Current League issues in the news
AUSD is asking Alameda voters to approve Measure A. Measure A will generate $12 million per year for Alameda schools over the next 7 years through an annual special parcel tax on property in the City of Alameda. This new tax replaces two existing but soon-to-expire school parcel taxes. Funding from Measure A will support specific programs including neighborhood schools, enrichment programs, K-3 class size of 25:1, counseling, adult education, and Alameda charter schools.
If this measure is approved property owners will pay $.32 per building square foot with a cap of $7,999 per parcel. Parcels without buildings will pay $299. An average homeowner with a 1600 square foot house would pay $512/year with Measure A. However, this is offset by the elimination of the two existing parcel taxes. The new tax is proposed to begin on July 1, 2011 and would continue for 7 years.
Measure A contains strong accountability provisions requiring a citizen's advisory committee to review expenditures, and an independent auditor to report on revenues and expenditures to the Board of Education and the community.
The League endorses Measure A because a quality education is an investment in our children's future and an essential component for a democracy. Measure A will help provide Alameda students with the necessary skills to succeed in the workforce. A quality public education system supports Alameda's economy and attracts businesses and families to our community. Measure A has strong support from the business community and is the result of negotiations between AUSD, Alameda leaders, businesses and seniors. The League recognizes that parcel taxes in general are inequitable but school districts in California are limited in their ability to raise revenues. We believe that the revenues from Measure A are critical and further budget reductions would lead to an overall decline from which our district might not be able to recover.
In arriving at this endorsement, the League board was mindful of the views of the opponents. The Board heard two presentations and received written arguments highlighting the opposition's point of view. The Board also took into account that three of the City's business associations (the Chamber of Commerce, GABA, and WABA) have endorsed Measure A.
"The League took the extra step to reach out to both sides to better understand the issues and arguments", said Jeff Cambra, Co-President of the Alameda League.
League Co-President Anne Spanier elaborated, "In its deliberation, the Board addressed the major opposition issues and concluded that they were not sufficiently substantiated or were outweighed by the benefits that passage of Measure A would bring to the community."
Support for Measure A is based upon the 2005 League of Women Voters of California's Position on Education: Pre-Kindergarten through 12: "Support a system of public education that is adequate, flexible, equitable and sustainable: derived from a combination of revenue sources; and distributed fairly to support access and equitable opportunities for all students."
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League never supports or opposes any political party or candidate.
At our Annual Meeting, our Action Committee was asked to write to the Council regarding our concerns, and Action V.P. Karen Butter drafted the following letter.
"Mayor Johnson, Vice Mayor deHaan and member of the City Council:
In 1973 the League of Women Voters of California adopted a position on campaign finance reform and we have been strong advocates since then. We were pleased that the Alameda City Council considered the issue for local campaigns at its June 1st meeting.
A quick review of the ordinance by League members identified a number of problems and questions. I've attached a copy of a revised document with our concerns highlighted. The League urges the council to extend the review period beyond June 15th to make sure the new ordinance addresses our concerns and those of the community. The review period established by the council is too short and the fact that council members spent 30 + 45 minutes at the June 1st meeting trying to understand the measure and its implications indicates to us that the ordinance needs a more thorough review. We would urge the council to form a small working group to revise the ordinance with a short timeline for presentation back to the Council. The newly appointed Sunshine Committee is a body that is well qualified to review the ordinance as well.
We thank the council for promoting transparency in government and urge its consideration of this additional step in open government."
The ordinance, and the Alameda League's comments are available here.
Look below under "Vote with the League June 8th" for a link to a video explaining the Leagues position on Propositions 15 and 16, and Measure E. League positions are only taken on issues that have been studied by the League and the members have come to a consensus.
Look on the Elections pagefor links to videos from the board of supervisors candidates. The League does not support any individual or political party, but works to educate voters.
??? HEALTH CARE REFORM QUESTIONS...CONCERNS???
Find out the Truth about Health care and Reform
Logon to these sites and check out the facts!!
