League Recommendations Nov. 2004



Yes on 59

No on 69

Yes on 72

  YES on PROPOSITION 59 – Public Records, Open Meetings 

  • Prop. 59 makes government accountable. Citizens must
    know what the government is doing and how decisions are made in order to
    make the government work for us.
  • Prop. 59 gives Californians a new civil right by
    putting into the state constitution the requirement that government hold
    open meetings and make public records accessible.
  • California’s current open government laws–such as
    the California Public Records Act, the Ralph M. Brown Act, and the
    Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act–have been weakened, in some cases to the
    point of near impotency, by a myriad of court decisions, broad
    administrative interpretations, and “follow-up” legislation. Prop. 59 puts
    the right to open government into the constitution, safeguarding these laws
    from actions that weaken them.
  • Prop. 59 protects personal privacy and will allow
    reasonable exceptions to the open government provisions of the constitution,
    if they are in the public interest.
  • Citizens should not have to prove to government
    officials why they should have access to “public” records and procedures.
    Prop. 59 shifts this burden, requiring government officials to prove their
    need for secrecy.

Read the League’s entire recommendation

  NO on PROPOSITION 69 – DNA Samples 

  • Expanding collection of DNA samples to persons
    arrested for or charged with any felony is an invasion of privacy not needed
    for criminal justice. Once individuals are put into the criminal DNA
    database, they must request a court order to be removed–even if they are
    factually innocent and never charged with a crime–and the government has no
    obligation to remove them. Each year in California, more than 50,000 felony
    arrests do not result in criminal charges.
  • More than a fingerprint, an individual’s DNA exposes
    the most intimate details of an individual’s body and family medical
    history. DNA can reveal a person’s predisposition to some medical and
    psychological conditions. Experts have documented cases where people have
    lost their job or health insurance based on genetic predictions.
  • Prop. 69 violates the principle that one is innocent
    until proven guilty. Although arrestees who are not convicted can later have
    their DNA removed from the state database, the process for doing this is not
    automatic. The arrestee must initiate the process.
  • DNA evidence is not a sure-fire legal tool. Genetic
    evidence does not “prove” innocence or guilt. Supposedly infallible DNA
    evidence is subject to human error through mishandling, contamination and
    misinterpretation. A skillful lawyer can shatter a case built on a DNA
  • California should not pay for the enormous costs of
    gathering and maintaining the new database, at a time when it is a struggle
    to fund basic police and fire protection. The huge expansion, including the
    immediate testing of more than 500,000 Californians, could cost the state
    more than $100 million each year, in view of current operating costs and
    arrest rates. It is also likely to increase error rates in DNA testing and
  • The Council for Responsible Genetics, a Cambridge,
    Massachusetts-based nonprofit, issued a proposed “Genetic Bill of Rights” in
    2000. Article 7 says all people should be able to prevent the taking or
    storing of bodily samples for genetic information without their voluntary
    informed consent. In proposals like Proposition 69, U.S. society is setting
    precedents for how highly this right will be valued, or if it will be
    respected at all. The problem is not the use of DNA in courtrooms, in legal
    actions to exonerate the innocent or as a part of police work. Those uses
    already are common, often with the consent of those submitting DNA. The
    issue is who will be forced to give up their genetic information. If
    arrestees have the right to remain silent, shouldn’t they also have the
    right to keep their DNA to themselves?

