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Recall Targets: School Board Members Jose Lara and Leanne Ibarra

According to our analysis, El Rancho Unified School District recall election is a heated race framed by long-standing fissures within the local school board and with other stakeholders in the school community.

About the Race

There are two members of the School Board being targeted for recall, Board Members Jose Lara and Leanne Ibarra. Together with one other member, they have commanded a board majority. According to local reports, Gabriel Orosco is the third member of the majority, but is not being targeted for recall because his term ends December 2020.

There are four questions on the ballot: A yes-no vote on whether to keep each board member, and a choice of replacement for each member if the recall effort is successful. The El Rancho Federation of Teachers and the California School Employees Association Chapter 107 have both been key players in the recall effort, which was organized by a group convened last year as the Committee to Recall Jose Lara and Leanne M Ibarra 2019.

Recall proponents point to the alleged misuse of school bond funds and the termination of contracts of 23 school administrators including several popular principals among other reasons for the recall. Another issue of contention is the $200 million construction program that until recently was managed by Pasadena-based HPLE Inc. The company resigned in May amid increasing scrutiny over how it and the district managed the program: The state’s team of forensic accountants will conduct an audit of the district’s bond program at the recommendation of concerned Los Angeles County education officials. The bond proposition was passed in order to fund a controversial rebuild of El Rancho High School. This rebuild is now on hold, with many school community members seeking to re-imagine the project as a more cost-effective renovation as opposed to a full-scale rebuild.

About the District

El Rancho Unified School District is a public school district located in Pico Rivera, CA. It has 8,674 students in grades K-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 25 to 1.

About the Vote to Recall 

Boardmember Jose Lara has already resigned, which means the recall decision for his seat is now irrelevant. Voters will still choose between two candidates running for his seat. Boardmember Leanne Ibarra is an active boardmember, which means voters will have to decide whether she will be recalled. If she is recalled, there is only  one candidate running for her seat.

About the Candidates

There are five candidates on the ballot, including the recall targets.

  • Recall Target School Board Member Jose Lara resigned from the Governing Board of the El Rancho Unified School District effective February 5, 2020. At the time of his resignation, Lara was the longest-serving member of the school board. 
  • Recall Target School Board Member Leanne Ibarra was originally recruited to the school board by Lara and fellow board member Gabriel Orosco. Ibarra has voted in line with Lara and Orosco to form a majority voting bloc on the governing board. 
  • Joe Rivera is being recommended by the recall organizers to replace Lara. He was originally a member of a bond oversight committee but along with Mejia was removed by the school board in a non-public vote. According to local sources, Rivera has been previously voted out from the School Board.
  • Esther Mejia is being recommended by the recall organizers to replace Ibarra. She was also originally a member of a bond oversight committee but along with Rivera was removed by  the school board in a non-public vote.
  • Allan Maciel identified himself in election filings as a school principal and is also running for Lara’s seat. According to local reports, he lags behind Rivera in levels of community support or endorsement.
How to Vote in this Election

The June 2 election encompasses only El Rancho School District and is being administered by the Registrar of Voters in Los Angeles County. To be counted, completed ballots must be received at your County Registrar of Voters office no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, or be postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than three days after Election Day. Voting by mail is the only way to vote in this election. Information about this election can be found at https://lavote.net/home/voting-elections/current-elections/upcoming-elections#06022020

Each voter in El Rancho Unified School District will be mailed a ballot beginning on May 4, 2020. Voters will have until June 2nd to return their ballot. Last day for Vote By Mail ballots to be received or turned  in  personally  by  the  voter  at  any  polling place   in   the   jurisdiction. An authorized representative may return the voted ballot under specified conditions.

The ballot counting process will be open to public observation at the Downey Tally Talley Operation Center, 9150 Imperial Hwy, Downey, CA 90242 on June 5, 9, 12, and 15 during specified times. For more information visit https://www.lavote.net/docs/rrcc/election-info/06022020_Canvass-Update-Schedule.pdf

Accessible Voting: Early voting options are available for voters with disabilities. 

Register to Vote: You must register to vote by May 18, 2020 to receive a Vote By Mail ballot in the mail. After this deadline, you can still register and vote under Conditional Voter Registration (CVR), also known as Same Day Voter Registration. Contact your county elections office to learn more about CVR.