1. Fact Check + Annenberg Public Policy Center site
2. Health Reform + Kaiser Family Foundation
3. PolitiFact + The Pulitzer-Prize winning project of the St. Petersburg Times, which features a Truth-o-Meter
4. Health Action Now + AARP site
5. Health Reform + U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services
After you check out the facts, want to express your opinion? Let your representative know what you want. Here are their local Phone numbers
. Rep. Pete Stark 510 494-1388
. Sen. Barbara Boxer 415 403 -0100
. Sen. Dianne Feinstein 415 393-0707
Want to be involved locally? Contact Shubha Fanse at Shubhaf09@gmail.com
Health care committee member Dr. Robyn Young was recognized by Alameda Magazine and Oakland Magazine as a "Best Doctor." Check it out at Alameda Magazine
The Initiative was orignially anticipated to be on the November 2009 ballot, but now will not be considered until the June 2010 election. An ad hoc committee reviewed the Initiative and made the following recommendations for focus in preparation for Pros and Cons and public forums:
i. What is Measure A and how would it impact development?
ii. The Development Plan in relation to transportation and transit-oriented development.
iii. The Development Plan in relation to environmental clean up.
iv. The Development Plan in relation to housing.
v. The Development Plan in relation to commercial development and job creation.
vi. What are the options if there is a "no" vote?
vii. To consider the Development Agreement.
viii. What are the financial implications to the city?
For a complete report of actions taken at the Annual Meeting download 2009 Annual Meeing Minutes
The League of Women Voters of California today called on the Governor and legislative leaders to reject the idea of a "cuts-only" budget, especially one that decimates crucial programs. Instead, the League advocates a balanced approach to California's budget crisis that includes new revenues along with targeted cuts to programs.
"We urge you to give priority to protecting the essential safety net for those most in need," said League President Janis R. Hirohama in a letter to the budget leaders, reminding them, that "as the primary obligation of government is to protect the welfare and security of its people." Without that, society cannot survive. The League believes that the budget must not eliminate such basic assistance programs as CalWORKs and Healthy Families and should avoid further deep cuts in programs such as Medi-Cal, in-home supportive services, and child welfare services. "To make such draconian cuts while rejecting proposals for increased revenues would be both short-sighted and, indeed unconscionable," continued Hirohama.
It is unrealistic to rely on cuts alone to fill a budget deficit of this magnitude. The League of Women Voters has long supported revenues that are sufficient and flexible enough to meet changing needs for state and local government services and that ensure fair sharing of the tax burden. Recent polls have shown that a large majority of Californians agree, supporting a budget solution that includes a balance of cuts and new taxes.
A number of viable new revenue sources are on the table, and the League urged lawmakers to consider them. In addition to new taxes or increases in tax rates, possible solutions include the repealing of corporate tax breaks--, established included in the budget deals last September and February--, that will cost some $2.5 billion per year. Other alternatives that should be examined are fees that can be established by a simple majority vote in the legislature and reductions in administrative costs.
Looking ahead past these extremely difficult times, Hirohama called for serious structural reform of California's dysfunctional fiscal system. Reforms include eliminating the two-thirds vote requirements that paralyze government decision-making and establishing a fairer, more efficient tax policy. "For the good of all Californians, and for our future," she concluded, ""we expect our leaders to take on this important task. Our state deserves no less."
The U.S. Constitution specifies in broad terms that a presidential election shall take place every four years and that a small group of "electors" shall "elect" the candidates. The Electoral College, while not named in the Constitution, is believed to have been created to assure that men of property would elect the President. In addition, it specifies that each state is entitled to one "elector" for each of its two senators and one for each of its U.S. Representatives. Today there are 538 electoral votes. How the electors are chosen varies considerably from state to state.
