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Economic Justice Committee News: Kehilla Activists Hold Rousing Ballot Discussion


Nancy Feinstein

{See the table below for a summary of endorsements by Oakland Community Organizations (OCO.}

On Monday, October 17, members of the Economic Justice Committee, the Greening Committee and the Anti-Death Penalty Action Group hosted a review and discussion of 8 California State Propositions, 4 Oakland City/School District ballot measures, and an Alameda County ballot measure that are up for a vote on Nov. 8. Kehilla has hosted ballot discussions in the past, but this one had unprecedentedly high attendance – by some estimates as many as 100 Kehilla folks, members of other OCO congregations and schools, and other friends and neighbors. Nancy Feinstein did a wonderful job of facilitation. There was lively debate on some issues where there was disagreement, especially about the regressive nature of some of the tax measures. Many people brought their ballots to mark, and offered feedback that the information provided was really helpful.

Beth Weinberger (Anti-Death Penalty Action Group and Greening Cmte.) warned about some particularly confusing aspects of the California state propositions. Props. 62 & 66 both concern the death penalty. Prop. 62 repeals it and would substitute a life sentence without parole, while Prop. 66 would speed up executions. (Kehilla has had a stance against the death penalty since 2000.) Beth also discussed two opposing propositions regarding California’s proposed ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. Prop. 65 is against the ban, while Prop. 67 puts the ban in place throughout the state. (The Greening Committee supports Prop. 67 and opposes Prop. 65.) Richard Speiglman, of the EJC,  endorsed a Yes vote on Prop. 56 (cigarette tax) and Sue Goldberg and Michael Altshuler (both of the EJC) recommended a yes on Prop. 61 (Rx drug costs). Laura Finkler (EJC) discussed the pros and cons of Oakland measure HH (soda tax) and ended with an endorsement. Michael A. talked about Oakland measure LL, which would establish a community-based Police Commission, and recommended a Yes vote.

Sam Davis, parent of a student at an Oakland elementary school, Kehilla member, and OCO leader, spoke in favor of education measures Prop. 55 and Oakland School District measure G1. Rev. Laurie Manning, of Skyline United Church of Christ, endorsed Prop. 57’s proposed reforms to the criminal justice system. Susan Schacher, of the Oakland Tenants Union, and Pamela Drake, of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, and the Democratic Central Committee, presented information about Oakland Measure JJ’s reforms for renters, arguing for a Yes vote. Richard S. spoke in favor of Alameda Co. Measure A1, which helps to fund affordable rental housing.

After the presentations, and questions and comments from the attendees, audience members contributed information, and commented on others of the multitude of ballot measures that confront us in this challenging, and sometimes bizarre election.



Measures Discussed at Kehilla’s Ballot Night


State Propositions OCO
55 – Maintains current income tax on incomes over $250,000 to re-up Prop. 30, funds K-12 & Community Colleges, reduce sales tax by ¼ cent YES
56 – Increases cigarette tax (incl. e-cigs) by $2.00/pack to fund health care, prevention, law enforcement YES
57 – Increases parole chances for felons convicted of non-violent crimes & provides more opportunities to earn credits for good behavior; revises juvenile proceedings to allow judges, not prosecutors to decide whether to try juveniles as adults in courts YES
61 – Prohibit state agencies from paying more for a prescription than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the US Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs ____
62 – Repeals the death penalty in California YES
65 – Redirects $ collected from sale of grocery and retail carry-out bags to a special Wildlife Conservation Board fund. (Does not ban single-use plastic bags.) —-
66 – Changes procedures governing CA court appeals and petitions challenging death penalty convictions and sentences; speeds up executions ____
67 – Ratifies SB 270, sustains ban on use of single-use plastic bags ——
City of Oakland and Oakland Unified School District Measures
HH – 1 cent/oz. sugar-sweetened beverage tax YES
JJ – Protect Oakland Renters Act. “flips the petition” so that landlords, not tenants, petition the Rent Board to increase rent in excess of annual inflation. Expands Just Cause protections to more units; increases  transparency and accountability of rental notifications and Rent Board


LL – Civilian Oversight Commission of Police Department YES
G1 – OUSD parcel tax to support educator salary increases and middle school improvements YES
Alameda County Measure
A1 – County property tax bond to support affordable housing needs YES


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