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Practical Politics

The politics of dirty pool

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 11/3/2016, 12:01 a.m.

In this election issue, as usual during a presidential contest, there are tons of issues to sort through, all important for some constituency or another. For the California ballot, there are more than 17 initiatives, plus the regular election of a bunch of people.

Kamala Harris stands alone as the best candidate for the U.S. Senate seat.

Among the initiatives, some have deep-pocket backers, and some don’t. Measure M is one of the former, heavily supported by many high profile people, some elected and some private. As this column has mentioned in the past, on any bond issue or other money-driven ballot issue, first look to see whether the Black community’s interests are going to be best served by the passage of the issue. Next, who will be in charge of the money, and who will make the determinations of where the money will be spent. Will the Black community have any say-so in either of those questions?

Well, Measure M, for all of the hoopla surrounding it, cannot be supported here. Number one, there is no indication whatsoever in any of the information presented that the Black community’s interests will even be considered, let alone respected. The measure calls for a “forever” tax, i.e., a permanent small tax that will amount to a great deal of money. There are promises made about the money creating 465,000 new jobs, reducing time sitting in cars on freeways, more light rails and people mover transport units. The problem is, this has all been said before in raising earlier public monies, and virtually none of it has panned out. Specifically, none has panned out to create better living conditions in the Black community.

Additionally, according to recent research done by a fellow writer, Larry Aubry, Measure M “would constitute a blank check for a (public) agency—LACMTA—that has to date racked up over $1 billion in cost overruns for projects just in the past 6 years, and historically has disrespected and disregarded the concerns of South L.A.’s Black community.” This record is not one “worthy of praise, or worthy of a blank check.” Instead, it has “earned a ‘No’ vote on Measure M.”

I must agree. This is dirty pool. The measure fails the qualifying test noted above, i.e., will it help the Black community, who’s in charge, who determines where the money will be spent, and will members of the Black community have any say-so in any of that?

Another initiative we should be wary of is Prop 59, which promotes itself as a blow against the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates for money to become an overwhelming factor in elections. The problem is, however, this measure is very poorly written, and if passed will just get in the way of a serious attempt at overturning that ruling. This initiative should be opposed.

Here are my recommendations based on the view that what helps the Black community, in the long or short run, we should endorse:

Prop 51—Yes Prop 60—Yes

Prop 52—Yes Prop 61—Yes

Prop 53—No Prop 62—No

Prop 54—Yes Prop 63—Yes

Prop 55—Yes Prop 64—Yes

Prop 56—Yes Prop 65—No

Prop 57—Yes Prop 66—No

Prop 58—Yes Prop 67—Yes

Prop 59—No

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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