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Newsletter: Our ‘yuge’ 2016 ballot: The editorial board is here to help

California voter guide 2016
The California statewide election guide for the Nov. 8 election rolls off the presses at the Office of the State Printer in Sacramento.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, The Times’ letters editor, and it is Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. We’re a full hour further from the end of the seemingly ceaseless 2016 election than you might think, but it’s because of a good cause: Daylight Saving Time ends early Sunday morning, so remember to set your clocks back one hour, lest you are left out of our semi-annual time-travel ritual.

Anyone who has thumbed through a sample ballot or voter guide knows there’s a daunting list of candidates, judicial offices and measures to weigh below the big-ticket race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This is where The Times Editorial Board can help you, dear voter.

Months before Tuesday’s election and even early voting began, members of our editorial board pored over the fine print of more than a dozen measures — statewide and local — and interviewed the candidates running for office. Below is a list of The Times Editorial Board’s recommendations, along with links to the complete endorsements. The following roundup, which was written by members of the board, will also be published in Sunday’s print edition.

President: Hillary Clinton. Clinton has the experience, wisdom, demeanor, thoughtfulness and policy positions to make a good U.S. president. Donald Trump is manifestly unfit in each of those areas.

U.S. senator: Kamala Harris. It’s a race between two Democrats to succeed Barbara Boxer. Harris, a smart and pragmatic criminal justice reformer, is a better choice than Loretta Sanchez, a hard-working but often erratic congresswoman.

U.S. representative, 44th District: Nanette Barragán. In another battle between Democrats, attorney Barragán has strong environmental credentials. State Sen. Isadore Hall’s environmental record is dismal.

L.A. County supervisor District 4: Janice Hahn. A congresswoman and former City Council member, Hahn articulates the needs of the homeless, the jailed, the sick and the poor.

L.A. County supervisor District 5: Kathryn Barger. Barger is an accomplished policymaker who would bring pragmatism and creativity to the board.

Judge of the Superior Court Office No. 11: Stephen Schreiner. A criminal prosecutor, Schreiner has decades of trial experience.

Judge of the Superior Court Office No. 42: Efrain Matthew Aceves. Experience in many jury trials makes Aceves the best.

Judge of the Superior Court Office No. 84: Susan Jung Townsend. Townsend is the better of the two veteran prosecutors running for this judicial seat.

Judge of the Superior Court Office No. 158: David A. Berger. Berger has 20 years of experience in jury trials.

Proposition 51 (school bonds): No. This bond perpetuates an inequitable school construction funding system that favors the wrong school districts for the wrong reasons.

Proposition 52 (Medi-Cal hospital fees): Yes. The measure would support Medi-Cal, the healthcare program for the poor, by requiring hospitals to continue paying an existing tax on their services. Federal money would continue to match the revenues.

Proposition 53 (revenue bond voter approval): No. It makes no sense to require voters statewide to weigh in on local bond funding for large local projects such as bridges or reservoirs that are financed by tolls or other user fees.

Proposition 54 (legislative transparency): Yes. Improve transparency by requiring the Legislature to publish bill language 72 hours before voting on it.

Proposition 55 (income tax extension): No. A temporary income tax on the wealthy lifted California out of the recession. Now it is time to more forward and rework state taxation to make it fairer and more stable.

Proposition 56 (tobacco tax): Yes. Increasing state tobacco taxes has been proven to reduce smoking, and in this case would also raise money to pay California’s healthcare costs.

Proposition 57 (criminal sentencing and parole): Yes. The measure keeps criminal sentences intact for felonies but allows inmates to apply for parole and rehabilitation credits to shorten the additional prison time tacked on by various sentence “enhancements.”

Proposition 58 (bilingual education): Yes. Give parents the option to choose between intensive English or dual-language immersion programs and provide needed local flexibility on how schools teach English-language learners.

Proposition 59 (Citizens United constitutional amendment): No. Altering the 1st Amendment is not a good way to fix campaign finance laws.

Proposition 60 (condom use in adult films): No. There are better routes to performers’ safety than this proposition, which would allow any resident to sue film productions and participants that depict sex but don’t use condoms.

Proposition 61 (state prescription drug purchases): No. Preventing the state from paying more for drugs than the Veterans Administration pays could prompt companies to jack up prices for everyone else.

Proposition 62 (repeal death penalty): Yes. Replace the death penalty with life without parole for the state’s worst criminals.

Proposition 63 (gun regulation): Yes. Curb gun violence by requiring felons and others who lose their gun rights to actually get rid of their firearms and take other reasonable steps to restrict gun possession to the law-abiding.

Proposition 64 (marijuana legalization): Yes. The time has come for the state to treat marijuana more like alcohol and less like heroin or cocaine.

Proposition 65 (carryout bag fees): No. This confusing measure is little more than a ploy by the plastic bag industry to distract voters from keeping in place the much-needed statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.

Proposition 66 (accelerate death penalty): No. This attempt to accelerate executions in California is likely unworkable, and if it succeeds it would require unacceptable compromises of basic constitutional rights.

Proposition 67 (plastic bag ban referendum): Yes. Voting yes on this measure would keep in place a statewide ban on free plastic grocery bans that end up polluting oceans and degrading the environment.

Measure A (Los Angeles County parcel tax for parks): Yes. The cost of having to do without funding for parks in Los Angeles County would be higher than the 1.5 cents per square foot of built space that would be imposed by this parcel tax.

Measure M (L.A. Metro sales tax for transportation): Yes. A permanent sales tax increase will help keep roads and sidewalks in good repair, expand the region’s rail lines and fund maintenance and operation so that L.A.’s transit service does not deteriorate as have those in other cities.

Measure CC (L.A. Community College District bond): Yes. This measure funds the construction of needed facilities and amenities on the nine campuses of the Community College District.

Measure FF (Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority parcel tax): Yes. This $15 tax enhances fire protection and helps preserve open space in a hillside district in the San Fernando Valley.

Measure GG (Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority parcel tax): Yes. This $35 parcel tax supports property values in a Hollywood Hills district by funding fire patrols, trail repair and preservation of open space.

Measure HHH (L.A. City homelessness housing bond): Yes. This city bond would finance the construction of housing for people living on the street and begin, at long last, a serious effort to alleviate the misery of the homeless and the irritation of those who demand that something be done about the growing crisis.

Measure JJJ (L.A. City affordable housing mandate): No. This measure purports to provide affordable housing and good-paying jobs but will likely make low-cost units far too expensive for developers to build.

Measure RRR (L.A. DWP reform): Yes. These incremental management and oversight tweaks fall short of what’s needed but would bring some improvement to the Los Angeles utility that provides residents and businesses their water and electricity.

Measure SSS (L.A. City airport police pensions): No. Even the airport police union that negotiated this proposed charter change isn’t supporting it.

Reach me: paul.thornton@latimes.com


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