Letter to the Editor: One word stands out in Measure Q

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As founder of the Laguna Canyon Foundation and Schoolpower’s endowment fund, I care deeply for our community and its environment. As such, I was intrigued by the Laguna Resident’s First ballot measure and initially thought to support it. I believe in representative government yet recognize that, at times, the voters need to step in and make decisions our elected representatives may not want to address. In some cases, the electorate feels a decision needs to be decided directly rather than through their representatives.  

It was with this in mind that I read the measure. What I found were a number of issues that could be argued from either side, whether it was parking, the size of buildings, or their location, just to name a few. None of these issues attracted my interest as they were secondary to a critical word in the measure. 

That word is electorate. 

Why am I so focused on this one word? Because the supporters of the measure argue that a majority of those voting should decide on certain developments in our city. That would be fine, except that the measure does not say that. 

It says that a majority of the electorate should decide. The electorate being all those who can vote, rather than those who have voted. Peter Blake, in questioning LRF sponsor David Raber, zeroed in on this specific issue, and Raber had no satisfactory answer other than the courts should decide!

That is a poor answer, and as our city attorney stated, electorate means all those eligible to vote, not just those that voted. For example, if there are 15,000 qualified voters but only 7,500 votes, then the majority of those who voted would be 3,750 plus 1. That is how most elections are conducted. The measure before us, however, says something different. It says that if there are 15,000 qualified to vote, for anything to pass, there would need 7,500 plus 1, not the majority of those voting. 

Bottom line, this means that the chance of anything passing under this measure would be slim to none. This is not democracy. This is not a representative government. This is an intentional way to kill almost any development in Laguna Beach, and that is something I cannot support.

Michael Pinto, Laguna Beach

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Elections are decided by the Electorate, but the word Electorate gets used in two contexts. In a broad sense, it means all voters. In the outcome of an election, it means the subset of voters who actually voted. People who don’t vote don’t have a say in the election. That is how all elections work. Falsely claiming that “Electorate” means something else in this context is distorting reality.

    A Harvard Law School journal stated, “Once an initiative measure is passed by the electorate, the legislature cannot alter that measure without the electorate’s consent.” In this context, the word Electorate clearly refers to those who actually voted.

    You can see this and hundreds of other examples by Googling the term “passed by the electorate.” Many ballot initiatives throughout California and the nation use “Electorate” in the same context as Measure Q – i.e. “All of those who actually voted.

    Finally, use your common sense. We all watch election returns on TV. Has anyone ever seen an election where the winner was anything other than a majority of the electorate; meaning “All of those who actually voted”? Those members of the electorate who don’t vote in a given election don’t get a say in the election. That is how all elections work. To claim that Measure Q is trying to assert something else is distorting reality.

  2. This is far from the most compelling argument for or against Measure Q. But it does sound like an invitation to a lawsuit, one of many that Measure Q would spawn if it passes. Taxpayers will pay for these lawsuits, and we will have to make up the difference in lost revenues and added expenses in higher taxes if we want to maintain our exceptional public safety services.

  3. The use of the word “electorate”, which is frequently used in CA’s Constitution and State ballot measures we vote on every couple years, will create law suits!?! Naw, you’re just kidding, right– a little early material for a wonderful Lagunatics skit?

  4. Deborah, when you have no facts, you fear-monger. Even when you constantly claim to have “no skin in the game.” Interesting that people come out of the woodwork all of a sudden so concerned about lawsuits and legal costs in our city. Where have they been for years while our city attorney contract fees increase (same 60 hours per month but up to $15,000 a month now I believe) and one lawsuit went on for 8 years to settle a neighbor tree issue that almost bankrupted a resident and cost taxpayers half a million or maybe more? Crickets. NO mention of costs or making up the difference for lawsuits we incurred. Never. Sorry, IMO these No on Measure Q activists don’t give a hoot about justice or costs to taxpayers. It’s just something to latch onto to instill fear and doubt to defeat Measure Q. Voters, they think you are uniformed and stupid. Don’t be fooled by their PAC funded campaign on steroids attempting to shut your voice down and give all the power to developers/investors and businesses at our expense. Haven’t we supported them enough? Is this how they repay us? YES on Q-Quality of Life for Laguna.

  5. The text of Measure Q defines the term: “A majority of the ‘Laguna Beach Electorate’ (commonly defined to mean the total number of registered voters) voting ‘yes’ is required to approve a project.” I’d like to see something like this pass, but this is a problem.

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