The Independent’s 2006 Endorsements

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Since the absentee ballot has become an increasing popular
method of voting in recent years, and since those ballots are
beginning to arrive in mailboxes this week, we will be publishing
our recommendations to readers in a series of endorsements during
the next three weeks. As has always been our policy, we will not
endorse in every race, but only those in which we believe we can
offer informed opinions. The most important point we want to make,
whether you agree with our endorsements or not, is to encourage you
to vote. For those not registered yet, you have until October 23.
Information about registration can be found in the
News of the Week section of the paper and on our Web site.
There are many important items to consider on this ballot. Discuss
the issues with your friends and family members. Encourage them to
vote and, if possible, help your neighbors who may have trouble
getting to the polls.

Lois Capps

23rd Congressional District

In her calm, deliberate, and rhetorically understated manner,
Congressmember Lois Capps has been one of the best representatives
this district has ever had. She is a champion for her constituents
and has been a consistent vote and voice for reason and
responsibility in a world going mad.

An increasing number of congressional members from both parties
are now scrambling to explain why they voted for President George
W. Bush’s disastrous Iraq War. Most claim, “We were misled by the
president.” And they are right — they were misled. But Capps was
not. She did her homework and refused to be swept up in war
hysteria or overcome by terror. When the administration asked for a
blank check to wage the wrong war against the wrong enemy at the
wrong time, she said no. Sadly, all of Capps’s predictions about
the dangers and follies of Bush’s preemptive strike have come true.
Capps’s courageous stand against the war makes her an exceptional
figure and a woman worthy of her duty, and many other examples of
her common sense and moderate political intelligence show her to be
an excellent congressmember and worthy of reelection.

While the tragic/comic opera of this Congress slowly winds to a
halt, Capps has consistently stood against its most outrageous
bills. She not only voted against the grossly craven tax cuts for
one percent of the wealthiest Americans, but she refused to
participate in the cruel cutting of services to the poor and the
dwindling middle class. Representative Capps warned these tax cuts
would only hurt the lives of working people. And again, sadly, she
has been proven right. Capps fought all the administration’s
feckless attempts to destroy our environmental policies and safety
standards. She successfully kept more oil drilling off our coast. A
knowledgeable advocate for better healthcare, more sensible
education policies, and help for our veterans, Capps — as a member
of the minority — has had to spend most of her time battling the
wrong-headed policies of this particularly radical, right-winged
Congress. Now, given the bizarre events unraveling the Republican
House leadership, a real possibility exists that the Democrats
might regain control of the House. In this context, do the country
a favor and vote to reelect Lois Capps.

Jill Martinez

24th Congressional District

Incumbent Elton Gallegly has held his post in the House of
Representatives for 20 long years, during which time he has
consistently distinguished himself as one of the most reactionary
dunderheads in Congress. Scanning his voting record begs the
question: Who does he consider his constituents? It certainly
doesn’t appear to be the people of the 24th District, a recently
gerrymandered area stretching from Simi Valley through Ventura
County and up the middle of Santa Barbara County. Though he has
been a lapdog of the Bush administration since 2000, it’s not
really accurate to classify his voting record as conservative,
though he sure could talk that talk; but more than anything, his
record is just plain bad. If you’re not for greasing the wheels of
corporate America, for making it easier to run roughshod over the
environment, for plunging the country ever deeper into debt by
lowering taxes and borrowing money for misbegotten military
adventures with ramifications too numerous to list in this short
space, you’re not for Elton Gallegly.

And he has gotten worse since he was gerrymandered into
representing Santa Barbara County. Aside from the much documented
fact that he seldom responded to the needs of his constituents,
especially those registered as Democrats, he even refused to help
in the ongoing fight to keep Santa Rosa Island a national park.
Instead, he has supported the thoroughly odious congressmember
Duncan Hunter in his attempt to turn Santa Rosa into a private
hunting club for disabled veterans, a deeply spurious claim since
the veterans group that inspected the island said it was remarkably
unsuited for any disabled person.

