Mail-in ballots went out to voters on October 6, and the last day to register to vote in this hotly contested election is October 20. On Election Day — November 4 — polls will be open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. November 4 is the last day mail-in ballots can arrive at the County Election Office (located at 4440 Calle Real, Ste. A). Questions? Call County Elections at 568-2200 or visit sbcvote.com. And don’t forget to vote!
Proposition 1: $7.545 Billion Water Bond: No
Building new dams isn’t the solution for our current drought or even droughts further down the road, not to mention the potential danger dams cause to the environment. But if taxpayers are going to get stuck picking up the tab, the money should be spent on something that can help right now — conservation, reuse, and recycling.
Proposition 2: Budget Stabilization Account: Yes
California’s budget instability stems from an unhealthy reliance on capital gains and desperately needs to be rejiggered accordingly. But as a short-term ameliorative, Proposition 2 — which requires the Legislature to set money aside in good times for when there’s not nearly enough — has the benefit of common sense.
Proposition 45: Health Insurance Rate Change Control: Yes
This would require health insurance companies to get permission from the state Insurance Commissioner to raise rates. Thirty-five others states already have this protection, and the sky hasn’t fallen yet. Does it make sense that California’s car insurance rates are currently regulated, but health insurance is not? We didn’t think so, either.
Proposition 46: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors, Medical Negligence Lawsuits, Initiative Statute: No
There are three provisions to this proposition; every one of them is wrong-headed. The most dangerous is increasing the cap on pain and suffering damages that could be awarded to plaintiffs, which would raise insurance fees on doctors and hospitals and would pressure doctors to order unnecessary testing and procedures just to protect themselves from lawsuits, which would also raise medical costs. These are the wrong solutions for the wrong problems. Next.
Proposition 47: Criminal Sentence Reform: Yes
For way too long, prosecuting attorneys throughout California have been sending way too many people to state prison for committing nonviolent and low-level criminal offenses. This has taken a huge toll on state finances, not to mention the lives of millions of people adversely and unjustly affected. Prop. 47 seeks to tip the scales the other way by limiting the discretion of prosecutors. If passed, Prop. 47 would no longer allow felony charges to be filed for certain low-level or minor offenses that on their face would seem to be misdemeanors. There will be short-term consequences for counties whose jails are overcrowded already. We do not seek to minimize those. But they pale in comparison to the more profound and sweeping costs incurred because we’ve taken the justice out of our criminal justice system.
Goleta Water District Board: Meg West
Once upon a time, the Goleta Water District Board was the hottest ticket in town, and with the drought upon us, it could get that way again. Two outsiders are running for the seat, and we’re supporting both of them. Meg West has long practiced water conservation in her own landscape business and has a thoughtful understanding of the Goleta community.
Measure O: Bed Tax Increase: Yes
For whatever reason, the County of Santa Barbara charges a lower bed tax than all the surrounding municipal governments. Now, the county hopes to change that by jacking its bed taxes (transient occupancy tax, technically) from 10 percent to 12.5. We say, “About time.” This will generate much-needed additional revenues for the county.
Measure P: Anti-Fracking and High Intensity Extraction Initiative: No
This is one of the most painful initiatives with which this paper has ever wrestled. We know that many of you will disagree with us. As we see it, there are two principled ways to consider a vote on Measure P: One takes the bold, broad view that climate change is the most urgent issue confronting the planet and that any threat, however remote, to our groundwater basin must be attacked at all costs. This argument is the overarching view of the proponents for “Yes on Measure P.” Some of the best, most valiant environmental activists in the county support this position and make a convincing case that P will allow Santa Barbara to take the lead against air pollution and dangerous oil-extraction methods throughout the United States. The principal opponents to these claims are oil companies. Really? What possible principled argument against Measure P would end up on the same side as an industry with one of the most disastrous, deceitful, polluting records in modern history? It certainly isn’t made in their multimillion-dollar, fright-mongering ad campaign. It is, in fact, in the measure itself. However much some voters might wish to make a grand statement, it should not fly in the face of good governance. It is our opinion that Measure P leaves much to be desired in that regard.
From its hurried beginning this year when its originators, a new environmental group called the Water Guardians, collected 16,000 signatures, Measure P was promoted as a fight against fracking. But so far, there have only been two known cases of fracking. At that time, the supervisors quickly responded by adopting some of the strictest fracking regulations in the country. Since then, no fracking permits have been sought here. The real target of Measure P is cyclic steam injection, which generates four times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil extraction. Last November, when Santa Maria Energy proposed the largest such project in county history, the supervisors were, however imperfectly, again prodded into action, dramatically limiting the air pollution allowed.
A voter initiative, such as this measure, should only be used as a last resort. And it certainly should not be written in a confusing and potentially litigious manner. This is the principal problem with Measure P: It is susceptible to costly legal challenges. And this, unfortunately, is not fear mongering. That the county was compelled to craft clarifying language in order to reduce this risk troubles us further. Had Measure P not been written in such haste, many of these problems could have been avoided. Now Santa Barbara voters must decide on an imperfect measure. If fears of climate change trump your concerns about good governance, vote “yes.” But if not, vote “no.”
Regional Bond Measures
Measure Q : Yes
The Montecito Union School District is asking for a $27 million bond, 71 percent of which will go to deferred maintenance.
Measure S: City College Bond for $228 Million: Yes
Like all community colleges in California, Santa Barbara City College has been forced to do more with less. Thus, the campus has amassed a massive backlog of deferred maintenance, which, in a more ideal world, should be funded at the statewide level. We say that because increasingly, Santa Barbara City College has become more a statewide institution and less the child of Santa Barbara that it’s traditionally been. But so far, the state has not seen fit to float any bond initiatives of its own, leaving individual campuses to reach out to their surrounding communities for funding. Because of this, Measure S is necessary. Compared to the last City College bond in 2008, which weighed in at $70 million, this one — at $288 million — generates legitimate sticker shock. But the needs are real. That being said, City College has failed to address the impacts — housing, parking, behavior — its growing student body has on surrounding neighborhoods, not to mention Isla Vista. This measure will not touch those problems. We expect the college trustees and administrators will next harness their considerable creativity, energy, and resources on this crucial mission.
Measure U : Yes
The Carpinteria Unified School District is asking for a $90 million facilities bond for improvements, including replacing 68 portable classrooms and technology upgrades. They are necessary.
Governor: Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown
Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty T. Yee
Attorney General: Kamala D. Harris
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
U.S. Representative, 24th District: Lois Capps
Member of the State Assembly, 37th District: Das Williams
School Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson
Goleta Water District: Meg West
Proposition 1 ($7.545 Billion Water Bond): No
Proposition 2 (State Budget Stabilization): Yes
Proposition 45 (Healthcare Insurance Rate Change Control): Yes
Proposition 46 (Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors): No
Proposition 47 (Criminal Sentence Reform): Yes
Proposition 48 (Indian Gaming Compacts): No
School Bond Measures
Measure Q (Montecito Union School District): Yes
Measure S (Santa Barbara Community College District): Yes
Measure U (Carpinteria Unified School District): Yes
Measure O (Transient Occupancy Tax): Yes
Measure P (Prohibit Certain Petroleum Operations): No