From the Publisher / Arnold G. York

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The Malibu Times endorsements

This is an important election because two major things have happened.

First, the district lines have changed, and the new lines have been drawn by a Citizens Commission, meaning this time the politicians didn’t get to draw their own district lines.

Secondly, the top two in almost every race go to the final in November, so we could end up in November with two Democrats running against each other in some districts, and two Republicans running against each other in different districts. Probably most districts will end up with one Republican running against one Democrat, but truly no one is certain how this will play itself out.

We’ve looked over the field and made the following endorsements in this primary:

For president, well, you just pick your own. You certainly don’t need us for that.

For U.S. Senator we endorse the incumbent U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, who is a major figure in our U.S. Senate and our country, particularly as chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Congress. The interesting question is who of the other 23 people will come in second, because no matter how many votes Feinstein gets, there will still be a runoff in November.

For U.S. Representative we endorse the incumbent Henry Waxman. Interestingly, one of the candidates, Bill Bloomfield, has expressed no party preference and I suspect you will see more of that in the future, as candidates try to attract voters from both parties. Disclaimer: I went to law school with Henry and have known him since early days in student politics.

For State Senator we endorse Senator Fran Pavley. Fran is a giant in the California Senate, particularly in the environmental field. Disclaimer: My daughter-in-law formerly worked for Fran, but I’ve actually know Fran much longer.

For State Assembly we endorse Richard Bloom, the mayor of Santa Monica, who is also a member of the California Coastal Commission, and by all accounts a bright, levelheaded and reasonable guy. I know very little about Torie Osborn, other than she’s filling my mailbox with lots of very expensive direct mail, which means someone is giving her lots of money. Betsy Butler is already an Assembly member who got pushed out of her old district when the lines were redrawn.

Picking Superior Court Judges is a little different. There was a time when I knew most of them personally, but those days are long gone. These days first I look at the L.A. County Bar assessments of the candidates, which are usually very good. It’s an independent, private nonprofit of attorney members and open to all. They have several categories of ratings: extremely well qualified, well qualified, qualified and not qualified. After the county bar, I turn to the L.A. Times endorsements, which are usually levelheaded, and then ask around a bit.

For Office No. 3 we make no endorsement. There are two Deputy District Attorneys running, Sean Coen and Craig Gold, who were judged to be “qualified” by the L.A. County Bar, and the L.A. Times endorsed Sean Coen.

The two other candidates were described as “not qualified.”

For Office No. 10 we endorse the current incumbent, Judge Sanjay T. Kumar, who was rated as “extremely well qualified” by the L.A. County Bar, the absolutely top rating, and endorsed by the L.A. Times also. The opponent was rated “not qualified.” The rumor is that the opponent is running because Kumar has a foreign sounding name, and a few elections ago another very competent Superior Court Judge with a foreign sounding name lost to a total unknown.

In the situation of Office No. 38, the incumbent Judge Lynn Diane Olson was rated “not qualified,” which is highly unusual, but it was apparently not because of her judicial work, but because she refused to participate in the L.A. County Bar rating process. Her opponent was also rated “not qualified.” We make no endorsement. Neither did the L.A. Times .

For Office No. 65 we endorse prosecutor Andrea Thompson, who was rated “well qualified” by the L.A. County Bar and also endorsed by the L.A. Times.

For Office No. 78 we endorse incumbent Judge James D. Otto, who was rated “extremely well qualified” by the L.A. County Bar, and his opponent rated “not qualified.”

For Office No. 114 we make no endorsement, as two candidates were rated as “well qualified” by the L.A. County Bar, Eric Harmon, a prosecutor, and another candidate, Berj Parseghian, an environmental attorney. We don’t know enough about them to endorse. The L.A. Times endorsed Harmon.

For District Attorney we endorse Jackie Lacey, the Chief Deputy D.A., who appears to be competent, thoughtful, able and ambitious enough, but not overly ambitious. The principal opponent is the current Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who is a bit scary, very ambitious and tends to try his cases in the press. The D.A. has lots of power and should be there serving the ends of justice, not a lot of personal agendas. The D.A. has the discretion to decide who to prosecute, and who not, whether to go for three strikes or not, whether to go for the death penalty or not. In the hands of the wrong person the office could be deadly.

There are two state propositions on the ballot.

On Proposition 28 we urge a “yes” vote to alter term limits by cutting the total time in office down to 12 years, instead of the current 14 years. While they can currently serve 14 years, they can only serve six of those years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate. This proposition would allow legistlators to serve all 12 years in either the Assembly or the Senate. Sadly, the Assembly is in shambles because it takes several years and a couple of budgets before they understand the process, and while they’re learning the lobbyists run circles around them. They need more time in one place to learn the job and this proposition would help.

Proposition 29 would add one dollar a pack tax with the money to go to cancer research and tobacco-related diseases. We endorse this because it seems to make sense and tobacco and health are related. There are a number of diseases directly related to smoking and this money will work toward finding cures or at least extending the life of people with the diseases.

There are two county measures on the ballot.

County Measure H would continue the Hotel Occupancy Tax. We endorse this continuation. This is a significant source of funds to the county and practically every county in this country has a hotel tax on the rooms of 12% or so to help finance local government.

County Measure L would continue the existing 10% tax on landfills. We support it and urge a “yes” vote. Landfills are expensive to maintain and bring on many indirect costs. This tax helps to offset those costs.