The opposition to Measure V finally is attacking. Not unexpected. The yard signs came first, warning passers-by of impending “Danger.” Then came the website and the mailer, both urging the voter: “Don’t give up your right to vote.” Measure V would not do that.
By Cliff Bender
The recent Vote No on Measure V mailer lists a number of “facts.” Unfortunately, only the first “fact” listed is true. “Alhambra’s current voting system allows all residents to vote for all Council Members in all five districts.” This is called at-large voting and was established by our City Charter in 1903. But how well can a Council Member represent you and your district when that person also must cater to voters from all other parts of the City? Voters outside your district dilute your vote for a representative. Alhambra’s current ‘at large’ system of voting means that even if every voter in your district voted for a particular candidate, voters in other parts of the City could vote for the opposing candidate and elect someone to represent you and your district for whom no one in your district voted! That may be an extreme example of vote dilution, but it is possible nonetheless.
Under Measure V, ‘by-district’ elections would mean that only voters in your district would be able to elect your representative. This would make your Council Member accountable and answerable to you and the voters in your district, making your vote much more meaningful and significant. This is the way that ALL other forms of our representative government work, from the County Supervisor, State Senate and Assembly, up to members of Congress. It is also how over 150 California cities hold their local elections. Do we consider it “reducing our right to vote” because we can’t vote on a State Senator representing neighboring South Pasadena?
Even if the foregoing argument doesn’t convince you, vote dilution in our current system violates voters’ rights. Alhambra is in violation of the State and Federal Voting Rights Acts, and that will require change to by-district voting in the very near future. Violations of these statutes are not limited to racial or ethnic disparities between Council districts; violations also include economic disparities or differences between primarily rental and homeowner districts. Council Members recognized this, which is why they were willing to work with the original sponsors of the ballot initiative to modify and compromise on some portions and reach consensus on what is now Measure V.
Another so-called “fact” listed on the mailer states: “In the past 30 years, not a single mayor or councilmember has ever been charged or convicted for corruption.” Apparently ‘former Mayor and Council Member’ doesn’t count. Maybe none were charged or convicted specifically for “corruption,” but how about bribery? And what about Political Reform Act and Brown Act violations? Technically these violations are not criminal corruption, but they are violations of the law. Also of significance have been the ongoing “questionable” activities that give the perception of possible corruption. These activities include accepting donations from developers with projects coming to the City for approval and awarding multi-year, no-bid contracts to donors. (Want more examples? Go to: Former Alhambra Councilwoman Dares Public to Find Corruption, So We Did!)
The paradox is that almost every claim “Friends of Alhambra” (the committee formed to oppose Measure V) makes against Measure V is actually an argument in favor of the measure!
“Friends of Alhambra” claims that Measure V is the work of a Special Interest group. Who is behind “Yes on Measure V?” Measure V originally was conceived and qualified for the ballot by individual members of the community, the overwhelming majority of which are Alhambra residents. ALL funding to write, qualify, and campaign for the measure has come from individual voluntary donations. No businesses. No developers. No real estate or other professional organizations. Measure V is a true grassroots effort of individuals. The purpose of Measure V is to promote clean and transparent government, responsive to the citizens of Alhambra. No individual or group stands to profit in any way from the passage of Measure V. Supporters of Measure V have widely varying views and opinions on issues that may come before the City, but is that a problem? No. There always will be and should be differences of opinion. The goal of Measure V is to allow City leaders to make decisions based on the merits of an issue itself and not as a reward for campaign donations. So, who are the so-called “Special Interests” involved in creating Measure V? The answer is NONE.
Alhambra City Council Supports it
Indeed, after some modifications to the original initiative, the City Council voted unanimously to support the consensus initiative which is now Measure V. Just look at your sample ballots. One of the two official ballot arguments for Measure V is from all five Alhambra City Council Members. You will not see a ballot argument against Measure V in your sample ballot because no one submitted one, including the so-called “Friends of Alhambra.”
WHO is behind “No on Measure V?” Other than the names of a few individuals calling themselves “Friends of Alhambra,” we really don’t know. They formed their Political Action Committee (PAC) late, and have not yet filed any donor disclosure statements with the City Clerk despite significant spending. Thus, the public can’t see who or what special interests are funding their efforts. This is exactly what Measure V seeks to prevent. Simply ask yourselves: who has endorsed No on Measure V? What groups or civic leaders are behind “No on Measure V”? Answer: None are identified on their website or in campaign materials.
On the other hand, Yes on Measure V is endorsed by the League of Women Voters – Pasadena Area. Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, California Common Cause, Alhambra Preservation Group, Grassroots Alhambra, The LA County Democratic Party, the Alhambra Democratic Club, California Clean Money Campaign, the current City Council, multiple candidates for City Council, and more.
And despite the opposition’s focus only on one portion of Measure V, this good government measure introduces campaign donor limits; a ban on campaign contributions from developers, city contractors and PACs; requires campaign finance reports be posted on the City’s website; and more.
For honest, transparent government that represents you, and not whomever has the fattest checkbook, vote YES on Measure V!
Cliff Bender is a retired educator who has lived in Alhambra for 40+ years. Cliff stays active in the community by being a board member and officer of the Alhambra Educational Foundation, a board member of Grassroots Alhambra, and as Secretary of the Alhambra Democratic Club. He and his wife have two adult daughters who attended and graduated from Alhambra schools.
> Read the measure at this link.
> Read the official ballot arguments submitted for Measure V and the City Attorney’s impartial analysis at this link.
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