Read the League’s entire recommendation

on PROPOSITION 72 – Health Care Coverage Requirements  

  • At any given time, some 4.5 million Californians have
    no health insurance; 80 percent of them are working people or their
    dependents. Under Prop. 72 about one million uninsured employees and family
    members will start getting health insurance paid for by employers.
  • The uninsured often delay or avoid getting the care
    they need and are more likely to die prematurely than insured patients with
    similar problems. They are more likely to face financial ruin as the result
    of health problems or large medical bills. The cost of providing health care
    to most of the uninsured is absorbed by those who pay private insurance
    premiums and the taxpayers who pay for publicly-funded programs.
  • About 80 percent of the employees who would be
    covered by Prop. 72 work for large companies with 200 or more employees.
  • Businesses with under 50 employees-small
    businesses-are exempt from Proposition 72.
  • Prop 72 will control health care costs paid by
    employees by limiting premiums and out of pocket costs; it gives employers
    marketing power to lower premiums.
  • Prop 72 provides a state purchasing pool for
    employers who choose not to purchase health insurance directly.
  • Fast food chains are major opponents of Prop. 72;
    they don’t want to provide the health care insurance required of employers
    of 200 or more. Some of their competitors do provide this level of health
  • The escalation in health insurance premium costs is
    making it harder for employers and unions to sustain current benefit levels.
    Prop. 72 moves to correct the problem that employers who provide coverage to
    their employees and dependents are at a competitive disadvantage compared to
    those who do not insure their employees.
  • The health care coverage law (SB 2) went through the
    careful scrutiny of the regular legislative process.
  • Witnesses from the California Restaurant Association,
    the Chamber of Commerce, California Manufacturers and Technology
    Association, National Federation of Independent Business, California Farm
    Bureau Federation, and Wal-Mart testified on the bill, as did consumers,
    labor, seniors, health care providers and others.
    Proposition 72 is tied to a law that creates a commission to find ways to
    control healthcare costs while maintaining access to and quality of care.
  • Some companies are going to pay for the minimum, 80%
    of premiums. But some companies already provide more than that, and can
    continue to do so-up to 100%, in which case the employee continues to pay
    nothing. Even the opponents of the law admit that the law “sets a floor for
    employer contribution of 80 percent of the cost, not a ceiling.”
  • California families will save money. The average
    family in California already pays nearly $2500 annually in premiums.
    Opponents of Prop 72 estimate that 72 will cost the average family up to
    $1,700 per year. Even by the opposition’s own estimates, Prop 72 will save
    money for the average family right now.

Read the League’s entire recommendation

 In the Bay Area


Yes on AA

Yes on BB

Yes on CC

  YES on Measure AA – Bay Area Rapid Transit District 

This measure would authorize the District to issue
bonds for no more than $980 million to make earthquake safety improvements
to BART facilities in Contra Costa, San Francisco and Alameda Counties,
including strengthening tunnels, bridges, overhead tracks and the underwater
Transbay Tube. Added funds needed ($320 million) to complete BART’s
Earthquake Safety Program would come from State and Federal sources and from
increased passenger fares. A 2002 study found that a massive quake would
likely shut BART down for 2 1/2 years and cost about $15 billion to rebuild
the system; this measure would avoid that cost. Measure AA would also
establish an independent citizens’ oversight committee to verify that bond
revenues are spent as promised.

  YES on Measure BB – Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District 

AC Transit proposes to increase its existing parcel
tax by $24 annually per parcel for ten years. Added revenues would help to
preserve affordable local public transportation services that allow seniors
and people with disabilities to remain independent, take students to and
from school, help East Bay residents commute to and from work and reduce
traffic and air pollution by reducing the number of cars on the road. The
only legal alternative to raising the parcel tax to support bus transit
would be a fare increase, and that would discourage riders and
disproportionately impact low-income persons. The measure would also create
an independent fiscal oversight committee, to report annually to the Board
and the public.

  YES on Measure CC – East Bay Regional Park District 

Measure CC is a parcel tax of $12/year per
single-family dwelling and $8.28/year per dwelling in multi-family housing,
and would raise nearly $3 million/year, expiring in 15 years. It would
provide increased public access to shoreline, hillside and urban parks and
trails, enhanced public safety (police and wildfire protection) and critical
environmental maintenance. The parcel tax would be applied and the
expenditures would be made only in Zone 1 (western Alameda and western
Contra Costa Counties) of the District; all money collected through the
parcel tax would be spent in this zone. This measure is needed due to
increased park usage and the age of some of the area’s facilities and
trails, and because the State has taken $12 million from the Park’s revenue

 In Albany


Yes on Measure A

Yes on Measure G

  YES on Measure A – School Improvement Bond 

Measure A would raise $13,000,000 to
complete needed improvements and modernization at Marin and Ocean View
elementary schools and Cougar Field. This work would bring Albany schools
into compliance with current building codes in terms of seismic, fire and
safety conditions and handicapped access. It would also improve emergency
communications, lighting, heating and air conditioning systems. It would
enable the City to receive more than $2.6 million in State matching funds
for school construction.

The cost of paying off the bonds
would add to current property taxes no more than $51 per $100,000 of
Assessed Valuation — a much lower figure, for most property owners, than
market value. A specific “Bond Project List” is attached to the bond
measure. A Citizens’ Oversight Committee would monitor all expenditures and
report regularly to the school board and the community.

