The Most Important Election of Your Life

The title, of course, refers to the presidential component. But there’s another interesting development; Read on. Clearly, the choice is Obama/Biden at the top of the ticket. This applies from both the Armenian and broader issue-mix perspective. Both Barack Obama and Joe Biden have a good record on Armenian issues and their advisors are better (or at least less-bad) than those on the other side of the duopoly. Plus, given the eight years of embarrassment wrought upon the U.S. by the current regime, it would be disastrous to impose someone as intellectually lightweight as Palin on the country and world while continuing the destructive policies that have brought the U.S. two unwinnable wars and instability worldwide on the security and economic fronts. McCain seems like a good man who lost his way because of his lust for the eleusive presidency.It’s unfortunate we only have two real choices. Some of the candidates, like McKinney and Nader are otherwise very appealing.

Your best reference for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives is the information and endorsemen’s provided by the ANC at different levels. Please consult the relevant websites (ANCA.org & ANCPAC.org) and the newspaper you’re reading this in for those positions.

There is one particularly instructive race. Believe it or not, it is Cong. Adam Schiff’s. His opponent, with no chance of winning, has hitched his wagon to Turkish denialists. In the most recent reporting cycle, Charles Hahn, running on the Republican ticket, has accepted $7141.42 from obviously Turkish sources. These same people had given another $600 previously, and an additional name that might be Turkish, adding another $250. Remember, these eight thousand dollars come just from contributors who’ve given $200 or more. There may well be more thousands of dollars in smaller contributions. This should be a lesson to us. If Turks in the U.S., led by the likes of Ergun Kirlikovali, can try to encroach upon an electoral district housing the largest Armenian community in the U.S. with a seat held by our biggest (or at worst one of our top five) Congressional supporter, imagine what else the Turkish state run propaganda machine is up to. Where are the campuses being wooed with money for endowed chairs? How many municipal level candidates, with bigger aspirations for the future are being groomed? Which media personalities are being cultivated? How else are big business interests with stakes in Turkey being blackmailed? When are we going to wake up enough to prevent, instead of just respond to, these challenges? All Republican Armenia’s should contact Hahn and let him know how they feel. Maybe, just maybe, he was ignorant of the intent of his contributors. For those who may not recognize Kirlikovali’s name, he is probably the pre-eminent denial activist in Southern California. He’s had letters published repeatedly by the LA Times. He had spoken against adoption of California’s state Genocide curriculum in the 1980s (though making a fool of himself in the process). If his name is there, you can bet the others are deniers too.

Obviously, in the heart of the same Armenian community, Paul Krikorian and Carol Liu should be getting our votes for California’s State Assembly and Senate. Trying to cover more races would be redundant, as I implied above.

Another important race that will impact Los Angeles County, thus many Armenia’s, for a dozen years is the one for Second District Supervisor. Here, the choice is Mark Ridley-Thomas. He and his opponent have been decent on Armenian issues, but when it comes to how they’ll govern, Ridley-Thomas is better. Too bad there aren’t more Armenia’s in the district.

With that, let’s move on to the California, and local, ballot propositions that no one else seems to address. In the Los Angeles area, there are three propositions I’ll address, though there are many more at the municipal level. The first one is countywide while the other two are not, but cover large portions of the county.

Measure R is the most important one. This adds .5% sales tax in Los Angeles County for the next thirty years so the total will be 8.75% instead of 8.25%. This additional money will go to transportation improvemen’s throughout the county. A big chunk will go toward much needed rail lines amid the heaviest populated areas. Disregard opponents’ argumen’s that the allocation of these funds is not “fair”. They disregard money for highways that other parts of the county will get and the share that cities will receive for transportation related improvemen’s. Vote “yes”.

Measure J will fund improvemen’s in the LA Community College district. This jurisdiction has done a great job in its most recent construction by building to the highest environmentally-friendly standards and using money judiciously. The additional funding now is well deserved. Vote “yes”.

Measure U simply authorizes the continuation of a utility users’ tax, though at a lower rate. This money funds important county services. It covers the unincorporated areas of the county. Vote “yes”.

Moving on to the statewide propositions:

Measure 1A– This gets a “yes” vote. It’s a bond measure to pay for a high-peed rail system connecting San Francisco to Orange County, with additions coming later. The nice thing about it is that the $9 billion in bonds CANNOT be issued until about $30 billion required in federal matching is secured. Only $950 million, allocated to local improvemen’s and feeders into the main line can begin beforehand. The unintended, yet very timely, benefit would be job creation during this economically troubled period.