The Constitution leaves open to the states the manner in which the electors are chosen and how the popular vote is to be counted. The popular vote has evolved over time into a "winner take all" system. For example all of California's 55 electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote in the state, regardless of the closeness of the race. Only Maine and Nebraska use a differential system to allocate electoral votes. Effectively, presidential candidates only minimally campaign in states in which they cannot win the electoral votes or those in which they are assured to win. A Democratic nominees spends little time in a state like California with a high concentration of Democratic voters or a state that they are not likely to win like Utah with a high Republican voter base. Conversely, a Republican candidate spends little time in California or in Utah. This scenario leads the candidates to focus the few "battleground states."
The major shortcoming of the current system is that voters in these states are disproportionately represented in presidential elections. The current system does not reliably reflect the nationwide popular vote and not every vote is equal. According to former congressman Tom Campbell, California has 35 million people and casts 55 electoral votes while Wyoming has about 500,000 people and casts three electoral votes for president. A Wyoming vote is worth 4 times the value of a California vote.
Is the time right for reform? The public is aware of the inequality and polls reflect its wish for changes. Political leaders are concerned about the growing potential for recounts and court challenges throwing elections into doubt. And surprisingly, neither political party benefits from the advantage that accrues to the small states.
The remedy for the shortcomings of the current system is believed by a number of political leaders to be the National Popular Vote (NPV). It makes every vote equal; it makes all states competitive, and it guarantees a clear winner. The League of Women Voters of the U.S. has embarked on a study of the NPV and is eager to engage the public in this conversation. On September 25th The Alameda LWV will present a forum at Dal Cielo Conference Room A (2nd floor) at the Alameda Hospital with Rob Dickinson of Californians for Electoral Reform to explain the reform measure and the nationwide progress to date. Please mark your calendar for this important event.
Membership in the League is open to all men and women. Contact us via our website at http://www.alameda.ca.lwvnet and click on the Join us! To embark on a lifetime of fulfilling Community service in voter education
Submitted by Anne Spanier, Vice President for Program, League of Women Voters of Alameda
The League gave the Council information on what Proposition 11 would, and would not do, and showed them examples of districts throughout the State which have been drawn by the legislators to benefit them, to the detriment of minority communities, communities of interest, and even keeping cities boundaries intact. Thanks to a motion made by Councilman deHaan at that meeting, the matter was heard on the next agenda. The League was again present to answer questions and ask for the Council's endorsement.
People wishing more information on Proposition 11, should go to the Yes on 11 web site at http://www.yesprop11.org . The list of endorsers is growing every day
The League of Women Voters of Alameda urges the Council to place on the ballot for November 2006, a measure amending the City Charter to exempt Alameda Point from the provisions of Article XXVI .-"Measure A". In order to allow the voice of all Alameda citizens to be heard on this vital matter, the rules governing the development of Alameda Point should be put to a vote.
As we move closer to finalizing the development plans for the Point, the community has become increasingly anxious and polarized about what it will mean to restrict or allow certain types of housing and development. Some feel that the current provisions of Measure A should be preserved at all costs; others contend that the current issues and electorate are not the same now as when Measure A was passed in 1973. During the many public meetings and workshops there was considerable interest in changing Measure A to allow a greater mix of housing types. Putting the matter to a vote will allow the community to move beyond contentious dialogue to a constructive and thoughtful implementation stage. It may avoid costly lawsuits and further delays.
We commend the Council for its admirable effort to include the public in the planning process for the Point. The League of Women Voters holds as one of its most fundamental principles that democratic government depends on the informed and active participation of its citizens.
Thank you for your consideration of this request to put a measure changing the City Charter to exempt Alameda Point from Article XXVI on the ballot.
Sincerely Karen Butter League of Women Voters Alameda
I have reviewed the materials you sent me as well as the Voters and Annual Meeting Kit and By-laws of the Alameda League. While I understand your concerns about the procedures and voting that occurred at the Annual Meeting, I believe you are misinterpreting what happened and taking certain issues out of context.
In 2005, the LWV of Alameda held several meetings discussing Alameda Point, housing and transportation issues and Measure A. The League has held discussions on Measure A on a long term basis over the years.