This is not a man who should represent the voters of this
country, let alone this county.

For whom, then, can those of us squashed into this odd district
vote? The answer is Jill Martinez. A Presbyterian minister who
retired from her ministry last year to run for office, Martinez
offers a forward-thinking alternative to her supine opponent
Gallegly. A deputy director for the Ventura County Area Housing
Authority in the mid 1990s, Martinez has stayed active in the
housing arena and has worked diligently to bring affordable housing
to thousands of working families. Martinez’s top priorities are
finding a safe, strategically sound way to pull our troops out of
Iraq as soon as possible, funding quality education, and achieving
universal access to affordable healthcare and housing — a pleasant
change of pace from providing private hunting reserves to elitist
congressmembers.

But what really sets Martinez apart from Gallegly is her lively,
engaged manner. Unlike her rival — who tried to retire this year
but was forced back in the saddle by Bush’s mastermind Karl
Rove — Martinez is willing and eager to meet with all residents in
the 24th District. We are confident that Jill Martinez will work to
forge a new Congress that does what it is supposed to do: stand up
to the president, stand up for human rights, stand up for sane
fiscal policy, and stand up for her district. For many decades the
United States was governed from the broad center of American
politics. Since the ascension of the Bush administration, and
particularly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,
radical politics has supplanted our traditional faith in
moderation, and it is wreaking havoc on our values, our prestige in
the world, our coffers, and on us. Help restore the balance. Elect
Jill Martinez to the 24th District.

Janet Wolf

2nd District Supervisor

Janet Wolf is the best person to represent the residents of the
county’s 2nd District, especially those living in Goleta Valley
neighborhoods where there is no other governing body but the Board
of Supervisors. Of course, the whole district must rely on the
board to deal with critical regional problems. And there will be
plenty of those facing the new board come January. Most of these
concern land-use conflicts involving growth and preservation.

Within the Goleta Valley, for example, an argument is raging
over how to preserve the area’s suburban character on the one hand,
while trying to provide affordable housing for its less prosperous
or younger workforce on the other. Wolf, who has raised her family
for 18 years in the Goleta Valley, will be in an especially strong
position to understand the needs of that community, and to act in a
leadership role helping the board to reach a balanced decision.

Wolf has a well-earned reputation for being a person who can
create a cooperative spirit among the members of boards on which
she has served, such as the Goleta School Board when it considered
some of its most tumultuous issues. Wolf’s skill in
consensus-building will come in especially handy during the
upcoming battle for the Gaviota Coast, which promises to be among
the most important land-use fights in the history of Santa Barbara
County. We believe Wolf has the backbone, the knowledge, and the
support to stand up to development lobbyists while protecting the
character, the beauty, and the integrity of our rural-urban
boundary. Last, if not least, Janet Wolf, if elected, will be the
first person to represent the 2nd District who has actually lived
in Goleta.

Measure D 2006: YES

Rarely are county voters given an opportunity to support an
ordinance that promises such essential and immediate relief as
Measure D. Boiled down to its essence, Measure D increases the
county sales tax by just one-quarter of a cent, thus raising an
estimated $1.6 billion during the next 30 years for congestion
relief efforts. We absolutely need that money. Here’s why. Without
the funds provided by Measure D, many of the county’s roads and
supporting infrastructure will fall into disrepair. The money will
allow the widening of Highway 101 from Milpas Street to Ventura
County, which too often resembles a four-lane parking lot. But,
most importantly, Measure D offers us—for the first time ever—the
means to begin funding transit alternatives.

