Approved by the Culver City Democratic Club:
RESOLUTION CALLING FOR THE RELEASE OF COUNTY INCARCERATION DIVERSION FUNDS
Whereas, California is reducing its prison and jail populations as a result of the implementation of AB 109 and Proposition 47. This has increased the need for services for those returning home from incarceration;
Whereas, in March 2015 Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved a $30 million program to divert the mentally ill from incarceration and into community based treatment programs. This amount has recently been increased to $30 million;
Whereas, the diversion funding allocation has been tied to the release of the DA Jackie Lacey Crime Justice Mental Health Task Force report on mental health diversion from incarceration, which has no funding timetable;
Therefore be it resolved that the Culver City Democratic Club urges the LA County Democratic Party lobby the BOS to expedite the process for releasing these funds to community and faith based organizations that deliver services to the formerly incarcerated;
Be it further resolved that the Culver City Democratic Club urges the LA County Democratic Party lobby city, county, state and federal officials to develop an interagency approach in partnership with community and faith based organizations to streamline the service delivery process for incarceration diversion.
The Culver City Democratic Club supports SCA 5, Reforming Inequities in Commercial Property Tax Annual Reassessment of Commercial Properties sponsored by State Senators Holly Mitchell and Loni Hancock, and its efforts to eliminate inequalities, loopholes and negative economic impacts of the current acquisition-value assessment system for commercial and industrial properties. Known as the Property Tax Fairness amendment, it would finally make California’s property tax code fair by assessing commercial and industrial properties at their market value, after a phase-in period. It would also provide significant tax relief for businesses, protect homeowners and renters from any changes to their property tax status, and create strict new accountability measures for new revenues.
SCA 5 would assess commercial properties at their fair market value, provide tax relief for businesses and protect homeowners and renters
“This legislation will address structural flaws in the commercial property side of Prop. 13 that have allowed a minority group of wealthy corporations and commercial property owners to dramatically lower their tax bills and shift that responsibility onto homeowners and renters,” said Senator Hancock. “Our homeowners are now being asked to pay the vast majority – 72% – of property taxes, while the commercial side pays only 28%. In 1978 when Prop. 13 passed, each paid about 50%. That’s not fair, and it has strained the community services our residents rely on.”
A few months ago, I got into an argument on Twitter with a right winger over voting and taxes. I was watching MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s show and one segment was about felon disfranchisement. I posed this question to my Twitter followers: "Should people who have paid their debt to society still be taxed if they aren’t allowed to vote?" This question immediately attracted said right winger, who answered, "Yes." We got into a short back-and-forth, which I won’t elaborate here, but the crux of his belief was that if a person didn’t want their rights taken away, they shouldn’t commit a crime. Never mind that many people, black Americans especially, have been railroaded by our criminal justice system. Whatever happened to "no taxation without representation?"
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, but the celebrations are tempered by the United States Supreme Court’s recent gutting of the landmark legislation. Despite what the majority of the justices in that case would have us believe, racism in the electoral process is still alive and well in America. Felon disfranchisement, which disproportionately impacts Americans of color, is one problem that is at the forefront of the current movement for voting rights. States have different laws regarding incarcerated people and voting, with the most draconian disfranchising for life people convicted of felonies, to the most lenient that allow people in prison to vote in all elections. California is in the middle, restoring voting rights to the formerly incarcerated after they have completed their sentence and parole.
Voting rights advocates tend to frame disfranchisement in moral terms: that it’s undemocratic to exclude people from participating in our democracy. But, getting back to my Twitter argument with the right winger, I wanted to frame the issue in terms I thought conservatives would understand: would they sympathize with an apparent anti-tax argument when it came to the formerly incarcerated? At least that right winger didn’t, and I can’t say I’m surprised. Because I posed the question to expose what, I think, was a big reason behind felon disfranchisement laws: to ensure that black Americans have little to no say in how our country’s resources - through taxes - are distributed. The right winger didn’t say anything about race, but he didn’t have to.
Ultimately, voting is about deciding if, when and how much to tax ourselves, where and on whom those dollars are spent. Racism is about animosity toward other groups, but it's also about economics — keeping disfavored groups at an economic disadvantage relative to one’s own group. What better way to take resources away from blacks and the poor, and redistribute them to whites and the affluent, by making certain behaviors criminal felonies, disproportionately targeting and arresting members of marginalized groups for those behaviors, and passing laws taking away those groups’ voting rights after conviction? Now, this may sound to some like tin-foil hat conspiracy theory, but it's no coincidence that the era of the Drug War, mass incarceration, and the right-wing anti-tax revolt began not long after President Lyndon Johnson signed the set of civil rights laws guaranteeing black Americans’ equal participation in U.S. democracy.
Culver City Democratic Club – 63 Years
General Membership Meeting – Veterans Auditorium Rotunda
Wednesday, July 8, 2015