The Council of Black Political Organizations (COBPO) in Los Angeles uses the following format to measure and assess the various propositions and measures put on the ballot.

For the propositions and measures in general, you should usually go straight to the Quick Reference Guide section in the Voters’ Guide publication sent in the mail. That will usually be within the first 4-8 pages. There you get a useful summary of what each proposition and/or bond measure is all about, what your vote means to each, and brief arguments for and against them. This is always short and sweet.

Right behind the Quick Reference Guide is the Legislative Analyst’s Report. Look especially at “The Proposal” and “The Fiscal Effects,” which are usually on the same page for each proposition. You can ignore everything else, if you want, since this information is generally definitive, or you can read the longer arguments and background material.

Follow the general principles below (always ask the following questions of propositions presented for our vote):
1–Will this proposition help my primary group (for us, African Americans)? (i.e., ethnic group, gender group, etc.) (If yes, consider voting yes; if no, vote no)
2–Will it harm my primary group? (If yes, clearly vote no; if no, ask more questions)
3–Will it help me as an individual? (If yes, vote yes; if no, consider more questions)
4–Will it harm me as an individual? (If yes, immediately vote no; if no, consider the other questions)
5–Who is accountable for making sure the proposition project is done the way it says? (If that is not explained, vote no):

If a bond measure (like Measure J), always look to see who is responsible for making sure the money is spent on what it promises to spend it on. If no one is responsible, or that issue is vague, vote no. If you have to pay more for the bond measure, and it’s not about school, fire/police, etc., vote no.

With the above as background, COBPO recommends the following:
I. On Measure J, vote NO! The mayor and Metro have consistently ignored the will of the Crenshaw residents regarding the Crenshaw Light Rail project. There is nothing in the narrative of Measure J to prevent that from happening again. We supported the original Measure R, and got nothing out of it. We are being asked to blindly support another fiscal measure that will be used for the benefit of other communities, but not ours. Fool us once, and that’s enough of that.

II. On Measure B, YES! Condoms for all.

III. On Proposition 30, Absolutely YES! The failure of 30 will immediately trigger higher student fees at all California Community Colleges, increased tuition starting in January for CSU and UC students, the canceling of many college courses, the reduction in teaching staff, etc. The temporary increase in sales and higher income taxes is well worth it.

IV. On Proposition 32, Absolutely NO! This is an anti-union item, and Blacks have been helped much more than hurt by unions.

V. On Proposition 33, YES! This revisits a promise made several years ago to cut back on insurance redlining in our communities.

VI. On Proposition 34, YES! This is the first chance in a very long time to reform California’s death penalty. There are too many mistakes made in the process, with most of them made on Black and Latino populations. DNA re-tests do no good if one has already been put to death.

VII. On Proposition 35, YES! We should be against any form of slavery.

VIII. On Proposition 36, YES! This is the first tangible opportunity we’ve had to reform the Three Strikes law which has caused so much sadness in the Black community.

IX. On Proposition 37, YES! Yes, it will cost farmers and others a bit more money, but we need to know what we are eating. Blacks already suffer disproportionately from too many urban, food-related health problems.

X. On Proposition 38, YES! Pass anything to improve public education. Our children are there, too.

XI. On Proposition 39, YES! We need to tax oil companies, too.

XII. On Proposition 40, YES! The Citizens Redist-ricting Commission did an excellent job, the courts have already approved its work, and we should too.

Our voices should be heard loud and clear, ya’ll!

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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