Challenges Facing the Voters of Los Angeles

This column provides factual information about a municipal election coming to Los Angeles. The election is scheduled for March 8, and it will ask voters to decide ten ballot measures—eight Charter amendments and two Propositions.

Both Propositions were approved by the City Council as new sources of revenue. Proposition M would establish a tax on medical marijuana, and Proposition O would establish a tax on the production of oil in Los Angeles.

Of the eight measures that would amend the Charter, two—I and J—relate to the City’s Department of Water and Power. Measure I would establish a Public Accountability Office in that department, and require that it be managed by a Ratepayer Advocate. Measure J would give the City Council authority to review DWP’s proposed budget. It would also provide for the transfer of unneeded DWP funds to the City.

But the ballot measure that will undoubtedly be most fiercely resisted is Charter amendment G, which would reduce pension benefits for Firefighters, Police Officers, and Harbor Department employees who are hired after July 11. It was put on the ballot primarily to reduce the cost of City government.

Another measure, amendment Q, was put on the ballot to raise organizational efficiency in the City’s civil service system. Officials hope the changes it proposes in employment provisions will also help control the cost of City government.

Ballot measure H would prohibit bidders on City contracts from giving or raising campaign contributions. It would also strengthen the City’s Campaign Trust Fund.

If approved, measure L would provide more funding for the Library Department, measure P would establish a contingency reserve account and an emergency reserve account in the City treasury, and measure N would amend existing charter provisions on campaign finances.

Readers of this column have just been given a glimpse of the issues voters will decide in the March 8 election. Future columns will provide more information about the ten ballot measures as well as about the race to fill seven Council seats.

You can contact Samuel Sperling at samuelmsperling@yahoo.com.

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