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2014 Latino Voting Guide
Via SF Examiner
Via SF Examiner

On Nov. 4 San Franciscans will be asked to vote on a dizzying array of propositions at both the local and state levels. The outcomes of these votes will affect our everyday lives as people who live, work and pay taxes in San Francisco. Students in the Latino Politics course in the Department of Latina/Latino Studies at San Francisco State University took on the challenge to learn as much as possible about the propositions and to systematically evaluate each one, posing the research question, “Does this proposition respond to Latino political interests?”

After extensive research, analysis and debate, the students offer the following summaries and recommendations on all 12 local and six statewide propositions, based on a full awareness of the growing needs of Latinos. We hope that these recommendations help all voters to get out and vote in November’s election. In California, Latinos constitute 38 percent of the population, but only 22 percent of the vote. We need all eligible voters to represent our community on Nov. 4 and to make our voices heard on these important issues.

Editor’s note: These recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of El Tecolote and its staff. 

NO RECOMMENDATION on Proposition A – Transportation Bond 
While there are many compelling reasons to support Proposition A, we also have strong reservations about how this initiative would be implemented. San Francisco’s Transportation Task Force identified a need for $10 billion in crucial infrastructure projects over the next 10 years. Proposition A would allow the city of San Francisco to borrow $500 million by issuing general obligation bonds on infrastructure projects designed to improve Muni reliability and accessibility, improve the conditions of streets, and make roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. These improvements sound very attractive to Latinos who rely heavily on public transportation and we strongly support the idea of beefing up funding for public transportation infrastructure. The problem is that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is not legally bound to use any of the bond money for that purpose and we are reluctant to place blind trust in the agency since it has disappointed the Latino community many times in the past. We support funding for public transportation but question if Proposition A is a strong enough mandate to insure improvements to users.

“YES” on Proposition B – Transportation Fund and Population Growth
Proposition B would allow more of our tax money to go to the SFMTA when the city’s population grows. It would also establish rules in which the SFMTA must use 75 percent of the increase to improve Muni’s reliability, frequency of service, capacity, and pay for Muni repairs. The other 25 percent must be used to improve street safety. In 2015, this increase will be based on the last 10 years of population growth. Every year after will depend on the previous year only. One of the drawbacks of Proposition B is that it takes money out of the general fund and away from other vital uses, including services to our community, but despite this trade-off, we believe that Latinos will, on balance, benefit from the increased funding to public transportation.

“YES” on Proposition C – Children and Families First
If passed, Proposition C will extend the Children’s Fund for the next 25 years and extend the Public Education Enrichment Fund for 26 years. Both of these funds provide public services to children such as healthcare, after-school programs, recreation and cultural programs, and help for homeless and foster youth. The measure would establish a council to create and review plans to improve the conditions of children and families in San Francisco. It would also divide the city’s general Rainy Day Reserve into two separate entities: the City Rainy Day Reserve and a new School Rainy Day Reserve, which will be used exclusively for services to children and to young adults who are transitioning out of foster care or homeless. Latino children make up the majority of public school kids in California and depend heavily on public services to the point where children’s issues are Latino issues.

“YES” on Proposition D – Former Retiree Health Benefits
Proposition D would create an opportunity for former employees of the Redevelopment Agency and/or the Successor Agency to receive the full retirement benefits they earned. If Proposition D passes, these former employees would be fully credited for their previous public service. We want to stand in solidarity with these workers and all workers, regardless of ethnic background, and Proposition D assures these former employees will receive the benefits they rightfully earned.

ShowImage“YES” on Proposition E – Sugary Drink Tax
Proposition E would create a two-cent-per-ounce tax that will deter the consumer from buying sugary drinks. Less consumption of sugary drinks will result in less sugar-related diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure that affect the Latino community at a high rate. The tax collected will be directed to health and physical activity programs. $12 million will go to public schools to expand physical education and nutritional services, such as school lunch, physical education classes, and after-school programs. Another $8 million will be used to address access to healthy foods and drinking water, water bottle filling stations, increased dental health services for low-income communities, and public education campaigns to promote healthy living. Even though this is a regressive tax, meaning that lower-income people will be hit harder, we still support Proposition E because we have seen this kind of tax work in our favor in the past, as in the case of the cigarette tax which prompted people to quit smoking. Proposition E could prompt a change in culture away from sugary drinks and toward a more healthy form of beverage consumption.

