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Thursday
Nov012012

California Election - Los Angeles County Measure by Measure

Los Angeles Environmental AttorneyLos Angeles Environmental & Business LitigationStephen T. Holzer
November 1, 2012

Los Angeles Environmental Attorney

We've already discussed the pros and cons of the California Propositions appearing on the ballot next week, with a look at what major groups were for, or against each initiative.

This time, we're going to take a look at some of the Measures up for vote in Los Angeles County and the San Fernando Valley – though there are many others that pertain to individual cities in Southern California. (If you'd like a look at all of the ballot measures, click here.)

 

Los Angeles County Election Ballot Measures

 

The first three, Measures A, B & J, will affect all Los Angelenos, while the last two, Measures HH & MM, affect only those in and around the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Fernando Valley. 

 

 

Measure A:  Appointment of County Assessor – County of Los Angeles

Should the Los Angeles County Assessor's position be appointed, or elected? Currently, it's an elected job, but this measure seeks to change the California Constitution and the Los Angeles County Charter to make the position an appointed one. This is a non-binding vote, meaning it's a temperature check to see what the public thinks.

Opposition to Measure A:

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Republican Party of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Times all advise voting NO on Measure A.

Opponents say that even though elected assessors may be susceptible to giving tax breaks to campaign donors, appointed assessors will be influenced by their appointers – boards of supervisors with an interest in keeping tax monies rolling in at a maximum rate.

Support of Measure A:

The Long Beach Telegram suggests a YES vote as the better choice, citing John Noguez's alleged abuse of power while in his position as County Assessor as a prime reason why.

 

Measure B:  Los Angeles Porn Actors Required to Wear Condoms Act

Now here's a hot topic. Should we make adult film actors wear condoms while shooting porn? This Safer Sex Initiative also requires the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to conduct inspections and enforce the Act – it's the enforcement that's at issue here, as a city ordinance already requires the porn stars to wear condoms.

Opposition to Measure B:

The adult film industry, the Republican Party of Los Angeles, and two Los Angeles newspapers all oppose the Safer Sex Act, citing another tax on the people as well as more runaway productions. The San Fernando Valley is an informally acknowledged capitol of adult entertainment, and has been since the 1970s.

Support of Measure B:

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Los Angeles County Medical Association say Measure B will help reduce the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases with no cost to taxpayers. 

 

Measure J:  Los Angeles County Sales Tax for Transportation

This measure will continue the ½ cent sales tax increase (2008 voter-approved Measure R) scheduled to end in 2039, to extend another 30 years, to 2069. Measure R (and now J) is meant to finance new transportation projects and hasten those already in planning. To pass, Measure J needs a 2/3 supermajority vote.

Opposition to Measure J:

Two city supervisors and some local groups like the Bus Riders Union and the Beverly Hills Board of Education who form the Measure J opposition say it promotes gentrification – certain groups asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to upgrade the Crenshaw Boulevard Line, and to rebuild affordable housing destroyed when the Gold Line was built in East L.A. But the agency has "stonewalled" these requests. Some are calling Measure J a "blank check" to MTA.

Support of Measure J:

MTA says approval of Measure J will cost LA taxpayers approximately $25/year/individual, on average – but will generate $90 billion in revenue between 2039 and 2069. The Los Angeles Times and other major news groups support the measure, citing new jobs, less traffic and better accessibility to LA's more popular areas. 

 

The San Fernando Valley - Measures HH & MM

Measures HH and MM are similar. They are parcel taxes to help fund the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, or MRCA.

The MRCA acquires, maintains and improves open spaces, parks and wildlife corridors. The public agency improves fire prevention, protects water quality and facilitates security, among other things, at these places. MCRA has been funded by a 20 year old property assessment that will expire soon.

Measure HH helps MCRA to provide these services from the East Santa Monica Mountains into the Hollywood Hills by imposing a $24 per year tax for 10 years. The funds can only be spent in the Santa Monica Mountains east of the 405 freeway.

