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Editorial: Our election recommendations

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Read the Palo Alto Weekly's recommendations for the Nov. 8 ballot, including local races and state propositions.


House of Representatives: Anna Eshoo (D) (Inc)

State Senate: Jerry Hill (D) (Inc)

State Assembly: Vicki Veenker (D)

Palo Alto City Council:

Arthur Keller

Lydia Kou

Liz Kniss (Inc)

Adrian Fine

Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Trustees:

Todd Collins

Jennifer DiBrienza

Foothill-DeAnza College District Board of Trustees:

Laura Casas (I)

Peter Landsberger

Patrick Ahrens

Santa Clara County Board of Education: Sheena Chin

Measure A (Santa Clara County) Affordable Housing Bond Measure: YES

Measure B (Santa Clara County) Half-Cent Transportation Sales Tax: YES


State propositions

No on Prop. 51 -- School Construction Bonds

This initiative is financially supported by large home builders and the construction industry and would authorize $9 billion in bonds to build new schools, not fix or improve existing schools. School bond measures are best passed on a local level, where 80 percent are now successful with the reduced 55 percent vote requirement, and unless and until reforms are made that don't favor wealthy school districts at the expense of the districts with the greatest need, state school bonds like this one should be voted down.

Yes on Prop. 52 -- Medi-Cal Fees

A constitutional amendment that will extend the current requirement, set to expire in 2018, that private hospitals pay fees to fund health services for low income families. This measure enjoys broad support except from the health care employee union, which is the primary funder of the opposition.

No on Prop. 53 -- Statewide Voter Approval of Revenue Bonds

This constitutional amendment would require a statewide vote to approve any bond measure for large projects that are intended to be repaid from revenue generated by the funded project. It would take away local control, has been promoted by a large Stockton agribusiness interest and is widely opposed. Directly affected local voters are best equipped to evaluate such bond measures.

Yes on Prop. 54 -- Legislative Reform

A constitutional amendment that would require any bill being considered by the Legislature to be posted online at least 72 hours before a final vote. The good-government measure's campaign is being funded almost entirely by Palo Alto resident Charles Munger, Jr. and opposed by labor unions that have benefited by last minute "gut and amend" bills that are virtually invisible to the public.

Yes on Prop. 55 -- Extension of High Income Tax

This initiative will extend for 12 years the temporary state income-tax bracket for earnings over $250,000 passed in 2012 to help provide additional funding for K-12 public schools and community colleges. At risk is some $4 billion in school funding, now set to expire at the end of 2018. This isn't a desirable way to fund public education and is vulnerable to an economic downturn, but losing this revenue could have severe ripple effects on school budgets.

Yes on Prop. 56 -- Tobacco Tax

This measure would increase the current excise tax on cigarettes from 87 cents to $2.87 per pack and for the first time subject electronic cigarettes containing nicotine to the tax. Revenue generated would fund health and education programs.

Yes on Prop. 57 -- Criminal Sentencing

This initiative seeks to reform some of the current sentencing rules for nonviolent felonies and require that a juvenile court judge approve any prosecution of a juvenile as an adult.

Yes on Prop. 58 -- Bilingual Education

This measure will reverse some of the worst impacts of Prop. 227, passed in 1998 and promoted and funded by Palo Alto resident Ron Unz. Prop. 227 sought to force English Language Learners to only be taught in English and severely restricted the use of bilingual programs. At a time when one in five California students does not speak English as their primary language, Prop. 58 will give local school districts needed flexibility in developing good and effective English language programs.

Yes on Prop. 59 -- Campaign Financing

This is an advisory measure aimed at encouraging California political leaders to do what they can to achieve the reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case that gutted campaign laws restricting campaign financing. Placed on the ballot by the state Legislature, Prop. 59 is seeking a worthwhile result but is not likely to have any real impact. It's a poor use of the initiative process.

No on Prop. 60 -- Condoms in Adult Films

This initiative seeks to correct what its supporters believe is lax enforcement of existing labor rules requiring the use of condoms in adult films, but it creates unreasonable and unwise requirements that will lead to extensive litigation. It's a solution in search of a problem.

No on Prop. 61 -- State Drug Purchases

This measure would prohibit state agencies from paying any more for prescription drugs for low income Medi-Cal patients than is paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. A reaction to high drug prices and the lack of transparency in drug pricing, this initiative is a simplistic solution to a complex problem and will likely result in many adverse and unintended consequences.

Yes on Prop. 62 -- Repeal of Death Penalty

This is a straight forward initiative to repeal California's death penalty and resentence all inmates on Death Row to life sentences without possibility of parole.

