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California Voter Recommendations

Liberation News stands in full agreement with the voter recommendations of the Freedom Socialist Party and is distributing them as our own.

lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news
Freedom Socialist Party
1908 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 •
415-864-1278, Fax: 415-864-0778
bafsprw (at) igc.org www.socialism.com

October 21, 2005

Open Letter on the November 8, 2005 Election

As the November 8 election approaches, the working class faces war on many fronts. The war on the Iraqi people continues taking thousands of lives and using billions of tax dollars. Bush raises terrorism as the smokescreen to justify the continued aggression and to divert the public’s attention from huge cuts in healthcare, education, and social services. Meanwhile, lack of government action to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina exposes the war at home on the poor and people of color. Bush’s war on women continues as he chips away at abortion rights with each new appointment to the Supreme Court.

In California: Schwarzenegger’s War on Unions

Not to be outdone, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking on every working and poor person in the state, particularly the millions
represented by unions. Unsuccessful in his attempts to pass legislation to reward his big business supporters, he’s called a special election to put
before the voters some of the worst anti-labor initiatives we’ve ever seen—Propositions 74, 75 and 76.

Why is Schwarzenegger gunning for labor? Unionized workers are speaking in unison and acting as one strong movement. Labor has won gains for the most disenfranchised. They have led landmark strikes and workplace struggles and won many of them. They kept Wal-Mart out of Inglewood and most of Los Angeles! This scares the pants off of those who control the big bucks. Thus comes the backlash, with California’s governor at the helm.

Schwarzenegger is angry at the firefighters who refuse to let him get hold of their public pensions. He is doubly angered at workers like the nurses who have picketed his appearances around the state for a year, voicing their disagreement with his policies to increase patient ratios. Teachers have been vocal in exposing his education plans which he says are “pro-children,? but which are really anti-teacher and anti-student. These workers have dared to use their First Amendment rights. Now the Governor wants payback.

We are proud to say that the labor movement has mounted a strong, united response to Schwarzenegger’s declaration of war. Public employee and teacher unions led the effort, in collaboration with the California Labor Federation, to establish the Alliance for a Better California to defeat the anti-union propositions. The Alliance includes nearly every union and labor federation in the state.

Labor has shown it can flex its muscles and get down to business. The labor movement needs to use this ability and run one of their own for political office. Labor cannot depend on the Democratic Party because their political agenda is not in the interest of working folks. For that reason, we need a labor party independent of the Democrats and Republicans.

Anti-capitalist Politics: The Solution to Union-Busting

The battle being fought by California’s unions is part of the ongoing struggle faced by working people in a capitalist economy, where human needs and decent living standards are always sold short to maximize profits for the rich.

What working people, people of color, women, queers, elders, youth, the poor and the disabled need to truly represent their interests are anti-capitalist candidates. That’s why we ran Freedom Socialist Party candidate Linda Averill for City Council in Seattle. Her campaign was openly socialist, with demands like a $17 an hour minimum wage and guaranteed childcare,
funded by corporate taxes. Linda received growing support from labor and her message resonated with fed-up voters who gave her nearly 20% of the vote in a
4-way contest.

In this fall’s San Francisco municipal election, no such anti-capitalist candidates are running for the posts of Assessor-Recorder, Treasurer, and City Attorney. Therefore, we urge you to leave your ballot
blank for these offices. Our positions on ballot measures appear below, as well as a convenient summary page that you may take to the polls.

Please contact me at New Valencia Hall, 415-864-1278, if you are interested in working with us, or if you’d like to discuss our ballot positions. If you
appreciate receiving the recommendations in this letter, please consider making a donation, in any amount, to the Freedom Socialist Party.

In solidarity,
Nellie Wong
Bay Area Branch Organizer, Freedom Socialist Party


California State Ballot Measures:


***Uphold Abortion Rights and Protect Teenage Women Proposition 73—Parental Notification—VOTE NO

The measure would amend the state constitution to require healthcare providers to notify a parent or guardian prior to giving an abortion to a woman under the age of 18. The only out for a pregnant teen would be to seek a waiver from a judge. It is scary for a teen to speak to a judge, especially if she has been sexually abused or comes from a troubled household. In states where such laws exist, studies have shown that these desperate young women risk their lives by turning to dangerous illegal abortions.

