I always knew voting was important, but I learned its true value during my senior year of high school. At the time, my school campus included a motley collection of portables and old buildings with movable walls that barely impeded sound from traveling between classrooms. We also had no swimming pool, which meant that students on the water polo and swim teams, like me, had to drive 15-30 minutes to get to and from practice.
The school district proposed a bond measure to construct new facilities at my high school and other district schools. It narrowly missed the required two-thirds approval by just seven or eight votes. One of the civics teachers later surveyed her students and found eight seniors who were already eighteen and would have voted for the measure had they known about it, but who failed to vote. We all learned a valuable lesson about the potential impact of voting (or not voting), and the importance of being informed about what is on the ballot.
To that end, it is my pleasure to present the 2012 Election issue of the Contra Costa Lawyer. Our featured articles cover a range of topics related to this year’s election.
First, the City of Richmond could become the first municipality in the country to charge a tax or license fee for every ounce of sugary beverage sold in the city. We have two divergent perspectives on the measure from its author, Richmond City Councilman Jeff Ritterman, and Kris Hunt, Executive Director of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association. Even if you don’t live in Richmond, this is a fascinating issue that will almost certainly end up on the ballot in more cities and states in the coming years as we struggle with the obesity epidemic.
Second, the newest member of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, Candace Andersen, provides a well-rounded explanation of another notable local measure – the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (“ConFire”) parcel tax. Besides explaining the parcel tax itself and her perspective on it, Andersen’s article includes helpful background on the origins of ConFire and its budget problems.
Third, California State Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, who represents residents of Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, Danville, and San Ramon, among others, writes about Proposition 30 and how it fits into her legislative priorities. Joan was recently named to Chair the Assembly Committee on Education, and previously served on the San Ramon Valley School Board, so she is particularly knowledgeable about the challenges faced by our schools.
Fourth, Contra Costa Lawyer Co-Editor Nicole Mills, updates us on voter identification laws and recent court challenges to such laws. This is an issue that has been in the news quite a bit lately, and could have a significant impact on the outcome of the presidential election.
Lastly, we have an article about a great pro bono opportunity for our members – the non-partisan Election Protection program. On Election Day (November 6), thousands of volunteer attorneys, law students, and paralegals will staff call centers that field calls from people with questions about or problems with voting. I have participated in the program in prior years, and it is extremely satisfying to spend part of Election Day helping fellow citizens to exercise their right to vote. I hope you will consider joining me this year.
Steve Steinberg is an IP and business litigation attorney at Vasquez Benisek & Lindgren (“VBL”) whose practice focuses on patent and trade secret litigation and complex business disputes in both federal and state courts. He has represented networking technology and social media companies in patent infringement cases, defect claims against suppliers, disputes arising out of mergers and acquisitions, and prosecuting and defending claims for misappropriation of trade secrets. Before joining VBL, Steve was an associate with Morgan Miller Blair and Morrison & Foerster LLP.
Filed Under: Inside