Yes on Prop. 63 -- Prohibition & Regulation of Ammunition

This initiative would tighten regulation of gun and ammunition sales by requiring background checks for the purchase of ammunition and prohibiting possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. It's predictably being opposed by the gun interests and supported by virtually everyone else.

Yes on Prop. 64 -- Marijuana Legalization

This initiative would make it legal for adults over age 21 to grow, possess, cultivate and use marijuana and, more importantly, creates a regulatory system for commercial growers and sellers. Current law permits medicinal marijuana use, which has been widely abused, and Prop. 64 addresses these abuses with a sensible and better drafted set of regulations and taxes than those proposed six years ago, when Prop. 19 was narrowly defeated.

No on Prop. 65 -- Carryout Bag Revenue

This deceptive initiative, sponsored by the plastic-bag industry, is designed to confuse voters. It requires that money collected from selling shopping bags to consumers be redirected to a fund for environmental purposes rather than retained by the retailer. The industry is hoping the confusion between this measure and Prop. 67 will bring defeat to 67, which is a referendum on the state's ban on single-use plastic bags.

No on Prop. 66 -- Shortened Death Penalty Appeals

We hope this measure will become moot with the passage of Prop. 62 and the repeal of the death penalty, but just in case, voters should vote against shortening the appeals process in death penalty cases. While appeals can go on for decades, the long process helps prevent the possibility that an innocent person is executed and has the effect of minimizing executions.

Yes on Prop. 67 -- Plastic Bag Ban

This proposition is a referendum on a current state law similar to the ordinance in effect in Palo Alto -- prohibiting grocery and some other retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags at check-out and requiring a charge of at least 10 cents for paper bags. The state law has been on hold due to this referendum, which is funded by the plastic bag industry. A "yes" vote upholds the state law. The ban on single-use plastic bags and requirement that consumers be charged for paper bags has been a huge success in cities that have adopted it, and passage of Prop. 67 would extend these benefits statewide.


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14 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 28, 2016 at 9:17 am

Vote NO on Measure B. It will get you BUS-ONLY LANES ON EL CAMINO and more BUGGLING from the VTA. Another $6 billion could be squandered.

For years, the VTA bureaucracy proposed and pushed a plan to take the left lanes on El Camino (each direction) for VTA "rapid transit" buses only.

The idea was that a bus would come along as often as every 15 minutes. Passengers would load at center-of-the-road stations to be built. It is part of a bigger plan for El Camino called the GRAND BOULEVARD INITIATIVE.

But it would waste lane space with miles of empty lane between buses and would bring other traffic (including other VTA buses) on El Camino to a near standstill most of the day (after two years of construction). Even crossing El Camino will be greatly delayed. The plan further splits cities along El Camino (Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara).

So while many go-along/get-along local politicians went along with the plan, some real persons objected. With the VTA planning THIS TAX MEASURE, it put the project on the burn burner and stopped talking about it. But the plan remains. And no new money is even needed to pursue it.

Bus-only lanes are already being installed in San Jose on extended El Camino Real (Alum Rock which leads to Santa Clara Street, the Alameda and then El Camino). That project has been over time and over budget, of course. Many Alum Rock businesses have gone broke.

Big corporate employers represented by the self-named "Silicon Valley Leadership Group" like Measure B because (1) it is a sale tax on little guys and gals - not a tax on them directly, and (2) it is written to be a SLUSH FUND with the explicit authority to borrow money against the 30-year revenue stream, broad categories for expenditures and the explicit power to even ignore the categories by vote of the VTA Board.

No one is elected by voters to the VTA Board. They are politicians taken from the Board of Supervisors (2) and city councils across the county (10) - mostly from San Jose.

The local chapter of the Sierra Club opposes Measure B because it offers no real plan for congestion relief. Toll lanes, for example, are a waste of lane space unless they are fully utilized. Amd once you get accustomed to toll lanes, get ready for TOLL ROADS. Same principle.

On October 1, 2015 (more than a year ago), I spoke under "oral communications" to the politicians on the VTA Board at their monthly meeting. I suggested language be placed in any proposed tax measure to forbid bad projects - such as bus-only lanes on El Camino - unless and until subsequently approved by voters. When Measure B was unanimously placed on the November ballot last June, not even one VTA Board Member proposed any such restriction.

WAKE UP PALO ALTO. Vote NO and demand a real transportation plan guaranteed by the terms of any supporting tax measure.

16 people like this
Posted by Liz Gardner
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 28, 2016 at 1:51 pm

VOTE for GREER STONE. He has the human relations and community building experience needed for this town to move forard in more healthy way. YES FOR GREER STONE.

