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Times Endorsements

Here are Times recommendations in statewide and some local contests in Tuesday’s general election.

Statewide Offices

Governor: Gray Davis. A moderate, temperate leader, Davis has the ability to forge solutions to major state problems by building consensus. California is wearied by eight years of confrontation and warfare with the Legislature, and of keeping score of political wins and losses. Republican Dan Lungren would be likely to keep California mired in that divisiveness. Democrat Davis offers the best hope of returning the state to the path of excellence it once followed.

Senator: Matt Fong. Sen. Barbara Boxer has been a staunch defender of the handful of issues that drive her, but California needs a senator who can forge new alliances, nationally and internationally, to benefit the state. GOP challenger Fong isn’t yet that leader, but he has the potential to be.

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Lieutenant Governor: Cruz Bustamante. Bustamante developed a reputation as a moderate consensus-builder as the speaker of the Assembly during 1997 and early 1998. His quiet style is what California needs.

Secretary of State: Bill Jones. Jones has devoted much of his tenure to pursuit of voter fraud and cleaning up the state’s voter rolls. He deserves a second term.

State Controller: Kathleen Connell. Connell’s fruitful audits of state agencies have disclosed waste and inefficiencies. Republican challenger Ruben Barrales is moderate, smart and personable, but Connell has earned a second term.

Treasurer: Phil Angelides. Angelides’ platform, favoring capital investment, within strict limits, in the states’ roads, bridges, schools and other infrastructure elements, is more thoughtful and beneficial than that of his GOP opponent, Curt Pringle.

Attorney General: Bill Lockyer. Democrat Lockyer has a strong record on anti-crime measures during his 25 years in the Legislature, including efforts to strengthen the ban on assault weapons. GOP nominee Dave Stirling opposes the ban, which puts him out of touch with most Californians.

Insurance Commissioner: No endorsement. Incumbent Republican Chuck Quackenbush has been too cozy with the insurance industry, and no real champion of consumers. But his Democratic challenger, Assemblywoman Diane Martinez, lacks the temperament and experience for the job.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Delaine Eastin. Incumbent Eastin has been an advocate of better education, though she was hobbled by political splits with Gov. Pete Wilson. We expect her to show solid progress in improving schools statewide during a second term.

Statewide Propositions

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Proposition 1A: Class-size reduction, state school bonds. Yes. This $9.2-billion measure provides funds to improve California schools from kindergarten through college. The bond would replenish state matching funds for building and expanding local schools; long-delayed repairs could be made.

Proposition 1: Property taxes, contaminated property. Yes. A small adjustment of the Proposition 13 rules would let owners clean up contaminated property or buildings without triggering a property tax increase.

Proposition 2: Transportation funding. Yes. Ensures that money borrowed from state transportation funds for other state uses is repaid promptly.

Proposition 3: Partisan presidential primary elections. Yes. Courts have held that parties are entitled to allow only their members to choose delegates for their national presidential nominating conventions. Under this measure, voters could still cast ballots for other candidates in open primaries.

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Proposition 4: Animal trapping. No. The obvious emotional appeal of this ban on certain traps and animal poisons doesn’t outweigh the fact that it should be handled in the Legislature, not by ballot.

Proposition 5: Tribal gaming and casinos. Yes. This fight between California Indian tribes and Nevada gambling interests should go to the tribes, as a matter of competitive equity.

Proposition 6: Prohibition of slaughter of horses, sale of horse meat. No. Another sympathy-drawing measure, impossible to enforce. Should not be on the ballot.

Proposition 7: Air quality, diesel vehicles. No. This initiative offers tax credits for engine cleanups. The idea has merit, but it represents an unjustifiably large benefit to the trucking industry at taxpayer expense.

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Proposition 8: Public schools, class-size reduction. No. The title is similar to Proposition 1A’s, but unlike the school bond this is a mishmash of unrelated, often redundant and sometimes harmful measures.

Proposition 9: Electric utility assessments, bonds. No. This attempts to undo part of the legislation that deregulated the electric power industry. Proponents argue that consumers got a raw deal, but the law was a balancing of many interests and the initiative process is the wrong way to modify it.

Proposition 10: State/county early childhood development, tobacco tax. Yes. California children are in dire need of expert assistance to get on the path to learning. This measure would help parents and caregivers provide it through a 50-cent tax on cigarettes.

Proposition 11: Municipal revenue sharing. Yes. Allows cities to share revenues, rather than fight over retail taxes. A good public policy.

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Courts

State justices: Yes to all. Justices of the California Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are subject to periodic confirmation by a simple majority of voters. They appear unopposed on the ballot; voters are asked only whether the judge should be retained for another term of up to 12 years. Each of the four Supreme Court justices and the 21 Court of Appeals justices on ballots in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties has more than met the criteria of competence for retention.

Sheriff

L.A. County Sheriff: No endorsement. Sheriff Sherman Block, who should never have run for a fifth term, has died at age 74. That leaves the erratic Lee Baca, whom The Times cannot recommend.

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L.A. City Measures

Proposition CC: Zoo bond. Yes. The L.A. Zoo has high educational and recreational value, attracting about 400,000 schoolchildren every year. Proposition CC, at a yearly cost of $1.89 per homeowner, would finance one-third of a full renovation.

Proposition DD: Branch libraries bond. Yes. Use of branch libraries has exploded and Proposition DD would, at an average annual cost of $7.06 per homeowner, fund improvement, construction or rehabilitation of 32 branches.

Proposition EE: Exposition Park bond. Yes. This big public park, museum and swim complex south of USC is a citywide resource dating to 1913 and home of the new California Science Center. This bond, costing $1.85 a year per homeowner, would be used for needed renovation and expansion.

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Charter Amendment FF: Yes. Gives police officers and firefighters who become city employees through a merger pension credit for work with other departments; allows benefits for domestic partners, as in other city departments.

Charter Amendment GG: Yes. Allows a screening process for public employees who are absorbed by the city into Civil Service-protected jobs.

Charter Amendment HH: No. The mayor and the City Council already have the power to transfer duties and functions among most city departments; this measure would extend that power to the Harbor, Airport, and Water and Power departments. The notion that the city administration ought to have more flexibility is a good one. The assertions that the measure would surely mean that the city would bleed these departments dry are panicky doomsday scenarios; nonetheless The Times agrees that new revelations suggesting the measure could have unforeseen effects on the city’s money-making departments merit more discussion. Note that this is a change from The Times’ earlier endorsement.

Charter Amendment II: Yes. Gives a few city employees hired by or merged into the Fire or Police departments in 1997 access to the more generous pensions offered to other employees.

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Proposition JJ: No. L.A’s crumbling sidewalks do need fixing, but this special tax measure is so sloppily written that the City Council needs to try again.

L.A. County Measure

Proposition A: MTA reform, subway ban. No. Even though this newspaper has long criticized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for poor management and reckless spending, we oppose Proposition A. This measure would preclude the underground rail option forever. It’s bad policy.


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