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|Los Angeles County, CA||June 8, 2010 Election|
Light-Rail, Dog Beach, and Marijuana Tax Revenue
By Edgar SaenzCandidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 53; Democratic Party
This information is provided by the candidate
Three District-Related Initiatives: (1) Green Line to LAX (2) Dog Beach at Dockweiler (3) Legalize, Regulate, and Tax PotDear Voter, I support (1) Green Line Extension to LAX and Torrance, (2) a dog beach at Dockweiler, and (3) regulating and taxing marijuana.
Bring On the Green Line: I enthusiastically support extending the Green Line to Los Angeles International Airport and Torrance.
Wouldn't it be great to have a real world-class airport connected to regional light rail? Where passengers walked from their gate to a railcar to ride to downtown Los Angeles or the Galleria?
Theories abound why light rail goes close -- but not all the way -- to the airport: Political chicanery by taxi drivers, technical objections to catenary lines, etc. I subscribe to a more mundane explanation: they ran out of money.
But there's good news. Finally, there's funding. We voters overwhelmingly passed a half cent sales tax for transit improvements in L.A. County. The measure explicitly dedicates a portion of that revenue to extending the Green Line to the South Bay and to LAX.
The question thus is not if these lines will be built, but when. Left to its own devices, Metro might not program these projects till 2035. Heaven help us! Fortunately, creation of a national infrastructure bank is gaining momentum. The Metro board recently adopted the 30-10 plan proposed by the mayor of Los Angeles. This would allow Metro to build transit and highway improvements now and pay back government-backed low-interest loans with Prop R proceeds. As assemblymember, I'll work diligently to build a coalition of local and federal officials to make this a reality. The benefits of transportation projects can't be overstated: jobs, mobility, quality of life, clean air, and lessening our dependence on foreign oil from unstable parts of the world.
Dogs, Freedom, and the American Way: It's time for a dog beach in the South Bay. Together, we can make it happen.
I don't have to convince dog lovers that a dog beach makes sense. A dog beach is a friendly environment for play and exercise. It reduces the possibility that dogs will be let loose where they shouldn't. The freedom to romp and rejoice on an open beach is good for the spirit + human and canine.
Nor do I need to tell you that there are too few places to take dogs off-leash. Although dogs are allowed on over 60 California beaches, none are local. I know dog lovers who drive all the way to Huntington Beach to let their dogs free.
I have made advocating for a local dog beach a priority: I speak about this issue at virtually every public forum. I plan to introduce and strongly push a bill similar to the one authored by the late Assemblymember Mike Gordon. This bill would authorize the Department of Parks and Recreation to establish and evaluate a one-year off-leash dog beach pilot program at Dockweiler State Beach. The advantage of a pilot program is it motivates people to be responsible for their dogs while testing bay water quality.
With your support, our four-legged friends can taste the briny surf of freedom!
Legalize, Regulate, and Tax Pot: The Noble Experiment, more commonly known as Prohibition, was the 13-year period in American history when the U.S. Constitution outlawed the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol. Thousands of speakeasies opened. Gangsters (such as Al Capone) thrived. Alcohol was illegally smuggled from Mexico and Canada. A violent black market emerged. Enforcement costs were dear. The lack of tax revenues from alcohol hurt government coffers.
Admitting the failure of Prohibition, John D. Rockefeller wrote, "drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before." Sound familiar?
Four years after the 21st Amendment repealed the prohibition on liquor, the U.S. outlawed cannabis.
Today's "Noble Experiment" on cannabis, in the words of Orange County Judge Jim Gray, wastes "unimaginable amounts of our tax dollars, increasing crime and despair and severely and unnecessarily harming people's lives ... the worst of all worlds." Current laws banning the use, possession, and sale of marijuana contribute to hyper-violence in Mexico that already spills across our borders into our inner cities. Less well known is the environmental damage wrought by illegal cultivation in our forests.
Politicians perpetuate the war on drugs because it is fundable. Legalization would take the illicit profits out of drugs.
Our state can no longer afford such misguided policies. Marijuana is believed to be the largest cash crop in California (not to mention, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia, and others). The State Board of Equalization estimates that taxing the $14 billion domestically grown market would produce $1.4 billion annually in revenue. I would much rather see in-home supportive services, smaller class sizes, open parks, adult day-care, or a rainy-day fund, than the continuation of this wasteful and foolhardy prohibition.
++ After graduating from Stanford Law School, Edgar Saenz practiced civil litigation in Southern California for 17 years. He is a community advocate and public servant, most recently working with Rep. Maxine Waters as her LAX and environmental deputy. Edgar and his wife Kathy live in Westchester, California.
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