Guess What? Another California Election

This time, the election is all about money (refrain from your cynical thoughts). Even non-state budget-related items on the ballot are there to consolidate elections and save money.

Here are the basics. California is a budgetary mess. Years of ill-considered (from a budgetary perspective) ballot measures have severely constrained the legislature’s ability to work out a solution. Couple that with the intransigence of the “no taxes” extremist Republicans and the leverage they have because of the two-thirds majority requirement (also enacted by ballot measure) to pass a state budget or raise taxes. Mind you, the context of all this is that it only takes a simple majority to pass these measures, including those that amend the California constitution. So something as transient as a one-year budget is deemed more important than the state’s founding document, go figure.

The final piece of idiocy is that about a dozen years ago, when the state was flush with money, the highest tax bracket (then 11 percent, as I recall) was eliminated. Whoopee! Good news for the rich, and, arguably reasonable. But when things changed, the obstructionists mentioned above would not give back. So the state ended up $15 billion short, resulting, at least in part, in the recall of the sitting governor. He was replaced by a loudmouth who thought he could do things “differently.” I suppose that makes sense if differently means “not paying for the stuff everybody wants.” But since this is planet Earth and things don’t work that way, a few years after that previous budget mess was “solved” through various mechanisms, the problem reared its head again. This time, the loudmouth was chastised and was willing to work with the opposition. Unfortunately, his co-partisans are still high on Grover Norquist’s anti-tax bromides.

The result is the set of propositions, 1a-1f, that propose to solve the problem. Unfortunately, they take money from those who most need it—children, the handicapped, those with the lowest income—to spare the rich the higher tax rate that would have solved all these problems had it been re-implemented in a timely fashion. Some of these measures contain rational items—a rainy day fund, an annual spending cap, modernizing the lottery to increase revenues from it, and the restoration of funds to schools that have been taken away in recent years. There’s even a measure that denies elected officials pay increases in deficit years.

But I’ll be voting against all of these, because the underlying premise—temporary fixes to longer term problems—will just put the state deeper in the hole. Raising the sales tax and vehicle fees has the worst possible effect (Prop 1a). It takes money from those who most need it and would spend it (helping the economy). Even the proposed increase by .25 percent of all the state income tax brackets is not the right way to go.

Now couple this with the reality that corporate taxes have declined precipitously in the last half century. People are sick of paying taxes, it is said. That’s because the well healed are not paying their fair share anymore. When they did was when people and the economy did best (not just the latter), from World War II to the 1970’s.

I hope all these measures go down in flames. Vote against them.

On the almost-countywide (LA) level, there are two races for seats on the LA Community College Board—vote for Angela Reddock and Nancy Pearlman. Then there’s Hilda Solis’ vacated 32nd Congressional district seat (she’s now secretary of labor). That one has lots of people running; my pick—Judy Chu.

And there are the two City of Los Angeles races, for city attorney and Council District 5. In the latter, vote for Paul Koretz. I know the guy, and he brings the best set of skills to the job. In the city attorney’s race, neither of them inspires me. I recommend flipping a coin while holding your nose and acting accordingly. I suppose it could be argued that Carmen Trutanich has more unpalatable associations than Jack Weiss, but it’s not an easy choice.

As always, be sure to vote. Else, you’re letting others decide your fate. And, from an Armenian perspective, the more members from our community vote, the more engaged we are and the more credible our voices become when it comes to our issues.


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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  1. I agree with you on the propositions. No on everything until we can trust the people who write these things from playing ‘bait and switch’ with us. I don’t trust them anymore – a proposition to lower taxes turns out to raise them etc.

    But as for City Attorney, the choice between Carmen Trutanich and Jack Weiss is a lot clearer than you say. Most of the criticism of Trutanich is based on false statements and deceptive advertising put out by Weiss. We don’t want a deceptive person as our City Attorney. Weiss comes from a wealthy privileged background, and has no connection with regular people – all he knows are the Westside elite. Weiss broke the law just 2 weeks ago when he took part in an illegal fundraiser in a $16M Beverly Hills mansion hosted by a City Pensions Board Commissioner; Kelly Candaele. That’s a violation of LA Municipal Code 49.7.8 which prohibits City appointees from engaging in fundraising. Candaele resigned. This was all reported in the LA Times.

    Carmen Trutanich was born and raised of immigrant parents in San Pedro. His father worked in a Tuna canning factory, as did Carmen, to pay his way through law school. He’s a self-made man who never had anything given to him on a plate. Trutanich’s first job was at the District Attorney’s Office where he tackled gang members for 10 years before leaving to start a successful private law firm. In 21 years as a private defense attorney and civil litigator, Trutanich has not a single complaint filed against him.

    Weiss, on the other hand, has 40 ethics violations filed against him.

    The thrust of Weiss’s criticism of Trutanich is based on Trutanich being a defense attorney, that’s not a crime. People charged with crimes deserve a defense – guilty or not. It’s what our constitution demands. Weiss himself has used defense attorneys – it’s just another example of how deceptive Jack Weiss is.

    So, the choice comes down to this; Do you want a City Attorney with a clean record, who understands what it’s like to be a ordinary person just trying to make a living, or do you want a Westside politician with a record of ethics violations?

    Vote Trutanich for City Attorney, please

  2. I’ve lived in Council District 5 the entire seven-plus years Weiss has misrepresented that district.

    During that period of time, Weiss has been fined for numerous ethical violations, may be investigated for additional recent fundrasing violations, has been notorious for ignoring his constituents and missing City Council meetings, and repeatedly displayed incompetence in general and surprising legal incompetence for someone who desires to be City Attorney.

    I know little about Trutanich, other than the fact that he appears to be a competent attorney who, in almost thirty years in practice, has never been disciplined by the California Bar.

    I don’t believe in rewarding someone who has displayed gross incompetence for seven-plus years and has been repeatedly rude to the people who hired him (Council District 5 residents).

    If enough people disagree with me, we’ll get an opportunity to see if Weiss can mismanage the City Attorney’s Office to the extent he has mismanaged his City Council Office.

    I hope voters keep the above in mind.

  3. I am supporting David Vahedi in the race to replace Jack Weiss in the 5th Council District for a number of reasons.  I believe he is the most qualified candidate and possesses an almost encyclopedic  understanding of the specific issues that challenge those of us who live in CD5.  He has fresh, new ideas and is not beholden to the “old boys’ network.  He pledged from Day 1 not to accept a penny from the developers and billboard companies who have had a tremendous impact on the residents of CD5.  He has been a tireless advocate for both the residents and businesses in the community.  He has falsely been portrayed as a no-growth candidate which is simply false.  He has run a clean and ethical campaign.  His opponent has accepted a large amount of money from the same developers and billboard companies that owned Jack Weiss, and it will be business as usual if Paul Koretz is elected.  Paul Koretz has slandered David Vahedi with false campaign mailers that expose his character as a liar. Moreover, I personally attended 6 different candidates forums.  David Vahedi specifically answered the questions that were posed to him.  Paul Koretz either could not or would not take a specific position on just about every question that was asked.  Both the LA Times and the Daily News have endorsed David Vahedi for the reasons I have enumerated.  I hope that you will support David Vahedi for City Council in CD5.  If you want to see things get shaken up downtown, you really have no other choice.  If you’re satisfied with business as usual, then go ahead and vote for Paul.  You will get more of the same from a career politician who moved into a rental in the district solely for the purpose of running for the seat versus a candidate who has lived in CD5 for 35 years and has already dealt with many of our problems as a tireless volunteer.  Just as we brought change to Washington, DC, with the election of Barack Obama, we can bring change to the City Council with the election of David Vahedi.

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