Money has been earmarked for a commuter rail line connecting
Ventura and Santa Barbara. Some wish to dismiss commuter rail as a
pipedream conjured by car-hating crackpots. But consider this: In
the next 15 years, even after adding lanes to Highway 101, traffic
will increase to the point that gridlock will once again grind the
freeway to a halt. When that happens, and even the staunchest
advocates of car-centric traffic planning concede that it will,
expanding the freeway again will not be an option—there will be no
more land and construction will be too expensive. A rail
connection, however, can be augmented by adding more passenger cars
rather than new freeway lanes.

Measure D will also support increased bus service within the
county’s seven cities, as well as connecting services between the
cities. It will create new bike lanes and safe routes for children
to walk or ride their bicycles to school. The tragic death of Jake
Boysel, the 12-year-old boy recently killed in a traffic collision
while riding his bicycle to La Colina Junior High School,
illustrates this compelling need. As an added bonus, passage of
Measure D—which will just cost county residents eight cents per
day—will make Santa Barbara County eligible for up to $550 million
worth of matching funds and grants. But without Measure D, we can
kiss that money goodbye. Federal and state transportation agencies
are only willing to help communities willing to help themselves.
Because Measure D requires a two-thirds super majority of the
voters to pass—a most difficult challenge—it’s unusually urgent
that you take your suffrage seriously. Vote for Measure D. Don’t
squander the opportunity.

Prop. 1A: NO

This is a classic special interest proposition; in this case,
the road construction lobby. Proposition 1A would amend the state
constitution to allow gas sales taxes to go exclusively to highway
improvement measures. It would unnecessarily hamstring the state
budget, taking money away from education, the environment,
emergency expenditures, and other programs. Unless you stand to
make money off such a limitation, there’s no reason to vote
affirmatively on proposition 1A.

Prop. 1B: YES

“I have the impression all of this will end very badly,” Charles
de Gaulle, the former French Prime Minister, once said of the
California freeway system. Since 1990, California voters have
evidently been doing their best to make de Gaulle’s prophesy come
true, approving just $5 billion in state bonds for transportation
improvements. Proposition 1B would give a $20 billion boost to our
anemic transportation budget. About $11 billion would go to
congestion relief; $4 billion to public transportation; $3 billion
toward port enhancements, and in the process reduce air pollution;
and $1.5 billion would go toward safety measures ranging from
bridge fortification against earthquakes to safeguarding harbors,
ports, and ferry terminals. If passed, as much as $70 million would
be set aside for Santa Barbara County. But that’s only if Santa
Barbara voters have the good sense to approve Measure D, the
quarter-of-a-cent sales tax that will fund a host of traffic
congestion relief measures. De Gaulle, with his Gallic pessimism,
thought our freeways would end in ruin. Prove him wrong.

Prop. 1C: YES

If you happen to own a house in California, consider yourself
fortunate. For everyone else, this proposition would provide a
modicum of assistance. It would put $2.85 billion toward helping
low-income renters, first-time homebuyers, and the homeless or
nearly homeless. Some of this would come in the form of
low-interest loans to homebuyers, some to shelters for battered
women. Of that total, $1.35 billion would go toward infrastructure
improvements — environmental cleanup, making water available — in
neglected metropolitan areas where low-cost housing could then be
built.

Prop. 1D: YES

California schools have an astonishing backlog of construction
projects — take a look at San Marcos High School, where a quarter
of the classes are conducted in oblong boxes on wheels. And San
Marcos is in great shape compared with schools in Compton or west
Oakland. This proposition would put $10.4 billion toward fixing the
problem. Seven billion dollars would go toward K-12, with most of
the rest going toward universities, community colleges, and trade
schools.

Prop. 1E: YES

The Department of Water Resources estimates that $7 billion-$12
billion are needed to upgrade the state levee system. As we were
all made tragically aware last summer, flood control measures are
easy to forego — until disaster strikes. Prop. 1E would allot more
than $4 billion to shore up the state levee system, most of it
going to the Central Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
area. This measure is a vital step in protecting lives, homes, and
drinking water for millions of Californians.