5 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 28, 2016 at 6:10 pm

No on B (bus-only lanes)

Like this comment
Posted by rhody
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 29, 2016 at 10:24 am

rhody is a registered user.

I wish you would publish your recommendation earlier in the voting process. I always find them valuable but I have already sent in my absentee ballot.

7 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 29, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Question: Will failure of Prop 53 (a NO Vote) give Gov. Brown more power to grab money for High Speed Rail? It so, to keep this from happening, Vote YES on 53. (I got a recorded phone message from Gov. Brown asking for a NO vote.

1 person likes this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:30 am

I want to ask the Weekly to reconsider its recommendation for Prop 51, the school construction bond. The state has had no funds to give for school construction for some time. When districts choose to take state money for projects, the state requires districts to apply high, evidence-based standards and guidelines to the planning and construction to ensure that the schools are not unduly expensive for no good reason, for example. In Palo Alto's Measure A facilities bond spending, PAUSD would never have qualified for state funds because many of the decisions PAUSD made are known to make school construction unnecessarily expensive, but PAUSD had the luxury to ignore guidelines and standards that would have saved many millions. Rich districts can continue to go to local voters, as the analysis points out, and will not take state money as PAUSD did not because they want to do things their own way, but poor districts do not have that choice. Poor districts would have the incentives to follow best practices that make construction of schools more cost effective, and would be more likely to apply for and get the funds.

California schools were largely built in the '50s and studies show a number of important negative outcomes to schoolchildren related to aging facilities, even when renovated. Please contact the state department of education facilities department head for further information. This is probably why PAUSDs Facilities bond promised that renovated facilities would be equivalent to brand new -- does anyone think the schools here that were just renovated could be mistaken for brand new construction? So even when we have more money than most districts can ever hope to have, it's not realistic to expect equivalent renovated facilities, and one could make an argument that we might have gotten a lot of new facilities for the same or nearly the same money, that would last a lot longer.

California has been growing and new schools should be paid for by the developer interests. Vote YES for Prop 51, so that there are funds again for poor districts to pay for new schools, paid for by the development industry. Rich districts are less likely to comply with guidelines to get state funds, as PAUSDs history demonstrates, i.e., there is no evidence they will benefit disproportionately. That rationale is no reason to starve all districts of needed funds for new school facilities. The poor districts are the ones less likely to be able to raise money locally, and most in need of NEW school construction, so most willing to follow guidelines and get funds. YES on Prop 51 is supported by the mainstream educators, lawmakers, and community organizations - I respectfully ask the Weekly to reconsider its recommendation.

4 people like this
Posted by Town Square Moderator
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:51 am

Town Square Moderator is a registered user.


Prop. 51 requires that the money only be spent on new school construction rather than the renovation of existing schools. That was a major reason why we and others have opposed it and home builders are supporting it. With the local bond measures now only requiring 55% passage, most are passing if there is documented need.

1 person likes this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Thank you for your reply. First, the legislative analyst for the state says quite clearly in the ballot pamphlet that the money will be for four types of projects, including modenization (which in every state facilities document, means renovation upgrade). The state legislative analyst further shows a chart with how the money will be spent, with at least as much for modernization as for new construction. It is inaccurate to say that all the money can only be spent on new construction.

Secondly, there is a major chunk dedicated to career technical education facilities.

Thirdly, the school improvements would be funded by developer fees rather than more local bonds, something the legislative analyst says rarely happens. Did your analysis confuse that funding source with who in principal supports the proposal? Poorer communities have far less access to developer fees to support school construction than do richer districts. This proposition creates equity and makes developers pay their fair share.

As for the fact that *some* of the funds are dedicated to new construction, it creates the ability for schools to get new facilities that benefit kids where renivation might not be enough. Did you at least call the state department of education facilities people? Even just to find out if it is actually a fact that rich districts would benefit rather than poor districts who would be more willing to comply with state guidelines required if they want the funds?
The DOE facilities peopke say the most widely cited research is from Glen Earthman Web Link

"Even when older buildings have been modernized, the application might not be that successful because the building can accommodate only so much change... There is a body of research indicating that older buildings have a negative influence upon student performance. Research on the age of the building is quite conclusive on the negative impacts upon students."

