Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oakland: Yes on the Measures; Schaaf (#1) & Quan (#2) for Mayor, Guillen-Dist 4, Roberts-Auditor

I don't get to vote in Oakland, but I wish I did. There's a lot of important issues in play here. Since I don't get to vote, I haven't done quite as much research as one the races I do vote in. With those caveats, here's one big post with all my thoughts on Oakland races:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

EBMUD Ward 3: Marguerite Young

The environmentalists I know are pulling out the stops to get Marguerite Young elected to Ward 3 of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, trying to unseat a 20-year incumbent. I don't get to vote in this district, but some of you do!

BART District 4: Robert Raburn

I am a big fan of Robert Raburn. I was delighted when he ran for and won this seat in 2010 (unseating an incumbent!), and I am delighted to get to vote for him again.

AC Transit At-Large Seat: maybe Dollene Jones, maybe write-in you!

There's no good candidate in this race.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Assembly D-15: Thurmond vs. Echols

Tony Thurmond and Elizabeth Echols appear to agree on just about everything, except which of them should represent District 15 in the Assembly. You'll have to read to the end to see how I come down.

Torn on Prop 1, with conflicting advice from water experts

California has a serious drought. This measure claims it will fix it -- evening out the wet & dry years, as Governor Brown's TV ads say. I'm worried about the drought, and believe it will only get worse as climate change's impacts get worse. So this is a slam dunk, right?

Wrong. This is the toughest decision among the propositions this year. Prop 1 is a big ($7.5 billion) water bond, negotiated over the past several years (decades?) among a WIDE variety of interests. That means it is necessarily a big compromise. And as opponents are becoming fond of saying, "Pouring concrete won't make it rain."Prop 1 has some things I probably wouldn't like, some I definitely do, and my trusted advisors are split.  Read on for (much) more detail ...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

YES on 48: Indian Gaming Compacts

This is a referendum. In 2013, the legislature approved gaming compacts between the state and two tribes: the Wiyot Tribe and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians. These compacts were negotiated based on existing (and voter-approved) rules about how tribes can go about setting up tribal casinos.

YES YES YES on 47 for Sensible Criminal Justice Reform

This is a sensible criminal justice reform. And my friend Nathan put it really well ...

No on 46: Drug-Testing of Doctors, Medical Malpractice, & Prescription Database

Prop 46 tries to do too many things.

Yes on 45 to Regulate Health Insurance Rates

My friend Nathan writes "In 36 out of 50 states, the state has the authority to control health insurance rates.  This sensible proposition would add California to that list." Currently, California's regulators can review rates but cannot do anything about unreasonable rates. A little regulation may help.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yes on 2 for a reasonable rainy day fund

Prop 2 is a state constitutional amendment that would set new rules for how the state must save money to even out fluctuations in the state budget. It changes rules set by Prop 58 from 2004 (Schwarzenegger's rainy day fund & budget rules), which was also a constitutional amendment. Since any change to the rainy day fund has to be a constitutional amendment, my normal objections to them don't apply.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Berkeley Measures Nov 2014

As usual, Berkeley has a bunch of measures. I wrote up two of them separately (YES on D! NO on R!), but the others are here:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

YES YES YES on D: Berkeley vs Big Soda

This one is pretty simple: sugary drinks are bad for us. They cause major health problems, particularly to kids: diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease.

Putting a tax on the distribution of sugary drinks will make them a little more expensive, so we'll buy less of them. That will make us healthier, because we'll probably drink healthier things instead.

Plus, the city will have some money it can use for good things. And they'll have a panel of experts to advise the city on how to establish and/or fund programs to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks.

Oh, and the Big Soda companies will have a little less money. That's good, because they currently spend millions on marketing those sugary drinks to our kids.

It really is that simple.

YES YES YES on Alameda Measure BB: Crucial Transit Improvements

I support Measure BB because it would fund several vital improvements: restore cut bus service, start a new youth bus pass program, repair potholes, and make unprecedented investments for pedestrian and bicycle safety and infrastructure and for transit-oriented development. Yes, there are some concerns (particularly one project I don't support), but I think they pale in comparison to the good that can be achieved -- on balance, we'll all be much better off with Measure BB than without it. Yes, it is a sales tax, but the benefits will be used very progressively.

In my work life at TransForm, I worked hard to get this to be a good plan when it first went on the ballot in 2012 -- and lost by just 700 votes. For a longer explanation of why BB is a good idea, see the Yes on BB post I wrote for TransForm back in June.

This year, we got some improvements and gathered support from a much wider range of groups, including the Sierra Club and League of Women Voters, both of whom were neutral in 2012, but who now say YES on BB. There's also endorsements from lots of other groups I trust (Bike East Bay, formerly East Bay Bicycle Coalition), faith-based groups (Genesis), organized labor, United Seniors, and lots more.

If you're really cool, you can volunteer to help the campaign -- via Bike East Bay or the official Yes on BB campaign.

And if you're thinking of voting no, please post a comment or contact me directly!! Give me a chance to change your mind :-)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

NO NO NO on R: Protect Berkeley's Downtown Plan

I wrote the following blog post for TransForm, the organization I work for, to explain why Measure R would be bad for Berkeley:
Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan was finalized in 2012 thanks to years of meaningful public input and support. But this Plan is being threatened by a new initiative that would undo several parts of the existing plan, making Berkeley more expensive, more car-dependent, and more polluted as a result. This is why TransForm is opposing Berkeley Measure R, officially titled the “Initiative Ordinance Amending Downtown Zoning Provisions and Creating Civic Center Historic District Overlay Zone” and slated for this November's ballot.While some elements of this initiative may be well-intentioned, the negative impacts would far outweigh the positive. TransForm believes that if passed, Measure R would hurt downtown Berkeley in many ways, including: 
  • Creating more traffic: Measure R would significantly increase how much parking is built in downtown Berkeley and even make zero-parking projects illegal. More parking will create more traffic and make walking, biking, and transit less useful and convenient.
  • Reducing affordability: Measure R would reduce the housing capacity of downtown by about 1300 homes, driving up rent in desirable areas as fewer people could live and work in downtown Berkeley.
  • Increasing greenhouse gas emissions: by our conservative calculations, Measure R could result in over two million additional vehicle miles travelled per year by commuters who work in Berkeley but can’t live there. This equates to at least 1,588,733 pounds of extra CO2 per year. 
  • Subverting public participation in planning: the existing Downtown Area Plan (DAP) was painstakingly and carefully crafted over the course of 6+ years and more than 200 public meetings. By contrast, Measure R was written by a few individuals and would dramatically reverse much of the DAP.
  • Wasting time and money: Measure R has several elements that are either illegal or unenforceable. The legal wrangling that would have to go into implementing them is a waste of the city’s already limited resources.
On a personal note: I moved to Berkeley nineteen years ago, and now live just west of downtown. My mom lives downtown. My kids go to Berkeley schools. I have a deep personal interest in what happens in downtown Berkeley. I would be dismayed if this measure passed because it would hurt my family’s quality of life.TransForm encourages Berkeley voters to oppose Measure R on the November ballot. Read TransForm’s full analysis of Berkeley Measure R here.