Readers comments 11-4-16
Make America (and Claremont) great again!
November 8 is an election with huge opportunities or consequences. A “yes” vote on Measure G and Proposition 51 are vital to the public education facilities in both Claremont and the state of California. The most important resource we have is our youth and it is vitally important that we provide them with a 21st century education in order to compete in our global economy.
I also firmly believe that it is time to “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC and put new private sector leadership in the Oval Office. Donald Trump certainly has his shortcomings, but he is a proven leader with many innovative solutions to the many problems facing this country.
I’m willing to give the self-made “blue-collar billionaire” a chance. I believe Mr. Trump’s strongest attribute is his ability to surround himself with great, hard-working and honest talent to get the job done.
He also is certainly not afraid to make personnel changes with under-performing appointees or staff. This is a necessary trait for the success of any organization.
Our Claremont school district facilities and Washington DC both need a complete overhaul to restore their past greatness for the hardworking tax payers which they serve.
Please vote yes for Measure G and Proposition 51, and vote for Donald Trump on November 8.
Prop 58, Measure M
Vote yes on 58—English Proficiency, Multilingual Education. Prop 58 repeals the most restrictive parts of Proposition 227, a 1998 initiative that limited the methods California schools can use to teach English to students who are not native English speakers. This measure addresses the inequity of Prop 227 and frees parents and schools to provide the best educational opportunities for all children, regardless of first language. The League opposed Prop 227 nearly 20 years ago and urges support for this change.
The county and local League also supports Measure M, which raises money for the Gold Line to be built from Azusa to Claremont. Vote yes on Measure M, so we can get to and from Los Angeles and points west without driving the clogged freeways.
It is difficult to gather enough information to vote wisely on the 17 state propositions and the county ones as well, and I hope my letters have helped you understand them better so that your vote is an educated one.
VP for Advocacy, Claremont LWV
Vote no on everything
I’ve read every page of the 230-page state voter pamphlet and the 80-page county voter booklet. It was daunting but I did it so you wouldn’t have to.
I recommend voting “no” on every state proposition and county and school measure. It’s easy to remember and you’ll be 85 to 90 percent right, a pretty good batting average.
Ludd A. Trozpek
City council erred on Prop 57
I’m voting yes on Proposition 57—the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016. Though I am now a private citizen, my decision is based on years of service as a public school teacher in a family of public school teachers, in a town that values education.
Many students I have taught have been involved, either personally or through family and friends, with the criminal justice system. Through them, I have learned how important it is that we push for reforms. This is why I was surprised when I picked up last Friday’s COURIER and saw that our city council voted to officially oppose the proposition.
Our police chief—who lobbied for endorsement against it—is certainly a very important voice in the conversation, but there are many other important voices to consider.
In this instance, the council has taken a position in opposition to various local groups including the League of Women Voters (both local and state chapters), the Democratic Club of Claremont (as well as the California Democratic Party), Inland Congregations United for Change and various Pitzer College action groups.
Statewide support for Prop 57 includes the ACLU, the Los Angeles Times editorial board, Chief Probation Officers of California, California State Law Enforcement Association and the California Federation of Teachers, among many others.
Proposition 57 is written in two parts:
One part addresses how we try youth in juvenile courts. Prior to 2000, accused lawbreakers under 18 were subject to the state’s juvenile court system. If a prosecutor wanted the case transferred to adult court, he or she was required to make an appeal to a judge, who would have the final say on where the case would be tried.
In 2000, voters passed Prop 21, which allowed prosecutors rather than judges to choose between juvenile and adult court. Those who support 57 believe it would return better balance to our justice system by putting power back in the hands of judges, who have less “skin in the game” than prosecutors.
The second part of Prop 57 deals with parole and it’s more complex. Prop 57 would make some prison inmates eligible to seek parole once they have served the base portion of their terms but before they have served time for the add-ons used to “enhance” sentences. These add-ons are for things like having previous convictions or belonging to a gang.