Los Angeles County Elections Website: https://www.lavote.net 

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San Diego, Measure B

Both Measures A and B on the San Diego County March ballot deal with housing development in the county’s unincorporated areas. While Measure A is designed to increase public oversight and approval over any large development project in San Diego County, Measure B reaffirms the approval of a specific large development project called Newland Sierra by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. 

San Diego County’s Measure B would uphold the approval of Newland Sierra, a planned high density development just north of Escondido on land currently zoned as rural or semi-rural. The Newland Sierra project would build 2,135 homes on land previously zoned for 99 residences, as well as the development of about 2 million square feet of commercial space. In addition to approving the land rezoning, the San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the county’s development guidelines specifically for Newland Sierra.

The Supervisors have failed to set in place any long-term action plans on affordable housing or climate for the county, which is how Newland Sierra was approved with no affordable housing guarantees in part of the county identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as an area of severe fire danger. 

Proponents of Measure B argue that a legal agreement signed by the the developer of the project guarantees affordable housing be included in the project, and that the project will help alleviate the housing crisis in the area. Opponents of Measure B, have pointed out that the signed legal agreement can be changed at any time by the developer and is therefore not enforceable by the county or the public. This is a strong example of how developers are often irresponsible stewards of our responsibility to build and expand affordable housing, while making sure that this housing is built in areas safe from excessive wildfire danger.

We recommend a NO on Measure B. 

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B
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General Plan Amendments for Newland Sierra Project
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Vote NO on Measure B
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San Diego, Measure A

Both Measures A and B on the San Diego County March ballot deal with housing development in the county’s unincorporated areas. While Measure B is related to the future of a specific development -- the one that inspired both of these measures -- Measure A would address the approval process for all developments in the unincorporated lands around San Diego. 

Dubbed by advocates as the “Save Our San Diego Countryside Measure,” Measure A would require a countywide vote on any major projects granted a General Plan amendment. (The county’s General Plan covers zoning and land use was last updated in 2012. Large housing developments generally require an amendment in order to proceed.) Developers rarely fare well in these kinds of public votes, but proponents of the measure believe residents should have a greater voice in any changes that involve building in the fire-prone areas in the outskirts of the county. They also note that the county government is too easily bought off by donations from the building industry and developers. 

The opposition, unsurprisingly, comes primarily from those very people -- the building industry and developers. Opponents claim it’s being financed by the ultra wealthy and primarily designed to save properties like the Golden Door Spa, the luxury retreat funding the opposition to Measure B, from development despite the fact that over a dozen environmental groups support the measure. They reiterate the conservative claim that Measure A would stymie new housing projects due to the expense involved in putting anything before a public vote.

Developers often are irresponsible stewards of our responsibility to build and expand affordable housing. Measure A would ensure that the public's voice is heard when it comes to amending the General Plan, which impacts both affordable housing and safety. It would prevent elected officials from changing the General Plan without justifying those amendments to voters in order to appease developers. While it might be well-meaning to build more housing in an attempt to address the housing crisis, if it's done in high-risk areas where families may lose their homes and potentially their lives down the line, it is misguided -- as we've seen with the countless wildfires throughout the state that have devastated various communities in fire-risk areas. 

Vote YES on Measure A.
 

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A
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Voter Approval for Land Use Amendments to County General Plan
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Vote YES on Measure A
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San Francisco, Initiative, Prop E

Prop E is a measure that provides part of the solution towards San Francisco’s housing crisis. Sponsored by Todco, a nonprofit that manages affordable housing developments, the measure ties the city’s ability to approve new office development plans to the creation of affordable housing. Prop E would modify an older law, Prop M, which imposed an annual limit on office development. Prop M passed in 1986 after a number of tall towers abruptly changed the city skyline. Prop M limits the city to only 875,000 square feet in new large office projects per year, and Prop E would limit that growth further, reducing it by whatever amount the city falls short on its state-mandated affordable housing goals. 

Advocates of Measure E -- which include numerous progressive allies of Courage California -- believe that the growth of commercial space is part of what is driving up the cost of housing and has to be slowed unless affordable housing is added, as well. While more and more businesses flock to the city of San Francisco, creating jobs, there is no where for the employees to live. It is not unusual to hear of SF employees commuting in from as far as Merced -- spending the majority of their day getting to and from work. 

