While we're not making candidate endorsements in the Presidential Primary, we are urging 'no' votes on propositions 91, 92 and 93, and 'yes' votes for the so-called Indian gaming compacts--propositions 94-97. These will be found below the presidential candidates in the various political party primary ballots. Actually, a 'no' vote on Prop. 91 is a no-brainer. Even its backers have dropped their support since an identical measure became law in 2006. Prop. 92, which would single out community colleges for special state funding treatment, is a bad measure at the worst time. The state is facing a $14.5-billion deficit and this bill would lock in state funds for community colleges at the expense of the rest of the California public school system, which is facing severe funding cuts by Gov. Schwarzenegger. Vote 'no' on Prop. 92.
We also urge a 'no' vote on Prop. 93. While it sounds good because the new bill would eventually shorten the total time legislators can stay in office from 14 to 12 years, it would also allow current officeholders, who wrote the bill, to stay even longer. Our biggest beef with Prop. 93 is that it was supposed to include legislative redistricting, long overdue in California where districts have been carved out to suit political party favorites. A redistricting initiative is currently being circulated that would establish a citizens redistricting commission to work on an initiative that could be ready in time for the 2010 Census. Once that's in place, let's look again at term limits. Vote 'no' on Prop. 93.
Measure A is more troubling. It seeks to impose a parcel tax throughout Alameda County to provide half of the $700 million needed to rebuild and expand Children's Hospital in Oakland. The tax would cost homeowners $24 a year, $100 a year on small non-residential properties and $250 on larger ones. The money would go to "The Children's Hospital Construction Fund," which would be maintained by the county, and, over time, provide $300 million toward the project. Homeowners 65 years of age or older could request each year to be exempted from the tax. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has endorsed the measure. The hospital needs the money to meet earthquake retrofitting requirements for its existing building or, in this case, build a 12-story tower addition instead next door to the hospital to accommodate more patients.
We like Children's Hospital and we know many in Pleasanton who have used its services. But we don't like parcel taxes, especially in this time of uncertainty in the housing market where prospective buyers might look to other counties that don't have one. We also question the use of public funds to finance a project by a private, albeit nonprofit hospital. Sure, Children's is unique in that it is Alameda County's only hospital and research center dedicated exclusively to children. It's one of only eight in California and there are only 50 in the country. Still, other hospitals, such as ValleyCare in Pleasanton, are also nonprofits that are desperately short of needed revenue. Instead of a public tax, we'd like to see Children's and the county board develop a different funding plan with incentives to encourage Alameda County residents and businesses to contribute to a larger and better Children's Hospital. Vote 'no' on Measure A.