This proposition begins to address some of the injustices of the three-strikes law and gang injunctions. Prison inmates would still serve out sentences as meted out in their trials or settlements, but would be less subject to the extras that are piled onto their sentences.
I leave the citizens of Claremont with some facts to consider before casting their votes:
Fact: In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States was the highest in the world at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the US represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. California’s incarceration rate is slightly below the national average, but certainly nothing to brag about.
Fact: Research does not support trying youth as adults. A private MacArthur Foundation study released in 2003 states that many children under 16 had as much difficulty grasping the complex legal proceedings as adults who had been ruled incompetent to go to trial.
Fact: According to data collected by the Campaign for Youth Justice, “Latino youth are four times, and African American youth nine times, more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence for the same charges.”
Fact: Though the city of Claremont based its endorsement on a causal relationship between the passage of Prop 47 in 2014 and an increase in crime, many experts say it is too soon for such conclusions.
Keramet Reiter, a criminology professor at UC Irvine, said the ballot measure has been used by critics as a “convenient scapegoat” for the rise in crime. The reality, she said, is more complicated in a state that is undergoing broad changes to its criminal justice system, including a massive shift of inmates from state prisons to local jails.
The Los Angeles Police Department has reported a double-digit increase in property crime in 2015, but Chief Charlie Beck said it is premature to fault Proposition 47. “The studies are not done and the results aren’t in,” he said.
Claremont, it is time to start conversations about the kind of society we want to build, whether we favor rehabilitation and redemption or more punitive measures. Voting yes on Proposition 57 would be a good start.
Pamela Casey Nagler
LA County Measure A
The Claremont Wildlands Conservancy Board’s “could” list doesn’t take into account the basic rules of Measure A, which imposes an additional property tax with no expiration date. The allocation of funds is based on the LA County’s needs list, which was finalized in July. LA County was divided into 188 areas with priorities from very high to very low needs.
One hundred and forty-four areas have higher needs than Claremont’s “low” needs. It will take decades before our area will receive funds. In the meantime, property owners will be paying increased property taxes.
It only takes three members of the board of supervisors to approve tax rate increases; and our property tax bills “shall be the only notices required.”
The five members of the Citizens Oversight Advisory Board will be appointed by the board and “will serve at the pleasure of the board.” Measure A is a funding source completely controlled by the five-member board of supervisors.
Water Decision Day
On August 9 and 10, after a long trial, the city of Claremont and Golden State Water Company (GSW) made closing arguments before the judge who will decide if Claremont has the right to take over its local water system. The judge then had 90 days to rule on the case. That 90 days will be up on November 8.
Last year, 72 percent of Claremont voters chose to have the city try to purchase the local water system from GSW, an unwilling seller, using eminent domain.
The community was supportive in part because GSW raised rates sharply and the cost of water made Claremont a less desirable place to live. GSW was also allowed to set water rates on a regional basis, so Claremont’s local needs became less relevant while drought made local control of water especially important. No city can survive without water, and water should not be under the control of an outside for-profit monopoly.
In closing arguments GSW claimed that the costs would be so high that rates would have to go up, that Claremont had used pretty words about local control but had not offered specific projects to be implemented if it had local control, and that water quality would be better under GSW. Management of the water system under Claremont ownership would be contracted out to the city of La Verne, so GSW cited problems with lead in La Verne’s water.
In rebuttal Claremont’s attorneys argued that GSW’s cost estimates were exaggerated, and cited as an example GSW using depreciation of the system as an expense rather than as a financial benefit to stockholders.
The lead contamination in La Verne water was a one-time incident in a small area and was quickly corrected. La Verne’s water quality is as highly rated as Claremont’s.
So how will the judge decide? Does it make legal sense to rule that Claremont does not have the right to take over the system because it did not include enough detail on specific projects to be implemented under local control?
This will be a precedent-setting decision. If Claremont prevails the next step will be a trial to set the price to be paid, but GSW is likely to use every legal challenge possible.
November 8 will be a day of decision for the whole nation, and more so for Claremont.