Specifically, on September 29, 2005 the League held a meeting entitled "Issues and Challenges at Alameda Point", and on November 16, 2005 the League addressed the issues of historic preservation, housing choices, financial trade-offs, recreation and transportation at Alameda Point. As a result of these meetings, and after discussion and consensus, the Alameda League adopted a position on housing and transportation in 2005.
This position was re-adopted without comment or amendment at the Annual Meeting last week. In addition, the League has vertical positions which can be used by Local Leagues in taking action in regard to government issues under certain specified circumstances.
Once a position has been adopted, the Board is authorized to take action on the position, whether or not the action taken is presented to the general membership. The LWV Alameda Board, as a courtesy, brought this action to the general membership at the Annual Meeting to allow for further discussion. Prior to the Annual Meeting, the proposed letter was disseminated by e-mail to those members who have made their email addresses available to the email distribution list. That letter went out on May 30th, more than three weeks before the Annual Meeting. This gave most members ample time to read the letter and suggest changes or submit other comments.
I understand that when the Annual Meeting Kit was prepared, the placement of the letter on the agenda was overlooked. The letter was then included as Non-recommended Program instead of as an item for Action, which caused confusion. It was described as an Action Item at the meeting, and as such needed only a simple majority vote of the members in attendance to pass. If the proposed letter is considered Program instead of Action, which I believe to be an inaccurate categorization, then as Non-recommended Program, the vote necessary for passage is 2/3. My understanding is that the vote taken showed the results to be 18 votes in favor and 10 votes opposed. However, one of the votes in opposition to the letter was made by a person who had only joined the LWV Alameda that morning, and so under Section 6 of the By-laws, this person was not a voting member, as she had not received 10 days prior notice as a member about the matters under discussion. This results in a vote of 18 for the Action Item and 9 opposed to the Action Item, which is exactly a 2/3 vote.
I believe that the actions taken by the Board at the LWV Alameda Annual Meeting were appropriate and proper. I cannot see any evidence of a hidden agenda or an attempt to dupe the membership or rig the outcome. I understand that the outcome was not what you desired, but I do not think the players had any ulterior motives. I think their goal is to have a full and open discussion on what will happen at Alameda Point, and that includes considering how the land will look both with and without the effects of Measure A.
In conclusion, I have reviewed the conduct of the LWV Alameda Board in bringing this matter to the general membership. It met League guidelines for taking action. The letter was written with input from the Board. It was distributed in advance to most of the membership, with notice that it would be considered at the Annual Meeting. Finally, after much discussion, it was adopted by a majority vote. I have requested that the LWV Alameda Board, in the future, include "Rules of the Day", specifying the parliamentary procedures and voting requirements to be followed, in the Annual Meeting Kit. I have also suggested that the Board consider placing "Items for Action" in a separate category on the Annual Meeting agenda.
Carole Levenson, MTA, LWV California
On July 5th the League of Women Voters of Alameda spoke before the City Council and presented the request that follows. Since our letter generated a great deal of community interest, we wish to share our letter to the City Council.
"The League of Women Voters of Alameda urges the Council to place on the ballot for November 2006, a measure amending the City Charter to exempt Alameda Point from the provisions of Article XXVI + "Measure A." In order to allow the voice of all Alameda citizens to be heard on this vital matter, the rules governing the development of Alameda Point should be put to a vote. We, the League, do not endorse or oppose the possible exemption of Measure A for Alameda Point development. Placing this issue on the ballot will allow the community to move beyond contentious dialogue to a constructive and thoughtful implementation stage and may avoid costly lawsuits and further delays."
While there is still considerable work remaining to complete the transfer of the property to the City, planning for the area is moving forward. Development of a parcel the size of Alameda Point will have major impact on our community. We commend the City Council and Planning Board for public meetings held to date. However, there are critical issues related to the development of Alameda Point that still should be considered. For example, the public should have an opportunity to discuss the two Preliminary Development Concepts for Alameda Point, one with Measure A in place and one where development at Alameda Point would be exempt from Measure A.