Right wing and religious fanatics are trying to sneak in language that defines a human life as beginning at conception! The authors include a phrase that defines abortion as causing the “death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born.?

The FSP believes in the democratic rights of minors. People under the age of 18 should have the right to vote on a law that would profoundly affect their lives.

Unfortunately, with the few exceptions listed below, most of the leadership of organized labor is silent on this attack for fear of alienating anti-abortion voters. We must remind labor of the first lesson of
union solidarity: “an injury to one is an injury to all,? and urge them to come out strongly in defense of all women’s right to control their bodies.

We join Planned Parenthood, the California Medical Association, California Nurses Association, the San Francisco Labor Council, and the United Teachers of Los Angeles in saying NO on 73!

Stop the corporate declaration of war on public workers and public services.


***Proposition 74—School Teachers Waiting Period for Permanent Status—VOTE NO

The language in this proposition reads like an employer bill of rights. It proposes an increase from two to five years’ probation for new schoolteachers. Probation means they can be fired at will with no appeal. Furthermore, after five years, teachers who become “permanent? and receive two consecutive negative performance evaluations will lose most of their appeal and grievance rights.

Schwarzenegger and the likes of George Schultz, former Reagan/Bush cabinet member and Bechtel Corporation bigwig, got this on the ballot. We join labor, the League of Women Voters and the PTA in saying NO on 74!


***Proposition 75—Restrictions on Use of Public Employees’ Union Dues—VOTE NO

If passed, public employee unions would have to acquire yearly written permission from each of their members to allow dues money to be used for political purposes. These political purposes include opposing state cuts in funding for public health, education and housing, and pushing for the rights of public employees to bargain and to strike. Prop. 75 would be a foot in the door for the National Right to Work Committee—a big supporter of this initiative. One of the goals of this committee is to break unions by banning the mandatory collection of union dues from represented workers. Big business backers of this measure include global privatizer Milton Friedman, and Lewis K. Uhler. Uhler is a former leader in the ultra-rightwing anti-Communist organization, the John Birch Society. We join every union in the state in saying NO on 75!


***Proposition 76— State Spending and School Funding Limits—VOTE NO

This measure would amend the California State Constitution to freeze state spending regardless of the need, even when revenues increase. It would revoke the constitutional requirement for the state to adequately fund public schools. It also would allow the governor, through a line item veto, to cut specific budget items, including employee wages and union contracts. All this power without legislative approval! Not even President Bush has this much unchecked power over the budget. We join organized labor and the League of Women Voters in Saying NO on 76!


***Proposition 77—Change in Method of Redistricting—VOTE NO

This measure would amend the Constitution to change who draws the boundaries for the Senate, Assembly, Congressional and Board of Equalization districts. Currently the elected California State Legislature draws the districts. This power would be transferred to retired judges appointed by legislative leaders—not elected by the voters.

Even if we defeat this measure, voters who choose an anti-capitalist or other minor party have no chance of being represented under the current winner-take-all system. What is really needed is proportional representation; where parties, including minor parties, are apportioned seats based on the percentage they win of the popular vote. For example, if the socialist Peace and Freedom Party got 20 percent of the vote, it would get twenty percent of the available seats.

Proposition 77 would make a bad situation worse. We join organized labor and the Peace and Freedom Party in urging you to vote NO.


***Prescription Drugs—Propositions 78 & 79

(The proposition that gets over 50 percent of the votes and wins the most votes becomes law.)

***Proposition 78— “Voluntary? Discounts on Prescription Drugs—Vote NO

This measure, bankrolled to the tune of $80 million by the pharmaceutical industry, is a phony discount program that pretends to offer low cost prescription drugs to low and moderate-income residents of California. However, the definition of low income is very restrictive, and drug companies can refuse to participate and can drop out any time they want to. We join the Consumer Federation of America and the State Federation of Labor in saying NO on 78!


***Proposition 79—Prescription Drug Discounts, State Negotiated Rebates—Vote YES

This measure is the reason the drug companies are spending millions on Proposition 78. If passed, 79 would require the state to offer Medi-Cal contracts only to those pharmaceutical firms that will sell at discounted prices established by Medicaid. This proposition would also establish an oversight board and make it a violation of state law to charge “prices that lead to any unjust and unreasonable profit.? This measure is better than 78 in two respects: it covers more people, and participation is mandatory for
any drug firm that wants in on the lucrative California market for reduced cost prescription drugs.

