In the newly-drawn 50th Assembly District, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom faces off against Betsy Butler, who moves over from the old 53rd District.

I’ve never been a big fan of Bloom. In my early columns, I called him “Speed Bumps” for his advocacy of speed bumps and other traffic calming schemes that have led to citywide traffic gridlock.

Butler has been active in local grassroots organizations promoting green and responsible development. She’s led the fight for consumer protections, is an advocate for working families and seniors and is dedicated to protecting the environment.

I finally met Butler at a “meet and greet” a couple weeks ago where our 15 minute chat was very informative. I was very impressed and my regular readers know that I’m not easily impressed.

I like the fact that she looks at development in a regional context. She told me she wasn’t accepting contributions from developers and that she’s concerned that Marina del Rey’s recreational designation had been compromised by big money developers who eye it as ideal for upscale developments and high-rise projects.

“Have you seen what’s going on down there, lately?,” She asked me, shaking her head.

Butler has my vote for the 50th Assembly seat.

In California’s redrawn 33rd Congressional District, which stretches from Malibu to Palos Verdes, the race pits William Bloomfield, a former life-long Republican now running as an independent from Manhattan Beach against 38 year Congressional veteran and Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Santa Monica).

Bloomfield’s family started Web Service Company, an operator of commercial laundry equipment. It’s the “WEB” you see in coin-operated, apartment building laundries all over Santa Monica. Now retired, Bloomfield was president and CEO of that company for 33 years. He’s involved in a family real estate business that owns a number of apartment buildings around the county.

Bloomfield was behind two recent statewide political reform movements: making redistricting the responsibility of an independent, non-partisan commission and allowing all voters to vote in all primaries regardless of party affiliation. He also volunteered on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and has been a generous contributor to Republican causes and candidates.

Waxman is the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and was responsible for legislation addressing pollution, safe drinking water and cigarette marketing targeting minors. If re-elected, he hopes to keep fighting for environmental initiatives.

He’s one of the longest term Democrats in Congress having won his last five elections with at least 65 percent of the vote. Now, in a redrawn district with many new voters and a generally low Congressional approval rating (10 percent), Waxman is in the fight of his political life.

When it comes to military veterans, Waxman comes up way short. He uses the excuse that the bureaucracy at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Center “is impenetrable” which is why things aren’t getting done like construction on one out of three empty buildings for mentally challenged homeless veterans even though $20 million was approved for the project three years ago.

The project has been a pet cause of Councilman Bobby Shiver who was quoted in the Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago, “It’s way past time for Mr. Waxman to make housing mentally disabled vets a real priority. He can build the housing immediately if he decides to do so.”

Waxman says he’s doing all he can. His detractors claim he’s playing politics and is more beholden to wealthy Westside homeowner groups who oppose any VA development or more homeless vets in their back yards.

I guess the bottom line is whether you believe that a Congressman of Waxman’s power and seniority can’t get VA officials to respond to requests for information or start the rehabbing of derelict VA buildings? And, what about other issues?

Then there’s Bloomfield. Veterans aren’t listed even as a key concern on the “Bloomfield for Congress” website. What does that tell you? Neither candidate warrants my vote. You’re on your own.

There are three propositions on the ballot worth mentioning. Prop. 30 would raise personal income and sale taxes to prevent cuts in education funding. I lost interest in this after the high speed (pork-barrel) rail project was approved costing many billions in taxpayer dollars.

Because I just don’t trust our legislators to do anything right and because there’s no guarantee how much of the estimated $6 billion annual inflow from Prop. 30 will go to public schools or even how its revenues will be spent, I say, “nope.”

Proposition 38 if approved will raise state income tax rates to only pay for schools, preschools and state debt payments for the next 12 years. Maybe.

Lastly, on the Santa Monica ballot is Measure GA. It would simplify the calculation of Santa Monica’s allowable annual rent increase (called the General Adjustment or GA) for rent-controlled apartments.

Now, the GA is calculated using a complex formula based on maintenance costs, inflation and other factors. If approved, the Rent Control Law would be amended so that the annual GA will be equal to 75 percent of the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or inflation rate for the Los Angeles area.

A more standard CPI-based adjustment should result in a slightly lower increase than those calculated over the past 30 years. And there is a cap of six percent no matter how high the inflation rate climbs. I say, Yes!

 

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

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