The measure’s opposition includes developers and city officials. Together they claim Prop E will simply raise the cost of commercial space and limit job growth in the city. The city controller’s analysis expands upon that claim by estimating that Prop. E. would cause the city to lose out on 10 million square feet in office space, 47,000 jobs, and 8.6 percentage points in economic growth in the next 20 years. However, considering that office development is increasing while affordable housing development is stagnating, it is unclear who those jobs and city’s funds will go to when only the super rich can afford to live in San Francisco. When we consider that, plus the fact that the measure is supported by Courage’s closest allies that work daily on affordable housing issues, it leads us to recommend you support the measure. 

Vote YES on Prop E.
 

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E
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City Office Development Limit Initiative
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Vote YES on Proposition E
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Santa Clara BOS District 3

Submitted by deepthi on Mon, 03/02/2020 - 12:22

There are three well-qualified candidates in this race who have received broad support from progressive advocates: Kansen Chu, Magdalena Carrasco, and Otto Lee. After extensive research, we believe they are all good choices. Read the full descriptions below to find the candidate which best fits your values and priorities for Santa Clara Board of Supervisor, District 3.

Santa Clara BOS District 3

Submitted by deepthi on Mon, 03/02/2020 - 12:10

There are three well-qualified candidates in this race who have received broad support from progressive advocates: Kansen Chu, Magdalena Carrasco, and Otto Lee. After extensive research, we believe they are all good choices. Read the full descriptions below to find the candidate which best fits your values and priorities for Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor, District 3.

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Submitted by rumeal on Sat, 02/29/2020 - 18:36

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Monterey, Santa Barbara

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San Benito, Santa Cruz

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San Luis Obispo, Ventura

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Butte, Fresno, Merced, Sacramento, Sutter

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Myanna Dellinger

Los Angeles County Bar Association ranking: NOT QUALIFIED

Myanna Dellinger is a professor of law focused on international law and climate change. She is an Associate Law Professor, University of South Dakota School of Law.

Dellinger was born in Denmark and has lived in southern California for over 20 years. She received her J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law. She contributes often to law journals and outlets, and hosts the podcasts "The Global Energy and Environmental Law Podcast" and "Dellinger on the Law." 

She signed an open letter to Congress opposing strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) laws in 2015. SLAPP laws are intended to intimidate or deter objections to public discourse with the threat of massive legal lawsuits that would exhaust the resources of individuals or organizations. Before teaching at the University of South Dakota, she was an associate professor at Western State University College of Law.

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Vote YES on FD Los Angeles

Measure FD would add a parcel tax of 6 cents per square foot on residential and commercial buildings in the unincorporated areas of LA County as well as in the 58 cities that contract with the county for fire protection and emergency services. (This does not include the city of Los Angeles, but does include many of the smaller cities in and around the city limits.) The parcel tax would cap out at 100,000 square feet and the money would be used to by the Los Angeles County Fire Department to hire more firefighters and paramedics and upgrade its equipment.

In a region famed for being prone to natural disasters, fires are among the most frequent large-scale crises we face. Climate change is making matters worse. All over the state, fire departments are being stretched by the increasing frequency with which they’re dispatched to battle major fires, and, as we learned in 2018, this means reinforcements and resources from elsewhere are not always available when they’re needed. LA County’s fire department also operates paramedic services, which are concurrently seeing an increase in demand. Both of these functions are vital to protecting the health and property of LA County’s citizens and worth funding. 

LA County’s fire department is funded entirely via property taxes -  it doesn’t receive any money from the county’s general fund. Because of this unique funding scheme they periodically have had to go to voters to pass parcel taxes for additional funding. The last time they did this, however, was over twenty years ago in 1997. Though the department has been late in getting their overtime report to voters, meaning they have not done everything they could have to document the need for this tax, it’s still worth voting YES. Too much rides on the fire department’s ability to provide quick, efficient service.

This measure requires a two-thirds vote to pass and the resulting tax would only apply in areas where the L.A. County Fire Department does its work. 

Vote YES on Measure FD.
 

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FD
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Vote YES on FD Los Angeles
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Vote YES on Measure FD, LA County Fire District Parcel Tax
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