Sunday, October 22, 2006

Vote Yes on 1 E

A friend posted a long piece with recommendations on each of the propositions. I have a vigorous dissent from his position on 1 E. He thought it was a just a valley issue and valleys flood.
Here is my response.

Let me take strong exception to your recommendation on Proposition 1 E, the Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Bond Act of 2006.
I urge a Yes Vote.
First, the floods of Katrina have more than developers flipping out. A major portion of the residents of the Central Valley are at risk. In fact, we are more at risk than was New Orleans before Katrina.
The Levees need repair, yesterday. This bond issue is only a down payment on what is needed.
Yes, it is a Central Valley issue. However, the entire state depends upon the water that passes through the Central Valley. Except for people on the North Coast, the major parts of the state drink this water and use if for farming.
The current levies were build between 1890 and 1915 by mostly Chinese workers carrying dirt in baskets. We desperately need an updated system. Over 700 miles of levies are outside of the state system and not even inspected,
A major flood could collapse the system and thus collapse the water supply for Central Valley agriculture and the entire Los Angeles basin. As in Louisiana, it if far less expensive to repair the levees than it is to repair the damage after the floods. Notice, the poor people of Louisiana still are not back in their homes.
There is a place where the developers are blocking progress. They are preventing laws from establishing that you can not build new homes in a flood plane. This is a disaster. It needs to be changed.
The amount in the bond issue is too little, but it will make a start. We need a complete over haul of the system and a rebuilding of hundreds of miles of levees.
I live behind a levee. But, if the system is not re built, Sacramento would face a disaster on the scale of New Orleans in case of a major flood. In 1986 and 1997 we came close. Sacramento’s flood risk is the highest in the U.S.
If the Central Valley faced a flood like that in New Orleans, the entire state would suffer an economic crisis. It would cost the state over $20 billion to re build. And hundreds of thousands would be forced to move to higher ground temporarily for emergency shelter, such as the North Coast.
Property owners in the Sacramento and Central Valleys are paying increased costs to build new, improved levies. The bond issue of 1E would provide money to get federal matching funds of billions of dollars to continue to prepare for floods.
For more see

Also, I disagree with your recommendation on Proposition 88.
While progressives are generally not opposed to raising taxes to pay for essential services like public education, Prop 88 is not the right way to resolve the problem of our under-funded schools and even the initial backers of it have walked away. The $470 million a year Prop 88 would allocate to schools includes more than $100 million that is earmarked only for "academically successful" schools, that have not received other money for state improvement, according to how they rank within the state's standardized testing system. Those are code words. All public academically successful schools have received funds. This is an allocation for charter schools. I believe that they are the only “successful” schools that have not received funding.
This requires more checking.
Under-performing schools are already at a disadvantage in this state, and Prop 88 would widen the gap.

Here is what the California Federation of Teachers says about Prop. 88.

No to regressive taxes
VOTE November 7, 2006
Prop 88, on the face of it, should be a no-brainer for educators. Its language says that it would impose a $50 tax on each real property parcel in the state to pay for K-12 programs, including school safety, textbooks, and extending class-size reduction beyond K-3. It would bring in several billion dollars for public education. Sounds great, you say. It seems egalitarian and supports education.
But Prop 88 hits poor people for the same chunk of money as the well-to-do. This is not an equal levy. If you’re Bill Gates, $50 is pocket change. If you’re a Wal-Mart “associate” and you have a mortgage to pay, $50 could mean having to choose between medicine and shoes this month.
Another difficulty with Prop 88 is that it would raise false expectations. Remember the lottery? Ever since that ballot initiative passed, much of the public wonders why we complain about the public schools still being under funded. Yet, in reality, the lottery never brings in more than 2% of the state’s public education budget, and in many years the total is closer to 1%.
Prop 88 would impose a statewide property tax, the first since Prop 13. But it would raise fewer funds than the lottery does for schools. We need to reform Prop 13; but if we do, it should be a significant state budget reform that brings in substantial monies to schools and other necessary programs. Prop 88 would make it harder to enact real budget reform.
Prop 88 would award its facility grants to fewer than one in a hundred schools, targeting schools without state bond monies and with standardized test scores in the top half. Its backers’ intent is to quietly favor charter schools.
The stated goal of Prop 88 is laudable; the mechanism is faulty. Vote NO on Prop 88.
Now that your posts have raised some alarm bells, I will have to go back and look through your other recommendations.

Duane Campbell
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