“Yes” on Proposition F – Pier 70
Proposition F would reclaim public access to the city’s waterfront at historic Pier 70, bringing parks, housing and local jobs back to the area. Proposition F would create about 13,000 permanent jobs and 11,000 construction jobs. It would enhance public transportation with more than $20 million committed to transit improvements and create 300 to 600 affordable housing units for low- and middle-income people. It would also preserve historic buildings and create a nine-acre waterfront recreation center with parks, playgrounds, and nonprofit spaces accessible for all.

“YES” on Proposition G – Property Re-sale Tax
Proposition G aims to reduce property speculation and no fault evictions by imposing high taxes on properties that are “flipped” for profit. It would create a new tax on the sale or transfer of multi-unit properties with fewer than 30 units if sold within five years. The city already collects a tax of between 0.5 percent and 2.5 percent, but present rates only apply to the value of the property and don’t change according to how long the property is owned. Proposition G creates a five-year “tiered tax” that begins at 24 percent% if selling occurs within a year, and drops to 14 percent% after 4 years. San Francisco is facing widespread gentrification and renters are being evicted. Proposition G would slow down the tide of evictions. Because Latinos rent more often than other groups, we feel Proposition G serves the interests of Latinos. It provides exemptions to those who are subject to affordability-based restrictions as well as to owner-occupied buildings, focusing more on realtor investors. It also would not apply to single-family homes or new housing if the housing will be made available as low-income housing for at least 15 years.

“YES” on Proposition H – Golden Gate Park Natural Grass
Proposition H would require the city to keep natural grass on all athletic fields and prohibit the construction of artificial turf fields and night time lights in Golden Gate Park. This will keep Golden Gate Park natural and preserve the natural wildlife. Parks and Recreation has the money to maintain the natural grass on athletic field due to a 2008 bond, which provides $5 million for renovation. We believe there is a way to preserve wildlife while at the same time preserving natural grass and enhancing current playing conditions.

“NO” on Proposition I – Golden Gate Park Turf
Proposition I will implement the installation of artificial turf and night lights on athletic fields in Golden Gate Park and will allow for the renovation of picnic areas, bathrooms, and open areas for recreation purposes. We view these as benefits but they come with the major drawback that PropositonProposition I gives the power to Parks and Recreation to override community input on future park renovations. We see this as a step away from community input and community control.

“YES” on Proposition J – Minimum Wage Increase
Proposition J proposes to increase the minimum wage in San Francisco in steps from its present amount of $10.74/hour up to $15/hour by 2018. This would mean making a minimum of $31,000 per year as a full-time worker. This would, in a small way, help address the problem of income disparity and could offer a small boost to the local economy, which would benefit businesses all around the city. A more viable, livable minimum wage could also help to keep Latinos in San Francisco.

“YES” on Proposition K – Affordable Housing
In November 2012 San Francisco voters approved the Housing Trust Fund measure, which required the city to set aside a portion of its annual budget towards affordable housing programs with an annual increase. Currently, the funding level is half of the required annual increase and the city may not be able to reach its goal of 30,000 affordable housing units by 2020 unless additional revenues are implemented. Proposition K would make it city policy to commit to building or rehabilitating at least 30,000 affordable housing units by 2020, more than half of which will be within financial reach of the working middle class and one-third will be reserved for low- to moderate-income households. It will require the mayor and the board of supervisors to create a funding strategy to ensure preservation of existing rental units and to fund public housing rehabilitation. Proposition K is short on enforcement mechanisms and we are worried that the measure does not push hard enough to require affordable housing, but we believe it is better than nothing.

“NO” on Proposition L – Cars in San Francisco
Proposition L favors drivers over users of public transportation in San Francisco. It would require that parking meters only operate on weekdays, freeze fees at parking garages, meters, traffic tickets and neighborhood parking permits for five years, require approval of local residents to install new parking meters, set funds aside to build new parking garages, promote greater enforcement of bicycle and pedestrian laws, and create a motorist advisory committee to promote greater representation for motorists. While this promotes a more car-friendly San Francisco, it also contributes to the already congested street traffic and discourages alternative transportation. We believe that is not in the interest of the Latino population, which is predominantly young and needs greater access to public transportation. We found that many Latino interest groups oppose Proposition L, including the Latino Democratic Club and CC Puede.