Prop. 83: NO

This proposition is costly, unnecessary, and disturbingly harsh.
Known as Jessica’s Law, it would require all sexual offenders to
wear GPS tracking devices. And it would bar them from living within
2,000 feet of a school, or other location chosen by local
governments. However, evidence suggests that tracking measures
don’t reduce sex crimes. And effectively barring ex-offenders from
living in cities would most likely drive many off the grid.
California already has some of the most stringent laws regarding
sex crimes of any state in the country. Jessica’s Law is
pointless.

Prop. 84: YES

This would put $5.3 billion toward cleaning up our beaches, our
water supply, and our state and local parks, plus an additional $1
billion for flood control. The governor supports this one, as does
the California Chamber of Commerce, the water districts,
environmentalists, and conservationists.

Prop. 85: NO

This nasty piece of business is not about protecting families or
teenagers — it’s about working incrementally to overturn Roe v.
Wade, outlaw abortion, and increasingly insert government into our
private lives. It would amend the California constitution to
require doctors to notify parents or guardians of teenagers trying
to get an abortion 48 hours before the operation is conducted.
Ideally, that’s what should happen. But needless to say, teenagers
from abusive homes may not be in a position to notify their parents
safely. If Prop. 85 were passed, chances are they’d still have
abortions, just not under safe or optimum medical
circumstances.

Prop. 86: YES

Californians pay out the nose for smokers to receive treatment
when they get emphysema or cancer — estimates run as high as $16
billion to $20 billion per year. Proposition 86 would raise the
cigarette tax by $2.60 per pack. That’s a big hike, or so it seems
until you consider how much money people in the European Union or
British Commonwealth, for example, pay for cigarettes — typically
the equivalent of $9, $10, or $11. Evidence shows that with each
increase in cigarette prices, the number of smokers statewide is
reduced. This saves lives and reduces the medical costs for all of
us. This bill will not solve the problem of how our health system
is funded or how we pay for our healthcare. That will require some
serious political courage. Until that day, we can at least make it
harder, though not illegal, for people to smoke.

Prop. 87: YES

If passed, Prop. 87 would soak the oil companies now doing
business in California with a new tax that would generate $4
billion over 10 years. That money would then be invested in the
promotion and development of alternative energy sources. The oil
companies have spent millions on ad campaigns trying to convince us
why this is a bad idea. Maybe that’s not reason enough to endorse
Prop. 87, but it’s pretty close. Even at $4 billion, this measure
comes a day late and a dollar short. The whole country should have
declared a state of emergency the day the Twin Towers were attacked
and devoted much of our mighty resources toward making us as
independent of fossil fuels as humanly possible. Since that hasn’t
happened, we’ll have to begin here in California.

The real place to accomplish this should be in the private
marketplace, for there is plenty of money to be made by developing
alternative energy. A few oil companies, such as BP and Shell, have
in fact begun to invest in this endeavor. But most oil giants seem
stuck in a swamp, destined to follow the fate of the dinosaurs.
Unfortunately, their lack of foresight will take us all down if
something is not done to penetrate their corporate intransigence.
For example, Exxon Mobil, apparently blinded by greed, continues to
deny the existence of global warming. Clearly the private sector
needs a wake-up call. Predictably, the oil industry has unleashed
the usual scare tactics: If Prop. 87 passes, the increased taxes
will result in consumers paying more at the pump. The fact is most
of California’s gas is produced from oil drilled elsewhere; the tax
increase exerts minimal upward pressure on prices. The importance
of Prop. 87 is that it will, in some significant measure, help
reduce the state’s quenchless thirst for oil and thus help drive
down prices.

Prop. 88: YES

Public education in California is underfunded. We have one of
the lowest per-pupil spending rates in the country. Prop. 88 would
levy a $50 tax on property parcels to fund schools. As a proportion
of the total education budget, revenues generated by the tax would
be trifling — $450 million or so. That said, we still support Prop.
88, if for no other reason than sometimes something is better than
nothing.