Measure 2– This, unfortunately, gets a “no”. While I agree with its intention, the way it is framed, will simply export the problem to other jurisdictions. This measure is intended to curb very real, existing, abusive practices in the treatment of egg-laying hens. Unfortunately, by banning these practices in California, egg production will end up moving to neighboring states and Mexico, where there are even fewer existing regulations. Along the way, the economy will take a hit. This proposal, tied to a requirement that eggs brought from elsewhere into California must also be produced under humane conditions, would be a no-brainer yes. Maybe next time.

Measure 3– Vote “yes”. Paying for improvemen’s to the infrastructure that attends to children’s health is a good idea. In addition, the moneys generated by this bond will serve as an economic boost.

Measure 4– A resounding “NO” to this second return engagement. Twice before California voters have rejected sneaky attempts by the right wing, extremist anti-abortion fringe to curtail access to abortions by young women. Most of the time, talking to parents is not something they avoid. But when an abuser is the parent or other relative (a majority of the cases are), this proposition would force girls to make dangerous choices. It’s one more attempt to mobilize the extreme right wing vote. Plus, this is a constitutional amendment, of which I am very leery as a class. Issues such as this do not belong in a document that should be establishing structure, not micromanaging governance.

Measure 5– “Yes” to this sensible way of treating minor offenders. It ends up saving the cost of building new jails, while otherwise being financially neutral, adding some costs while eliminating others.

Measure 6– “No” on this proposition keeps more money from being wasted on building prisons. It is also redundant with programs already in place to address the issues 6 purports to address, another potential waste of money.

Measure 7– This one is tough, and voting either way is understandable, though I’m leaning “no”. It is an attempt to improve the proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources of energy without. But, along the way, it reduces oversight of power plants and creates stumbling blocks to achieving even higher percentages, up to 50%, of renewable use. The Sierra Club is opposing it, as is the California League of Conservation Voters. That speaks loudly when you consider that the environmental community is committed cutting fossil fuel consumption.

Measure 8– Another resounding “NO” on a return engagement of a sort. This measure suffers from the same flaw as 4, trying to micromanage governance though amendmen’s to the state constitution. Along the way, it reverses the State Supreme Court’s decision on what is fundamentally a civil/human rights issue. It also tries to get into people’s bedrooms. Why should we intervene in what people do with their private parts? Depriving homosexuals of equal rights under the law is just plain wrong, and that’s what this proposition does.

Measure 9– Vote “no” on this redundant measure. Plus, it too tries to legislate via the constitution. While understandable given its support by well-intentioned people who’ve gone through serious grief, it is not necessary because the same law already exists.

Measure 10– This is another tough one opposed by the Sierra Club. If passed, it would give subsidies to those buying natural gas vehicles. Its primary backer is a Texas billionaire who stands to benefit mightily through the use of his services–selling natural gas for vehicles. This makes it suspicious. On the other hand, does use a slightly less polluting fuel than gasoline. There are also other quirks. Despite all this, I’m leaning “yes”.

Measure 11– Vote “yes” and eliminate the conflict of interest inherent in legislators having the power to determine the boundaries of their own districts; or, as more pithily described, legislators choosing their voters, rather than the other way around. Given the nature and gravity of this change, it is interesting that the Democratic legislative leadership is NOT opposing measure 11. The League of Voters supports this, and that’s always a good sign. An important consideration is that a parameter to consider when creating districts is being added. It is “communities of interest”, e.g. Armenia’s, a very important matter since in the past, when redistricting has been accomplished by people other than legislators, Blacks and Latinos have made serious electoral advances. You might notice that this one, too, amen’s the state constitution. But that’s only because the constitution currently says the legislators will draw the lines. The rest of this proposition is simply statutory.

Measure 12– Vote “yes” on a kind and decent measure to support armed services veterans in the purchase of homes and farms. They end up paying for the whole project, but the proposition, if passed, simply enables the veterans to take the first step.

Make sure you vote. People watch and count who votes. That adds (or detracts from) a community’s say in the halls of power. Besides, getting the right people in the White House is critical at this juncture– Obama/Biden. You have less than about a week left. If you’re voting by mail, your ballot must be RECEIVED by Election Day. Don’t mess up.

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