CALIFORNIA STATEWIDE PROPOSITIONS:

“YES” on Proposition 1 – Water bond
Proposition 1 presents voters with the question of, “How much money we should spend on water?” Proponents want to fund a $7.5 billion bond to improve water storage, ground water management and cleanup, and water recycling, conservation and safety. Proposition 1 would allocate $2.7 billion to encourage growth in California’s economy by treating, providing, and storing water to ensure a reliable supply for farms during severe droughts. It will also provide $900 million in funding for clean water in communities where water is contaminated. Opponents complain that it will add debt to our already debt-stricken state. Although costly, we believe that this measure will, on balance, benefit Latino communities if it improves the safety of drinking water and supports agriculture by promoting a more reliable supply of water., However, we see a need to follow through and apply pressure to assure the funds are spent in a way that benefits our community.

“YES” on Proposition 2 – Rainy Day Fund
The Rainy Day Fund would amend the constitution to change how the state pays down debts and places money in reserve. It will restrain any spending we can’t afford by focusing on stabilizing the state’s budget, and accelerate California’s debt payments by requiring the state to set aside money for the fund during years when income boosts from 6.5 to 7.7 percent of the state’s general fund revenue. When times are bad, it would distribute saved money to the Public School System Stabilization Account, which would protect against future cuts to public schools, public safety and other vital services. This benefits the public school system by avoiding massive deficits in California; something that has happened in the past. Although there are some drawbacks , including imposing a cap on reserves that a local school can keep, we believe that the benefits outweigh the costs. Latinos make up 38 percent of California’s population and 53 percent of students in public school, so any public school funding issue is a Latino issue. The Rainy Day Fund would not only protect Latino taxpayers but also our school children by offering greater stability to school funding.

“YES” on Proposition 45 – Insurance
Proposition 45 will provide oversight on health insurance rates by the California Insurance Commissioner. If passed, it would require approval of rates and public notice, disclosure, and hearings on rate changes. It would also prohibit health, auto, and homeowner insurers from determining policy eligibility or rates based on the lack of prior coverage, and would make health insurance companies more transparent and accountable to the public. Many Latinos cannot afford insurance and this would make insurance accessible.

“No” on Proposition 46 – Medical Malpractice Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors
Proposition 46 would increase the dollar amount of damages patients could win if they sue their doctor for malpractice. It would also require drug and alcohol testing of doctors, who could face possible termination if test results were positive. Doctors would be required to consult a statewide database with prescription drug histories before they could prescribe certain controlled substances. The measure would create the first law in the United States to require random drug testing of physicians. We believe this would increase health care costs for consumers and taxpayers, and would reduce access for patients, leading many community clinics to reduce or eliminate vital services. Proposition 46 would make it easier and more profitable for lawyers to sue doctors, clinics and hospitals. By mandating a statewide database with personal prescription information, it also puts our privacy in jeopardy.

“YES” on Proposition 47 – Create “Safe Neighborhoods” fund
Proposition 47 would redefine “non-serious, nonviolent crimes” that are now felonies as misdemeanors unless the defendant has prior convictions for murder, rape, certain sex offenses or certain gun crimes. It would also create a “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools” fund with money saved due to the initiative’s implementation. Latino communities would benefit from the programs funded by Safe Neighborhoods, including programs to reduce truancy in schools and drug abuse. The fund would receive appropriations based on savings accrued by the state during the fiscal year, as compared to the previous fiscal year with estimates that range from $150 million to $250 million per year.

“No” on Proposition 48 – New Casino in Madera County
If passed, Proposition 48 would allow the North Fork tribe to build a new casino in Madera County near Highway 99, which is off-reservation land, and forbid the Wyatt Tribe from building one. In exchange, there would be shared revenue of 2.5-3.5 percent between the two tribes, and the North Fork tribe would also have to make payments to the non-gaming tribes and to state and local government. Proposition 48 does not comply with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, which promises to keep casinos only on original reservation land, and could open the door to new off-reservation casino projects. It does not provide money for schools or California’s general fund and only takes away resources and jobs from nearby reservation casinos and businesses.

This guide was created by Professor Teresa Carrillo and the following students in SFSU’s Latino Politics course LTNS 660: Isaac Altamirano, Hector Amaya, Irene Andrade, Eric Arellano, Julio Cortez, Jaime Delgado, Stephanie Flores, Guillermo Garcia, Jessica Gonzalez, Lisandra Gutierrez, Julia Hernandez, Clarissa Johnson, Elizabeth Leon, Martha Lopez, Daniela Marquez, Deziree Miller, Saira Ramos, Javier Robollar-Loza, Romelia Rojas, Brian Perez, Carlos Perez, Tania Perez, Victoria Rivas, Stephanie Romero, Daniela Sanchez, Juan Santamaria, Maura Villanueva.

Story by: Latino Politics Students