Open Letter on the November 8, 2022 Los Angeles and California General Election

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Dear Friend,

As we approach the upcoming local and state election, the “democracy” we live in is at a crossroads.

The global pandemic has shown that politicians and corporations are unwilling to ensure the safety and well-being of those who do the work. The recent Supreme Court decisions to make abortion illegal, its undermining of voting rights for people of color, and its forthcoming hearing on tribal sovereignty are just some examples of democracy for a few at the expense of the majority.

In response, the reformists are telling us to vote for “good” Democrats. But the Democrats are part of the problem because they are one of the twin parties of Big Business and have no genuine interest in stopping the attacks on working people.

The good news is that workers are fighting back and winning! Workers in the private sector have made incredible strides by creating brand-new unions, such as the ones at Starbucks and Amazon. Each of these unionization drives has inspired the next, as well as workers in other parts of the economy. Mental health care workers at Kaiser started their strike on August 15, and as of this writing, are still fighting to ensure timely care and adequate staffing. Food service workers at the San Francisco airport recently went on strike and won a 29% raise!

California’s “top-2” primary system that prevents third-party candidates from advancing to the state General Election leaves working-class voters with few anti-capitalist choices and often none at all. In this particular statewide election, there are indeed none.

However, residents of the Montebello School District in East Los Angeles can vote for Aaron Reveles for their school board. He is running as an open socialist in this nonpartisan race and has a comprehensive program for education reform. He states: “I am the only Socialist in the race, and the only one proposing large scale reforms that would revolutionize education across the district. As the only activist and organizer, my activism won’t stop if I win. I will continue to fight for the rights of students from my seat as well as in the streets. And if I am to lose, I will only push harder for a socialist future for Californians.” If you live in his district, we recommend a vote for Reveles.

The upcoming election presents us with numerous ballot measures addressing problems we are currently grappling with. Reproductive rights, education funding, homelessness, housing, the environment, gambling laws, park and recreation funding, and increased oversight of the L.A. Sheriff are all on this ballot. However, some of these reforms are coming out of working people’s pockets through increased taxes and giant giveaways to corporations.

We’ve carefully analyzed the ballot measures in Los Angeles and California through the lens of how each proposition impacts working people. Unfortunately, space does not permit us to include every measure.

We have all seen during these pandemic years just how severely dysfunctional the system is. The ballot box can be used to win some limited reforms, or prevent egregious measures, but ultimately working people have to take power in our own interests. In order to make real and lasting change, we need to work for a new society that ensures equality and resources for all. This world is crying to become a socialist world, and how we get there is by joining a revolutionary feminist party that can solve the global environmental, economic, and political problems that are destroying the planet and its inhabitants.

Give me a ring or an email if you want to discuss any of our ballot recommendations. I can be reached at 206-819-8047 or I also invite you to stop by our office at Solidarity Hall or give me a call to discuss how to join the Freedom Socialist Party and get involved.

In solidarity,
Val Carlson, Organizer
Los Angeles Freedom Socialist Party
2122 W. Jefferson Blvd., L.A. 90018

Statewide Ballot Measure Recommendations

PROPOSITION 1: Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom, Legislative Constitutional AmendmentVOTE YES
Prop 1 would establish an explicit constitutional right to reproductive freedom, which is defined to include a right to choose to have an abortion and to choose or refuse contraceptives. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade determined that abortion rights could not be protected by states through using the privacy rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution–thus, the need to explicitly guarantee reproductive rights in the State Constitution.

Proposition 26: In-Person Sports Betting in Tribal Casinos—VOTE YES
Prop 26 would legalize in-person sports betting, roulette, and dice games at tribal casinos, and sports betting at four horse race tracks. It would also authorize private lawsuits to enforce gambling laws. Tribal income would support services to their members. A 10% tax on racetrack profits would go to the state. Opponents say that gambling addiction will increase. However, we support this measure as a matter of tribal sovereignty.

Proposition 27: Online Sports Betting—VOTE NO
Prop 27 would allow vast online sports betting across the state outside Native American tribal lands. Giant out-of-state gambling corporations, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, would receive 90% of the revenue from this measure and only have to pay a 10% tax on net income. After the state covers its regulatory costs, only the remainder of that 10% would go to homelessness and mental health programs. The hype about ending homelessness is a deceptive PR gimmick.

NOTE: Prop 26 and Prop 27 both legalize sports betting in different ways. If both pass, any conflicts between them would be resolved in favor of the provisions in the proposition that received the most yes votes

Proposition 28: Additional Funding for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools—VOTE YES
Prop 28 does not raise taxes but would create a dedicated annual source of funding from the state general fund for arts and music education in K-12 public and charter schools. 80% of the funds would pay for qualified personnel, with the remaining on training, supplies, and materials. A greater proportion of the funds would go to schools serving economically disadvantaged students. This measure requires the use of existing accounts and does not seek funding through a regressive tax or bond measure, although it does help charter schools.

