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NO on Measure R
Los Angeles MTA's 1/2 cent sales tax to build rail and highway and dismantle the bus system...

NO on 1A
High-speed Rail Construction Bond - Billion dollar giveway...

NO on 4
Parental Notification - taking away women's control over their bodies...

NO on 6
The Runner Initiative - Expansion of the prison and police state...

NO on 8
Constitutional amendment against same sex marriage...

NO on 9
Nicholas' Initiative - Weakens the limited rights of parolees...

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Take Initiative
Propositions: 1, 4, 6, 8, 9 & Measure R

Optimistic, But Sober Balance Sheet:
The Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union’s
No on the Six Campaign

President-Elect Barack Obama

The landslide victory of Barack Obama against the Republican Party, the organized right and a boisterous racist minority is an important watershed moment for this country.  As a grassroots, anti-racist, civil rights, multiracial organization, the victory of President-elect Barack Obama is a breakthrough for the civil rights movement.  The hope and expectation of his presidency and the movement he has ushered provides new opportunities for all of us to push our demands for racial equality and strengthening the social welfare state.  We look forward to engaging with President Obama in addressing the mass incarceration of Black and Latino people in the United States, an end to ICE raids and full immigrant rights, an end to war and militarism, and environment justice.  We hope to open a dialogue around the need for new federal transportation legislation that prioritizes bus operations, bus expansion, reduction of transit fares, and civil rights protections over highway and rail boondoggle construction. 

Defeating Proposition 6

The Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union worked tirelessly with a coalition of organizations and activists in the Southern California to defeat Proposition 6 and Proposition 9.  We got an early start--the Strategy Center along with the Oakland-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Los Angeles Youth Justice Coalition met in early 2008, shortly after State Senator George Runner’s announcement that he was collecting signatures to put his racist ballot initiative in front of voters.  Our coalition building, materials, posters, videos and media work were critical components in helping to build the movement to defeat this measure.

This is an important breakthrough for the criminal justice movement against the bi-partisan “tough on crime” mass incarceration complex.  Given the history of the California electorate in voting for Prop 184 (Three Strikes), Prop 21, and Prop 83, this is an especially important victory with many lessons to be learned.  In Southern California, we believe a key message that was critical in generating opposition to Prop 6 was the emphasis on education over incarceration and the racially discriminatory nature of the California criminal legal system, along with record numbers of young people, immigrants and communities of color voting.  Yet again, this victory must be viewed soberly - the passage of Prop 9 and defeat of Prop 5 demonstrates there is much work to be done in our movement against the prison and police state.  Cloaked in the message of “victim rights,” Prop 9 will cement a ‘lock-em up and throw away the key’ set of incarceration policies and mean continued growth of the prison juggernaut.  We must continue debunking the myth that such policies protect “victims rights.” The defeat of Prop 5 demonstrates the complicity of many Democratic leaders (such as Senator Diane Feinstein) with the prison guards union, CCPOA, and the broader prison lobby.

Defeating Proposition 4

The Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union have been supportive in the movement to defeat (at three different times) the Right’s attempt to undue a women’s right to choose, to endanger the lives of young woman and further limit the reproductive rights for women especially women of color.  We have the most utmost respect for our fierce allies in this fight that taught us a lot about the principles of reproductive justice – California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Black Women for Wellness, Khmer Girls in Action, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, and more. We are ready to defeat any reincarnation of this ballot initiative. 

The Setbacks

Measure R and Prop 1A

While we worked very hard to get our message out to defeat Measure R, MTA’s third regressive sales tax in Los Angeles County, voters approved it on November 4th.  We are accountable to the needs of our people and communities - a regressive tax on low-income Black, Latino and working class residents is never equitable, which even the proponents of Measure R recognize.  The approval of this additional sales tax comes full circle with Governor Schwarzenegger’s recent proposal to implement an additional 1½-cent sales tax to meet California budgetary shortfalls.  If this tax is approved, Los Angeles County’s sales tax rate will rise to 10.25% for each taxable dollar.  Likewise, the approval of Prop 1A is disappointing, as it will mean a further drain on our state budget and general fund, essentially competing against vital education and health care funding.

Now the big question is: What will MTA actually do?  Our job, as always is to hold this agency accountable to the needs of our communities.  We call on MTA Board of Directors to hold true to their promise and immediately reverse the pre-approved 2009 fare increase.  The Bus Riders Union wants to work with the MTA Board to reverse its forecasted fare increases over the next 15 years, to introduce a Board motion ordering 500 new expansion buses and to implement a $150 million County-wide bus-only lane program starting with the Wilshire Bus Only Lane project. 

Prop 8

The voter-approved ban on gay marriage in California along with those in Florida and Arizona -- is a setback for civil rights and equal rights. While this setback is painful, we made important strides since the original passage of Prop 22 in 2001.  We prioritized the work against Prop 8 as an organization and did a lot of work to educate our own base.  We produced materials and posters to reach out specifically to Black and Latino community members, making the connection between gay marriage and the historical denial of rights of oppressed nationality people.  We had hoped that more resources and focused messaging in the Black and Latino community could have been prioritized by the No campaign.  We also had hoped other social justice organizations would have frontally combated this issue in their communities and get out the vote work. We know the LGBTQ fighters will continue their struggle for the recognition of their love, partner rights and civil rights, and we will always be a part of that movement. 

Overall, our organization has emerged stronger

This election cycle demonstrated the possibilities and strength of the Strategy Center’s Take the Initiative and Community Rights Campaign.  We have learned so many new skills from getting out the vote to agit-prop design to voter outreach.  Our e-organizing made an important leap and our reach and influence statewide and regionally made important advances.  Lastly, the No on the Six Campaign was a comprehensive platform aiming to build a tendency within the state Black, Latino, Asian and working class electorate that can take on conservative right wing forces, the bi-partisan mass incarceration complex and build a new progressive movement response against regressive taxation and bonds.  Our organization united many organizations and activists across the multiple fronts during this election cycle.  But of course in analyzing the outcomes of this latest round, more of this cross-sector work is needed to defeat these attacks in the future, and proactively advancing a progressive agenda.

Thank you to all those who joined our campaign, who knocked on doors, made phone calls, put up posters, taught us new skills…

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