Saturday, November 1, 2014

My ballot guide for Oakland, CA 2014

Vote on Tuesday! Here are my picks and research.

Governor: Jerry Brown

Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom

Secretary of State: Pete Peterson
It's important to me to support progressive Republicans and in this race, there isn't enough difference between the candidates' positions to do otherwise. Peterson sounds committed to long-term improvement in election, campaign finance, and business registration. Padilla, on the other hand, is a weaker speaker and sounds hobbled by his own party.

Controller: Betty Yee
Comprehensive tax code reform, yes! attention to climate change, which has already begun to wreak destruction on the poorest and most historically oppressed parts of the world and this state, yes. Swearengin wouldn't be a total loss: she is more focused on debt reduction and business friendliness.

Treasurer: ??
I didn't like either candidate when they interviewed on Forum. It's a shame top-two now means no write-in. Conlon's platform appeals mostly to retirees and investors, but Chiang's current office as State Controller has been criticized for corruption.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris
Despite Gold's activism in teacher tenure challenges and open support of marijuana taxation and regulation I'm with an Attorney General who personally opposes the death penalty. Harris also refused to defend Prop 8 against same-sex marriage. We can hope Harris's work against recidivism (repeat prisoners) progresses in another term.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
Most of us think of health insurance when we consider regulating insurance companies, but this office shares that responsibility with the governor. The Republican challenger, Gaines, is clearly on the side of the companies being regulated and investigated for fraud and I don't trust him.

Member, State Board of Equalization 2nd District: Fiona Ma
It's hard to get enough info about the candidates to support either candidate strongly. Ma plays the race and gender card in her campaign, referencing challenges in her career in finance and tax administration.

US Rep: Barbara Lee
The only Congressperson with the chutzpah and insight to "nay" the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that continues the longest war in this nation's history. 'Nuff said.

State Assembly, 18th District: Rob Bonta
Another unfortunately tepid contest -- the incumbent has over $1 million from funders all over the country and the challenger is unconvincing. Again, sorry not to have a write-in option.

State Justices: No for all
It's hard to get a read on desirable traits of justices. Here is the only info I could dig up. I don't feel I can decide whether they would do a good job based on their biographical information, but perhaps you would settle for those in same-sex relationships (Stewart and Humes) or people of color (Jenkins, Liu, Cuellar?).

State School Superintendant: Marshall Tuck
This position's power lies primarily in its visibility in leading public conversation on teacher tenure and other education reform. Incumbent Torlakson was a classroom teacher and has Sierra Club endorsement and funding from SEIU, a teacher's union. Tuck has a more unconventional work history managing charter schools in LA and campaigns on much-needed reform. Worth a shot.

County School Superintendant: Karen Monroe
This is the run-off after the June primary election. Monroe lists arts reintegration as one of her top three priorities and Foster doesn't present any convincing change.

Peralta College Trustee: Richard Fuentes
This race is so boring Rob Bonta endorsed both candidates. There's nothing offensive in either campaign and both candidates show passion for the community colleges. I'm going with Fuentes because of his inside experience with immigrant learners.

AC Transit Director: Dollene Jones
The incumbent might be a schmuck and never showed up to campaign after securing labor's open endorsement, against SEIU 1021's block. Jones is the only candidate who is making any attempt to campaign. In an election that's not top-vote-getter-takes-all I would write in but want to make sure incumbent Young is kicked out.

Prop 1: Yes
This is a timely, partial compromise between utilities and sustainability.

Prop 2: Yes
The school reserve cap is an unwelcome insertion but the lack of State rainy day funds since 2004 needs to be resolved.

Prop 45: No
Remember how the Insurance Commissioner above shares power with the Governor in regulating health insurance companies? This would place all the power in the Commissioner's position. He wants all the power! The administration of this proposition is messy because it was written for the 2012 election, and I'd rather see how the ACA works out with the current shared system.

Prop 46: Yes
Counter the wave of doctor and insurance campaign money. I never go to work under the influence, and I expect the same of medical professionals.

Prop 47: Yes
Fight institutional racism and California's shameful prison industrial complex. Here's a much better way to spend our prison funds.

Prop 48: No
This is a tough call since terms for building the casino include revenue sharing with a non-casino-revenue tribe. I'm making it because of my personal refusal to support gambling and a "yes" would mean the project could skip certain environmental assessment requirements.

Measure N
: Yes
A 63% high school graduation is revolting. This parcel tax needs 2/3 majority to pass.

Measure Z: No
Growing up under Party rule in Beijing, China, I was conditioned to trust and respect police. This adds another layer of discomfort and betrayal to my every experience of police corruption and abuse, and these layers have not been eased by OPD's failure to reform. Other emergency services are important, but I don't welcome the City every time it comes hat-in-hand. Also, the police chief didn't return repeated emails about bike safety.

Alameda Measure BB: Yes
Endorsed by Sierra Club for improving non-motor transportation infrastructure.

Oakland Measure CC: Yes
We have an Ethics Committee with no teeth and no funding?

Measure DD: Yes
Councilmembers should not draw their own districts.

Measure EE: Yes
This affects 22 people but they will get all their pensions for the city to save admin money, so cool it.

Measure FF: Yes
Not quite living wage, but a step up.

Oakland Mayor: 1 Dan Siegel  2 Saied Karamooz  3 Sam Washington (write-in)

By far the most exciting race in a boring year. I rejected the incumbent Quan for a disappointing tenure and also Kaplan and Schaff for poor performance on the City Council. I recently emailed their offices twice complaining to the Police Chief for non-enforcement of the 3-foot bike passing distance and had no response at all. And Kaplan campaigns on her merit as a biker! Unbelievable. Also Schaff canceled for a debate at Oakland Nights Live. Tuman is way too stodgy for me; my housemate greeted him at the door and ended their conversation by informing him he is fascist.

That leaves a scrappy bunch, headed by Siegel -- a friend objected to voting for a white man but I point out that no civil rights movement ever succeeded without the cooperation of oppressor-group activists. Currently a civil-rights lawyer, he registered blacks in Mississippi in the '60s and sports a well-crafted, community-oriented platform. Karamooz has the most cogent platform of the remaining candidates, and Washington also shows awareness of the kind of law enforcement reform we need. Climate change is a top threat in the next 50-100 years (meaning middle-class Americans will be struggling to find enough food to eat) so it's helpful to see Siegel and Karamooz answer with intelligence here.

Oakland Auditor: no confidence (write-in)
Neither candidate is convincing. Roberts has the endorsement of tons of interest groups and officials.

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