Proposition 29: Kidney Dialysis Clinics—VOTE YES
Prop 29 would require dialysis clinics to have at least one physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant present while patients are being treated; to report on dialysis-related infections; to get state approval before reducing services or closing clinics; and to not discriminate on the basis of payment source. (Medicare payments are lower than those from private insurance.) The campaign ads against the measure, largely funded by the big private clinics, DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, argue that patients will die if the measure passes. Don’t believe the hype. We oppose the profit motive for dialysis treatment and support higher quality healthcare for dialysis patients, especially low-income patients who have limited access. Ultimately, what’s needed is quality socialized healthcare for all.

Proposition 30: Income Tax on Millionaires for Electric Cars—VOTE NO
Prop 30 would increase tax on personal income over $2 million by 1.75% for 20 years. 45% would go to rebates on zero-emission vehicle purchases, 35% for charging stations, and 20% for wildfire prevention and suppression. Lyft, which is the major funder, would greatly benefit in meeting zero-emission vehicle deadlines, and the subsidies could cause higher vehicle prices. While it is tempting to support this tax on the rich, we are concerned about other consequences. The vast expansion of electric vehicles would severely strain our struggling electricity grid, where 61% of our electricity generation comes from fossil fuels and 19% from nuclear energy. Prop 30 focuses on single cars that many poor and working people cannot afford, even with rebates. We should tax the rich for Green public transportation—i.e. a collective and community solution vs. subsidies for individual car ownership. We also criticize the proposition’s loophole that avoids the requirement that a part of any new tax revenue will fund education.

Proposition 31: Ban on Flavored Tobacco—VOTE NO
Prop 31 would decide whether to overturn a 2020 law that bans the sale of candy-flavored tobacco products and menthol cigarettes. A “yes” vote upholds the current ban; a “no” vote would strike it down and allow the sale of flavored tobacco products. Although promoted as a measure to stop underage tobacco use, the 2020 law is merely a prohibition on selling certain tobacco products to adults. It is already illegal in California to sell or give tobacco and vapor products to anyone under the age of 21. Throughout history, prohibition has not worked, with such laws being selectively enforced against people of color and other oppressed groups. More effective health education would better protect children’s health.

Los Angeles City Ballot Initiatives

Measure LH: Authorization for Additional Low-Income Housing—VOTE YES
This measure would authorize public entities in the city to develop, construct, or acquire up to 5,000 additional units of low-income rental housing in each Council District to address homelessness and affordable housing needs. Article 34 in the state Constitution, which was adopted in 1950 amid a racist backlash against public housing, requires that cities get voter approval before they build “low-rent housing” funded with public money. Hopefully, Article 34 will be repealed on the 2024 ballot. In the meantime, measures like this have to be voted on so that desperately-needed, publicly-funded, supportive and low-rent housing can be built.

Measure ULA: Tax on $5 Million House Sales Initiative—VOTE YES
This measure would establish a permanent funding source for affordable housing and tenant assistance programs and create a Citizens Oversight Committee and a Tenant Council. Funds would come from a 4% tax on sale or transfer of real estate properties in Los Angeles valued at more than $5 million and a 5.5% tax on those valued at more than $10 million. 92% of revenue would fund publicly-assisted housing for acutely-low, very-low, and low-income households and fund tenant assistance programs under the Homeless Prevention Program. This is a progressive tax on wealth that could make a small dent in L.A.’s extreme housing shortage and homelessness catastrophe.

Measure SP: Parks and Recreation Parcel Tax—VOTE NO
This measure would authorize an annual parcel tax of $0.084 per square foot on improved real estate parcels to fund parks and recreational facilities. It would cost each property owner thousands of dollars over 30 years. An owner of a 1,500 square foot home would pay an additional $1,893 in just the first 15 years. This measure, rushed through city council by Councilmember Joe Buscaino, appears to be a disguised attempt to tax the people of LA to fund the 2028 Olympics.

Los Angeles County Ballot Initiatives

Measure A: Authority to Remove an Elected Sheriff for Cause—VOTE YES
This charter amendment would give a 4/5 majority of the Board of Supervisors authority to remove a Sheriff from office for cause, including violation of law related to a Sheriff’s duties, neglect of duties, misappropriation of funds, willful falsification of documents, and obstructing an investigation. A 2020 ballot measure gave the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission subpoena power to investigate complaints. But there is no mechanism available to enforce the subpoenas, and the current Sheriff has refused to comply with several of them. While we advocate for much broader civilian control over law enforcement, this is a step in the right direction.

Measure C: Cannabis Tax—VOTE NO
This measure would authorize Los Angeles County to impose a general tax on cannabis business activities within the unincorporated area of the county. Proceeds would go to the general fund. These are high taxes on the square footage of growing space and on gross receipts from all aspects of cannabis business. California’s cannabis industry is in disarray with flawed policies, legal loopholes, and stiff regulations benefitting giant corporations over small growers and businesses. High taxes and resulting higher prices send many buyers to the grey market, where workers are generally treated poorly. They also adversely impact legal shops, where workers have the potential to unionize.

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