Along with the Sierra Club and Friends of the River, we encourage a NO vote.

Proposition 4 (Bonds for children’s hospitals)—Vote NO
This proposition would allocate $1.5 billion for construction and expansion of several children’s hospitals in the state. We need decent hospitals and children deserve the highest standard of care. The state could reallocate some of the $10 billion per year from the California Department of Corrections for this.  Universal quality healthcare for all is desperately needed, provided by publicly owned medical centers and hospitals, paid for by corporate taxes. We agree with the League of Women Voters of California and recommend a NO vote!

Proposition 5 (Allows some homeowners to move to a new dwelling without facing increased property taxes)—Vote YES
Currently homeowners pay property taxes based on the purchase sale price of their dwellings. The assessed value is adjusted upward for inflation, up to 2% per year. Because of the huge increase in real estate prices over the past 20-30 years, many homeowners’ taxes are based on assessed values far below market rate. Should these people sell their homes and move, they easily face property taxes that are many times greater. Proposition 5 allows Californians to take their prior home’s tax assessment with them to any county in the state if they are over 55, have a disability, or are replacing property damaged by natural disaster or contamination. Currently, only ten counties allow such homeowners to bring in their taxable values from dwellings sold in other parts of the state. No working-class homeowner should be prevented from moving or penalized for the housing hyperinflation resulting from gentrification and out-of-control real estate speculation. This measure addresses some of those most in need; therefore, we support it.

Proposition 6 (Eliminates fuel and vehicle taxes passed since January 1, 2017 and requires voter approval for any future fuel and vehicle taxes/fees)—Vote YES
Since January of last year, working folks have been hit with higher gasoline taxes and vehicle licensing fees to pay for highway and road maintenance and programs like mass transit. These are the most regressive of taxes that disproportionately affect low income people who depend on cars to get to work. Corporations that rely on the transportation infrastructure to ship goods and bring in employees should pay for it through taxes. For example, a severance tax on oil and fossil fuel extraction should be levied on companies like Chevron, but California is the only state in the U.S. without such an assessment.

While we are for rolling back regressive taxes on drivers, we are critical of this measure’s requirement that voters approve any future fuel taxes or vehicle fees. This could open the door to having voters approve all taxes, with corporations spending obscene amounts to stop taxes they oppose.

Proposition 8 (Limits amounts kidney dialysis clinics charge for treatment)—Vote YES
Most people with kidney failure depend on dialysis clinics for multiple weekly treatments to stay alive. Most outpatient facilities are privately-run and for-profit enterprises that can charge insurance companies several times the cost of care. Proposition 8 limits charges to 15% over the cost of treatments. This is a step in the right direction to stop brazen profiteering. Together with the Service Employees International Union and the California Public Employees Retirement System we urge a YES vote.

Proposition 10 (Allows local governments to enact strict rent control by repealing restrictions)—Vote YES!!
In California’s hyperinflated housing market, many working people are forced to pay more than half of their income in rent, putting them on the brink of homelessness. Strong rent control laws are needed to make housing truly affordable. However, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prevents cities and municipalities from enacting real rent control that covers all housing. Prop. 10 repeals Costa-Hawkins to allow local governments to enact rent control and limit rent increases. This measure will provide relief to millions who live paycheck to paycheck.

Housing is a right and should not be a profit-making venture. The government needs to build and operate high-quality public dwellings to ensure that everyone has a place to call home. Along with the California Nurses Association; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; AIDS Healthcare Foundation; and San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, we wholeheartedly encourage you to vote YES!

Proposition 11 (Requires ambulance employees who work for private companies to remain on call during breaks—Vote NO
This measure will require private sector ambulance employees, who are entitled to breaks by current state law, to remain on call during rest times! This allows companies to hire smaller staffs and maximize their profits. Publicly run ambulance services should be an integral part of a universal healthcare system. We join the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Labor in recommending a NO vote on Proposition 11.

Proposition 12 (Minimum requirements for confining farm animals)—Vote YES)
This measure would create specific rules about the size of crates for pregnant pigs, egg-laying hens, and veal cows. It bans the sale of eggs and meat from egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal that are confined in small areas, whether produced within California or other states. Proponents say it would improve conditions for the animals and reduce the risks of food poisoning and farm pollution. Opponents say it doesn’t go far enough to protect animals, will raise food prices, and may not be enforceable against out-of-state farmers. We support this measure as it puts some limits on capitalism’s profit-driven abuse of animals.

City of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles Measure B (City Charter amendment to allow the City to establish a municipal financial institution or bank)Vote YES
This measure would enable the City of Los Angeles to amend the city charter and lift one of the barriers to creating a bank for the people. A public bank could save 50% on interest and fees that currently go the Wall Street banks for public projects and investments. Student loans could be offered at no or little interest. The bank could insure that management of the money would be transparent, and taxpayer dollars would not be invested in fossil fuels, private prisons, immigration detention camps or destructive industries. North Dakota has a public bank that has been highly successful.

Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County Measure W (New tax on property owners to fund the capture of more rain/storm water)—Vote NO
This new property tax would raise $300 million a year indefinitely to be used for as yet unspecified projects to capture and store runoff water, increase drinking water supplies, and prepare for future droughts. Low income seniors would be exempted, but every other homeowner and business would be taxed at $.025 per square foot of their property that cannot absorb rainwater or runoff (roofs, driveways, patios, parking spaces, etc.). This tax, like other voter-approved taxes would be charged in addition to the annual tax increases allowed under Proposition 13. The county already collects property taxes for flood control and should use that and other money they already have instead of further burdening beleaguered taxpayers.

SUMMARY

Statewide Ballot Measures 

Proposition 1       Vote NO

Proposition 2       Vote NO

Proposition 3       Vote NO

Proposition 4       Vote NO

Proposition 5       Vote YES

Proposition 6       Vote YES

Proposition 8       Vote YES

Proposition 10     Vote YES

Proposition 11     Vote NO

Proposition 12     Vote YES

Los Angeles Ballot Measures

City Measure B         Vote YES

County Measure W   Vote NO

 

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