In order to consider all options the public should have an opportunity to discuss and vote on this issue before 2008. We have asked the City Council to place the issue on the ballot instead of an initiative due to the amount of time required to gather signatures and so that the development plans reflect the vote of the community. If this were a simple matter of zoning we would still encourage open meetings to rationally discuss the issue.
I want to emphasize that the League of Women Voters is not supporting or opposing the possible exemption of Measure A for Alameda Point. Our motive is to urge the City Council to give the citizens of Alameda an opportunity to discuss and vote on this matter.
Karen Butter, League of Women Voters of Alameda, Action Committee
Established in 1920, the League of Women Voters is a national, grassroots, nonpartisan, political organization. Its members -- men and women -- are committed to making democracy work.
The League of Women Voters of Alameda is a member of The League of Women Voters (LWV) of the United States. Like its sister leagues throughout the nation, its mission is to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Our advocacy reflects the consensus of our members reached after engaging in thorough study and discussion of selected issues.
The LWV of Alameda meets regularly and organizes community events throughout the year. We conduct meetings on issues of interest to Alameda. The public is invited to attend our meetings.
Recently, we've had a lot of questions, and we would like to take the time to answer them as best we can.
Q.Why did the Alameda League take action in asking City Council to put exemptions to Measure A on the ballot?
A.Last year the membership completed a study on housing and transportation in Alameda and adopted a new position on this topic. We have been attending the community meetings on the proposals for new development at the old Naval Air Station (Alameda Point) and have noted the struggles with designing the new space with the constraints of Measure A, as well as some interesting alternatives which would only be possible with amendments to Measure A. We feel that the public should be able to discuss and choose whether they want the design to be 100% in conformance to Measure A, or amend Measure A to allow for other alternatives.
Q. Where can I find the League's position?
A. On our web site at http://www.alameda.ca.lwvnet.org.
Q. So, if the League wants Measure A amended, why didn't it go out and get signatures for the ballot measure instead of taking the lazy way of asking the City Council to put it on the ballot?
A. The City Charter can be amended by the people by voting on measures proposed by a citizen initiative or by the Council. The issue appeared to be urgent as the planning for Alameda Point is moving rapidly to a place where decisions have to be made and the League believes the citizens should have direct input into those decisions. The Council put a Measure A amendment before the voters in 1991.
Q. Why isn't the League being specific about the amendments it wants to propose or support?
A. The League is not supporting or opposing any specific amendment at this time; it just wants the Council to allow the citizens to vote on amendments the Council would feel are appropriate to insure a good planning process. Once the City Attorney, at the direction of the Council, has ballot language finalized, the League would review it, compare it to our position, and decide if we could support it.
Q. Measure A has protected our community from over development, why does the League want to let the developers in to wreck Alameda, as we know it?
A. The League has never proposed consideration of amendments to Measure A other than for Alameda Point, which is undeveloped land. We would like to see the development proceed in ways that reflect our position, arrived at through study and consensus. We recognize, from comments made in many public meetings, the constraints of Measure A might limit the options available, since they pretty much allow only single or two-family homes which may result in little or no open space, lack of community amenities for children, families and the elderly. We want the Point to look and feel like the rest of Alameda; and for all the alternatives to be discussed in public so the public can decide what they want this important asset to be like."
Q. Won't amendments to Measure A result in high rises, such as are proposed for the Oak to Ninth project in Oakland?
A. The Council has the right and obligation to set height limits for anything included in the plan. If the Council were to set height limits and densities similar to existing Alameda, no high rises would be built. The City cannot be forced to accept height limits set by a developer.
Q. Measure A has protected us well, opening it up to amendment, even for just the Point, is dangerous. We should not be even talking about it, as discussing amendments means it might be compromised, and we don't want that!
A. The League believes that in a democracy, all matters of public policy should be open to discussion in public. There can be no "forbidden topics." Public dialogue may lead us to a positive and "safe" resolution of this planning dilemma. Not talking about it just promotes the existing tensions and inability to move forward as a community. It is only in dictatorships that public issues are forbidden to be discussed and resolved; we are encouraging openness and full citizen participation in the decision making process and trust the voters to decide.