Measure MM imposes a $19 per year tax for 10 years to provide the above services in Encino, Tarzana and Woodland Hills. 

Opposition to Measures HH & MM:

There doesn't appear to be an organized opposition to the measures, though there are a few lone voices naysaying HH & MM.

Support of Measures HH & MM:

Both HH supporters and MM supporters have the backing of the Los Angeles Democratic Party, the Los Angeles Daily News, California State Assembly Member Bob Blumenfield, Los Angeles City Council Member Paul Koretz, and various homeowners' associations affected in the San Fernando Valley.

Need more California Election information? Read up on the pros and cons of Propositions 30-35, and Propositions 36-40.

 

Stephen T. Holzer is an Environmental and Business Litigation Attorney at our Firm, as well as the Chair of our Environmental Practice Group. Contact him via email: sholzer@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Wednesday
Jun062012

Municipal Bankruptcies - When Local Governments Go Belly-Up

 

Los Angeles Litigation AttorneyEnvironmental Law & Civil Litigation AttorneyJune 6, 2012
by Stephen T. Holzer

Los Angeles Environmental Attorney

When an individual opts to declare bankruptcy, he or she generally qualifies for either Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, in which the individual's property is sold to pay some, or all of the debts; or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, in which options for payment of these debts are offered over a fixed period of time.

Creditors may be notified and may contest the process, as they want to recover as much of the loan and interest as possible.

It's much more complex for local governments under Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code because:

  1. Municipal debts are usually much larger.
  2. Local government employees don't want to have their contracts abolished or reduced. They stand to lose their benefits, pensions and other compensation when a municipality files bankruptcy.
  3. Bonds and other means of financing municipal projects completely complicate the process.

State Assemblyman Bob Wieckowsky attempted to alleviate some of the confusion for municipalities, their employees and their creditors by introducing a bill that became law this year. In a compromise between the unions and the governments, AB 506 requires cities, towns, counties and villages to engage in mediation with creditors in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy proceedings.

Though only enacted several months ago, the Assemblyman wants to amend the law to broaden the powers of the mediators.

The new bill, AB 1692, will subject local governments to an evaluation, or force them to declare a state of fiscal emergency before they can declare bankruptcy. Several state organizations such as the California Professional Firefighters, the California Labor Federation and the California Nurses Association back this new bill.

Many local government officials oppose AB 1692 though, citing as a reason that the process gives the mediators too much power and allows more time for financial resources to be drained.

The new bill limits a neutral evaluation to 60 days following the appointment of the evaluator, unless participating interests elect to extend the process by another 90 days (or longer if the parties agree).


Insolvent Cities – A Look at Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and Vallejo


The gold rush city of Stockton currently stands to be the most populous in America to declare bankruptcy. The municipality projects a deficit of $20-38 million over the next fiscal year, due partly to overgenerous pension packages for city employees, an over-aggressive development plan, and the nosedive of the real estate market in the current recession.

The parties involved in the bankruptcy proceedings just recently voted to extend the mediation period another 30 days, giving offices until June 27th to come to an agreement with creditors.

Mammoth Lakes has a different reason for facing Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings: A legal judgment of $43 million stemming from a lawsuit first brought six years ago against the town by a developer. The plaintiff refuses to participate in the mediation process.

Before the Stockton financial crisis, and even before ABs 1692 and 506, Vallejo was one of the first and largest cities to go bankrupt.

Vallejo did so in the spring of 2008, and the move gave the city protection from creditors, as well as time to renegotiate employee contracts and find new sources of revenue, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Last November, the city came out of bankruptcy status, released from the stigma by a federal judge.

The Vallejo's City Manager says bankruptcy should be a last resort option. Whether or not ABs 506 and 1692 provide other means of deliverance, only time will tell.

Stephen T. Holzer is a business litigation attorney and Chair of our Environmental  Law Practice Group. Contact him via e-mail: sholzer@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

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