The chief of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association was pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s vote on a ballot measure for a parcel tax to raise money for the Los Angeles Unified School District. VICA opposed the proposal, which was defeated.
Stuart Waldman, president of the Van Nuys business advocacy group, said it was shocking that only 45 percent of voters supported the measure. It needed two-thirds backing to pass.
“I expected it to be much closer,” Waldman said in an interview with the Business Journal. “But I think the voters sent a clear message that LAUSD needs to reform itself before asking for more money.”
The school district board in late February unanimously approved placing for voter approval a new annual assessment of 16 cents per square foot on property owners’ indoor space. It was projected to raise about $500 million a year for the 12-year life of the tax.
The association opposed the measure because there was no oversight on how the money would be spent and no guarantee that the money would be used in classrooms for the students.
There was little to no input from the business community, parents or neighborhood councils when the district drafted the measure, Waldman said.
“We asked them to postpone the measure and work with us,” he added. “They chose not to and here we are.”
Some in the business community took a different view. For example, Vahid Khorsand of BWS Financial in Woodland Hills wrote an op-ed in the Business Journal supporting the tax, saying LAUSD schools need more support.
Also in Tuesday’s election, voters in the northwest Valley’s Council District 12 went to the polls to elect a councilmember to replace Mitchell Englander, who resigned last year.
John Lee, a former aide to Englander, and Loraine Lundquist, a faculty associate at the Institute of Sustainability at California State University - Northridge, received the most votes out of a field of 15 candidates. They go to a runoff in August.
Having Lee and Lundquist in the runoff couldn’t give voters a more stark choice to choose between, Waldman said. Lee is a Republican and Lundquist a Democrat.
“They are as different as two candidates can be,” he added.
The association sponsored a forum for seven of the candidates in April and Waldman said he believed there would be another before the runoff.
“Obviously with seven candidates you don’t get to ask as many questions as you’d like, so we will give our members the opportunity to ask their questions and then our PAC will make a decision on whether they want to endorse any of the candidates or not,” Waldman said.