Prop. 89: NO

Given what we know about the ugly mess in Sacramento, it’s hard
not to vote for this because it is an effort at campain finance
reform.We all know candidates and measures with big-buck backing
win — whether they should or not. But Prop. 89 is not the reform
California needs. For any campaign reform effort to pass the smell
test, all special interest donations need to be regulated. We
opposed Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to attack union
donations last year for just this reason; it didn’t limit corporate
givers. We oppose Prop. 89 for just the same reasons, only this
time Prop. 89 attacks corporate contributions, while giving union
donors a pass. While we support the concept of publicly financed
campaigns, we also think everyone should contribute. Prop. 89
sticks corporations and financial institutions with the full tab of
what will be an extremely expensive undertaking. It’s easy to
understand why. They, after all, have the money. But it’s not
fair.

Prop. 90: NO

If Prop. 90 passes, you can kiss goodbye what’s left of Paradise
and move to Newark, New Jersey. According to proponents of Prop.
90, it would prevent what recently occurred in Connecticut, where
their Supreme Court ruled that the state could use “eminent domain”
to raze homes that were not blighted and turn the land over to
private developers who would reap an “economic benefit.” California
already has ample legal safeguards in place to prevent such abuses
from happening here. But the real danger is hidden in the fine
print where a provision would force local governments to compensate
private property owners for any actions that diminish the value of
their property. This recipe for disaster would prevent our cities
and county from imposing any constraints on the unchecked greed of
private developers. Efforts to limit the size or scale of a private
development to ensure its compatibility with the surrounding
neighborhood would be grounds for litigation. Any government effort
to limit development of the Gaviota Coast, for instance, would
trigger lawsuits. Likewise, government programs requiring that
developers of new housing include a few units of affordable housing
would become an actionable offense. California law allows property
owners a fair rate of return on their investment; it does not
require an unlimited rate of return.

Kate Parker and Robert Noel

School Board

Two seats are open for the Santa Barbara School Board. Incumbent
and oftentimes controversial Robert Noel once again gets our
endorsement for his continued commitment to underachieving students
and fierce watchdog mentality. Oftentimes at odds with his fellow
boardmembers, Noel has suffered from the occasional foot-in-mouth
disease, but his vision and commitment has never wavered — though
speculation remains as to just how well he will be able to get
along with next year’s incarnation of the board. His recently
proposed high school initiatives illustrate perfectly why we
continue to back Robert Noel: the Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness Academy where students can begin to train as police or
firefighters; a pre-advanced placement program designed to give
students a better chance at college; and an in-high school
Construction Technology Institute which would prepare students for
either a trade career or a degree in architecture. Robert Noel has
a creative mind and a sincere soul — all he has to do now is
control his contrarian spirit so that his excellent proposals will
see the light of day.

Adams Elementary School PTA veteran Kate Parker gets our
endorsement for her intelligence, breadth of knowledge, common
sense, and clear vision of a “bigger picture.” Since stepping down
as PTA president some two years ago, Parker has seldom missed a
School Board meeting while serving as Adams Elementary’s board
liaison — an experience that not only galvanized her desire for a
School Board seat, but has given her a remarkable amount of
background knowledge that will allow her to step in and immediately
have an informed impact on the board’s decisions. She presents a
moderate temperament coupled with a deep understanding of important
educational issues — two essentially needed qualities to move the
district forward.

The decision to endorse Noel and Parker was not arrived at
before carefully considering the other candidates — especially San
Marcos High School parent and past PTSA president Suzy Cawthon.
With her undeniable energy and serious number-crunching
capabilities, Cawthon is a fine candidate who we hope will run
again in the future. But the combined experience of Kate Parker and
Robert Noel, their broad familiarity with this district, its
constituencies, and its problems make them the best choices for the
next Santa Barbara School Board.

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