Malibu voters reject all but one ballot measure

Malibu voters approved Proposition 74, which would have increased a public school teacher’s probationary period before receiving tenure from two years to five. The percentage of Malibu voters who participated in the election was significantly lower than the statewide amount.

By Max Taves / Special to The Malibu Times

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fared better among Malibu voters than he did statewide in last week’s special election. All four of his proposed ballot measures had tighter races locally, with Proposition 74, which would have increased a public school teacher’s probationary period before receiving tenure, receiving a majority of ‘yes’ votes in Malibu. Local voters were in line with the rest of the state on the other four ballot measures, rejecting all.

Local interest in the election was significantly lower than it was throughout the rest of the state. A mere 32.3 percent of Malibu’s 8,550 registered voters participated in the election, while 45.3 percent of the state’s nearly 16 million eligible voters cast their ballots.

Malibu Democratic Club President Ralph Erickson said the rejection of all four of Schwarzenegger’s ballot measures statewide and three of them locally suggested the governor’s popularity is waning.

“He [Schwarzenegger] has a 33 percent approval rating, and that’s reflected in the ‘no’ votes on these propositions,” Erickson said.

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Geraldine Battey, president of the Malibu chapter of Republican Women, Federated, said voters have prematurely lost faith in the governor to the state’s detriment.

“We put Schwarzenegger in to change the state and to make it fiscally responsible,” she said. “Then he comes up with measures which will do that… and then people vote against it. I don’t understand it.”

The significance of Malibu’s approval of Proposition 74, which 50.8 percent of local voters supported while only 44.9 percent favored it statewide, was hotly contested. The proposition sought to extend the time necessary for a public school teacher to acquire permanent status from two years to five. Former Malibu Lions Club President Doug O’Brien argued that Proposition 74’s local success showed a demand for public school reform in Malibu.

“Right now I think that money being spent on Malibu’s schools is being wasted… and I think that the product that they are producing is poor,” O’Brien said.

However, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School Board Member Kathy Wisnicki attributed the proposition’s local approval to what she called the deceptiveness of its advertisements.

“Proposition 74 was the most seductive of the education measures because it looks like if you lengthen the time for tenure, you’ll get better teachers,” Wisnicki said. “Nationwide, if you look at the state with the highest student achievement, it only has a one-year waiting period. By lengthening the time for tenure, all we’re doing is reducing the pool of teachers we could choose from.”

Another measure directly affecting teachers was Proposition 75, which would have required public employee unions to receive approval from each member before using their money for political purposes. While the measure lost by nearly seven percentage points statewide, with 53.4 percent rejecting it, the local race was a close call. It lost by 16 votes, with 50.3 percent of Malibu voters opposing it.

Proposition 76, which would have limited state spending, was not a competitive race statewide or locally. Malibu voters did like it a little more than the rest of the state with 42.3 percent of Malibu voters approving it, compared with a 38 percent approval statewide.

The governor’s proposal to have three retired judges redesign the state’s Assembly, Senate and Congressional districts, Proposition 77, was overwhelmingly rejected statewide, with 59.5 percent of the voter opposing it. But the race was significantly closer locally, with 52.4 percent of the voters rejecting it.

Least popular with Malibu voters was Proposition 73, which would have required minors to receive the permission of a parent before having an abortion. Only 33.2 percent of the local voters supported the measure. Statewide the race was much tighter, receiving 47.4 percent approval.

The rival prescription drug measures were both heavily rejected statewide and in Malibu. Proposition 78, which was backed by the drug companies, received 58.5 percent opposition statewide and 64 percent locally. The consumer groups-backed Proposition 79 was opposed by 61.1 percent of the statewide voters and 56.9 percent of those in Malibu.

Proposition 80, which its backers said would prevent another energy crisis through regulating energy companies, was also strongly defeated statewide and locally. It was rejected by 34.3 percent of the voters statewide and 37.7 percent of the Malibu voters voted against it.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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