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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Election thoughts as ballots hit the mail

Uploaded: Oct 11, 2022
Thinking about the various propositions on the November ballot, I recall the mantra from a jam-packed ballot several years ago when it was “just say no.”
That certainly could apply this time around with the stunningly expensive online gaming propositions 26 and 27 as well as the special interest dialysis measure back for the third time for a statewide vote. The gaming propositions already have set spending records even with the Prop. 27 campaign greatly reducing its spending in October as polling showed it’s likely to go down. That’s also true for Prop. 26 that will result in the status quo with no legal online gaming in the state and the Native American tribes who own casinos happily moving forward.
In other ballot news, one of the historic surprises concerns the wine country in Livermore. It was the subject of huge controversy over development plans that resulted in tradeoffs with Pleasanton annexing the Ruby Hill luxury housing development and the requirement to plant irrigated orchards or vineyards in exchange for building permits in designated areas. In general, the plan worked well and hundreds of acres of vineyards and orchards were planted and the number of wineries climbed from a low of six to more than 50. Notably, sewer extensions were limited to those residential neighborhoods and not extended to the unincorporated land outside the city limits.
Now, with more than two decades of experience, the shortcomings of both the county Measure D and the sewer infrastructure have been called out. For larger wineries, sewer connections are superior to using septic tanks. Livermore citizens will vote on a measure in November to allow sewer lines to be extended to wineries and other facilities in the unincorporated areas. The Wine Group processes millions of gallons of wine at its Concannon Vineyard facility.
Meanwhile, county voters will decide whether to amend Measure D to allow larger structures that cover more land. The original measure aggressively limited the building coverage that wineries and other users believe have hindered growth.
Livermore’s 50-plus wineries have been a great addition, but the growth has plateaued in comparison to Paso Robles that has exploded with wineries and vineyards as well as Sonoma County and points north and east.
Notably, there’s no ballot argument against the changes to Measure D, a huge contrast to when it originally passed. Some have raised concerns about extending the sewer line.
In November, voters in the 20th Assembly district will be electing a fresh face after Assemblyman Bill Quirk decided not to stand for re-election. Dublin Councilman Shawn Kumagai is facing off with union leader Liz Ortega who earned the most votes in the primary. In this race, what you see is what you get. Electing Ortega will send an anti-business union organizer into the Legislature. Kumagai, given his local government experience, can be expected to be more pragmatic and less knee-jerk pro-union.
Union interests, particularly public employees but also some private, were celebrating after the current session ended in August. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill of questionable legality that established a new commission to determine what workers in the fast food industry (with some notable exemptions) will be paid across the board. Previously, unions had to negotiate business by business because the franchises are owned by individuals.
Add in that Newsom caved to pressure from President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and signed a bill making it easier for unions to organized farm workers. He’d vetoed a similar measure last year and indicated his opposition to this one before caving in. He also signed a bill expanding paid family leave.
Those victories led former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez to say, “It’s kind of overwhelming, to be honest. Every single one of our sponsored bills that made it to (Newsom’s desk) was signed.” Gonzalez pushed through the anti-gig worker AB 5 and resigned earlier this year to lead the California Labor Federation.
You can expect the same attitude and priorities from Ortega.
What is it worth to you?


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