Did you know? For yours truly, even more important than the presidential race this year are the propositions on the ballot. This is because if Daniel HoSang’s Racial Propositions shows anything, it’s that the Golden State’s ballot initiatives are nothing if not race-based and race-affecting measures or policy “solutions.” As such, below is a list considering how eligible voters this year can choose to defend communities of color this November 3rd, 2020, or not. For a more expansive list, including recommendations on California Superior Court judges and Board of Trustee seats at LACC, you can also visit Knock-LA’s Voter Guide.

NO ON PROP 14: Prop 14 seeks to authorize more than 5.5 billion from taxpayers to maintain stem cell research first initiated back in 2004. Since then, California has used over 3 billion taxpayer dollars to fund STEM cell research, yet after nearly sixteen years, it’s shown little promise in meeting its original goal of making revolutionary advancements in medicine for communities. Black, Brown, White, Yellow or Red, at a time of drastic budget shortfalls due to this last year with the pandemic, approving billions more for stem cell research would be ill-advised. Point-blank.

YES ON PROP 15: Prop 15 seeks to authorize the state to tax commercial properties or corporations which make more than $3 million a year to support schools across the state. Currently, schools up and down the state of California, predominantly attended by children of the state’s immigrant workers, are underfunded, and a major reason why is because there are so few taxes going to support their budgets, including few property taxes as a result of Prop 13 in 1978. After more than four decades then, taxing commercial and industrial corporations which earn millions to support local schools where they locate their companies is not just fair, it is in order. If our schools are to hire additional teachers, counselors, nurses and more resources over the next few years, there is no reason why large corporations extracting major dividends nearby cannot play their part in doing so. Step up!

YES ON PROP 16: Prop 16 seeks to authorize taking race into consideration when hiring at the state’s public institutions. Absent of a housing or home-ownership bill equivalent to the historic G.I bill after World War II for the state’s millions of Latinos, who, along with Blacks and Asians, have historically been denied access to such programs–especially in California, as with Proposition 14 in 1964–a bill granting permission for state and local entities to include race in their decision-making for work opportunities is an approvable first step to rein in California’s historically racist policies against non-white communities. Consider that the state has been indicted, including by even the United Nations, for unfair housing, unfair education, and egregious criminalization policies towards communities of color. As such, you can consider this proposition as an opportunity for the state of California to do better itself after its historic wrongs.

YES ON PROP 17: Prop 17 seeks to allow formerly incarcerated people on parole the right to vote while on parole. Imagine being convicted of a crime such as petty theft or a drug offense by the state, and then being told that you have no say in how that law may be changed, even after you’ve “served your time” for the offense! Vote yes to restore former prisoners’ rights to participate in fair elections, especially once they’ve “proven” that they’re ready to assess and make decisions of their own accord over what’s fair and just in our societies.

YES ON PROP 18: Prop 18 seeks to allow 17 year olds the chance to vote during primaries if they’ll be 18 within the year. Give the 17 year olds a shot to vote in primary elections if they’ll be 18 by the time of the general election. In fact, the minimum age requirement to vote should probably be lowered to 13 years of age, and perhaps even lower than that. What’s there to be afraid of, anyhow? As in, how many “kids” do you know who don’t understand right from wrong when it comes to their state or nation’s politics? Moreover, isn’t there currently a 5th grader occupying the executive office of the white house right now?

YES ON PROP 19: Prop 19 seeks to provide tax breaks for older homebuyers and fire victims in California when purchasing a new home. As Scott Frazier of The LA Podcast has noted, any step towards unwinding the damage done over four decades by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is a step worth taking. Modifying our tax codes for properties is long overdue in the aftermath of Jarvis’s so-called “tax-revolt,” and allocating net savings from such modifications towards wildfire “prevention” in counties at risk is a good start. By no means is it the only step we should be taking to remedying tax laws in the state, however. Hail the revolt against the tax revolt.

CORRECTION – NO ON PROP 19: Prop 19 seeks to provide tax breaks for older homebuyers and fire victims in California when purchasing a new home. And while I never thought I’d be ‘joining’ the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association against any proposed tax changes in California during the 21st century, I cannot support what has been pointed out to me as another ploy by the California Realtors Association–following up on the previously defeated Prop 5 from 2018– this time the CREA is purporting to “defend” home-buyers. While the CREA hopes to convince voters that any potential revenues garnered from this change to the tax code will go towards fire prevention, Pete Stahl argues persuasively that Prop 19 actually seeks to ensure that home-buyers get taxed less, while home-inheritors get taxed more, which benefits none more than the CREA itself. And yes, this is the same California Realtors Association that was in bed with the Homeowners Loan Corporation during the redlining era. Vote no on this proposition, which, if passed, will not result in more housing availability for new, prospective buyers such as immigrant families, but probably less revenues from housing properties for cities and counties across the state due to a reduction in market rate taxation. Thanks also to Ms. Holland for the lead to Stahl’s blog.

