California Professional Firefighters

Proposition 53: A Reckless Attack on Local Control

No on Prop 53 - Local Control Under Attack

For a minute, try to envision the political bedlam that would ensue from telling residents in San Francisco that voters in Los Angeles would be deciding the fate of their next major infrastructure project. Or that commuters in San Diego would have to forgo a fix for crumbling roadways until voters in Stockton had a chance to weigh in on the project.

It’s difficult to imagine, isn’t it?

Such scenarios are almost impossible to picture because they violate a central tenet of California democracy, something vital to the governance of a state as large and diverse as this one – the principle of local control.

That’s exactly what’s at stake thanks to Proposition 53, which would drastically erode local control and leave Californians up and down the state helpless in the event of fire or other natural disaster. Specifically, Proposition 53 would require a statewide vote every time an infrastructure project was to be funded with public bonds. By requiring such a vote, even on projects that impact only an individual county of specific region, Proposition 53 would end California’s long and successful history of letting communities make their own decisions about how to invest in their public infrastructure.

California Professional Firefighters has come out strongly in opposition of Proposition 53, and has made its defeat one of the union’s top political priorities for 2016. In opposing Proposition 53, CPF has been joined by the State Building & Construction Trades Council, the California Chamber of Commerce, the League of California Cities California State Sheriffs’ and many more.

The breadth and depth of this coalition alone should illustrate just how damaging this measure would be for the Golden State.

If Proposition 53 were to pass, the nightmare scenario described above – allowing voters in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego to kill projects in Sacramento or the Bay Area, and vice-versa – would become a reality.

To make matters worse, Proposition 53 includes no exemption for emergencies or disasters, which means that local communities would have to wait until Election Day to fix crumbling bridges, roads and water systems following major earthquakes or wildfires. In some cases, that wait could be up to two years, leaving millions of Californians without vital public services.

“Proposition 53 irresponsibly fails to contain an exemption for natural disasters or major emergencies,” said Lou Paulson, President of California Professional Firefighters. “It could impair our state’s ability to rebuild critical infrastructure following earthquakes, wildfires, floods or other natural or manmade disasters.”

Proposition 53 is entirely funded by a wealthy Stockton farmer named Dean Cortopassi. He’s trying to stop one single infrastructure project near his property, the plans to upgrade California’s water distribution system. Public records show Cortopassi and his family have spent about $4.5 million to have attorneys write a ballot initiative, conduct research, and pay signature gatherers and political consultants to qualify and promote the measure.

As Cortopassi continues to pump millions into his political pet project, working men and women up and down the state have been speaking with one unified voice – “No on Prop 53.”

“Californians must not lose the ability to support essential infrastructure projects because one wealthy farmer got upset,” Paulson said. “We can’t let one multimillionaire’s spending spree succeed in eroding local control in our communities. Proposition 53 must be defeated.”

To see California Professional Firefighters’ endorsements on the other statewide ballot measures, click here.