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Times endorsements

November 06, 2005

THE TIMES endorses selectively, on a case-by-case basis. Here are recommendations for Tuesday's special election. Complete editorials on each endorsement can be found at www.latimes.com/endorsements.

State ballot propositions

Proposition 73: No. This measure would require teenage girls to inform a parent before getting an abortion. Such a requirement has done nothing to reduce teen abortions in the states where it has been tried. The measure would also add language to the state Constitution that could be used to justify further restrictions on abortion rights. Teen abortion rates are already dropping in California without this parental-notification requirement, which would fall particularly hard on girls from abusive or dysfunctional families and those who can't afford to travel to other states for an abortion.

Proposition 74: Yes. Teachers unions and cumbersome state rules make it too difficult to dismiss poor public schoolteachers. This measure, which would expand the probationary period for new teachers from two years to five, is a clumsy reform that won't have a dramatic effect. But it is a small step in the right direction.

Proposition 75: Yes. By forcing public employee unions to get permission from members before using a portion of their dues to pay for political campaigns, this measure would lessen the overwhelming -- and often destructive -- power of these unions in Sacramento, where their influence can be unhelpful. It would also reinforce the right of union members to insist that their contributions not be spent on causes they don't support.

Proposition 76: No. California already has one of the strongest governorships in the nation. This measure, which would allow the governor to cut any spending he wants during fiscal emergencies if two-thirds of the Legislature fails to agree on ways to address shortfalls, shifts far too much power to the office. In effect, California could be ruled by the tyranny of the minority, giving the governor and one-third of the Legislature final say over budget decisions.

Proposition 77: Yes. One reason for the partisan bickering that has paralyzed Sacramento and Washington is the gerrymandered boundaries for legislative and congressional districts. Because these lines are drawn by politicians, they concentrate Republican or Democratic voters in specific districts, thus protecting seats for both parties. As a result, candidates see no reason to appeal to voters in the center, and extremists reign. This measure would take the power to draw boundaries out of politicians' hands and give it to a panel of retired judges.

Proposition 78: No. Because it calls for drug companies to voluntarily reduce the price of prescription drugs for low-income Californians, this measure is entirely toothless. It does nothing to insulate drug pricing from political influence.

Proposition 79: No. This measure also promises to reduce drug prices but takes a more consumer-friendly and less pharma-friendly approach than Proposition 78. It overreaches by granting attorneys the right to sue drug companies charging high prices without having to produce a client who was harmed.

Proposition 80: No. Aiming to completely undo the reforms that were part of California's experiment with energy deregulation, this measure would bar competitors of local power companies from signing up any new customers. State regulators are already in the process of enacting many of its provisions; if enacted under this measure, the provisions could only be changed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Energy policy requires more flexibility than that.

Orange County

Measures B, C, D and E: No. After firefighters put Measure D on the ballot, seeking a set share of the money provided by Proposition 172 (a 1993 measure boosting the state sales tax by half a cent to pay for public safety), county supervisors responded with Measures B, C and E, which involve different ways of slicing the Proposition 172 pie. This is a straightforward case of ballot-box budgeting. The best plan is to leave the current system alone, letting supervisors distribute money to fire protection as they see fit.

Los Angeles City Council

14th District: Jose Huizar. The former president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board is running against former Councilman Nick Pacheco, who had a checkered record during an earlier term on the council. Huizar has served on the school board during a time of rising student scores and has the endorsement of 10 of the current 13 City Council members, indicating he would have a smoother time working with his peers than Pacheco.

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