NO ON PROP 20: Prop 20 seeks to toughen parole requirements by turning certain misdemeanors into felonies. That’s right. California police and districts attorney offices across the state are at it again, once again looking to pigeonhole Black and Brown people with egregious prison sentences even while crime is at an all time low. Think about it this way: If every court hearing in the Golden State were required viewing for residents, do you have any idea how many of Black and Latino people we’d see being sent to jail for petty theft and drug offenses, relying on the help of a public defender due to their frequently disproportionately low incomes? Even in the midst of the pandemic, sending people to jail is big business, which this ballot initiative seeks to prop up. Vote NO.

YES ON PROP 21: Prop 20 seeks to grant cities across the state of California permission to enact rent control within their jurisdictions. In the throes of a pandemic racialized by the inherent inequality of our state and federal laws and regulations, or lack thereof, a barrage of racialized evictions, the likes of which we’ve never seen before, is on the horizon. As such, allowing cities to enact rent control in California, where nearly 18 MILLION people don’t own homes but only rent, could prove to be a life-saving measure. Of course, it’s going to take more than voting to see this once through; it’s going to take enforcement. Following the proposition’s passage, our local political leaders have to act with respect to renters and their families and not under the auspices of corporate overlords–or is that, landlords? Mom and Pop landlords, you say? Check out the Vacancy Report and pass rent control everywhere, America.

NO ON PROP 22: Prop 22 seeks to exempt Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies from classifying their workers as employees. Earlier this year, Uber & Lyft were told by the state of California that they needed to classify their drivers to work as employees rather than as defenseless, disposable contractors. In response, the companies rebelled and mustered up this ballot proposition. Consider this about most ride-sharing “gigs.” They are full-time jobs, upon which millions of immigrant and Black workers who are denied employment elsewhere depend on. If companies such as Uber & Lyft want to continue doing business in California, then they should act like mature businesses towards the workers who allow their companies to thrive. Very much yes on this one.

NO ON PROP 23: Prop 23 seeks to require the presence of certified doctors at dialysis centers across the state of California. And while the text of this proposition reads fairly enough, but while its intention purports to do right by dialysis centers by requiring centers to have at least one doctor present, I can easily see dialysis companies closing up shop or drastically reducing service hours, citing their inability to afford a physician’s attendance. J.T. The L.A. Storyteller passes on this one, but hopes that the state legislature will intervene soon, as it’s its duty.

YES ON PROP 24: Prop 24 seeks to strengthen privacy laws around user data across the web and with respect to the increasing number of apps Californians use with each year. Black, Brown, Red, White or Yellow, defend your data and reclaim your data. Let companies know that you are not simply a statistic or marketing tool for their ads. Doing so can set a nationwide precedent, and who knows, maybe a shift of the pendulum on all things internet. Let’s make it happen.

NO ON PROP 25: Prop 25 seeks to replace money bail with an algorithmic system designed to judge the “safety” of releasing people in custody over an alleged crime. And although ending money bail is urgently overdue, it should not come with stipulations or dangerous replacements, such as the algorithmic system which is proposed in money bail’s substitution with this proposition. Algorithms have been proven to discriminate based on race, because they’re designed by humans living in race-based societies of haves and havenots. Moreover, if the last few years of the social media have shown us anything, it’s that we are a long, long way from constructing algorithms or much tech at all for that matter which isn’t built on the overwhelming exploitation of impoverished, non-white people for profits.

YES ON MEASURE RR: Measure RR seeks to authorize $7 billion to finish retrofitting schools in Los Angeles. And yes, $7,000,000,000 is a lot, even over a ten year period, for the purpose of continuing to retrofit L.A.’s schools for earthquake and fire hazards, but that’s why it’ll be key for communities to watch their local School Board representatives and nearby school principals as these moneys turn into construction projects and contracts. As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and in California during the 21st century, also billions of dollars in upgrades for classrooms and buildings to remain ‘competitive‘. But seriously, follow up with your School Board representatives.

YES ON MEASURE J: Measure J seeks to allocate ten percent of the annual budget from the L.A. County sheriffs department towards diversion programs or alternatives to the prison industrial complex for youth and communities. Remember this past summer, when protesters all over the city of Los Angeles mobilized against a catastrophic budget for our communities, dialing into their representatives’ meetings over Zoom, and hounding at them to reduce the egregious police budget? In L.A., we now have an opportunity to ensure that at least 10% of the annual budget goes towards funding alternatives to the policing and prison industrial complex in Los Angeles, which by extension means more programs to enrich Black and Brown communities rather than to impoverish them. And which makes this a huge, unequivocal and resounding YES!



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