Again, most building of school facilities in California in over 50 years old and renovation is often not adequate. This bond provides equally for new construction AND modernization, according to the legislative analyst. It is supported by the California State PTA. Both Democratic and Republican parties, the CA School Boards Assiciation, the CA League of Women Voters, and many, many others. Even the CA Taxpayers Association endorses Yes, when does that ever happen? There is no organized opposition to this, and your own endorsement seems to have gotten the wrong idea about what it us. Please review this one again, and be big enough to correct an error in analysis at least, hooefully in endorsement based on that. This is NOT some trojan horse for the building industry as portrayed in this story, it is according to the state legislative analyst, new schools and renovations/upgrades to be PAID FOR by development fees. Rich districts who want the money will have to pony up half anyway and will have to comply with state guidelines for the work, ensuring all the money is better spent.

Please vote YES on Prop 51.

1 person likes this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2016 at 1:50 pm

My own correction and apology. This is a general obligation bond rather than a developer fee funded bond. It doesn't change the main argument for it, or the fact that a general obligation bond for the state will better allow poorer districts access to funds. Again, in its own facilities bond, PAUSD did not even ask for state funds because it did not wish to comply with the kinds of analyses that would have entailed to ensure the funds were spent efficiently. If richer districts do decide to opt for applying for such funds, the greater scrutiny will benefit their children, too.

The only arguments you make against are that it would involve only new construction - which is incorrect, according to the state legislative analyst - and that the Yes on 51 Coalition for Adequate School Housing Issues Committee and CA Building Industry Association Issues Committee gave more money than TOM TORLAKSON's organization to support 51 and the Community College Facility Coalition Issues Committee. By that standard, you should be supporting Prop 61 since the only and huge funding against it comes mainly from Members of the *Pharmaceutical* industry Research and Manufacturers of America $109 million to defeat it).

A yes Vote on Prop 51 will replenish completed depleted state funds for building and repairing schools, and provide funds for trade school facilities. It is supported by both CA LWV, both major parties, the CA PTA, and even the CA Taxpayers Assn. it has no major opposition. Please reconsider your recommendation.

6 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2016 at 7:21 pm

I was in support of Santa Clara Measure A, until I found out that the money will go to moderate income people, too, who make as much as we do, and the tax amount is a hardship for us. There is no exception for people whose incomes are less than the amounts provided for. I would be happier for a measure that was intended entirely for low income people, that prioritized preventing the displacement of existing residents during gentrification, and that granted exceptions based on income of homeowners. The house poor in the area often only have their hone equity for college and retirement, and no other savings, and cash flow does not allow using the equity like a piggy bank anyway. This Measure seems to have been written with the assumption that homeowners are all rich. And I can't see anything that would prevent its being used for comoany housing for the likes of Palantir to encourage dense housing in Palo Alto that will get taken up by its workers instead of paying them enough to live here. I also get the sense that the funding will likely get used as a bludgeon against community planning concerns.

I wish I could support this. It will likely pass, but the devil is in the details, and this measure has way too few specific details. If for some reason it fails (unlikely), I would prefer it was restricted to low income. I also think measures like this should require actual analyses from communities wanting the funds for where the need is greatest and what will best satisfy the need. When that isn't done, as we have seen, the money and proposals can too easily be coopted by development interests. The penchant for advocates to call names rather than to discuss issues and hone ways to best meet overall need is also troubling and this proposal seems only enabling to that element.

2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 5, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Velly intarethting! I've read all the articles, ads (those negative and rebuttals to them), and video interviews, and I wish I could vote for 6 of the candidates, but unfortunately I can't. The Weekly and the Post agree on some, but not on all. I actually liked mayor Pat Burt's take on it and his choices, in his letter to the Post. However it goes, I don't think that Fine and Keller would work well together, some bad blood going on there. But, I would hope, if that happens, that the bad feelings could be patched up quickly so jointly, they, and the other council members can work well together to get things done in an expedient way. There is so much to be done and it can't wait for the long times and slow process it's taken for other things to happen. I'm getting ready to fill in the black ink lines on my ballot, so if anybody has something else to say, do it soon. I am encouraged to see the support from our young aspirants, Fine and Stone. They are the future for PA. I'll be long gone but would like to take a peek back from whereever I go to see how it all worked out. lol!

3 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2016 at 1:58 pm

@Gale Johnson,
Please read Councilman Eric Filseth's endorsementbletter first! He recommends especially Kou and Keller and also Carl and Stone. In Homan's recommendation of Lydia Kou, she talks about what we need in Councilmembers that speaks also for these candidates.

Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.


Steer me to that letter and Holman's recommendations.


3 people like this
Posted by Ignore
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Holman is responsible for the bay lands bike bridge fiasco, she secretly was meeting with arillaga regarding the MacArthur park location and took finder fees from local realators. Do we actually believe anything she has to say

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2016 at 1:55 am

@Gale Johnson,
Small device with problems is not cooperating. Can someone please post Eric Fikseth's endorsement letter?

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