  YES on Measure G – Restructure Emergency Medical Service Tax 

In 2000, Albany residents approved a new parcel tax of $18 per Equivalent Residential Unit” (ERU) to fund a higher level of emergency medical service on fire engines and future purchase of ambulances. Commercial properties are assessed as two ERUs and industrial properties as 4 ERUs. Under this formula, a 20,000 square foot or larger business, such as a Safeway or the racetrack, is charged the same as a 1,200 square foot business or two residences.

Measure G
would increase the tax rate on larger commercial and industrial properties
and would bring in more funds from these businesses to support the service.
It would reduce the tax rate on smaller business properties, so that the tax
would more fairly reflect the services provided in each zoning district.
Currently, 30% of the paramedic service calls originate in the commercial,
industrial and waterfront zoning districts, while only 15% of the revenues
supporting the service come from these areas. This measure would not change
the tax on residential properties.

In Berkeley


The League’s position re: the proposed charter amendment (Measure H) for public financing of campaigns for Mayor, City Council and other city offices

Yes on Measure B

Yes on Measure K

Yes on Measure L

Yes on Measure N

Yes on Measure O

No on Measure S

  YES on Measure B – Protect Quality Education in Public Schools 

This is a two-year special tax measure to
make up for a temporary reduction in State funding. It would be used to
maintain class size reduction, expand course offerings and provide library
staff at all school levels and to support music programs, educational
program evaluation, teacher training and parent involvement. The current tax
rate would be increased 9.7 cents per square foot for residential buildings,
14.7 cents per square foot for commercial, industrial and institutional
buildings and $50/parcel for unimproved property. The measure would raise
about $8 million per year at a cost of about $184 for the average size home
in Berkeley. An exemption from this tax for very low-income seniors is
included. A “Citizen Oversight Committee” would monitor compliance with the
terms of the measure and report to the District and the public.

  YES on Measure K  – Property Transfer Tax for Youth Services 

This measure is a special and temporary
tax to fund youth service such as summer camps, after-school activities,
literacy programs, academic mentoring, health and mental health programs,
art and music programs, school crossing guards, and grants to
community-based agencies that provide a range of youth services and shelter
for homeless youth. It would be based on the sale price of real property at
time of sale and would add 0.5% to the current rate of 1.5% for properties
selling for more than $600,000 up to $1 million and would add 1% for
properties selling for over $1 million. The tax would expire on December 31,

  YES on Measure L – Library Services Tax 

Berkeley’s Public Library is now largely
funded by a special tax based on size of buildings throughout the City, but
due to an unprecedented rise in retirement costs, the Library has had to
scale back its services, hours and book purchases. This measure would amend
the current library tax, increasing the rate by 2 cents per square foot on
residential property and 3 cents per square foot on other property. The
funds thus raised would enable the main and branch libraries to return to
full weekday schedules and the main library to reopen on Sundays. The
Library could purchase new books and expand the adult literacy program. The
added cost to owners of median size homes would be about $41 each;
low-income homeowners would be exempt.

  YES on Measure N – Gann Override 

The State constitution requires that,
every four years, cities must ask voters for permission to continue to spend
the special tax revenues they previously approved. This measure does not
create a new tax or increase an existing tax; it merely allows the City to
use existing taxing authority for purposes already approved by the voters.

  YES on Measure O –  Annual Adjustments of Rent Ceilings 

This measure would change the way the
annual Adjustments of Rent Ceilings are set for properties subject to Rent
Stabilization. It would establish a fixed formula of 65% of the increase in
the prior year’s rise in the Consumer Price Index for the Bay Area. This
would replace the current practice by which the Rent Board hires consultants
to do an annual study of rental housing costs, solicits public input, then
makes the final decision on the annual adjustment. The new formula would
balance the interests of tenants and landlords and would save
$15,000-$20,000 per year. It would also end years of expensive litigation,
reduce costly bureaucracy and eliminate sources of rancor between tenants
and owners.

  NO on Measure S – Public Tree Act 

Measure S would establish a Tree Board
with broad powers to manage all trees on public property through a new
permitting process. The new Board would set standards for tree maintenance
and licensing requirements for persons engaged in tree care, issue permits,
collect and disseminate information on tree issues and enforce penalties for
violations and would have the power to confiscate vehicles and other
equipment used by violators. The Board members would be appointed by the
Mayor, Council members and several City Commissions, as well as by its own
members. The City would be required to provide two full-time staff members,
office space, equipment and other resources, for an annual cost of about
$350,000 for the first year and a minimum of $250,000 after that.