Of course, what is needed is a nationalized health care plan that is controlled by the workers who run and use the healthcare industry. Meanwhile, this proposition actually will bring reduced costs to some of the poor, and places some price control over the pharmaceutical companies. We join the California Labor Federation in saying YES on 79!


***Proposition 80—Electric Service Providers Regulation—VOTE YES

This measure was put on the ballot by a group of utility reformers and some labor unions to try to fix the unqualified disaster created when the California Legislature voted to deregulate the state’s power monopolies. The 1996 legislation took huge companies, whose prices were regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, and allowed them to break into many pieces, all of which were deregulated and could charge what they wanted.

Prop 80, if passed, will forbid big electricity users from buying directly from electric service providers at discount rates, thereby insuring big businesses pay more of their share of the cost of service for rural and other hard to serve areas. The Proposition will reinstate some regulation over service providers. This is a good thing. But it doesn’t specify that the PUC will control prices, which was the main point of regulation! The strongest part of this measure is that it forbids the legislature from weakening this already weak bill without a two-thirds vote.

Proposition 80 does more good than harm, but the only real solution is to have a centralized, state owned utility with generation, distribution and power delivery under one, worker-controlled roof. We join the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) and most of organized labor support in saying YES on 80!


***San Francisco Ballot Propositions

General Obligation Bonds

***Proposition A—City College General Obligation Bonds—VOTE NO
***Proposition B—Street and Sidewalk Improvement Bonds—VOTE NO

Almost always, we oppose general obligation bond measures because working homeowners and renters end up paying, while banks and other huge corporations get benefits directly or indirectly even though they pay next to nothing in taxes. Propositions A and B together would incur a total of $454 million in bond indebtedness, which in the end would cost taxpayers nearly $750 million including interest.

Proposition A borrows $246.3 million for Phase II capital improvements at City College of San Francisco. Given the state’s neglect of education in general, we don’t doubt the College’s need to improve facilities and expand programs, but corporations like Genentech, Sutter Health, Wells Fargo, and Westin, who depend on hiring CCSF graduates must pay their fair share of taxes to support the educational infrastructure.

Proposition B borrows $208 million to repair and improve streets and sidewalks. It is appalling that the mayor and supervisors have not prioritized the upkeep of such fundamental parts of the infrastructure in their $5.3 billion annual budget. Setting priorities properly, and taxing corporations and the rich would eliminate the need for this bond measure.


***For an Efficient Fire Department AND Other Essential Services Proposition F—Neighborhood Firehouses—VOTE NO

As budgets have tightened in recent years, the City has “browned out,? or temporarily shut down certain firehouses and firefighting equipment on a rotating basis to cut costs. The brown outs are coordinated so that no neighborhood is left without adequate fire protection.

Proposition F would require the City to operate all 42 firehouses, 24 hours a day, and to keep in service specific firefighting equipment at the level that existed on January 1, 2004. This requirement would cost the City an additional $6.6 million per year. Given San Francisco’s recent fiscal problems, these funds would most likely be drawn away from other services like healthcare, libraries, youth and elder programs, and public transit. A recent report by the City Controller and investigative reports by the Bay Guardian have shown that better management of the Fire Department’s resources, including the closing of six firehouses, would maintain the same level of fire protection at significant savings to the City.

We must disagree with Firefighters Local 798 on the need for this measure. Along with Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), and San Francisco Tomorrow, we urge you to vote NO.


***For Self-Defense and Second Amendment Rights:
Proposition H—Firearm Ban—VOTE NO

Last December, Supervisors Ammiano, Daly, Dufty, and Gonzalez submitted this ordinance to be placed on the ballot. Proposition H bans possession of handguns within San Francisco by City residents. We do not believe that laws like this reduce violent crime. In fact, following handgun bans, murder rates increased in cities like Washington DC and Chicago.

Handguns are the only means of self-defense for many. Battered and threatened women, transgendered people, people of color and others often cannot depend on law enforcement to protect them from violent aggressors. In February 1999, Muni driver Deborah Hollis had to shoot her violent ex-husband to save herself and her children. She had followed legal methods and obtained a restraining order, which he repeatedly ignored. Given the history of police brutality against the Black community in San Francisco, law enforcement agents sometimes end up being the aggressors. Banning guns would only give them more free rein. In fact, the banning of firearms is often one of the first acts leading to the establishment of a police state, as in Nazi Germany. Everyone has a right to self-defense, whether against criminals or a government acting against the people. Vote NO on H to guarantee this right!

***An End to Military Recruitment:
Proposition I—No Military Recruiters in Public Schools—VOTE YES

How refreshing to find a grassroots, antiwar, pro-youth measure like Proposition I on the ballot! This proposal makes it City policy to oppose military recruitment in San Francisco’s public schools, colleges and universities and to consider funding scholarships for higher education and job training. Because of the military’s bias against LGBT people, having the recruiters use school facilities is actually a violation of the anti-discrimination policies of our schools and colleges. We support the goals of this proposition. The problem is that Prop I is only an advisory measure. It doesn’t say how the City will oppose the recruiters or obtain scholarship
funds. Nonetheless, it goes far symbolically by putting San Franciscans on record as opposing the military’s strong-armed, hard-sell recruitment tactics
which target poor youth and youth of color. Along with numerous community and labor organizations, we urge you to vote YES.


Summary of Ballot Recommendations November 8, 2005 Municipal and Special Election:

You may take this summary with you into the voting booth.

***San Francisco Candidates:

As there are no anti-capitalist candidates for Assessor-Recorder, Treasurer, or City Attorney, we urge you to LEAVE YOUR BALLOT BLANK.


California State Ballot Measures

Proposition 73 (Parental Notification): Vote NO

Proposition 74 (School Teachers Waiting Period): Vote NO

Proposition 75 (Restriction on Public Employee Union Dues): Vote NO

Proposition 76 (State Spending and School Funding Limits): Vote NO

Proposition 77 (Change in Method of Redistricting): Vote NO

Proposition 78 (Voluntary Prescription Drug Discounts) Vote NO
Proposition 79 (Prescription Drug Discounts, State Negotiated Prices) Vote YES
Proposition 80 (Electric Service Providers Regulation) Vote YES

San Francisco Propositions

Proposition A (City College Bonds) Vote NO
Proposition B (Street and Sidewalk Improvement Bonds) Vote NO
Proposition F (Neighborhood Firehouses) Vote NO
Proposition H (Firearm Ban) Vote NO
Proposition I (No Military Recruiters in Public Schools) Vote YES
 
 


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Comments

Victory!

In another thread an anonymous rightist claims, "The people are getting tired of the left."

Tired of the left? Sure. That's why the gubernator's anti-worker propositions went down in flames with the opinion polls of his performance reflecting the dangerous rightwing politician he is. That's also why the war and the idiot in the White House also have their popularity ratings at an all time low.

The working class and left in general has won a tremendous victory by defeating Schwarzenegger's rightwing agenda.

Anti-union right-wingers like Oscar G. post their calls for working class austerity, privatization, and attacks on unions under the guise of the richest country in the world not being able to afford to take care of its people anymore.

If all this system can afford is war and privatizations (that in turn only line the pockets of the wealthy while providing worse and more costly services) this a sure sign of the need for a socialist revolution.

For the time being, however, the people have defeated a few of the worst plans that the capitalists have come up with. This is a victory and it was largely due to the campaigns carried out by workers through the unions.

For those who want more, work for more, but don’t deny a victory when we get it.
 

The Power of Unions

The results of this special election are reason enough why the people need strong unions. They have been ORGANIZING as soon as the governor started trying to rob workers and students blind.

My thanks go out to the many union organizers, which include but aren't limited to: nurses, teachers, public workers, school employees, firefighters and more. There actions demonstrate that we ALL are a part of politics -- some people are just better at it than others.

I hope this victory will spur people to action to get more involved. Yeah, I know a lot of us are busy, but what is the alternative? Reruns of Sex in the City?

Let's start making some proactive changes in this state rather than reactive ones. A great place to start is the health care for all coalition. You can usually find them at the SC Farmer's Market. They have been working like crazy to get guaranteed health care for all Californians. It IS possible. We just have to demand it.
 

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